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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

STONE, AMASA - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

STONE, AMASA (27 Apr. 1818-11 May 1883) was a contractor, railroad manager, financier, and philanthropist, born in Charlton, Mass. to Amasa and Esther (Boyden) Stone. He apprenticed in construction, and worked with his brother-in-law Wm. Howe to perfect the Howe truss bridge, buying the patent rights in 1842 and eventually constructing hundreds of bridges using his own improved design.

After building the Cleveland-to-Columbus spur of the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad, in 1851 Stone came to Cleveland to superintend the road and build the Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula. By 1852, he was a director of both roads; by 1857, he was president of the CP&A. He built or directed other railroads, including the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Road, taking part of his pay in stock, then investing his wealth as a major stockholder in Cleveland Rolling Mill and related mills throughout the country, as well as in several banks.

On 29 Dec. 1876, a Lake Shore Rd. Howe truss bridge collapsed at Ashtabula, plunging a train into a ravine, killing 92. An investigation implicated Stone who, ignoring engineers, had used an overly long span. The road's chief engineer, Chas. Collins, committed suicide. He was also vexed by William H. Vanderbilt's 1883 plan to consolidate the Lake Shore Rd. with the NICKEL PLATE ROAD. On 11 May 1883, after several steel mills he controlled failed, Stone committed suicide, leaving a wife, Julia Gleason Stone, 2 daughters, Clara Stone Hay and FLORA STONE MATHER†. His multi-million-dollar estate included a $100,000 bequest to Western Reserve University. In 1881 Stone had donated $500,000 to WRU to establish Adelbert College in memory of his son, who had died in a swimming accident at Yale in 1866. He was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Dow, Burton Smith III. "Amasa Stone, Jr.: His Triumph and Tragedy" (Master's thesis, WRU, 1956).

Last Modified: 22 Jul 1997 04:43:48 PM

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