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William Riley McKeen Jr. Papers: Finding Aid
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This collection contains the personal and professional papers of American railroad mechanical engineer and innovator William Riley McKeen Jr. (1869-1946), who developed some of the first gasoline-powered railroad motor cars, beginning in 1905 for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1908, he became president of the McKeen Motor Car Company, which built over 150 of the pioneering motor cars through 1917. The materials are primarily focused on the McKeen motor cars and the history of their promotion and production, 1905-1917. Materials include promotional booklets and ephemera, news clippings, scrapbooks, operating manuals, McKeen’s personal notebooks and over 300 photographs.
American railroad mechanical engineer and innovator William Riley McKeen Jr. (1869-1946) was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1869. His father, William Riley McKeen (1829-1913), was a banker and president of the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad. McKeen Jr. graduated from Rose Polytechnic Institute and Johns Hopkins University, then studied at a technical university in Berlin, 1890-1891. In 1892, he apprenticed in the mechanical shops of the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway in Columbus, Ohio. The next year, he began work as master car builder for the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad in Indiana. In 1898, he joined Union Pacific Railroad as district foreman at North Platte, Nebraska, a position he held until May 1901, when he became master mechanic of the Wyoming division of Union Pacific. In 1902, he was promoted to Superintendent of Motor Power and Machinery for Union Pacific in Omaha, Nebraska.
12 boxes (7.5 linear ft.)
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