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Thomas Rogers (locomotive builder) : biography

1792 - 1856

Thomas Rogers (1792 – 1856) was an American mechanical engineer and founder of Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works of Paterson, New Jersey. Fellow locomotive designer and builder, Zerah Colburn said that "Thomas Rogers maybe fairly said to have done more for the modern American locomotive than any of his contemporaries."


Thomas Rogers was born in Groton, Connecticut, in 1792. Before moving to Paterson in 1812, he studied carpentry and blacksmithing. In 1832 he partnered with Morris Ketchum and Jasper Grosvenor to form Rogers, Ketchum and Grosvenor, building agricultural and textile machinery as well as springs, axles and other small parts for the first railroads of America.

In 1837 Rogers built his first locomotive, Sandusky, which became the first locomotive to operate in Ohio. Not one to just follow what other manufacturers were doing, Rogers implemented new features and innovations in his locomotives that were quickly adopted by other firms. He led Rogers, Ketchum and Grosvenor until his death in 1856.

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