Alexander Ephraim Brownn
ALEXANDER EPHRAIM BROWN
THE Brown Hoisting Machinery Company, world-famous for its hoists, cranes, ore- handling, coal-handling and other similar machinery, owes its precedence in this field to the engineering skill and inventive genius of the late Alexander Ephraim Brown, long vice-president and general manager, and later its president.
His grandfather, Ephraim Brown, bought a township of land in Ohio from the Connecticut Land Company, and in 1814 moved to it, settling at North Bloomfield, Trumbull County, Ohio. Ephraim Brown's youngest son, Fayette Brown (born December 17, 1823, died January 20, 1910), became largely interested in iron and steel, had a large fleet of boats, and was the first to bring ore from the Lake Superior District. He was one of Cleveland's leading business men, a director in banks and corporations, president of The Stewart Iron Company of Sharon, The Union Steel Screw Company of Cleveland, and president, from its organization in 1880 until his death, of The Brown Hoisting Machinery Company.
Alexander Ephraim Brown, son of Fayette and Cornelia (Curtis) Brown, was born in Cleveland, May 14, 1852, and died there in April, 1911. He was educated in the Cleveland public schools and the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, being graduated in Civil Engineering in 1872. He was in the Geological Survey of Yellowstone Park for a short time; with the Massillon Bridge Company, Massillon, Ohio, 1873-1875; consulting engineer at Cleveland, 1875-1878; and superintendent of the Brush Electro Company, Cleveland, 1878- 1880, assisting in the development of the Brush arc light system and the manufacture of carbon for arc lights.
His family's interest in lake shipping led him to apply his engineering talent to the solution of related problems, and particularly to the reduction of the time spent by boats in port, which were the subject of his earlier experiments. Later labor demands, strikes and delays led him to the development of methods by which machinery has largely supplanted hand processes, until to-day the time of boats at the dock has been reduced so that a boat of 11,000 tons can be unloaded in less than four hours.
Before he invented his first Brown Hoist the system of unloading ore consisted of a steam hoist to lift loaded tubs out of the hold, which were dumped by hand into wheelbarrows; the latter were then wheeled on trestle work and dumped into storage pile, power being supplied by an engine placed near the edge of the dock. Mr. Brown's first machine, although the buckets were still filled by hand, still took them out very rapidly and carried them to any reasonable depth of dock, but later great improvements were made not only in the hoisting apparatus but also in the bridge structures which carried the ore to the rear of the dock.
Mr. Brown, though not the inventor of the grab bucket, soon evolved and put on the market one of his own inventions, which continues to be the most efficient on the market. His inventions revolutionized the ore-handling trade and the type of boats used for the purpose, and had a large part in the larger development of the steel industry.
Important achievements of Alexander E. Brown include the first cantilever shipbuilding crane and trestle (for the Newport News and Dry Dock Company), and similar installations were later made at Cramp's Shipyards in Philadelphia; Harland & Wolff's, Belfast, Ireland; Stevenson's, Newcastle-on-Tyne; Ferdinand Krupp's, Essen; and in other ports all over the world. Other types of machinery were evolved, including cantilever cranes for steel mills and special construction work, such as the Chicago Drainage Canal, where the limestone was taken out of the canal and placed on spoil banks opposite. Another type evolved through much original research and great engineering skill was the "Hercules" ioo-ton pontoon crane, built for the United States Government at the New York Navy Yard.
Another type of machinery for the loading of coal into boats to be transported to the upper lakes has been equally successful, while the machinery for unloading the coal is very similar to that used for ore, except the addition of screening devices and use of a different kind of grab bucket.
Mr. Brown gained recognition for remarkable inventive genius and engineering courage, and a marvelous grasp of complex problems.