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About Edwin Augustus Fisher

Adapted from "A Century of Engineering in Rochester", pgs 202-203.

Edwin Augustus Fisher had long career in engineering

The first president of the Rochester Engineering Society was Edwin Augustus Fisher who lived to be 101. At the time of his election to president of RES, he had been one of the founders. He was City Engineer for Rochester, NY.

Fisher was born July 17, 1847 in Royalston, MA and after attending local schools, he began teaching at age 16. Later he graduated from the State Normal School in Westfield, MA and spent the next five years teaching in elementary schools.

FisherPierce-Arrow vehicles Model 48-B-5 7-Passenger Touring 1919 from Wikipedia

In March 1871, he became a rodman for the Holyoke & Westfield Railroad which launched him on a railroad career. During this time he held positions of assistant engineer, principal assistant engineer and division engineer. Later he expanded his experience and knowledge into waterworks, sewerage and bridge building. By 1875 he had been principal assistant engineer for the construction of water works in Westfield, a project costing $240,000.

By May 1876, Fisher was hired by county commissioners and put in charge of constructing iron bridges over the Connecticut river. Also, included as town engineer for Westfield was a flood protection program.

He came to the Rochester area in December 1881 as principal assistant engineer in construction of the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad, mainly in the abandoned canal bed, extending from Rochester to Olean, a distance of 102 miles. It later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1892, at the request of Emil Kuichling, chief engineer of the City of Rochester, Edwin Fisher did come to the city and did some consulting work for Kuichling. In 1893, Fisher came to Rochester to devote full time to engineering for the city. On March 26, 1896, the City Council did appoint Edwin Augustus Fisher City Engineer of Rochester. Under a new city charter, he was reappointed to the position in 1900 by the mayor.

Due to the burden of work, in 1914 Fisher was appointed Consulting Engineer, a specialized position which relieved him of day-to-day supervision and administrative functions.

By 1917, Fisher was made the first superintendent of city planning. There was no additional salary attached, though he had the unique distinction of holding two offices; and the latter also involved the secretaryship of the City Planning Board. As planning work and the Board's functions well established, Fisher resigned from the City Planning Board in 1923.

Mr. Fisher officially retired at the end of 1926. With over 30 years' engineering work for the City of Rochester, he had many laudable accomplishments. One of them was the progressive development of the City's water supply. Work included the laying of the second and third conduits from Hemlock Lake, the inclusion of Canadice Lake, the raising of the Hemlock Lake water level and the building of the Cobb's Hill Reservoir.

In another field was the construction of the main sewerage system, including the big intercepting sewer, the sewage disposal plant; and closely related the garbage plant and the incinerator.

Fisher was city engineer and consultant during the construction of the public market and the rapid transit subway. Also during this time was the East Main Street bridge over the former New York Central mainline, and other highway-rail grade crossing eliminations.

FisherCobb's Hill reservoir wall construction. From the "History and engineering of Rochester's water supply in its first century" by Edwin A. Fisher published in the Proceedings of the Rochester Academy of Science, Vol 7, pgs 59-95 (March, 1932).

Fisher cooperated with the State in problems of barge canal construction. For years, Fisher was chairman of a committee, appointed by the mayor, to study flood conditions of the Genesee river and make recommendations for mitigating flooding.  The river channel through the city center wasdeepened and some power developments of the Rochester Gas & Electric took place.

For 21 years "in retirement" Mr. Fisher came daily to a desk allotted to him in the City Engineer's office. He was given any assistance he requested, and the city was repaid many fold for his excellent engineering advice and judgement.

Fisher led two lives

According to the Rochester Engineer, September 1948, an article by Waldo G. Wildes, Mr. Fisher's life is the story of a man who led two lives, and gave ungrudgingly to useful public service.

His second, after nominal retirement began with the Eddy-Hazen-Fisher joint report published in 1927. It dealt with the extensive project greatly increasing the storage of Honeoye creek, valley and lake and adding this to the City's water supply. The report was approved by the State Water Supply Commission, but slackening in the population trend led to the 1934 study of a modified Honeoye plan for less pretentious expansion. And over against this, alternative preliminary plans for drawing the new supply from Lake Ontario at Bogus Point were prepared for the City Council.

Meanwhile, in 1932, he presented his "History and Engineering of Rochester Water Supply in Its First Century."

Mr. Fisher's published masterpiece was his 250-page, printed report of 1937, with a multitude of inserted maps, tables and diagram, on "Flood Conditions in the Genesee River." There followed historical material and a study of Genesee river bridges.

Among the many honors awarded to Edwin Augustus Fisher are Honorary Membership in the folllowing:

  • Rochester Engineering Society
  • American City Planning Institute
  • American Public Works Association
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Society of Municipal Engineers of which he had also been president.
  • He had been chairman of the Sanitary Section of the American Public Health Association.
  • Also, the University of Rochester awarded Edwin A. Fisher its Honorary Master of Arts degree.

Edwin Augustus Fisher died July 11, 1948 only six days before his 101st birthday.


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