R.P.C. Sanderson

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Aug 23 17:31:49 EDT 2020

Having no faith that a town named "Nether Providence" could exist I checked. Mr. Getz: correct as usual.  And losing myself in the history of the Pennsy and Mr. Sanderson's role in it (I believe) also confirmed he worked for the Virginian and Baldwin Locomotives.    Thank you sir for the ride through railroad history and one of hundreds of men who made this country great.  In Rockwall you are only 3 1/2 hours from where my kin are from, Liberty Hill.

Ed Svitil
N&WHS #0317
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Subject: R.P.C. Sanderson

Sorry about that. In my typical fashion I hit the send before I attached the information.

Sanderson, Richard P. C. [aka R.P.C.]        b. 9 Jan 1858 at Birkenhead, England

  *   2nd of nine children, 1st of six sons
  *   Educated in private schools in Birkenhead, Hoylake, and the Royal Institute School of Liverpool, England, and in the Polytechnic School at Cassel, Germany.
  *   Was apprenticed to Laird Bros. at Birkenhead, England, and was engaged in marine. Later hired by a company for general millwright work throughout England
  *   after immigrating to the U.S. in 1880 he worked at Delamater Iron Works, New York, again primarily in marine work, including on a submarine. He received his first U.S. Patent during this time.

For some of his railroad years it has been hard to nail down hard-and-fast dates, but I believe I have the correct sequence but even there he seemed to step back-and-forth between the Shenandoah Valley, N&W, and the Shops at Roanoke as if they are all one entity and with funding for all three coming from the Clark family it probably was. In addition he was "loaned out from time to the U.S. Navy and other entities to show them how to get the most out of Pocahontas coal. His father had made his money shipping Welsh coal around the world for steam ships so R.P.C. knew coal.

  *    1882, entered railway service at Big Lick, VA, as draftsman for the Shenandoah Valley RR and the Norfolk & Western Rd with supervision of the erection and equipping of new shops at Roanoke, VA, since which he was consecutively draftsman for locomotive and car work; inspector of supplies, materials and new equipment; engaged in experimental and test work; and to 1886, road foreman of engines for the N & W;
  *   1886 to 1891, assistant to superintendent motive power same road in special charge of change of gauge work;
  *   1889 became a naturalized citizen of the U.S.A. and the Roanoke City Directory indicated he was also serving at the Paymaster for the Roanoke Machine Works (not sure if they had that right)
  *   1890, Sailed for Liverpool aboard the Scythia acting on behalf of the Pocahontas Coal Mines, showing the Cunard Line the benefits of using Pocahontas Coal. He also served as Assistant to S. B. Haupt of the Machine Works
  *   1891 to 1895, division superintendent motive power Western General division;
  *   1895 to Aug. 1896, assistant superintendent motive power in charge of maintenance of equipment;
  *   Aug 1896 to 1 Feb 1900, division master mechanic Eastern General division same  road
  *   1 Feb 1900 to 15 May 1901, assistant superintendent of machinery for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway System at Topeka, Kansas
  *   1 Aug 1901 to 20 Dec 1901, general purchasing agent for the Seaboard Air Line
  *   20 Dec 1901 to present [1906], superintendent of motive power for same road
  *   1909 First Superintendent of Motive Power for the Virginian Railway and designed heavy haul locomotives for a mile train.
  *   1910 Superintendent of the Baldwin Locomotive Works at Eddystone, PA
  *   1915 Represented Baldwin Locomotive Works through their London, England office work with all the allied countries during the war, furnishing both Locomotives and Munitions.
  *   1918 elected member of the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club
  *   1925 Assistant Superintendent of Baldwin Locomotive Works and assistant to the President
  *   He retired about 1930 (the Census simply said "none" under occupation
  *   He published a brief memoire
  *   Died 11 Jul 1942, Nether Providence, Delaware, PA

When he entered the Polytechnic in Germany he spoke no German. They permitted him to take his first semester classes in English while he learned German and then he was mainlined. His second two years he doubled up on his classes and completed his four years of study in three years. In his "spare" time he decided to take up the cello and play hockey during the winter when the lake was frozen over. During his married years in Roanoke he had (at different times) three different chamber music groups. He introduced golf to Roanoke and was instrumental in founding the Roanoke Country Club. During the years he was an officer for several country clubs. Today, The Roanoke Country Club and The Royal Wimbledon Golf Club play an annual match for the Sanderson Cup which has a steam locomotive on top.

In 1886 he married Clare Spottswood Otey of Lynchburg (3x great-grandaughter of Colonial Governor Spottswood and cousin of Martha Dandridge Washington). They had one child, Richard Sanderson who was educated at the Tome Institute in Maryland before getting his technical training at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute at which time he apprenticed with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. He married the daughter (Emily Fisher Osborn) the daughter of the former governor of Michigan, Chase Salmon Osborn. Mr. and Mrs. David D. Flickwir traveled with Clare and R.P.C. to Michigan for the wedding. Young Richard completed his apprenticeship at Baldwin Locomotive works of Philadelphia before becoming the Assistant Representative for both Baldwin Locomotive Works and their subsidiary, Standard Steel Works, in their New York Office. During WWI he worked as a mechanical engineer for Baldwin on both locomotives and munitions while still serving as the Ass't Manager of the Baldwin office in New York. By 1919 he was the manager of the office in New York. In 1920 he was elected Vice-President in charge of sales for the Standard Steel Works Company. In 1927 he was President of Sanderson Motor Company in San Antonio, Texas, where he was the Hudson-Essex Distributor. With market crash of 1929 he returned to New York and worked in banking with his Edward Merrell a time. By 1938 his occupation was listed as Vice President-Secretary of The Family Circle Inc.. The 1940 Census simply said "Magazine Publisher."  He died in the early 50s.

An aside: Golf was an important pastime for R.P.C. and he passed it on to his son. At one point the two placed second in a father/son tournament on eastern seaboard. Young Richard, as an adult, became the club champion at his home course and was later displaced by his son Chase, while his daughter, Emily (my mother) became the women's champion for a year before she married and moved west.


The Philadelphia Record, Sunday, July 12, 1942



Became Aide to Vauclain

After Serving Virginia

and Santa Fe Lines

     Richard P. C. Sanderson, one of the foremost transportation engineering executives in America, died yesterday at his home in Moyland, Delaware county. He was 84.

            He was born in England and came to this country in 1881. Stationed at Roanoke, Va., his first task was to convert the Norfolk and Western Railroad from narrow to standard gauge.

     He was with the line for 19 years. Later he was employed by the Seaboard Air Line and the Santa Fe before coming to Philadelphia as an associate of Samuel Vauclain, then president of Baldwin Locomotive Works. He remained with Baldwin until retirement 10 years ago.

     A son, Richard Sanderson, Madison, New Jersey, and three grandchildren survive. Funeral Services will be held at the home, Moylan ave. and Orchard la., at 3.30 P.M. tomorrow with burial in Media Cemetery.


Another Pennsylvania Newspaper but I lost track of which one.

Richard Sanderson

Rail Pioneer, Dies

Former Executive

of Baldwin Works

Was 84 Years Old

     Richard P. C. Sanderson, prominent railroad builder prior to the turn of the century and later an executive of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, died yester-day in him home at Moylan, near Media. He was 84.

     Mr. Sanderson, who came to this country from England in 1881, had his first technical accomplishment in convert-ing the Norfolk & Western Railroad's lines from the then-prevailing narrow-gauge to standard gauge.

     After several years with that road and with the Santa Fe and Seaboard Airline railroads, he joined the staff of the Baldwin works as chief assistant to the president. He continued in that post until his retirement 10 years ago.

     He is survived by a son, Richard Sanderson, of Madison, N. J., and three grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at his home at 3.30 P. M. tomorrow and burial will be in Media Cemetery.

Peter Getz, Rockwall, Texas
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