Renfrewshire's emigrants: Daniel Craig McCallum

Daniel Craig McCallum was born in Paisley in 1815. With his parents, he emigrated to the town of Rochester, New York in the 1830s, where he became a carpenter, an architect, and a very successful bridge builder.

In the early 1840s, he designed Saint Joseph's Church in Rochester. By 1849, McCallum was a contractor building bridges for the New York and Erie Railroad Company. He designed and patented the "McCallum Inflexible Arched Truss Bridge" which could withstand much heavier loads than previous designs.

In 1853, the New York and Erie Railroad Company appointed McCallum to be superintendent of the Susquehanna Division of the railroad, and by 1855 he was promoted to superintendent of the entire railroad.

McCallum soon reorganised and streamlined the organisation, making it much more efficient and kept rigorous safety standards.


McCallum's strict rules meant that in most cases the railway engineers were blamed for any railway accidents, whether they could reasonably have avoided them or not. Two incidents in 1856 resulted in the dismissal of both engineers involved, even although no one had been injured. The other engineers went on strike. McCallum was unwilling to relax his rules, and unable to resolve the dispute. He resigned in February 1857.

McCallum returned to Rochester, New York and resumed his bridge building. His patented bridges were built in the Western states and in South America. In 1857, he married Mary McCann.The couple had five children, but only two survived early childhood. One son was killed in the American Civil War.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, McCallum was appointed director and superintendent of the United States Military Railroads by President Abraham Lincoln. Eventually reaching the rank of Major General, McCallum's greatest accomplishment was supplying General Sherman's army of 100,000 men and 60,000 animals during his campaign in Atlanta, Georgia.

After the war, McCallum retired into private life and settled at Owego, New York. He died in December 1878. His body was taken by rail to Rochester, New York where he was interred at the Mount Hope Cemetery.
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Thursday, January 24, 2013