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Alfred Ephraim Hunt

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Alfred Ephraim Hunt (1855-1899)

1899 Obituary [1]

ALFRED EPHRAIM HUNT was born in East Douglas, Massachusetts, on the 31st March, 1855. He was educated at the Boston High School, at Harvard University, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he graduated in the department of metallurgy and mining engineering in 1876.

His first appointment was at the Bay State Ironworks in South Boston, where was to be found one of the early open-hearth steel furnaces erected in the United States.

From 1878 to 1880 Mr. Hunt was in charge of the open-hearth steel department of the Nashua Iron and Steel Co, New Hampshire, and from 1880 to 1883 he occupied a similar position at the Black Diamond Steel Works of Park Brothers and Co of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

In 1883 Mr. Hunt, in conjunction with Mr. George H. Clapp, of Messrs. Park Brothers and Company, founded the Pittsburg Testing Laboratory for the physical and chemical testing of materials and the inspection of iron and steel structures.

Among the bridges, the inspection of the materials for which was in Mr. Hunt's charge, may be mentioned the Robert Street Bridge across the Mississippi at St. Paul, and the Poughkeepsie Bridge across the Hudson. He was also responsible for the erection of several bridges, including two across the Beaver River in Pennsylvania. The Pittsburg Testing Laboratory was formed into a limited liability company in 1892.

In 1888 Mr. Hunt turned his attention largely to the manufacture of aluminium. He became President of the Pittsburg Reduction Company, which was formed to make aluminium by the Hall process of electrolysis. The operations of the Company were attended with great success, and works were erected at New Kensington on the banks of the Allegheny, near Pittsburg, and at Niagara, where power is obtained from the Falls.

In 1896 an interesting Paper by Mr. Hunt entitled "The Manufacture of Aluminium by Electrolysis, and the Plant at Niagara for its Extraction ” was read before the Institution.

Mr. Hunt died in Philadelphia on the 26th April, 1899, from the effects of fever contracted in Porto Rico in the summer of 1898. His death at the comparatively early age of 44 is a loss to metallurgical science and is much regretted by a large circle of friends.

He was a member of many scientific bodies, among which may be mentioned the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Institute of Mining Engineers, the American Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania, and the American Society for the Advancement of Science. In connection with the first-named society he prepared for the International Engineering Congress of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, a Paper entitled “A Proposed Method of Testing Structural Steel.” For many years he commanded Battery B of the National Guard of Pennsylvania.

He was married in 1878 to Miss Maria T. McQueston, of Nashua, New Hampshire, and left one son, Boy Arthur Hunt.

Mr. Hunt was elected a Member of this Institution on the 3rd March, 1891. He was previously well known and esteemed here, having been a prominent member of the party of American engineers received by the Institution in 1889 on their way to the Paris Exhibition of that year.

1899 Obituary [2]

ALFRED EPHRAIM HUNT died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 26, 1899. Born at East Douglas, Massachusetts, in 1855, he was one of the most prominent metallurgical engineers of America, and the leading authority on the aluminium industry. The immediate cause of Captain Hunt's death was haemorrhage, complicated with weakness of the heart; but these were only indirect causes, which were themselves the result of a fever contracted while he was in command of Battery B of Pittsburgh at Chickamauga Park, and later in the Porto Rico campaign of the Spanish-American war. He was a descendant of William Hunt, who went from England to Concord, Massachusetts, in 1635. He was educated at the Roxburgh High School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating from the latter institution in metallurgy and mining engineering in 1876. For some time after his graduation he was with the United States Geological Survey, and later became connected with the Bay State Ironworks in South Boston, where the second open-hearth furnace in America was set up under his direction. For this Company he also went to Michigan to explore for iron ore, and upon the samples brought back by him the first report was made on the Michigamme mines, the first of the famed ore discoveries in Northern Michigan. From 1877 to 1879 ho was manager and chemist of the open-hearth steelworks at Nashua. He then went to Pittsburgh as superintendent and chemist with Park Brothers & Company, but in 1882 he resigned, and, with George H. Clapp, of the same firm, formed the well-known firm of Hunt & Clapp, and established a chemical laboratory, and did the chemical work of the Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory. It was while he was in active management of this laboratory that he became interested in Charles M. Hall's process for the reduction of aluminium, which he, in company with the inventor, finally developed into the important works of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company. His education and intimate knowledge of chemistry made him at once recognise the merit of the scientific principles involved in the process, and as soon as he had familiarised himself with its details, he set about organising the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, raising the capital among his personal friends in Pittsburgh. At the time that he and his associates began the manufacture of aluminium by the Hall process, that metal was selling at fifteen dollars per pound. At his death it was selling at from thirty to forty cents. per pound.

The manufacture of aluminium was only one of the important enterprises of Captain Hunt's work as an engineer. The others were the opening of the Michigan iron mines, the adoption of the open-hearth process in steel manufacture, and the development of the commercial testing laboratory from its first small beginning to a business and engineering position of recognised standing and merit. He was a member of most of the leading American technical societies, and contributed largely to technical literature. For the merit of a paper written for the International Engineering Congress, held in Chicago in 1893, he was awarded the Norman Gold Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1888 ; in 1890 contributed to its Proceedings a paper on the inspection of materials of construction in the United States. He was an energetic member of the Central Committee that organised the visit of the Institute to America in 1890.

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