Joshua Rufus Nichols

Joshua Rufus Nichols

Manlius, Onondaga County, New York, USA
Death 11 Dec 1902 (aged 71)
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Plot Section E
Memorial ID 57203693 View Source

The Salt Lake Tribune
Saturday, December 13, 1902
page 5


Died - In Salt Lake City December 11th, Joshua Nichols, a native of New York, aged 71 years and 9 months.
Poor Nichols. He started in life with a brain that caused him to grown up a master in the industrial world.
He naturally took to railroading. There was something in its energy and power that found a responsive chord in his own soul. He was a pioneer and the master spirit in building and operating the Chicago & Rock Island. He was a master of all the details of railroad building. He knew all about grades and how on long lines to adjust those grades for the most economical operating of a road. He knew all about engines; where the strain and weight would come and he dressed a locomotive as a soldier dresses his command for long marches.
He figured that engines of a certain power ought to bring a certain tonnage into Chicago. When they failed he never rested until he found the cause in an inferior lubricant. Then he invented a lubricant of his own, obtained the work from the locomotives that they were due to perform. When stockholders would have slighted their roads in construction or equipment, Nichols pointed out to them that "Westward the course of empire takes its way," that while at first the road would be but the blazing of a trail, the young men of the Eastern States and the millions of Europe would swiftly follow, and the road would have to be a burden-bearer on a route over which commerce would send the products of a continent. He was a man on whom such men as Dillon, Roberts and the other railroad kings of the old days leaned as their foremost division commander. No other man had promise, forty years ago, of a brighter future than he. But in a gale one night in Chicago, a swinging sign was blown away and falling, it struck Nichols on the head. He was thought to be dead and was laid out as such, but later he showed signs of life, and eventually recovered. But ever after there were a few loosened strings on the finely strung harp of his mind, and they sometimes "jangled out of tune."
But still, if his judgment was a little unsteady at times, there was no doubt about the quality of his brain. It was such a one as is possessed by the masters of the world's great forces; he took in the continent at a glance; he knew by instinct where in the wilderness Commerce would locate its strategic points and build its forts, and what the approaches ought to be.
He was, moreover, a great reader and thinker. Occult writings and the study of antiquities were delights to him; he was a close friend of Dr. Le Plongen, and kept up a correspondence with him until the pen fell from his grasp, and all the time he kept his heart as warm and sunny as a child's.
He has been ill for a year, desperately sick for months, and the rest that has come to him now must be most welcome.
Joshua Rufus Nichols, who died in Salt Lake Thursday morning, was born in Utica, N.Y., seventy-one years ago. He came to Utah in 1870 and was at one time prominent in mining circles, holding large interests in Park City and Idaho. For some time before coming to Utah he was assistant superintendent of the Burlington Railroad at Omaha. He leaves one son, Walter Hammond Nichols, professor of history in the University of Colorado at Boulder. For some years past the mother has made her home with this son. The funeral services will be held in Masonic hall Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock under the auspices of Argenta Lodge, of which Mr. Nichols was a member. Professor Nichols is in the city to attend the funeral and to close up his father's affairs. [Burt]
Joshua Rufus Nichols born March 14, 1831 to Joshua and Sally (Cooke) Nichols in Manlius Square, Onandago County, New York. Married Charlotte Elizabeth Hammond on February 15,1855 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois

Bio by: Tom Jacobs

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