Collection Type:

1839 to 1915

Samuel Diescher, a prominent civil and mechanical engineer, was born in Hungary, educated in Germany and Switzerland, and active in Pittsburgh from ca. 1870 to 1915. His sons entered into partnership with him in 1901, under the name of Samuel Diescher & Sons.

Diescher designed water works, industrial buildings and plants, coal handling equipment, furnaces for the steel industry, and miscellaneous machinery for tasks ranging from soap making to steel fabrication to sugar beet processing. He also designed the majority of heavy inclined planes in the United States, including numerous inclines in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania (e.g. the Castle Shannon Inclines 1 and 2, Penn Incline, Fort Pitt Incline, Nunnery Hill Incline, and the Cambria Incline in Johnstown); as well as inclines in Wheeling, WV, Cleveland, OH, Duluth, MN, Orange, NJ, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and Girardot and Camboa, Colombia.

Unusual projects include the machinery for the famous Ferris Wheel at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and an energy generating plant for the U. S. Wave Power Company in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Scope and Content: 

The Diescher Collection consists of hundreds of ink-on-linen drawings documenting more than fifty projects dating from ca. 1887-1930, including all projects mentioned above. Twenty-one inclines are represented. The inclines are represented by drawings of right-of-ways, stations, track arrangements, cars, machinery, and machine parts. Also included are standard configurations for industrial plants and machinery, as conceived by Diescher.

Select Bibliography: 

Diescher, Samuel. "Inclined Plane Railways." Proceedings of the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania 12 (1896): 233-265.

Fleming, George Thornton. History of Pittsburgh and Environs. New York: the American Historical Society, Inc., 1922, 6:93-94.

Ohler, Samuel R. (editor). Pittsburgh's Inclines. Pittsburgh: 1972.

Society for Industrial Archeology Newsletter 20:2 (Summer 1991).