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Man of Industry: W.W. Atterbury

William Wallace Atterbury, ca. 1913
William Wallace Atterbury was born in 1866 in New Albany, Indiana, and was the son of a Presbyterian minister. With a lifelong interest in engineering, Atterbury attended the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University and graduated with a Ph.B. in 1886. After graduating from Yale, Atterbury began work as an apprentice in the Pennsylvania Railroad shops at Altoona, Pennyslvania.

Atterbury would rise through the ranks at the Pennsylvania Railroad, becoming Vice President in Charge of Operation in 1912, an office he would hold until 1917, when World War I changed the course of his life forever. General of the Armies John J. Pershing, leader of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, needed a man who knew about railroads to realign the gnarled railroads of the European front. The man he chose for the job was Atterbury, who was commissioned as a Brigadier General in October, 1917.

 After the war, Atterbury returned to the states and Pennsylvania Railroad, over which he would serve as President from 1925 to 1935. Atterbury died in September 1935, shortly after stepping down as President of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Seven years later, this son of Indiana would become the namesake for a sprawling military installation in south-central Indiana known as Camp Atterbury.

Last updated March 20, 2014


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