Charles Storer Storrow

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Charles Storer Storrow

Birthdate: (95)
Birthplace: Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Death: April 30, 1904 (95)
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Wentworth Storrow and Sarah Phipps Storrow
Husband of Lydia Storrow and Lydia Cabot Storrow
Father of James Jackson Storrow; Anna Louisa Sterrow; Charles Storrow; Sarah Fipps Storrow; Lidia Storrow and 2 others
Brother of Susan Clarke Van Wart; Anna Louisa Storrow; Samuel Storrow and Thomas Wentworth Storrow

Occupation: Engineer, Politician
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Charles Storer Storrow

Charles Storer Storrow (25 March 1809 – 30 April 1904) was a prominent American civil engineer and industrialist. He is known for designing and building the dam and textile mill complex in Lawrence, Massachusetts.


Charles Storer Storrow was born in Montréal, Canada, on March 25, 1809. From age 9 to 15 he attended Collége Royal de Bourbon (now Lycée Condorcet) in Paris, France, where his father had a business. In 1824 he returned to American and completed his secondary education at the Round Hill School. He entered Harvard as a sophomore in 1826 and graduated at the top of his class in 1829. His thesis was entitled Of the Celestial Motions.

On the advice of America's leading civil engineer at the time, Loammi Baldwin, he returned to Paris and spent two years (1830-1832) as an auditeur libre at École des Ponts et Chaussées where he studied hydraulics under Gaspard de Prony and applied mechanics under Claude-Louis Navier.

Returning to America in 1832, Storrow joined the engineering staff of the Boston and Lowell Railroad and went on to become the railroad's business agent in 1836. In 1845 Storrow left the Boston and Lowell to become the chief engineer at the Essex Company, a company organized to harness the water power of the Merrimack River downstream from Lowell, Massachusetts. Storrow designed and built the Great Stone Dam across the Merrimack river, canals to distribute the water, several large textile mills, and a city, Lawrence, to house the mill workers. He came up with the idea to make roads that go to the mills in Lawrence, allowing him to become the first mayor of Lawrence in 1853.

Storrow's book, A Treatise on Water-Works for Conveying and Distributing Supplies of Water; with Tables and Examples, introduced American civil engineers to the mathematical theory of hydraulics and put America hydraulic engineering on a strong scientific basis. Storrow also authored an extensive report on the Hoosac Tunnel and contributions to Lowell Hydraulic Experiments, a book by his protégé, James Bicheno Francis.

James J. Storrow, after whom Boston's Storrow Drive is named, was Charles Storrow's grandson.


Honorary Member, American Society of Civil Engineers

Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Charles Storer Storrow (1809-1904) was born in Montreal on 25 March 1809 to Thomas Wentworth Storrow (1779-1862) and Sally Phipps (Brown) Storrow (1783-1837). His family moved from Montreal to Paris in 1818, and he lived there until 1824, when he was sent back to Massachusetts to attend the Round Hill School in Northampton. From there he went to Harvard, graduating first in his class in 1829. He studied engineering from 1830 to 1831 at the E‰cole des Ponts et Chaussees at Pais and joined the engineering staff of the Boston and Lowell railroad in 1832. In 1845, Charles became the treasurer of the Essex Company, which built a dam across the Merrimack River, built many canals and locks to channel waterpower to the mills at Lowell, and was responsible for much of the infrastructure of the town of Lawrence. Charles became the first mayor of the city of Lawrence in 1853. Later projects include consulting on the Hoosac Tunnel in 1862, the construction of a dam on the Deerfield River, 1863-1867, and starting the Tremont Petroleum Co. in 1865 to speculate on petroleum in Western Pennsylvania.

In 1836, Charles married Lydia Cabot Jackson (1812-1889), daughter of Dr. James Jackson (1777-1867) and Elizabeth Cabot (1776-1817). Charles and Lydia had seven children: James Jackson Storrow (1837-1897), Ann Louisa Storrow (1839-1849), Charles Storrow (1841-1927), Samuel Storrow (1843-1865), Sarah Phipps Storrow (1845-1849), Catherine Goddard Storrow (1847-1849), and Lydia "Lily" Jackson (Storrow) Dale (1851-1933).

Source: Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Accessed December 15, 2017.

Storrow Drive was named after his son James Jackson Storrow. Son Samuel Storrow was killed in the Civil War.

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Charles Storer Storrow's Timeline

March 25, 1809
Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
July 29, 1836
Age 27
Boston, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
July 29, 1837
Age 28
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
June 20, 1839
Age 30
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
March 7, 1841
Age 31
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Age 32
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
August 18, 1845
Age 36
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
December 19, 1850
Age 41
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
April 30, 1904
Age 95
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States