Søren Theodor Munch Bull Kielland

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Søren Theodor Munch Bull Kielland

Birthplace: Stavanger, Rogaland, Norge (Norway)
Death: February 15, 1935 (80)
Buffalo, NY, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Lauritz Christian Kielland and Mette Johanne Colbjørnsen Kielland
Husband of Anna May Kielland
Father of Rolf Harris Munch Kielland; Jinnet Christine Seaver; Dorothea Elizabeth Brueckner; Anna Harris Ewald Hagen and Casper Marvin Kielland
Brother of Marie Hiorth Steenstrup
Half brother of Anna Dorthea Kielland

Occupation: Railway Engineer
Managed by: Martin le Roux
Last Updated:

About Søren Theodor Munch Bull Kielland


The following selection is taken from "Saga in Steel and Concrete: Norwegian Engineers in America" by Kenneth Bjork published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) in 1947. The volume is still available from NAHA at http://www.naha.stolaf.edu where you will also find the first 33 volumes of Studies and Records online. This chapter is published with the kind permission of NAHA. The book this selection is drawn from is under copyright and permission has been granted for educational purposes and it is not to be used in any way for commercial purposes.

The outstanding railroad pioneer in the East and for some time the "grand old man" of the Norwegian engineers was Soren Munch Kielland, chief engineer of the Buffalo Creek Railroad. Kielland, a graduate of the Chalmers Institute, arrived in this country in 1881 and was employed by the Erie Railroad. His experiences in the fifty years that followed, which he later recorded in some detail, cover many of the tasks that faced an engineer in the epic period of American railroad construction. Engaged in improving and reconstructing the western division of the Erie Railroad, Kielland also took part in doubletracking and generally rebuilding the Buffalo Creek Railroad, designing bridges, yards, and buildings. He helped construct the protection along the lake shore for the Buffalo line and prepared records and maps. When Robert Harris, a vice-president of the Erie Railroad, became president of the Northern Pacific, Kielland took employment with this line and moved to the west coast in 1885. He was requested to examine coal mines and start new towns along the Northern Pacific, chiefly in Washington. When Montana began to develop its railroad branches near Butte and Helena, Kielland was transferred to that state, becoming principal assistant to his former superior in the East. The two men built several branch lines with tunnels and high trestles, Kielland being in charge of all field and construction work. The undertaking was completed in 1888, and Kielland, seeking rest, made a trip to the homeland. Upon his return to the United States, he accepted a position with the Lehigh Valley Railroad. His new work had to do with meeting the terminal requirements in and near Buffalo, the key link in the Great Lakes and eastern railroad transportation. He built warehouses and docks at Buffalo, Chicago, and West Superior. Kielland was forced out of this company following a shakeup in management. He then went out to Montana again for the Montana Railroad Company to assist in the development of new lines there. Put in charge of construction, Kielland located several hundred miles and started construction of the Montana Southern and Montana Midland lines, but the panic of 1893 and the depression that followed brought a halt to this work. Kielland returned to Buffalo in 1896 and accepted a position with the Buffalo Creek Railroad, remaining with this company, for a long period as chief engineer, until his retirement in the early 1930's. He had realized early that this line held the key to vital expansions in and around Buffalo and he felt that it should be the great belt line of the Buffalo-Niagara territory. In the period 1897-1910, when E. F. Knibloe was general agent of the railroad, Kielland co-operated with him in developing numerous projects in which the line was interested. The Stony Point and Terminal Junction Railroad, which later became the South Buffalo Railroad, was organized by Kielland and Stephen T. Lockwood. The two men held the charter to the land that was later utilized by the Lackawanna Steel Company, the South Buffalo Railroad, and the Bethlehem Steel Company. Kielland, together with powerful associates, initiated the formation of the Niagara Transfer Railroad Company, which later became the property of the New York Central system. The establishments of the Wickwire, Dunlop, and General Electric companies and other industries now occupy territory made available by his efforts. The Buffalo River Extension survey was made by Kielland and C. Morse of the Erie line, the Buffalo Creek Railroad acquiring some of the most desirable right-of-way land. Thus, in the development of one of America's most vital transportation and industrial centers this engineer played a leading and deeply significant role. He also served as Norwegian consul in Buffalo.

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Søren Theodor Munch Bull Kielland's Timeline

September 7, 1854
Stavanger, Rogaland, Norge
August 1, 1884
Buffalo, NY, United States
Age 30
Natal, South Africa
June 6, 1886
Kendall, Orleans County, NY, United States
December 29, 1889
Kendall, NY, United States
May 6, 1892
Buffalo, NY, United States
October 6, 1896
Buffalo, Erie, NY, United States
February 15, 1935
Age 80
Buffalo, NY, United States