Biography of Ralph Mershon

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Electrical Record

New York, NY, United States
vol. 6, no. 3, p. 134-135, col. 1-2,1

Ralph Davenport Mershon



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WHILE Mr. Mershon began his engineering career in railway location and construction work, in advance of his college training, it is in the electrical field that he achieved rank and prominence.

In 1886, at the age of eighteen, he entered the Ohio State University and from this he graduated in 1890 with the degree of mechanical engineer. During the last year of his university course he was student assistant in physics and electrical engineering, and for one year after graduation (1890-91) he was assistant instructor in electrical engineering. During the period from 1891 to 1900 he was employed by the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company at Pittsburgh. While there, Mr. Mershon had experience in all branches of electrical workóresearch work, both theoretical and practical; experimental work, designing, factory engineering, field engineering and installation, patent expert work, and patent experimental work, commercial work and selling. He designed the transformers for which the Westinghouse Company received an award at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.

From 1893 to 1895 he had charge of certain work being done by the Westinghouse Company in connection with the extension of the transmission plant of the Telluride Power Transmission Company, of Telluride, Colo., which was a single-phase alternating current transmission employing single-phase synchronous motors.

In 1896 and 1897 he carried on at Telluride, for the Telluride Power Transmission Company and the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, an investigation of the phenomena which occur between conductors at high voltages. This investigation was carried out on a. transmission line about two and one-half miles long, and was the first investigation ever made in which quantitative measurements were obtained of the ionization and other atmospheric losses occurring between conductors at high voltages. Original methods of investigation were devised by Mr. Mershon for this work, and special apparatus was designed and built by him, by means of which quantitative measurements were made up to 72,000 volts. At the completion of the quantitative work, the voltage was carried up to 133,000 volts, at that time by far the highest voltage that had ever been impressed on an outdoor line.

Securing leave of absence from the Westinghouse Company during 1897 and 1898, he acted as chief engineer of the Colorado Electric Power Company during the designing and installation of their transmission plant, which generates current by steam at Canon City, Colo., and transmits power at 25,000 volts to Cripple Creek, Colo., a distance of 25 miles, where it is used for mining.

From 1897 to 1900 Mr. Mershon was engineer of the New York office of the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company. During the latter year he resigned to enter upon private practice as consulting electrical and mechanical engineer in New York City, with a branch office in Montreal, Canada.

Some of the more important pieces of engineering work accomplished by him since then are the reconstruction and enlargement of the water wheel, generating, transforming, and transmitting equipment of the Montreal and St. Lawrence Light & Power Company, now a part of the Montreal Light, Heat & Power Company, transmitting 20,000 horse power at 25,000 volts to Montreal, a distance of 17 miles; the design and supervision of the transmission plant of the Shawinigan Water & Power Company, transmitting power at 50,000 volts a distance of 85 miles, to the city of Montreal; the design and installation of the sub-station equipments of the Montreal Street Railway Company, having an aggregate capacity of about 12,000 horse power, for utilizing the power transmitted to Montreal from various hydraulic plants; the design and supervision of the transmission plant of the Niagara, Lockport & Ontario Power Company for transmitting power at 60,000 volts from Niagara Falls to various points in New York State. This latter plant is the largest transmission plant which has ever been undertaken in point of capacity, and is one of the most important in point of distance of transmission. Its present capacity is 60,000 horse power, and it is laid out for an increase to 18