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Samuel W. Traylor

Samuel W. Traylor


Traylor, a financier and president of Traylor Engineering and Manufacturing Co., was born in Walker County, Texas. At age sixteen, he went to Mexico to work for the Edison Co. as a builder of electric light plants. He later was employed by a large mining company as a master mechanic in charge of the building of the largest custom smelter in Mexico.

In 1891, he entered the University of Kansas to pursue a special course in mechanical engineering and chemistry. After completing the course, Traylor went to Colorado and became connected with the building of gold processing mills in Cripple Creek and other sections of the state.

Between 1893 and 1900, Traylor was employed as a mechanical engineer by Colorado Iron Works Co. in Denver. In 1899, he became the consulting engineer for a mine now known as the Nevada Consolidated Copper Co. Traylor undertook the development and financing of this property and after he developed it, influential capitalists from Boston and New York were interested and enabled the building of a railroad to connect the mine to these cities. Traylor also had other mining interests, the largest among which was the Arizona United Copper Co., in which he was the largest stockholder.

From 1902 to 1908, Traylor incorporated the Traylor Engineering and Manufacturing Co., which grew from a general engineering consulting business to a factory that built machinery entering into plants developed by the company. The first plant was located in Bellville, New Jersey, but moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania. When a panic hit the money markets in 1907, it forced Traylor Engineering into bankruptcy. The outbreak of World War I in Europe in 1914 wiped out the firm’s overseas contracts. Traylor’s quick decision to convert his plant to munitions-making saved the company from collapse. His sales ability convinced the British government to give him competitive military contracts. The firm’s business then flourished and in 1916, the company made $10 million just on its munitions contracts.

Traylor’s son, Samuel Traylor, Jr., gave a $1 million donation to the School of Medicine for research, and requested that a research building in the planning be named for his late father. In 1967, Johns Hopkins formally dedicated the 17,000 square foot Samuel W. Traylor Research Building.

Audio clip: Samuel W. Traylor Research Building dedication. 1967.

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