A gigantic map of all the cool plaques in the world. A project of 99% Invisible.

Frederick Pelham: Bridge Engineer

Frederick Pelham: Bridge Engineer


Frederick Pelham was born on November 7, 1864.  He attended school in Detroit.  In 1887, he became the first African American to receive an Engineering Degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and was hired as a civil engineer for the Michigan Central Railroad Company.  Frederick is known for the design and construction of 20 railroad bridges.


In 1887, Martha Warner was killed crossing the train tracks.  The citizens of Dexter petitioned the Michigan Central Railroad to make the road crossing safer.  Frederick Pelham was assigned the job.  In 1890, he designed the skew stone arch bridge over the road as well as the nearby stone arch bridge over Mill Creek.


Frederick Pelham died of acute pneumonia on February 6, 1895 at the age of 30.


This sign was researched by Wylie Elementary School 4th-grade students (2017-2018).


Submitted by

Bryan Arnold



Nearby Plaques On Google Maps