A. Walton White Evans Family Papers,


MC # 03

Processed by: A. Rupert

Vol.: 12 lin. ft.

Date: May 2005

Restrictions: none

Biographical Note

Anthony Walton White Evans was born in New Brunswick, NJ October 31, 1817, the son of Thomas M. Evans and Eliza M. White. His maternal grandfather was Brigadier General Anthony Walton White, a Revolutionary War veteran. Walton Evans (he dropped the Anthony early in life) attended local schools before entering the Rensselaer Institute in 1834.

Leaving the Institute in October 1836, he served as an assistant engineer on the Erie Canal. In 1845 he became an assistant to Allan Campbell in the construction of the New York and Harlem Railroad extension to Albany. The following year he became the resident engineer on the job but resigned in 1850 to join Campbell in building the Copiapo Railroad in Chile. Evans completed the road in 1853 after Campbell's departure. Evans served as Chief Engineer for the construction of the Arica and Tacna Railroad in Peru from 1853 to 1856.

Evans returned to the United States and married Anna Zimmerman on June 24, 1856. The couple immediately moved to Chile where Evans took charge of the building of the Southern Railroad. That line, extending fifty miles south of Santiago, was finished in 1860. Evans gained a reputation for the bridges he designed to cross the numerous swift streams crossed by the railroad.

After his return to New York in 1860 Evans made extensive studies of public works and opened an office as a consulting engineer. He designed the Varrugas Viaduct on the Luna & Oroya Railroad and acted as agent for a number of foreign railways to purchase equipment and recruit staff. In his railroad work he championed the use of American locomotives and cars which he believed superior to those built elsewhere. In 1862-1864 he served as engineer of the defenses of the port of New York and in the latter year became President of the United States Petroleum Company. He also was President of the Spuyten Duyvil Rolling Mill.

Very interested in the projected inter-oceanic canal through Central America, he participated in the 1879 International Congress on the Canal at Paris. Evans collected books, works of art, and artifacts at his estate, Sans Souci, in New Rochelle, NY. He gave extensive collections to the Smithsonian Institution before his death on November 28, 1886.

Scope and Content

The bulk of this collection documents the professional life of A. Walton White Evans. Correspondence, journals, reports and articles provide documentation of Evans' work as a civil engineer and a consultant on railroad projects from 1838 to 1886. Family correspondence is dated primarily during the time of Evans' work in Chile and Peru from 1850 to 1860. His letters to his wife Anna are included in a series of her correspondence. The collection also contains a small amount of correspondence between Evans' parents Eliza and Thomas (1800-1815) and between Anna's parents Sarah and John Zimmerman (1841-1850). Correspondence and records from A. Walton White Evans' grandfather Anthony Walton White and his great-grandfather Anthony White were apparently collected by Walton who had a particular interest in their careers. This material is preserved in separate series within this collection.


Walton Evans' estate passed into the hands of his surviving child Anita Eliza Isabella Evans. She married Philippe Louis von Hemert in Paris on June 24, 1893, but kept the papers at the Sans Souci estate. On her death they passed into the hands of her son A.. Philippe von Hemert, who deposited them in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Archives in 1974.

Series List

  • Series III. - Family Letters
    1. Eliza M. Evans
    2. Thomas M. Evans
    3. Anita E. Evans
    4. Sarah Zimmerman
    5. John C. Zimmerman

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