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Cornelius L. Henderson was a pioneering steel engineer and architect who helped construct two of major crossings between the United States and Canada. Mr. Henderson was involved with the building of both the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel.

Born Cornelius Langston Henderson in December 1888 in Detroit, Michigan. The future bridge builder’s father laid down a strong foundation himself. Rev. James M. Henderson was the president of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Ga., and also president of Payne University in Selma, Ala.

The younger Henderson attended Payne for pre-college courses ahead of attending the University of Michigan. Henderson left the school with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and looked for employment in his hometown. While engineering jobs were plentiful and Henderson showed an aptitude for steel, companies wouldn’t hire him because of his race.

Little Known Black History Fact: Cornelius L. Henderson  was originally published on

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