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Published in the American National Biography, v. 3, p. 208-210. Copyright 1999, American Council of Learned Societies and Oxford University Press. Used by permission.


Gail Borden (1801-1874) was a surveyor and inventor, and also a Western settler, school teacher, customs inspector, land dealer, and politician. He helped compile the first topographic map of Texas, which was completed in 1835. He is credited with attempting to create an amphibious vehicle that he called the terraqueous machine in 1848. He developed a condensed-beef-broth-and-flour concoction that he called a "meat biscuit." In what proved later to be his most successful venture, he created a commercially viable method for producing condensed milk that was consistently pure and long-lasting.