George Clinton Gardner was born in Washington, D. C., on August 18, 1834, the son of Charles Kitchell Gardner and Anna Eliza McLean. After spending a year at Columbian College (now George Washington University), he pursued an engineering career, and in 1848 joined William H. Emory on a surveying expedition along the United States-Mexico border. In 1854, Gardner moved west to work with his father, then surveyor general of Oregon and Washington, and in 1856, he assisted in surveying the border between the United States and British Columbia. After completing his fieldwork, he returned to Washington, D. C., where he worked for the government as an astronomer and surveyor until 1869, when he joined the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad as a maintenance engineer. He worked for the company until 1879, eventually becoming a superintendent and pioneering the use of nitroglycerin in underwater drilling. Following his time in Pennsylvania, he worked for a number of other railroad companies, including the Troy & Greenfield Railroad (1879-1881), Mexican National and Texas-Mexican Railroads (1881-1884), Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad (1884-1888), and Ohio River Railroad (1892-1896). In 1896, he helped organize the Pacific Company in Peru. He married Fanny Brodhead in October 1863, and they had five children. George Clinton Gardner died on August 13, 1904.