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Great Engineers & Scientists

In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." In this blog, we take Newton's words to heart, and recognize the many great engineers and scientists upon whose shoulders we stand.

So who do you think of when you hear "Great Engineer"? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add him or her to the pantheon. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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James Buchanan Eads

Posted April 04, 2006 10:01 AM
Pathfinder Tags: March 8 May 23

As suggested by covector:

James Buchanan Eads

James Buchanan Eads was born May 23, 1820 in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. James was named after his mother's cousin, the Congressman and later President, James Buchanan. As a child James moved from city to city as his father pursued many failed business ventures. James early education consisted of reading the books of his first employer, a dry-goods merchant in St. Louis. Later, James would work as a purser of a steamboat where he came to learn the dangers of steamboats on the Mississippi and the fortune to be made in salvage their wrecks.

Inspired, James invented a boat equipped with a diving bell that allowed him to walk on the river bottom. James accumulated a sizable fortune over the next 12 years salvaging steamboats from the bottom of the Mississippi which he used to start a glass manufacturing plant in the West, but was ruined by the Mexican War. James moved back east and started salvaging again, slowly improving salvage technology and increasing the size of his fleet of salvage boats.

During the Civil War, James employed 4000 men to build the U.S. ironclad armada. The first of these ironclads was launched just 45 days after production started. The eight total ironclads were produced within 100 days. After the war the expansion into the west was in full swing and a large bridge across the Mississippi that could handle people and trains was necessary. James designed and built a triple-arch steel bridge, each span 500 feet in length and resting on piers that rested on bedrock 100 feet below the river bottom. The Eads Bridge was opened in 1874 and was considered a major engineering accomplishment. The bridge was the first to use steel and cantilevered construction and cost over $10 million dollars.

For the rest of his life, James traveled the world, often acting as a consultant for water transportation issues. James died on March 8, 1887 at Nassau, Bahama Islands.

Reference Links:
http://bridgepros.com/projects/eads/

http://www.riverweb.uiuc.edu/TECH/TECH20.htm

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#1

Eads Bridge is at St. Louis, near the Gateway Arch

04/06/2006 10:22 AM

You left out that Eads bridge is at St. Louis, just north of the Gateway Arch. Originally built as a railroad and footbridge (double decker), then resurfaced for car traffic, Eads bridge has long since been joined by several other bridges at St. Louis. There are 3 near the downtown area, including the MacArthur Bridge (which served as a stunt double for the Brooklyn Bridge in the chase scene of the movie "Escape from New York"), which remains as a railroad bridge, but was closed to vehicle traffic when the adjacent Poplar Street bridge carrying Interstates 55/70/64 was opened.

For many years Eads was owned by the Terminal Railroad Association, which charged a toll for vehicles on top, and carried passenger and freight trains on the lower deck. In 1989 the City of St. Louis, which built and owned the MacArthur bridge in part to offset the monopoly of the TRA, traded bridges with the TRA to allow the MetroLink light rail commuter system to use the Eads bridge. At that time the bridge was closed and completely renovated. In the spirit of its origins and the new millenium, the bridge now carries only the Metrolink and pedestrian and bicycle traffic over the river between Missouri and Illinois.

For some spectacular views and more history of the bridge, use this link:

http://bridges.midwestplaces.com/mo/st-lo uis-city/eads/

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Re:Eads Bridge is at St. Louis, near the Gateway A

04/06/2006 10:29 AM
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Re:Eads Bridge is at St. Louis, near the Gateway A

04/06/2006 10:55 AM

Nice Find!

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