Wrought Iron

The Engineering Is Simpler Than The History

This post began with the picture above, a striking 1880s railroad trestle over a ravine, just downstream of a dam. The text on the photo itself identifies as “Bridge near Encarnacion” but doesn’t say where that is and a Spanish name in the western hemisphere doesn’t narrow the field down much. The Library of Congress …

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Standardization, Part 3

Industrial process are inherently standardized. Once you start producing anything on a large scale and with some degree of mechanization, you’re producing it repetitively and therefore in a standard form. But there’s standardization and standardization. It’s worth comparing the first two purely-industrial building materials to be used in the US: cast and wrought iron. Repetition …

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Where It Comes From: Steel

The Edgar Thomson Works, seen above, was a turning point in the wrought-iron versus steel argument in the United States. In 1875, steel was stronger and had more consistent properties, but only incrementally so. It was also more expensive. People chose which metal to use, or mixed and matched within a single project, based on …

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Unfortunately Altered

The last of our Boston trip… That picturesque little bridge is in the Public Garden. As far as I can tell it doesn’t have a name, which is fitting, since it is described in some places as the “world’s shortest suspension bridge.” I don’t know if there are any shorter suspension bridges or how to …

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Detailing, 160 Years Ago

That is the Hamden Bridge over the Raritan River in southish, western New Jersey. It was built in 1858 and is, unfortunately, gone since 1978. By modern standards it was quite small and to our eyes looks almost cute, but it represented a turning point in structural engineering in the US. Rational analysis of trusses …

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