Very Old and a Zombie

The postcard above, put out by the Detroit Publishing Company in 1906, shows Sewall’s Bridge over the York River in Maine. It’s more of a causeway than a bridge proper, consisting of a series of short-span wood girders supported by wood piles driven into the river bed. But the structural form is not why anyone …

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Craft Versus Industry

I have often defined modern structure in buildings as industrialized structure. The obsolete materials and systems we work on – cast-iron columns, wrought-iron beams, weird forms of reinforced concrete from 1910, and so on – are all based on industrial production. (I did once run into an engineer who thought that “wrought-iron beams” meant that …

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A Generic Name

Yet another obscure truss form that I had not heard of, coming at me from the HABS/HAER index: the Smith truss. The picture above is from Robert Smith’s 1867 patent and I’ll make this short: that’s a double Warren Truss. The connections are a bit odd, possibly reflecting Snith’s carpentry background, but the layout of …

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