The nineteenth century was an age of great advances in technology. Of the many engineering achievements of the nineteenth century, these five are considered the most incredible because of the effects they had at the time and the lasting impacts that are still felt today.
The steam engine, a great invention of the eighteenth century, found a new use when the first railroads were constructed in the early nineteenth century. The first rail line in England opened in 1825, and the technology rapidly spread to America. Railroads contributed to the growth of American cities by providing rapid passenger transit between communities and rapid transfer of goods from farm to market. The American railroad industry reached its pinnacle on May 10, 1869 when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific rail lines were joined at Promontory Point, Utah, linking the East and West coasts of America and opening the center of the nation for settlement.
Telecommunication sounds like a twenty-first century concept but the telegraph, patented by Samuel Morse in 1844, is considered to be the foundation of modern telecommunication. By the 1860s people in cities thousands of miles away could send and receive messages with each other, and a new field of employment evolved for people who could decipher the system of clicked “dots and dashes.” The telegraph was also instrumental in the development of the railroad industry by allowing rapid communication of information such as rail accidents and breakdowns. The telegraph directly led to further innovations including the invention of the telephone in 1876.
Internal Combustion Engine
Many of the components of the internal combustion engine had been in existence for centuries when Belgian Etienne Lenoir assembled the system of cylinders, pistons, liquid fuel and ignition source into one unit and used it to power a vehicle in 1862. The mainstay of modern automotive transportation got off to a slow start; by 1900 the technology was only used in one-fourth of the vehicles produced. With the discovery and development of oil reserves in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the use of the internal combustion engine became more prevalent and eventually replaced steam-powered motors in many modern applications.
Completed in 1869, the Suez Canal connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The canal was important because in the days before modern air travel it shortened the lengthy sea voyage between Asia and Europe by over 5,000 miles. The canal took 10 years to complete and a portion was dug by hand although heavy machinery was later brought in to finish the work. Its 101 mile length connects several lakes and remains at sea level with no locks to raise and lower ships. In 1888, the Suez Canal was designated an international waterway and open to ships of all nations.
Prior to the Brooklyn Bridge two of America’s largest cities, Brooklyn and Manhattan, were linked by ferries that were notoriously unreliable. The New York Bridge Company was established in the late 1860s and hired experienced engineer and architect John Roebling to design a suspension bridge that would permanently connect Brooklyn and Manhattan. With a large stone tower at each end and miles of steel cables supporting steel decking, construction of the bridge took 14 years. This incredible feat of nineteenth century engineering was opened in 1883 and provided a passage for foot traffic, cable cars and vehicles to travel over the East River.
Michael Denton has more than twenty years experience in engineering and enjoys sharing the marvels of both ancient and modern engineering with his readers. Michael has also helped find where to get the best online masters in engineering management for people seeking a quality education that’s flexible with their current life schedule.