John A. Roebling, C. E., whose fame as an engineer has made his name familiar throughout the civilized world, died at the residence of his son in Hicks street, Brooklyn, on tha 22d of July. His death resulted from lockjaw, caused from an injury to his foot, which rendered amputation necessary. The bruise was received while he was in company with his son engaged in surveying the approaches to the projected East River Suspension Bridge, about to be erected between New York and Brooklyn. Mr. Roebling, was born June 12, 1806, at Muhlhausen in Thuringia, Prussia. He received the degree of C. E., from the Royal Polytechnic School at Berlin, and it is worthy of notice that the subject of his graduating thesis was suspension bridges. With this class of structures his name will ever be identified. He came to the United States in 1831, and bought a considerable tract of land near Pittsburgh, Pa. He soon after commenced the practice of his profession, and continued it upon various railways and canals for more than ten years, before the time ripened for him to carry out his ideas of a suspension bridge. In 1844, having previously commenced the manufacture of wire rope, he was awarded the contract for reconstructing tho. wooden aqueduct of the Pennsylvania Canal across the Alle- ghany River, upon the suspension principle, which he successfully accomplished. This aqueduct consisted of seven spans, each 162 feet in length. The wooden trunk which held the water, was supported by two continuous wire cables, seven inches in diameter. The Suspension Bridge across the Monongahela, at Pittsburgh, succeeded. This bridge has eight spans 188 feet long, and the cables are 4 inches in diameter. Mr. Roebling contracted, in 1848, to erect four suspension aqueducts on the line of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, all of which were completed in due time. In 1851 the great Suspension Bridge at Niagara, was commenced, and was com pleted, so that the Srst locomotive crossed in March, 1855. This was an engineering feat, that compelled the universal acknowledgment of Mr. Roebling's great genius. At the time the Niagara Bridge was commenced, Mr. Roebling also commenced a bridge over the Kentucky River, on the line of the Southern railroad, leading from Cincinnati, to Chattanooga. This bridge progressed no farther than the completion of the towers, owing to financial failure on the part of the company. This bridge would, if completed, have been a more remarkable work than the one at Niagara, tho span being 1,224 feet. The subsequent works of Mr. Roebling, were the bridge over the Alleghany River at Pittsburgh,—the most elegant suspension bridge probably in this continent; and the Ohio Bridge at Cincinnati, completed in 1867. The reports, plans, and specifications of the East River bridge are completed, and Mr. Roebling will have a worthy and able successor in his son, who has assisted his father in his later works. Altogether few men have lived whose history can record a series of more brilliant successes than that of Mr. Roebling. He leaves behind him monuments of his greatness, and his name will pass into history among the brightest of those who have achieved immortality, by benefiting the human race. That he has been cut off thus on the threshold of his greatest undertaking, adds to our sincere regret; but that he could not live to see its completion, will not detract from the well-won renown of its gifted and accomplished designer.
This article was originally published with the title "Obituary—Death of John A. Roebling" in Scientific American 21, 6, 89 (August 1869)