Page 22 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - August 2018
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         vania from 1846 to 1847. He also con-
         structed railroads in those states. Ellet
         developed theories for improving flood
         control and navigation of mid-western
         rivers.  In 1849  he advocated  for the
         use  of  reservoirs.  Built in  the  upper
         reaches of drainage basins, they would
         retain water from the wet season that
         could be released during periods of low
         water. To some degree this also would
         tend to lessen the level of flooding dur-
         ing high flow.
           In 1850,  the  Secretary  of  War,  con-
         forming to an Act of Congress, directed
         Ellet to make surveys and reports on
         the Mississippi  and Ohio  Rivers with
         a view to the preparation of adequate
         plans for flood prevention and naviga-
         tion  improvement.  Ellet’s  Report of
         the  Overflows  of  the  Delta  of  the  Mis-
         sissippi River helped to reshape New
         Orlean’s  waterfront.  George  Perkins
         Marsh  published  Man and Nature
         fourteen years later, but it was Ellet
         who first noted in writing that the ar-
         tificial embankments created an over-
         flowing delta. Only decades later would
         his  assertions  be taken seriously and
         used in flood control decisions. His very
         complete report had considerable influ-
         ence on later engineering thought and
         navigation improvements.

         Ellet, ramming & the Civil War
           In September 1854, one of the most
         well-known  maritime disasters  of  the
         19th century occurred. The 250-ton SS   View through the arch of the East Tower, looking West at the roadway and suspension cables.
                                            Photo taken in January 1968. This is the oldest vehicular suspension bridge still in operation in
         Vesta  accidentally  rammed and  sank   the world and the first bridge built crossing the Ohio River. In 1969 it was designated an ASCE
         the 2,794-ton SS Arctic. This incident   National Engineering Landmark, and a US National Historic Landmark in 1976. It is perhaps
         –  in  addition  to  reinforcing  the  need   the most important extant antebellum civil engineering structure in North America.
         to follow the maxim, “women and chil-  Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC
         dren first,” as the 88 survivors were all   his son Charles Rivers Ellet.  ington Roebling on construction of the
         crew members –  in turn also convinced   On June 6, 1862, Col. Ellet led the   Brooklyn Bridge –  oversaw additional
         Ellet that with the development of   rams in the Battle of Memphis as cap-  improvements on the Wheeling Bridge.
         steam propulsion, ramming would be a   tain of the USS Queen of the West. Dur-  A 1953 report concerning the suspen-
         very effective form of naval combat. He   ing this complete Union victory, Queen of   sion cables found them either original
         was unable to persuade the US Navy   the West and Monarch both rammed and   or from the 1860 reconstruction.
         of this, so he published the pamphlet   sank the Confederate flagship CSS Colo-  The deck stiffening truss is believed
         Coast and Harbor Defenses, or the Sub-  nel Lovell. Ellet was wounded – the only   to be from the same period. Auxiliary
         stitution of Steam Battering Rams for   Union  casualty  during  the  battle.  He   stay cables were added in 1871–72 to a
         Ships of War in late 1855,  hoping to   died of his injuries in a hospital in Cairo,   design by Colonel Roebling and Hilden-
         gain the interest of the public.   Illinois two weeks later, on June 21.  brand. The  bridge company sold the
           In the early years of the Civil War, El-  Following his death, Ellet’s remains   bridge to the city of Wheeling in 1927.
         let renewed his advocacy. The Navy still   were returned to Philadelphia and bur-  Additional repairs were made in 1930.
         ignored him, but in March 1862, War   ied  in  historic  Laurel  Hill  Cemetery   In 1956, the deck was completely
         Secretary,  Edwin  M.  Stanton,  familiar   overlooking  the  Schuylkill  River.  The   rebuilt, when  the road was widened
         with his work on the Wheeling Sus-  U.S.  Navy named a destroyer to hon-  from 16.25 feet to 20 feet and the side-
         pension Bridge, among other projects,   or the Ellet family.  USS Ellet was in   walks simultaneously narrowed. The
         appointed  Ellet  colonel  of  engineers,   service between 1939 and 1946 during   road and sidewalk were reconstructed
         and authorized him to form the United   World War II.                 with an open steel grating that reduces
         States Ram Fleet on the Mississippi Riv-                              wind resistance, and rests on lightened
         er. Ellet converted several river steam-  From horse & buggies to high   steel floor beams. Some modern weight
         ers to rams, and by June his fleet was   speed autos                  restrictions and issues remain.
         ready. As captains of the other rams, he   In 1874 Wilhelm Hildenbrand – who   The bridge spans 1,010 feet across the
         appointed his brothers, his nephews, and   had worked closely with Colonel Wash-       continued on page 24

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