Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Suspension bridges

I'd heard of John Roebling and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but I never heard of James Finley before. There are probably others who contributed to the development of the modern suspension bridge, but still I find it interesting that Finley is credited with being the 'father of the modern suspension bridge'.

This Friday Finley will be honored by the state of Pennsylvania, where he lived and worked. And, although Wikipedia claims Finley was born in Maryland, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Structure magazine both assert that Finley was born in Ireland in 1756.
Judge Finley has been cited as Father of the Modern Suspension Bridge, a well-deserved accolade based on his efforts to introduce this style of structure in the form now used all over the world. In June 1810, he presented his theories and methods in an elegant essay appearing in a Philadelphia magazine, The Port Folio. The essay was later expanded into an instructional booklet published at Uniontown the following year.
Irish born and the "Father of the Modern Suspension Bridge". Is Finley part of the curriculum here? I hope so, but I doubt it. None of my children mentioned Finley to me even when I was waxing lyrical on Roebling or Brunel's bridges.