Top Twenty Engineering Landmarks

4 Feb

Seeing is Believing

I tried to word this right, the title, for surely there are many Engineering feats, throughout history, the Roman walls in England, and the Greeks Acropolis, in Athens, and the legendary labyrinth, in Crete, and so on and so forth. But these are the ones I’ve seen, and feel are worthy to be called among the greatest of mankind. Some are ancient, some are contemporary, all are great, and until I see something better, this will remain written in stone in me, and I am not adding the space programs, or moon landing in this overview, or scenario. Man has accomplished a lot, with his blood and sweat,
Perhaps too much blood and sweat went into these feats, but then, that is part of the human race is it not, to be and seek challenges. So here we go:

1–The Panama Canal: The Panama Canal, one of the world’s most impressive achievements, with three locks, and a long canal 51-miles long is perhaps the Greatest Engineering Feat of Man kind. I visited the site three times, in 2006.

The city of Panama, an old city dates back to 1673 AD (and some structures to 1519 AD: I’ve seen them all, impressive); it was once burned down (the old city), I walked among its ruins, which is a UNESCO site now; or World Heritage Site.

What is the Panama Canal? It is a 51-mile waterway, linking the Atlantic with the Pacific oceans. That is it, in a nutshell. I saw large and small ships going through the canal. In the 1880s, France tried to build this waterway, fighting yellow fever and malaria, killing 22,000-people. There was a canal treaty in 1903, and in 1904 the Americans took over the building, and accomplished it in 1914 (it only took ten years to build). They purchased the rights for $40-million dollars from France, who had started the project but could not complete it, at which had $375-million dollars invested into the project; and then the USA invested $300-million. Mountains had to be split in two, creating a crack between them, and manmade lakes created. I saw pictures of the ongoing construction, it was breathtaking, the task.

2–The Great Wall of China: I walked on the Great Wall of China, in 1996, it was a haunting experience. Built between 250 BC and 1450 AD, it expands over mountain rangers and across unforeseeable terrain it is spellbinding to walk up and down its wall, knowing it kept the nomad tribes, or better put, the so called barbarians out (or was suppose to). It stretches two-thousand miles across China, and can be seen from outer space. An ancient engineering feet only surpassed (I believe) 500-years later when the Panama Canal was created. You could put six of the pyramids of Egypt into the construction of the Canal, and have leftover debris.

3–The Central Railroad of Peru (completed in 1907): The Central Railroad of Peru the most distinguished in the world (historically); an engineering feat of land and steal where it reached to heights of fifteen-thousand eight hundred and thirty feet (above sea level) to the city of Ticlio, then down to Bone City (La Oroya) and onto Huancavelica: One thousand miles of rail through mountains, across 41-bridges, around 13-zigzags, through 60-tunnels. It goes alongside the Mantaro Rio, in the Mantaro Valley of Peru (as you can see there were many technical engineering difficulties involved in its making). I have not been on this railroad, but I’ve seen the bridges, and the tunnels they carved and built for this accomplished, while traveling throughout the Andes of Peru, and the Mantaro Valley itself, and been to the Rio.

4–The Pan-American Highway: While in South America, I’ve been on this highway a dozen times, but while in Bogota, Columbia, I found it was a little different in that those folks who died on the highway, their loved ones planted trees for them, and you see these trees all about. What a kind gesture.

This was no little project, 29,800 miles of highway (the whole system); from beyond Fairbanks, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina in South America (with a 54-mile gap in the rainforest). It is the Americas supper highway, it is really too big, and too complex to put into a small paragraph like this, but let me say, it is a tourist haven; perhaps the best way to travel in the Americas besides the jet.

5–The Plateau of Giza: and its Pyramids and Sphinx (Egypt): When I was in Egypt, I took a tour of the Plateau, and of course the three pyramids, and went into the pyramid of Khafra, with its tunnels, and sections, and all. And got a front row tour of the Sphinx, which only a few people get, and very few, it has to be at midnight to get that special tour, and costly (perhaps as much as the trip to Egypt itself), but you get what you pay for, to touch it, and perhaps a little more). The Great Sphinx is north side of the court, in front are temples, ruins. When you see this combination, and all its linking connections, throughout the Plateau, and the connections with the heavens, astronomical associations, it is a gallery of Engineering on a grand scale.

6–The Siberian Railroad: I’ve only been on what one may call, a small section of it (Perhaps the European Section), for it goes from England to Brussels, Belgium, to Cologne, Germany, and on to Moscow, Russia, and then on to capitol of Mongolia (Ulan Bater), and to Beijing, China. Not sure who gets the credit for building it, perhaps those countries I just mentioned, it is, if anything, a United Nations Achievement, in that it crosses the boarder of so many countries. But the miles involved, for such a trip I just mentioned would take six-days on the train that in itself is an Engineering feat unsurpassed in a railroad.

7–The Alaskan Pipeline: On my way to Barrow, Alaska and during a flight while in Barrow, across its tundra, I saw pipeline, it is massive, and like a long unending snake. It bewilders me how one might have to go out and fix a link, oh well, the week in Barrow, in 1996, was a long week to say the least, and you see nothing in the Arctic but white, no trees, no anything, except, white bears, white this and that, and the pipeline, which looks white after a while also but is perhaps more silver looking. Back in 1968-’69, when I went to San Francisco, many folks were heading up there to work on oil projects, anticipating the pipeline, as if it was a gold rush. I remember quite well, Dan, a friend of mine, back then; his stepbrother’s father was heading up there, to work in oilfields.

The 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline, it started up in 1977, and pumped, successfully transporting over 15-billion barrels of oil since. It crosses three mountain ranges and over 800 rivers and streams; it cost $8-billion to build, and was mostly from privately funds. It took three-years, and two months to build between 1974-1977, I assume the planning stages were complicated, for they had to build seven airfields to accommodate the construction.

8–Borobudur (the Magnificence): A master piece of art, and engineering (assembly): temple, or shrine to Buddha, with 504 Buddha’s statues in sitting or standing positions around the shrine. It is wider than the Great Pyramid of Egypt, built on a mound. I went there in 1999, summer and it encircled me, until I got to its peak, Built in the 8th Century, AD. It has two-million blocks of volcanic rock, to the total building structure, the area is 14,165 square meters, with a width of 120 M. With a total weight of 3,500,000 tones. Only about 5000 visitors go there a year it is not one of your regular stops, to say the least, You have to fly into Yogyakarta, central, Java, to get there (from the Midwest, you go to Alaska to Japan, to Guam, to Bali, and a small plane can take you into the city. On the top of the shrine, is a giant Stupa; there is also a calm, about, and around the whole area.

See Dennis’ web site:

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CY O’Connor’s remarkable Goldfields pipeline in Western Australia is the only the third Australian project to be named as a world engineering landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineering.

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The Forth & Clyde Canal, and Union Canal in Glasgow are recognised as the world’s first man-made, sea-to-sea ship canal project. It took 22 years to complete.

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Built between 1893 and 1897, the Woodhead Dam, Table Mountain, was the first large masonry dam in South Africa.

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The Washington Monument remains the tallest stone masonry structure in the world.

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The Theodore Roosevelt Dam & Salt River Project in Phoenix was the first multipurpose (irrigation, river regulation, power generation and recreation) project in the United States.

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The White Pass & Yukon Railroad was the first cold region engineered construction in Alaska, built by American and Canadian engineers in only 27 months.

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The Panama Canal is the greatest sea-to-sea lock canal of all time. It remains a major artery in world trade.

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The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme consists of sixteen large dams, 145 km of tunnels, seven power stations, a pumping station, and 80 km of aqueducts. It is a world-class civil engineering project that provides vital electric power and irrigation water.

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The Thames Tunnel in London marked the beginning of a new era in tunneling practice.

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Dating from 100 BC, the Ifugao Rice Terrace in the Philippines is the oldest and most extensive use of terraces in the world.

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The Hwaseong Fortress of Suwon City is a unique ten-volume work that symbolises the cultural and technological renaissance under King Jeongjo.

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One of the best preserved Roman constructions, the Aqueduct at Segovia was constructed around 50AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan.

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The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (“Holy Wisdom”) is a major monument of Byzantine architecture.

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Put in service in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was conceived by Joseph Strauss and designed largely by Charles Ellis. It was the longest single span bridge (4,200 feet) in the world for a quarter century.

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The modern Suez Canal in Cairo is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping routes and continues to play a critical role in international trade. The Suez Canal is pictured here as seen from Earth Orbit.

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New York City’s Statue of Liberty was completed in 1886, and became the world’s symbol of the United States as the land of the free.

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The Sydney Harbour Bridge, with a span of 1,650 feet, is the widest long-span bridge in the world. The bridge required 52,000 tons of steel and more than 6,000,000 rivets to construct, in a job that lasted nine years.

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The Great Western Railway in Bristol was built between 1835 and 1841. Pictured here is a broad gauge Iron Duke Class locomotive, Hirondelle, built in 1848.

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Pictured here is construction of the Paris Eiffel Tower in 1878.

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The Machu Pichu infrastructure in Peru illustrates the advanced civil, hydraulic, and geotechnical engineering capabilities of the Inca people.


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