Roebling, John Augustus

Roebling, John Augustus

(rō`blĭng), 1806–69, German-American engineer, b. Mulhouse. He studied engineering in Berlin and in 1831 came to the United States. He demonstrated the practicability of steel cable and established a plant for manufacturing it at Trenton, N.J. A pioneer in the building of suspension bridges, he built the Allegheny Suspension Bridge (completed 1845) at Pittsburgh, the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge (completed 1855), and the Cincinnati and Covington Bridge over the Ohio (completed 1867). His most ambitious project was the Brooklyn Bridge. It was scarcely begun when Roebling, directing operations, was injured in an accident and died a few days later.

His son Washington Augustus Roebling, 1837–1926, b. Saxonburg, Pa., grad. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1857, had aided his father in building the Allegheny Suspension Bridge. During the Civil War he joined the Union army as a private, was transferred to Irvin McDowell's engineering staff, and rose to the rank of colonel. He went to Europe to study engineering and especially pneumatic caissons. After his father's death he directed the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Because of continuous underground work he was stricken (1872) with decompression sickness (caisson disease), but despite his invalidism he directed the project until the bridge was opened to traffic (1883). In 1888 he took over the management of the Roebling plant in Trenton.

Bibliography

See biography by H. Schuyler (1931); D. B. Steinman, The Builders of the Bridge (1945).

Roebling, John Augustus

(1806–1869)
Pioneering suspension bridge engineer who, with Washington Augustus Roebling (1837–1926), designed the Brooklyn Bridge, NYC.

Roebling, John Augustus

(1806–69) civil engineer; born in Mühlhausen, Germany. Educated in Berlin, Roebling emigrated to the United States in 1831, settling near Pittsburgh. He worked as an engineer on several river canal projects where he pioneered the development of wire rope for barges and the machinery needed to use it. From 1844 to 1845 he built an aqueduct across the Allegheny River, the first structure ever to be supported with wire cable. This success was followed in 1846 by a wire-supported suspension bridge over the Monongahela River and in 1848 by a series of aqueducts linking the Delaware River and the Hudson canal. In 1855 he completed the Niagara railway suspension bridge. In 1867, Roebling was chosen chief engineer for a bridge across the East River to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. While making a survey of the project, one of his feet was accidentally crushed. Despite medical attention, Roebling died of tetanus. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed by his son, Washington Augustus Roebling.