From Stones to Metal: The Evolution of Bridges

A bridge, as we know today, is a structure that is built to connect areas separated by physical hindrances such as a body of water, or a path, between two bodies of land. There are also times when it is built over an existing structure or so as to provide convenience. There are now many different types of bridges, all designed to cater specific purposes. Some of the factors that affect the bridge construction include the topography of which it is to be built on, the materials that would be required to construct it and the funds the owner or the government is willing to shed. But the bridges that we know today have come a long way. The bridges’ aesthetics have evolved throughout the years. Although the simple bridges are still intact, they are most likely in the wilderness. Let’s take a stroll to the history of when the bridges began.

Old English Name

It has been said that the word “Bridge” came from the Old English word “brycg” which also means a connector. It also has its roots from the German called “brugjō”.

Nature’s Way– Stones

Nature is more complex than just science—in it lays architects and engineers in their own right. It is said to be believed that our ancestors got the idea of bridges from nature’s lined-up stones which helped people get from one place to another.

Man’s Intervention—Wooden Bridges

When man learned how to cut wood, he also learned to line these up using planks with the help of simple anchor as support. Trees and bamboos were the commonly used materials for building such, as these were the most available to them. Later on, they began constructing more sophisticated structures, using heavier sticks, fallen branches and fiber woven together to form a connecting rope. The connecting rope, then acts as a binder that holds the materials.

Roman Era

The Romans are considered to be the “Best Bridge Builders” in ancient history because they were able to assemble viaducts that were able to stand the weather and the test of time.

16th Century Rope Bridges

In the 16th century, man was already an expert at twisting and weaving fiber that he used this skill to build hanging bridges. These hanging bridges are convenient for crossing in between the mountains where a structure cannot be built.

18th Century Innovations

This century brought about tremendous trends in the “Bridge Construction”. There was an engineering book published specifically for building such, as well as the outpour of timber designs. In 1779, the cast iron was first used as an arch.

19th Century Steel

After the success of using cast iron, it was followed by the wrought iron trend to comply with the needs for more durable and sustainable bridges through sheet metal fabrication process.

Indeed, the bridge has come a long way. From humble beginnings using free materials that can be found anywhere, it has become one of the major areas of construction companies now. Not only does it serve to its function, it also looks good on the design perspective. More than anything else, gone are the days when slavery is used to build bridges. Today, when you need to install one, you simply call a contractor and ask for a quote and they’ll bring in the materials from the metal fabrication company.

About Author

Mark is an architect by profession and a part time blogger who occasionally blogs on unique architecture in the world. He greatly admires the work of Excel Bridge Manufacturing Co a well known name among Bridge Contractors in US.

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