The Ashtabula Bridge Tragedy

explanatory Essay
1199 words
1199 words

On December 29, 1876, a train was crossing over a railroad bridge spanning the Ashtabula River when the entire bridge collapsed, sending most of the train into the frigid water below. This disaster would be the deadliest bridge disaster in the United States. Investigators quickly tried to determine why this bridge, after eleven years of service, collapsed. The investigators would ultimately place the blame on the president of the Ashtabula Railroad Company, Amasa Stone. The bridge was constructed with many flaws, both known and unknown. This disaster would lead to people realizing the need for structural standards for bridges and qualified engineers. In order to understand what went wrong with the Ashtabula Bridge, a person needs to understand what is supposed to happen. The Ashtabula Bridge was a truss bridge. A truss is …show more content…

This all iron design made the bridge a lot heavier than it was designed for, which added more stress to the truss. This fact, by itself, wouldn’t cause any alarm. However, the bridge itself, was very poorly constructed. The members of the bridge were all different sizes, and they were not connected together properly. Due to the poor construction and eleven years of use, members of the bridge had started to bend due to the stress. Despite bridge engineers inspecting the bridge for eleven years, no one noticed these faults with the bridge. However, the ultimate cause of this collapse, was so tiny, only one of the investigators, after the collapse, noticed it. A tiny air hole was left during the construction of the bridge, “and grew with repeated stress over eleven years” (Escher, 2009). This hole would develop in a crack, due to the changing temperatures and the trains crossing it for over eleven years. This would weaken the overall strength of the bridge. The cold winter air and the weight of the train would ultimately prove to be too much, and the whole bridge came crashing

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that even though amasa stone was ultimately blamed for this incident, there are many others at fault.
  • Explains the positive changes that occurred in the aftermath of the disaster, such as iron being forbidden from being used on bridges and standards for bridge construction. engineers need to stand up for themselves and make sure that any project is safe for the general public.
  • Explains that the ashtabula bridge collapsed on december 29, 1876, causing the deadliest bridge disaster in the united states. the bridge was constructed with many flaws, both known and unknown.
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