Born September 16, 1804 – March 15, 1888
Iron Truss Bridge
Patent #: 2,064
Squire Whipple’s work on iron bridges contributed towards the development of
the railroad industry in the United States.
Whipple realized that the newly widened Erie Canal would need not only new
bridges to replace existing decaying wooden structures, but also ones that
required larger spans. He received his patent for an iron bridge in 1841. A
particularly important aspect of Whipple’s bridge design was his use of
wrought and cast iron members, the former to support tensile loads and the
latter for compressive loads. Using two types of iron lowered the cost, as
wrought iron was an expensive material.
During the next two decades, over 100 iron bridges built to Whipple’s design
would span across the Erie Canal, as well as other canals and railroad
lines. Whipple would later develop other bridge designs, including the
“Whipple Trapezoidal Truss,” arguably his most famous design, and a
drawbridge across the Erie Canal in Utica, New York in 1873.
Born in Hardwick, Massachusetts, Whipple received a Bachelor of Arts
degree from Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1830. During his
early career, he was employed for railroad companies such as the
Baltimore and Ohio and the New York and Erie Railroads.