Squire Whipple and His Bridges

Squire Whipple

Squire Whipple was born in Massachusetts in 1804, and studied civil engineering at Union College. He remained in Albany and became known as the father of iron bridge building in the mid-1800s in America. He invented the Whipple Truss Bridge and the Whipple Bowstring Bridge.

In 1847 he literally wrote the book that would become the “bible” for iron bridge builders across the world.

Many his bridges have disappeared .. but one example survives around here. It’s the small footbridge over the Normanskill Creek between Albany and Delmar near the Normanskill Farm.

It was built in the late 1860’s, but moved and preserved over the years. Whipple patented his bridge design, but New York State took the design “for the public good”, and built Whipple design bridges all over the state , including the Erie Canal, because they were a terrific design and cheap to build. Whipple bridges are simple, elegant and surprisingly modern looking.

Squire Whipple died in 1888 and is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery in section 41, Plot 19.

Julie O’Connor

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

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