John Alexander Low Waddell
John Alexander Low Waddell (1854-1938), a native of Canada, received a degree as Civil Engineer in 1875 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In the same year he worked as a draftsman for the Marine Department at Ottawa, Canada, and, in 1876 and 1877, served as an engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railroad. In 1878, Waddell returned to Rensselaer and spent two years on the faculty. Between 1880 and 1882, he worked as Chief Engineer for Raymond Campbell Bridge Builder of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and received a Masters in Engineering from McGill University of Montreal, Canada. In 1908, this same institution awarded him a doctorate in engineering.
In 1882, Waddell accepted a position as professor of civil engineering at the Imperial University of Tokyo. For his service, the Japanese Emperor awarded him the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Rising Sun in 1885. In 1886, he returned to the United States. The following year he established a practice in Kansas City, Missouri as a bridge designer and consultant, and for the next half century, was "one of the best known bridge engineers in the United States" (Dictionary of American Biography).
According to the Dictionary of American Biography, "In his bridge work Waddell was noted for his boldness in innovation combined with a careful attention to detail." He designed bridges in the Unites States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia, China and New Zealand. Waddell was also a prolific writer. His 1916 two-volume "Bridge Engineering" became the standard work on the subject.
The Caddo Lake Bridge is one of two Waddell designed bridges in Louisiana. The other being an "A" Truss Railroad Bridge crossing Cross Bayou in nearby Shreveport which has been donated by Kansas City Southern Railway to the City of Shreveport.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Bridge Survey. DeLony, Eric. Letter to Vincent Pizzolato, Louisiana DOTD, July 24, 1991. Mr. DeLony is the Chief of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service. Caddo Lake Bridge plaque providing particulars relating to construction. Now on display at Mooringsport Museum. Early photos of Caddo Lake Bridge, on display at Mooringsport Museum, copies in Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation National Register file. Hauck, George F. W. and Gilleard, Gerald Lee. National Register Nomination Form, Waddell "A" Truss Bridge (Linn Creek Bridge), Platte County, Missouri. Revised and edited by Steve Mitchell and Beverly Fleming. This nomination form was useful for background information on J. A. L. Waddell.
In 1907, J.A.L. Waddell formed a partnership with John Lyle Harrington (1868-1942), a skilled civil and mechanical engineer who was largely responsible for reworking Waddell's vertical-lift invention into a rational, well-integrated design. In its essential form and dynamics, the "Waddell and Harrington version" remained true to the original 1892 design. Before the partnership dissolved in 1914, Waddell and Harrington designed about 30 vertical-lift spans for highway and railroad crossings. After they parted company, both men continued to work in the field, and Harrington's new office, Harrington, Howard, and Ash, became particularly well known, as was its successor, Ash, Howard, Needles and Tammen.
The engineering firm is still in operation today under the name of Harrington & Cortelyou, Inc. with its home office located in Kansas City, Missouri.
Below is a timeline of the firm's origin:
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