Machine Design

Backtalk 8/11/2011

Engineering fun facts
The Natchez Trace Parkway was designed to provide access and protect historic sites. The 450-mile-long historic land route, from Nashville, Tenn., to Natchez, Miss., began as a beaten animal path, then was an Native American trail. The Trace was a passageway for explorers, traders, and homesteaders. By the early 1800s, it was economically, politically, and militarily the most important road in the region. Congress authorized construction of the parkway in 1938, and it was administered by the National Park Service. Unlike a typical highway, the engineers were required to protect, yet make accessible, the scenic and historic attractions along the route.

Cedar Point’s Millennium Force Roller Coaster, in Sandusky, Ohio, is the first coaster to use an elevator cable to get it up the first hill. The ride uses magnetic brakes instead of friction. At 310 ft, it was the first 300-ft coaster and the world’s fastest at 92 mph. The coaster has 226 footers, which contain 9,400 yards of concrete. The coaster takes riders up at a 45° angle and down at an 80° angle — almost straight down.

The highest suspension bridge in the U. S. is the Royal Gorge Bridge, located 956 ft above the Arkansas River. The bridge was completed in only six months with no fatalities.

In 1907, the federal government deeded Royal Gorge to the town of Canon City, Colo., for use as a municipal park. To make it a tourist attraction, a bridge was needed to cross the gorge. In 1929, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Amusement Co. began constructing the one-lane toll bridge that is 1,260 ft long and 18 ft wide. It is suspended from two 200-ton cables, each consisting of 2,100 strands of No. 9 galvanized wire. The floor of the bridge contains 1,000 tons of steel and almost 1,300 wooden planks. The cost to build the bridge was $350,000; to replace it today, the cost would be well over $10 million.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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