The development of structural engineering has always been as dependent upon the availability of materials as upon the expansion of theoretical concepts. Perhaps the greatest single step in the history of civil engineering was the introduction of iron as a primary structural material in the 19th century; it quickly released the bridge and the building from the confines of a technology based upon the limited strength of masonry and wood.Wendel Bollman, self-taught Baltimore civil engineer, was the first to evolve a system of bridging in iron to be consistently used on an American railroad, becoming one of the pioneers who ushered in the modern period of structural engineering.
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