The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Historical development of iron screw-pile foundations: 1836 – 1900

TitleHistorical development of iron screw-pile foundations: 1836 – 1900
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsLutenegger AJ
JournalInternational Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology
Start Page108
Date Published07/2013
KeywordsBridges, Foundations, HELICAL-PILES, HISTORICAL, Piers, Piles, SCREW-PILES, Wrought iron

Beginning around 1836 screw-pile and screw-cylinder elements were used successfully as helical foundations throughout the world to support a variety of large-scale civil engineering structures. Their development and use is largely attributed to engineers from the UK and the USA. The origins and rise of screw-pile and screw-cylinder foundations are reviewed from an historical perspective focusing on the period from 1836 to 1900. A summary of the use of screw-piles as successful foundations for lighthouses, bridges, and piers as well as their use for other engineering applications is given. A description of the common geometries of screw-piles and screw-cylinders during this period is also presented. The information illustrates that helical foundations have been in use for over 170 years throughout the world and can be considered perhaps the single most important development in geotechnical engineering foundation construction of the mid to late nineteenth century.