ASME History & Heritage

ASME History & Heritage ASME's History and Heritage program celebrates and landmarks the significant contributions of mechanical engineers in creating a better society.

Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines. Learn more @ www.asme.org

Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines. Learn more @ www.asme.org

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It's always amazing to see ASME Landmarks in person! We took a drive to visit the Great Falls Raceway and Power System, ...
12/16/2020

It's always amazing to see ASME Landmarks in person! We took a drive to visit the Great Falls Raceway and Power System, also known as #ASMElandmark #28, in Paterson, New Jersey.⁣

The project, conceived by Alexander Hamilton in 1791 and designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant and Peter Colt, is the first major water power system and basis for integrating urban planning with industrial development in the U.S.

Honored as a landmark by ASME in 1977, the Great Falls Raceway and Power System provided an abundance of inexpensive energy, which helped improve industries such as textiles and textile machinery, the Colt revolver, Rogers' and other steam locomotives, silk manufacturing, flax and jute production, early Wright aircraft engines, apparel manufacturing, and many more.

Have you ever visited an #ASMElandmark in person? If so, let us know below!

11/23/2020

All aboard for a look at a super-fast #ASMELandmark!

Noria [nawr-ee-uh]: a noria raises water from a stream or river and discharges it at a higher elevation. Among the large...
11/12/2020

Noria [nawr-ee-uh]: a noria raises water from a stream or river and discharges it at a higher elevation.

Among the largest and oldest existing waterwheels ever constructed, the Noria al-Muhammadiyya is the most famous of many norias in Hama, Syria, and was built in 763 AH, or 1361 CE and became #ASMElandmark #241 in 2006.

Some facts: the diameter of its wheel is 21 meters (69 feet). Fourteen of the arches of its aqueduct still exist. Compared to the typical known size of waterwheels of 2 to 3 meters (7 to 9 feet), the Noria al-Muhammadiyya is among the largest water wheels ever constructed. It was restored in 1977 and is currently in service!

This noria supplied water to the Grand Mosque and provided water
to the public bath of Hammam al-Dahab, to the gardens around the mosque, and to the houses and the fountains of the same quarters or neighborhood.

Learn more about the intriguing history of norias here: bit.ly/3eRcRAJ

Diamonds -- they're shiny and beautiful, and are used to celebrate the importance of events ranging from marriage to ann...
11/05/2020

Diamonds -- they're shiny and beautiful, and are used to celebrate the importance of events ranging from marriage to anniversaries to birthdays and more. But where and when did commercial diamond production actually begin? #ASMElandmark #198 may give you a hint.

A research group, known as Project Superpressure, that was formed in 1951 at GE's Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York paved the way for the first apparatus to consistently produce industrial diamonds.

The apparatus demonstrated the fundamentals of producing and containing very high pressures (65 kbar (65,000 atmospheres) at 1800 C (3272 F)) to be exact, and became the basis for the industrial-diamond production that followed!

Welcome to the Windmill City! Batavia, Illinois, USA is known for its windmill manufacturing. In the early twentieth cen...
10/30/2020

Welcome to the Windmill City! Batavia, Illinois, USA is known for its windmill manufacturing. In the early twentieth century, nearly all of the windmills in the United States were made in one of Batavia’s facilities.

Although windmills have been used in North America since the 1600s, the rapid growth westward of the U.S. in the nineteenth century increased the need for a way to pump water in dry, flat regions. Batavia’s mass-produced windmills spread across the growing United States, a key part of the growing country’s infrastructure.

Batavia was home to the U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Company, the first mass-production windmill factory in the U.S. Two key innovations in windmills were made there: machinist Daniel Halladay patented the self-governing wind engine in 1854. In 1883, engineer Thomas Perry developed optimum metal-bladed windmills, using his unique wind resistance test machine.

In 2013, ASME declared the city’s collection of windmills an #ASMElandmark of mechanical engineering. Today, seven windmills are on display at the Batavia Riverwalk.

Nothing's better than waking up in the morning and pouring yourself a big glass of juice, right?#ASMElandmark #82, the F...
10/21/2020

Nothing's better than waking up in the morning and pouring yourself a big glass of juice, right?

#ASMElandmark #82, the FMC Citrus Juice Extractor, revolutionized high-quality citrus juicing and is probably the reason why you can easily buy and enjoy fruit juices from any supermarket!

Fun fact: the first unit was operated experimentally on grapefruit at the Sunkist Exchange plant in Tempe, Arizona, during late May of 1946.

This #ASMElandmark is going for the gold! The Fairbanks Exploration Company Gold Dredge Number 8 was used to mine gold i...
10/15/2020

This #ASMElandmark is going for the gold! The Fairbanks Exploration Company Gold Dredge Number 8 was used to mine gold in Alaska.

During its 31-year run from 1928 to 1959, it covered a 4.5 mile track and produced more than 7.5 million ounces of gold. That’s more than $14 billion worth of gold at today’s rates!

This dredge was manufactured in Pennsylvania, and sent to Alaska in pieces via railroad and barge. It worked by using warm water to soften the frozen tundra, melting the earth at a rate of 9 inches a day. The melted soil was then scooped up in buckets, carried to the top of the machine, and deposited into a dredge for sorting.

It had a 43-foot 9-inch high bow gantry supporting the bucket line, which held 70 steel buckets. Each bucket held 6 cubic feet and 1,583 pounds. The buckets were mounted on a ladder more than 84 feet tall, discharging gravel at 22.2 buckets per minute. Once the gold was separated, the remaining dirt was carried off by a 32-inch wide, belt-driven stacker conveyor moving at 262 feet per minute.

Today, you can visit Gold Dredge Number 8—and pan for gold!—in Fox, Alaska. The dredge was named ASME Landmark #113 in May 1986.

Images of Gold Dredge Number 8 and gold mined near Fairbanks, Alaska, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know the history behind those little tags on the clothes and shoes that you can't stop buying? #ASMElandmark #150...
10/06/2020

Do you know the history behind those little tags on the clothes and shoes that you can't stop buying? #ASMElandmark #150 holds the answer.

The distribution and sale of merchandise evolved from trading posts and general stores to larger, more specialized stores in the 19th century. As a result, the sheer number of products that had to be marked with sale information increased, growing beyond the manual capabilities of workers.

Thankfully, a base model of the pin-ticketing machine was developed by Frederick Kohnle of Dayton in the early 1900s.

At a single stroke of the operating handle, the machine formed a tag from a roll of stock, imprinted it with the price and other information, formed a wire staple, and stapled the tag to the merchandise.

The landmark artifact is the earliest known model, believed to be either the device or a companion model to the table-top test device of 1902!

California's Mount Wilson Observatory, home to the #ASMELandmark Hooker Telescope, has survived a nearby wildfire.
09/29/2020
Mount Wilson Observatory Survives a Trial by Fire

California's Mount Wilson Observatory, home to the #ASMELandmark Hooker Telescope, has survived a nearby wildfire.

The birthplace of modern cosmology “has been declared safe” from the wildfires that have ravaged the surrounding area in Southern California.

On November 30, 1973 at 10:45 AM in San Francisco, California, a crowd of dignitaries, ASME members, officers and friend...
09/21/2020

On November 30, 1973 at 10:45 AM in San Francisco, California, a crowd of dignitaries, ASME members, officers and friends of the society, local journalists and even a jazz band gathered together.

These are the details of the ceremony of the first-ever #ASMELandmark - The Ferries & Cliffhouse Cable Railway Power House.

Step back in time and check out these photos of the F&CH Cable Railway, which opened in 1887 and was designed and built by civil engineer Howard C. Holmes.

It was one of the most complicated cable-car systems to run from a single station and had been under construction two years prior to its opening!

While your family may have missed their annual trip to the water park this year, the end of summer is the perfect time t...
09/07/2020

While your family may have missed their annual trip to the water park this year, the end of summer is the perfect time to plan for when it's safe to travel again -- and this might have to be your next spot!

Inspired by the surfers he saw on his commute home from work, construction engineer Phil Dexter had an idea to create his own wave pool in 1966...right in his own backyard!

This paved the way for the Big Surf Waterpark, which houses the U.S.'s first wave pool with a singular traveling wave, to open in 1969 in Tempe, Arizona. The waterpark later became an #ASMElandmark in 2013 and is still open today.

While Big Surf still operates as a waterpark today, it also hosted concerts from musical acts like Pink Floyd, Elton John, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beach Boys, Chicago, Sting, Rod Stewart, and more.

The waterpark uses 15 gates that empty water into a 2.5 acre lagoon with contours that replicate a natural beach. Its waves are produced by pumping water to a pre-selected height and are released through underwater gates.

The water released breaks over a baffle (similar to a natural reef), forming one wave per cycle. Water is then recirculated to the lagoon through pumps.

Fun fact: Although a few tweaks have been made, Big Surf currently runs on the same equipment that was installed in 1969!

08/28/2020
ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)

Here’s a look at a railroad knuckle coupler connecting train cars—the same style of coupler as #ASMElandmark 267, the Janney Coupler!

Ever wondered how the cars of a train are connected? The semi-automatic coupler style shown here represented a big step forward in train operation. Previous couplers required a railroad worker to physically get between the train cars to operate a link-and-pin coupler—a dangerous task that resulted in frequent injuries and even deaths. The link-and-pin couplers had no standardized design, so rail workers spent hours trying to pair the pins with the links. And as railroad technology advanced, the trains became too heavy to be managed by the link-and-pins, which left slack between the cars.

The type of coupler shown here, commonly called a knuckle or buckeye coupler, was invented by Eli H. Janney, who received a patent for his design in 1873. With the introduction of knuckle couplers, operating a train became dramatically safer. Between 1877 and 1902, accidents involving rail workers dropped about 81 percent, even though the number of workers had increased significantly. Eventually, more than 8,000 different designs for knuckle couplers were patented.

Today, many trains have moved on to fully automatic couplers, which connect the cars as well as electrical and pneumatic lines. Still, the knuckle coupler represents a major advancement in rail technology—it’s hard to imagine what travel in the first half of the 20th century would have looked like without it.

Does this location, also known as #ASMElandmark #216, look familiar?You may remember the Arecibo Observatory, which hous...
08/27/2020

Does this location, also known as #ASMElandmark #216, look familiar?

You may remember the Arecibo Observatory, which houses what was once regarded as the largest radio telescope ever constructed, from the backdrop of the 1995 James Bond film "GoldenEye" and the accompanying Nintendo 64 video game GoldenEye 007!

Since its implementation in 1963, the observatory has led to advances in various fields with discoveries such as the correct rotational period for the planet mercury (59 days), direct physical evidence for the existence of neutron stars, and the discovery of the first extrasolar planets.

Unfortunately, the observatory suffered damage at the beginning of the month when a cable suspended over the telescope in Puerto Rico broke, leaving a 100-foot-long gash in the landmark's dish and also caused damage to the panels of the Gregorian dome.

While it's too early to know when the observatory will be back up and running, we hope you enjoy learning about this impressive landmark.

What if you could drive at 763 MPH (1,228 km/h)? You’d never be late again! Back in 1997, the Thrust SSC Supersonic did ...
08/24/2020

What if you could drive at 763 MPH (1,228 km/h)? You’d never be late again! Back in 1997, the Thrust SSC Supersonic did just that in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA. It was the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. Amazingly, its new record was nearly 100 MPH faster than the previous record.

The Thrust SSC Supersonic started with a question: If engines can make aircraft travel at supersonic speeds, could they do the same for a car? To answer this, the same engines used in the Phantom F4 jet fighter were used to power the Thrust SSC.

Engineers faced numerous design challenges with the vehicle. To increase the vehicle’s stability, they placed the engines facing forward. The rear fuselage had to be narrow enough to avoid being in the path of the engines’ exhaust, so the rear wheels were staggered. The wheels were made of aluminum, with no tires that could burst or fall off at high speed. More than 120 sensors were built into the vehicle to ensure the utmost safety, with two separate braking systems to be used both above and below 200 MPH.

The biggest concern, however, was the difference between an aircraft traveling at the speed of sound and a land vehicle doing the same. As a vehicle approaches the sound barrier, aerodynamic drag increases rapidly. Plus, shock waves coming off the nose of the car would reflect off the ground, creating a large lift force—something desirable in an aircraft, but not with a car. To counteract this and keep the Thrust SSC earthbound, the car was built with a suspension system that increased the nose-down pitch of the car as the load on the front wheels decreased.

Though it’s been more than 20 years since the record was set, no one has broken it yet. Today, the Thrust SSC is on display at the Coventry Transport Museum in Coventry, England, where it was named an #ASMElandmark of mechanical engineering in 2014.

At #ASMElandmark #116, extreme weather is the norm. The McKinley Climatic Laboratory, located on the Eglin Air Force Bas...
08/13/2020

At #ASMElandmark #116, extreme weather is the norm. The McKinley Climatic Laboratory, located on the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, was designed and was constructed in the early 1940s and became an ASME landmark in 1987.

The lab's capabilities include simulating a wide range of climatic conditions from arctic cold to jungle moisture, and can be used not only for Air Force testing but for other US government agencies and private industry!

07/29/2020

Most of us probably don't think twice about the setup of our keyboards, how they came to be, and what typing devices paved the road for modern designs.

That's why we're taking you back in time today to learn about the Sholes & Glidden typewriter, also known as ASME engineering landmark #249. #ASMELandmark

July 24, 2020, is the 51st anniversary of Apollo 11's return to Earth. The command module splashed down in the Pacific O...
07/24/2020

July 24, 2020, is the 51st anniversary of Apollo 11's return to Earth. The command module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:44 PM Eastern time. ⁣

While the journey of #Apollo11 was over, the Apollo program encompassed far more than just this one groundbreaking mission. Before Apollo 11, there were uncrewed test flights and flights in Earth and lunar orbit. Apollo 10 was a dress rehearsal for the eventual landing, getting as close as 50,000 feet from the moon's surface. After Apollo 11, between 1969 and 1972, there would be five more trips to the moon's surface. ⁣

But without the lunar module, a spacecraft designed to carry two astronauts from the command-service module in lunar orbit to the moon's surface, there would be no moon landings. The lunar module (LM, pronounced “lem”) was the first crewed spacecraft to operate only in space, and is still the only crewed spacecraft that has landed anywhere other than Earth. It was developed and built by Grumman Aircraft in Bethpage, New York, USA. Eventually, 15 LMs were built, and 10 launched into space, and 6 landed on the moon. ⁣

The LM was known for being the most reliable part of the Apollo spacecraft. As Tom Kelly, a Grumman engineer, told ASME in 2002, "We didn't know anything about space anymore than most people did at that time. But we did know a lot about producing reliable flying machines that had to operate in a very hostile and demanding environment."⁣

For its engineering achievements, and for its undeniable role in history, ASME designated the lunar module as a landmark of mechanical engineering in 2002. The plaque is posted at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, New York, not far from where the LMs were built. On display at the museum is LM-13, built for Apollo 19, which was later cancelled. ⁣

Photos: ⁣
1) LM-13 at Cradle of Aviation Museum
2) The Apollo 11 LM on the moon, with astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the foreground ⁣
3) The #ASMELandmarks plaque at the Cradle of Aviation Museum
⁣4) and 5) Lunar module schematics as they appeared in the ASME landmark brochure in 2002⁣

📷 : 1 and 3: Wendy Felton for ASME; 2: NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration ; 4 and 5: ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)

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Transit, Light and Power Company - Bakersfield, California 1897...... The first hydro-electric power development on the Kern River was done at the mouth of the river in the valley east of Bakersfield as part of the Bakersfield and Kern Electric Railway. "In December 1894, the Power Development Company was founded. Its owners were H. A. Blodgett, C. N. Beale, S. W. Fergusson, W. S. Tevis and Henry Jastro. The company began work on constructing a hydroelectric power plant at the base of the Kern River Canyon. The construction was completed in 1897. It also would provide enough power for an electric streetcar line." Knight & Co. supplied four turbine sets with governors and controls as shown in the 1912 Knight Catalog. These wheels operated with a head of 190 feet and a large volume water. Later hydro development on the Kern River in the early 1900s was done by Southern California Edison. https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Bakersfield_and_Kern_Electric_Railway