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Major Engineering Events in History: Rope Bridge of San Luis Rey Peru 1350 A.D.

About the major engineering events in history, the rope bridge of San Luis Rey in Peru built in 1350 A.D.

Great Engineering Feats from Early Times to the Present

1350 A.D. (The Rope Bridge of San Luis Rey). For those who actually saw it, the hand-woven rope bridge of San Luis Rey, in Peru, was a spectacular tribute to a primitive people. While the Peruvian Incas under the great chief Roca amazed Westerners with their building feats, the bridge of San Luis Rey which crossed the Apurimac River surpassed them all. Suspended 118' above a raging river, and stretching 148' from bank to bank, the Apurimac-Chaca builders, who had no knowledge of the arch, perfected the principles of the catenary suspension bridge by reversing the arch curve. The bridge hung from rope cables, hand-twisted from the fibers of the maguey plant to "the thickness of a man's body." A unique self-tightening suspension device was used on one end of the bridge to take up the slack and keep the cables taut. The bridge was so well-built and well-maintained that it lasted over 500 years, the cables being renewed every 2 years or oftener. Not until the introduction of the wheel by the Spaniards (the Incas never did invent the wheel) did this footbridge fall into disuse. The beautiful bridge that spawned Thornton Wilder's literary masterpiece The Bridge of San Luis Rey collapsed and died in 1890.

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