Henry Petroski shares his experience of visiting the Quad Cities area to deliver some lectures on bridge engineering to engineers. There were plenty of both in the vicinity. John Deere, the world-renowned manufacturer of tractors and other agricultural and industrial equipment, has been based in Moline since 1848, and since 1964 has been housed in an architecturally distinguished and celebrated administrative center located on a park-like campus and designed by the Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen, designer of perhaps the Midwest's most celebrated landmark, the St. Louis Gateway Arch. The first dam to be constructed was located at the foot of the Rock Island rapids. Today known as Dam 15, it remains distinguished as being the largest roller-gate dam in the world. The 1856 structure that connected the cities of Davenport and Rock Island was a wooden truss of multiple stationary spans and a record-setting 286-foot-long swing span that rotated on a large turntable to open up navigation channels that allowed riverboats to pass.
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