Thursday, September 17, 2009

Suicidal Engineer (John Edward Schwitzer)

Prairie Post West [Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada]
17 September 2009

High Level Bridge has an interesting history

By Alisha Sims
Southern Alberta Newspapers

Lethbridge -- The High Level Bridge was an engineering failure, John Edward Schwitzer concluded.

Weeks prior to the final pieces of steel being laid on the 5,327.625 feet (1.6 kilometres) long and 314 feet (96 metres) high structure, the senior engineer on Canadian Pacific Railway’s Western lines realized the project would never work.

Humiliated by his miscalculations that would result in a whopping $1,334,525 failure and determined to prevent a single train from crossing the tracks of what many newspapers of the day were calling “one of the wonders of the world,” Schwitzer walked across the nearly completed structure, turned to the side and stepped off, his body plummeting to the earth below. [...]

While researching stories about the Lethbridge landmark on and off for about a month, [Belinda] Crowson came across another myth regarding Schwitzer’s death. Story has it while he was in charge of engineering the famous spiral tunnels in the Rocky Mountains, he realized a week before the tunnels were finished that his mathematical calculations were off and they’d never meet in the middle. He entered one of the tunnels and shot himself in the head. A week later, the tunnels were completed and met in the middle as Schwitzer had calculated and he took his own life for nothing. [...]