Photographs of Civil Engineering from the Civil War

The Herman Haupt Civil War Military Transportation Photographs collection, which includes sixty photographs showing the Union Army’s construction of roads and bridges, has been digitized and is now available online. Brigadier General Herman Haupt, responsible for the publication of these photographs, was chief of construction and transportation on the United States military railroads from 1863 to 1865. Many of the photographs in this collection show truss bridges designed by Haupt, whose bridge design made such a distinct impression President Abraham Lincoln that he remarked “That man Haupt has built a bridge four hundred feet long and eighty feet high, across Potomac Creek, on which loaded trains are passing every hour, and upon my word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but cornstalks and beanpoles.”

On the cover of the book containing the descriptions of the photographs is a hand written note reading “Photographs were taken by Capt. A.J. Russell Chief of Photograph Corps. U.S. Military Railroads.” A second handwritten note reads “This handwriting is that of Herman Haupt with which I am familiar. Edward Haupt July 19/1928.” Andrew J. Russell was the first official photographer of the Union Army and captured many of its engineering projects, including those overseen by Haupt. Russell is perhaps best known for his later work with the Union Pacific Railroad, capturing the historic meeting of the Transcontinental Rail at Promontory Summit, Utah.

SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 13
SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 13

Haupt was adept at rapidly constructing bridges that helped the advancement of the Union Army. He was also skilled at damaging railroads to prevent their use by the Confederate Army and repairing the damage done to railroads by the Confederate Army. Many of the photographs depict the bending and straightening of rails by various different methods.

SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 56
SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 56

This collection also includes illustrated recreations of many of Haupt’s and Russell’s photographs. A brief comparison of the illustrations with the original photographs reveals some subtle alterations. While many of the photographs feature black laborers, some the laborers in the illustrated reproductions are inaccurately portrayed as white.

The digitized photographs and their descriptions can be found at Lehigh’s digital collections. Additional information about Lehigh’s holdings can be accessed in the finding aid for this collection.

Read more about Herman Haupt at the National Archives website.

See a complete set of these photographs at the Library of Congress.

“History at Lehigh in 1884”: Notes from Lectures by Dr. Henry Coppee Taken by Henry Bowman Douglas, 1884

Coppee Notes Title Page

Dr. Henry Coppée is considered one of the most substantial figures in Lehigh University’s development into a world-class institution. Selected by Asa Packer, Coppée served as the first president of Lehigh University from 1866-1875. Coppée Hall at Lehigh University was named after Henry Coppée, and now houses the Department of Journalism and Communications. During his time as a professor at Lehigh, Dr. Coppée taught subjects such as English literature and history. Although an engineer himself, as President of Lehigh, Coppée believed that all students should have a well-rounded, liberal-arts education. Lecture notes taken in 1884 by an engineering student in Dr. Coppée’s class , Henry Bowman Douglass, reveal subject material surrounding the Roman Empire’s influence on the development of Europe. Much of Lehigh University’s current history curriculum focuses on the Roman Empire, offering courses such as “Ancient Roman Religion” and “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

Coppee Notes Languages

Plans for the Panama Canal, 1892-1894

The archival manuscript “Memoria y Planos de un anteproyecto para la terminacion del Canal de Panama” has been digitized and made available in Lehigh’s Digital Library. More detailed information regarding this manuscript, as well as many of Lehigh’s other archival collections, is available in Special Collections’ archive guides.

The title of this work roughly translates to “Memory and plans of a preliminary draft for the completion of the Panama Canal.” Given the subjects covered and the rich illustrations, this work could be of particular interest to those in the Lehigh community studying civil engineering.

Front Cover
Front Cover

Physical Description

The manuscript is bound within stiff card paper covers of burgundy colored paper with gilt title and decorative borders. The pages are edged in red.  It is illustrated with three folded plans including two blue prints: Proyecto de construccion en túnel Plano,  Perfil longitudinal por el eje, and one lithograph by C. Ferreiro illustrating a tunnel.

Proyecto de construccion en túnel [Blueprint]
Proyecto de construccion en túnel [Blueprint]
Sección longitudinal del túnel; Sección trasversal del túnel [Lithograph]
Sección longitudinal del túnel; Sección trasversal del túnel [Lithograph]
Historical Background

The Panama Canal began construction in 1882 and was completed in 1914. This resulted in the creation of a highly prized trade route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the splitting of the American continents. As the earliest date recorded in the manuscript is 1892, it was written while construction on the canal was ongoing. The manuscript was considered a significant contribution to the engineering community as it was awarded a gold medal by the Academia de Inventores of Paris in 1894.

The author of this work, Gabriel Moreno Campo, appears to have been based in Spain and been involved in the iron and railroad business. Campo had also published plans for the creation of a transoceanic canal located in Colombia, the construction of which was awarded to an international company in 1876 but ultimately failed.

Lehigh Connection

The Bucyrus Company, which manufactured steam shovels and dredges, was headed by Lehigh alumni. The cement used in the Panama Canal building came from the Lehigh Valley and the steel gates for the five sets of locks used to construct the canal were manufactured by the company of Lehigh alumni McClintic and Marshall (LU CE 1888) in Pennsylvania.