This branch of the Austrian Hesch family is descended from Johann Hesch and his wife Marya (Schlinz) Hesch, who came to America from Oberschlagles, Bohemia with three sons: Paul, Mathias, and Anton. +++Johann & Marya settled in Buffalo County, Wisconsin but moved to Pierz, Mn in about 1885. .+++Mathias settled in Waumandee, Wisconsin and moved to Pierz in 1911. +++Anton never married but farmed with his dad in Agram Township, where he died in 1911.+++And Paul, my great grandfather, settled five miles away, in Buckman, Minnesota. He died there in 1900.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

The Northern Pacific Railroad bridge at Bismarck, ND

 I found this interesting picture in a promotional booklet produced by Northern Pacific RR.  It was a guide to what you were seeing out the train windows as you traveled across the country.

It's 10 degrees here in central Minnesota this morning, prompting thoughts about ice on the lakes and rivers nearby, and --as anybody would--wondering how strong it is, really?

The inset photo there was an ICE BRIDGE, in 1880, used in winters before the steel bridge was finished in 1890.  Maybe winters were colder and longer back then, or maybe people were more trusting.  Just the idea gives me the willies, tho.

The chief engineer who designed and supervised construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge over the Missouri River at Bismarck later convinced President Theodore Roosevelt to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by digging a canal through Panama.
George S. Morison was a Harvard-educated lawyer working for a prestigious New York law firm when he decided to take up engineering.
Although receiving no formal education in this field, at the time of his death in 1903, the "Dictionary of American Biography" stated, "He was regarded as the leading bridge engineer in America, perhaps in the world."
In 1870, Morison began work under the direction of noted engineer Octave Chanute, who, in Kansas City, was constructing the first bridge to cross the Missouri River. When Chanute became chief engineer of the Erie Railroad in 1873, Morison was chosen as his principal assistant, giving him experience in railway bridge construction. In 1875, he organized the bridge contracting firm of Morison, Field, and Co. in New York.
Meanwhile, the Northern Pacific Railroad had been pushing westward from Duluth, Minn. Its goal was to link the Great Lakes seaport, by rail, to the Pacific Ocean at Tacoma, Wash. In June 1873, the tracks were laid as far as Edwinton, present-day Bismarck, where they encountered the Missouri River. It would take 11 years and the engineering genius of Morison before a railway bridge would be laid across the Missouri.
The Missouri River was considered by many as the most treacherous river in the country on which to build a bridge. Not only was the river an obstacle, but the NP also ran into financial difficulties.
In September the NP went bankrupt. Even though the trains continued to run, construction ceased. In 1878, the NP was reorganized under the leadership of Frederick Billings and track construction was begun west of Mandan. To link up the rail lines, supplies were ferried across the river. It soon became apparent that a bridge needed to be constructed.
In 1880, executives of the NP contacted George Morison, who had just resigned from his construction firm to devote full time to consulting. Morison concluded that a permanent bridge should be constructed and chose a site near the existing tracks where the bedrock cliffs would resist river erosion.
However, this site had one of the widest spans across the river. The NP accepted his recommendations and, in September, began construction of a dike to narrow the width of the river at the site. On Dec. 16, 1880, Morison was chosen by the board of directors of the NP as chief engineer and superintendent of the bridge project.
Early in 1881, the NP began awarding contracts. The project was difficult because there were few people in the area who had experience in bridge building. The experience issue was compounded because it was one of the first bridges to be made entirely of steel. The bridge was completed on Oct. 18, 1882, and three days later it was tested by moving eight locomotives over it.
At a cost of $1,079,000 it became the first million-dollar structure erected in what is now North Dakota....
(If you want to read about Morison and the Panama canal, click the link at the top  for the whole article).
COOL, huh?

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