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Guillaume Henri Dufour

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Guillaume Henri Dufour (1787-1875) of Switzerland

Guillaume Henri Dufour (15 September 1787 – 14 July 1875) was a Swiss diplomat, army officer, bridge engineer and cartographer. He served as a general under Napoleon I. Dufour presided over the First Geneva Convention which established the International Red Cross. He was founder and president of the Swiss Federal Office of Topography from 1838 to 1865.

Dufour acted as state engineer from 1817, although he was not officially appointed as such until 1828. His work included rebuilding a pumping station, quays and bridges, and he introduced the first steam boat on Lake Geneva, and introduced gas street lighting there.

In 1822 Marc Seguin provided Marc-Auguste Pictet of Geneva with details of his proposed wire cable suspension bridge to cross the River Rhone in France. On his return to Geneva, Pictet joined with others to promote a new bridge, the San Antoine Bridge, across the ramparts of Geneva, consulting with Seguin on how it might be built. With generous help from Seguin, Dufour developed the design in late 1822, proposing a two-span suspension bridge using wire cables.

The above information is largely condensed from the Wikipedia entry.

The San Antoine Bridge was probably the first permanent suspension bridge in the world to use cables made from bundles of slender wrought iron wires. Note: There were earlier suspension bridges whose decks were supported by small numbers of iron wires of larger diameter (perhaps more accurately termed 'rod' or 'bar' iron).

For more information on Dufour's life and work, with particular reference to suspension bridge development, see Tom F. Peters' 'Transitions in Engineering'.[1]. The following information is largely taken from that source.

Permission to construct the San Antoine Bridge was given on 4 February 1823, and the bridge was officially opened on 1 August 1823. The design used three cables on each side of an iron and timber bridge deck. The bridge decks spanned the two moats which were separated by a wide rampart. The central tower was founded on the central rampart, and was equidistant from the two 'land' towers, such that the cables spanned 131 feet between the towers. The longer of the two decks spanned 109 feet. Each of the three suspension cables on each side was assembled from 90 iron wires of 2.1mm diameter, wrapped with a spiral binding of annealed wire at 20mm pitch. The bridge was only demolished after the city's fortifications were removed, some time before 1864. Dufour's second bridge over the ramparts, the Paquis Bridge, was demolished c.1852.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Transitions in Engineering' - Guillaume Henri Dufour and the Early 19th Century Cable Supension Bridges' by Tom F. Peters, Birkhauser, 1987