Despite popular belief, not every wonder of the world is a work of nature or even ancient times. A British writer by the name of Deborah Cadbury wrote a book called Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. In it she chronicled the creations of seven of the most inspiring architectural feats undertaken during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Back in 2003 the BBC took Cadbury’s book and turned it into a series documenting the creation of each of these incredible industrial accomplishments. So what were they?
7. SS Great Eastern
Designed by Isambard Kindgom Brunel, the SS Great Eastern was one of the largest iron steam ships to ever sail. The ship was billed as being able to carry over 4,000 passengers around the entire world without having to stop to refuel. The ship, weighing in at 18,915 tons, is second in weight only to the RMS Celtic.
The ship sailed several times, despite a rocky maiden voyage. During its first journey in August or September of 1859, an explosion caused part of the forward deck to be blown off of the ship. The explosion was caused when a steam exhaust was accidentally closed. The accident killed five stokers and injured at least 5 others.
The SS Great Eastern made several journeys across the ocean and later attempts were made to turn her into a commercial boat. The ship was ultimately broken apart and used for scrap metal between 1889 and 1890.
6. Bell Rock Lighthouse
Twelve miles off the coast of Angus, Scotland you’ll find the incredible Bell Rock Lighthouse. This incredible lighthouse is special because it sits not on land, but on Bell Rock – a plot of land that has since been washed away by the sea. The trouble faced by engineers in building the lighthouse to begin with was significant, making its existence today even more stunning.
The architectural standards used to build the Bell Rock Lighthouse have never been replicated. In existence for over 200 years, the lighthouse had its equipment replace in 1843 and was then converted to an automated system in 1998. The original reflectors and lamps are housed in a museum at Cape Bonavista in Newfoundland.
5. Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge in New York’s Manhattan is considered to be one of the oldest suspension style bridges existing in the United States today. When the bridge opened in May of 1883 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It was also the first bridge built to connect Brooklyn to Long Island.
The bridge has, at various times throughout history, carried horse drawn traffic, foot traffic, streetcars, and now six lanes of motor vehicle traffic. Due to its age and construction, commercial trucks and buses are not allowed to use the Brooklyn Bridge. In 2008 the bridge celebrated its 125th anniversary.
4. London Sewerage System
The London sewerage system is well known for being amongst the most complex in the world. Created during the latter portion of the 19th century, the system is credited with saving the lives of millions of people threatened by the current open sewer that the River Thames had become.
The project began with six main sewers running over 100 miles. Another 450 miles of main sewer system were added to accommodate the 13,000 miles of minor sewer system that had been created. While most of the city experienced natural drainage towards the east, several pumping stations were built in Chelsea, Abbey Mills, and Deptford to ensure they systems continued to flow properly.
3. Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is one of the most incredible canal systems in the entire world. Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, this system is widely considered to be the most comprehensive, complex, and dangerous engineering project ever attempted by humans.
Attempts to build a canal, which would ultimately save ships from taking longer routes around the world, began in 1880 under the supervision of the French government. The project was canceled after 21,900 workers died and was later revisited by the United States. The canal was ultimately completed in 1914.
2. First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad is the formal name of the stretch of rail that runs between Council Bluffs in Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska through to Alamada, California. This stunning railroad system allowed the eastern and western portions of the United States to be connected for the first time.
The construction of the railroad began with the passing of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 and was backed by the government throughout. The railroad officially opened for traffic on May 10th, 1869, four years after the death of Abraham Lincoln.
1. Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam sits on the border of Nevada and Arizona and was, at the time of its completion in 1935, the largest energy-generating dam in the world. Today the dam is the 35th largest hydroelectric energy generation site in the world.
The dam is named after Herbert Hoover who, as both Secretary of Commerce and later as President of the United States, played a huge role in the construction of the site. Completed in 1935, the dam is currently operated by the US Department of the Interior and was officially named a National Historic Landmark.
Each of these industrial wonders not only represents a stunning display of craftsmanship and architecture but at one point added something functional and incredible to the world. Each is truly a marvelous wonder and deserves its place on the list.