In 1794, Congress authorized and President Thomas Jefferson signed into law the raising of a Corps of Artillerists and Engineers (now the United States Army Corps of Engineers) to be educated and stationed at the newly created United States Military Academy. The U.S. Military Academy was the first school of engineering in America to offer formal instruction in civil engineering.
Not only was Dunlap's Creek Bridge the first cast-iron bridge in America, it was the first metal bridge anywhere to use what its builder, Capt. Richard Delafield, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, described as "standardized, interchangeable, manufactured parts." The bridge was built as part of the federal government's effort to make repairs on the National Road before handing authority over to the states. Dunlap's Creek at Brownsville was an especially troublesome crossing, having destroyed three previous bridges since 1801.
Before the Davis Island Lock & Dam were built, the flow of the Ohio River slowed to little more than a trickle during dry periods. For several months each year, the unreliable flow stranded Pittsburgh's steamboats, towboats, and barges.
The Davis Island Lock & Chanoine Dam experimental project was the first lock and dam ever constructed on the Ohio River. Its achievements also included the first rolling lock gates, the largest movable dam built in the 19th century, and the widest chamber in world history.
The idea of a canal eliminating the costly and dangerous sea trip around the Massachusetts peninsula of Cape Cod was envisioned as early as 1623 by Pilgrim leader Miles Standish. It was not until financier August Belmont became involved in 1906, however, that sufficient funds for the project could be raised. Belmont had been the primary backer of New York City's first subway, and chose the subway's chief engineer, William Barclay Parsons, as the canal's project director.