Alumni Hall of Fame

John Alexander Low Waddell
John Alexander Low Waddell
Inducted September 2007

John Alexander Low Waddell

Class of 1875
International Bridge Designer

John A.L. Waddell built a reputation as one of the 20th century’s best known and highly respected bridge builders. Prior to founding his own engineering and design firm, he taught engineering in Japan, where his influence on infrastructure construction was significant.

Waddell was a prolific bridge designer, with more than a thousand structures to his credit in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Mexico, Russia, China, Japan, and New Zealand. His bridges spanned the Mississippi, Missouri, Niagara, and Colorado rivers.

Waddell’s work set standards for elevated railroad systems and helped develop materials suitable for largespan bridges. His most important contribution was the development of the modern vertical-lift bridge. His patented design was first used in 1893 for Chicago’s South Halsted Street Bridge over the Chicago River; he went on to design more than 100 other movable bridges.

Waddell was a widely published and respected writer on bridge design, and an advocate of quality training of engineers and the professional status of engineers.