Edward Schildhauer and his wife Ruth look over the Panama Canal from horseback while it was under construction.
Edward Schildhauer and his wife Ruth look over the Panama Canal from horseback while it was under construction.
The Hoover Dam and the Panama Canal have a couple essential facts in common—both were some of the biggest engineering feats of their time, and both were made possible by University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni.
Discover Wisconsin, the state’s leading media brand and tourism TV show, has partnered with the University of Wisconsin Foundation to tell stories of UW-Madison alumni and the extraordinary impacts they have made across the world and right here in Wisconsin. The fourth video in the series tells the story of UW-Madison grads John Savage and Edward Schildhauer—Cooksville and New Holstein natives, respectively—who played a part in designing the Hoover Dam and Panama Canal, respectively.
The video series is airing on broadcast television through October as well as on Discover Wisconsin’s digital channels. People also can learn more at http://go.wisc.edu/discoverwisconsin.
“Just think, two of greatest engineering marvels in history came from the intellect and imagination of UW-Madison grads,” said Tod Pritchard, director of media and public relations for the University of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. “It is truly mind-blowing.”
The Hoover Dam was built in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River in the 1930s in an effort to control floods, provide irrigation water, and produce hydroelectric power. It was the first of its kind to ever be built. Savage was the most eminent civil engineer in the world at the time and is best known for being the chief design engineer on three very large dam projects in the western U.S.—the Grand Coulee Dam, the Shasta Dam, and the Hoover Dam.
The Panama Canal is an artificial waterway that connects the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and its locks lift ships up to Gatun Lake and then lower the ships back down at the other end. The canal serves to reduce ships’ travel times between the oceans. The Panama Canal was one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken at the time, with the main challenge being making the lock gates work, as they were extremely heavy. Schildhauer is the owner of the patents for the lock gates and electric motors that ended up being used to pull the ships through the canal.
“As a UW alum, I’m so proud of seeing the heights to which graduates of this university can go, and the historical influences that past grads have accomplished, truly leaving a mark on the world,” said Discover Wisconsin co-host Eric Paulsen.
Discover Wisconsin can be seen statewide on Fox Sports North (FSN) Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. and online at discoverwisconsin.com. For more on this and other episodes or the broadcast schedule in other areas please visit www.discoverwisconsin.com. Connect with Discover Wisconsin on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat (discover.wi), Twitter, and YouTube.