1837 – 1909
Leffert Lefferts Buck was born on February 5th 1837 in Canton, New York. Here he was raised and educated. Buck attended St. Lawrence University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Buck graduated in 1868, with a Civil Engineering degree.
In 1877, Buck undertook the reconstruction of the Niagara Railway Suspension Bridge. He developed unique methods which allowed the work to proceed without interruption of the railroad traffic using this bridge. During the following eight years, Buck ensured the cable anchors were repaired and reinforced. The wooden trusses were replaced with iron and steel. The stone towers were replaced with steel tower, leaving the cables as the only original element.
In 1881, Buck was awarded the Norman Medal of Excellence by the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE ).
Leffert L. Buck’s professional achievements include the reconstruction of John Roebling’s Niagara Railroad Suspension Bridge over the Niagara Gorge.
In 1897, when increasing railroad loads made this bridge obsolete and a new replacement necessary, Leffert Buck again employed unique methods which allowed the new spandrel braced arch structure spanning 804 feet (245m). The new span was constructed on the same centerline as the old suspension bridge. As this construction was carried out, there was no interruption of railroad traffic.
Buck pioneered the use of steel arch bridge structures in the United States. In 1890, Buck built a three hinged spandrel braced steel arch bridge at Driving Park Avenue in Rochester, New York.
Buck later went on to build a pair of two hinged steel arch bridges across the Niagara River Gorge.
Leffert Buck designed and directed construction of the first Verrugas Viaduct which was built amongst the Andes Mountain range for the Lima and Oroya Railroad in Peru. In 1873, when completed, it became the highest bridge in the world.
Two of Leffert Buck’s bridges had achieved the distinction of being the longest span in that era. They first bridge, was the Upper Steel Arch Bridge (also known as the Honeymoon Bridge or Falls View Bridge) at Niagara Falls with a span of 840 feet (256m).
The second bridge was the second East River Suspension Bridge (also known as the Williamsburg Suspension Bridge) in New York City with a span of 1,600 feet (488m). When completed in 1903, this bridge became the first all metal Suspension bridge of its kind. This became the last and largest construction project that Leffert Buck became involved.
In 1901, Buck received the Telford Premium Award by the British International Civil Engineering Society (British ICE).
Leffert Buck died at the age of 72 years at Hastings on the Hudson, New York on July 17th 1909. Buck was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Canton, New York.
In 1992, Leffert Lefferts Buck had two of his bridges designated as International Historic Engineering Landmarks.