A little Skidaway history

Mike Sullivan writes:

I really don’t want to turn this blog into a series of book reviews, but I ran across another book with a strong Skidaway Institute connection.

I was in the neigborhood library last week, looking for an audiobook for my next road trip to Atlanta. I saw “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough (1776, John Adams, etc.). The Great Bridge coverThe book is the story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. I thought, “Maybe they say something about the Roebling family,” so I checked it out. I am now nearly finished with the six-cassette audiobook and, so far, the book is almost entirely about the Roeblings (John Augustus and his son Washington.)

Those of you who are not familiar with the history of Skidaway Institute are probably wondering, “Who are these people?” Skidaway Institute was founded in the late 1960’s when Robert Roebling donated roughly 800 acres of his cattle plantation on the north end of Skidaway Island to the State of Georgia to establish an oceanographic research laboratory. Robert Roebling had started the cattle enterprise in the mid-1930’s when he moved his family from New Jersey to Skidaway Island on board their 175-foot three-masted schooner, the Black Douglas.

Going back slightly farther, Robert Roebling was the great grandson of John Augustus Roebling and the grandsonof Washington. The elder Roebling developed twisted wire cable which allowed for the construction of large suspension bridges, and founded a company, John A Roebling and Sons, to manufacture it . He designed the Brooklyn Bridge but was killed in an accident just before construction began. His son, Washington, was the chief engineer for the rest of the project. There are many details in between, but there is a direct lineage between the engineering work the Roeblings conducted in the 1860’s and 70’s and the work being done today at Skidaway Institute.

By the way, the book is really very interesting, even without the Skidaway connection.


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