Found this in a used bookstore and once I read the summary on the book jacket I had to get it. (It was only a $1, which I definitely couldn't resist.)"From the book jacket: "All the friendly nations of North, Central and South America are now cooperating to build a great international highway from Juneau in Alaska to Ushuaia at the very tip of South America. Some of the road is already in existence, paralleling the Pacific Ocean through the muskeg of Canada, the beaches of our western states, the jungles of Central America and the mountains of South America.Randy Morrow, his brother Sam, and Mr. Morrow, their father, set forth for a motor trip down the great highway. Mr. Morrow is in search of the civil-engineering story of the century, and takes the boys along. They talk to lean, clear-eyed engineers whose very calm confidence suggests high adventure in exciting places. The travelers see huge bridges being flung across mighty chasms, and mighty mountains blasted and gouged until they yield a place for man to move with machines.The traveling Morrows learn at first hand the adventure that comes to engineers who fight the wilderness, the desert, the unrelenting reluctance of an ancient, undisturbed nature to give way to man.All mid-teen boys, and many girls, as well, will find in these pages that truly THERE'S ADVENTURE IN CIVIL ENGINEERING!"I love the "lean, clear-eyed engineers" and the "many girls, as well" part. So 1958, isn't it?..................Some background, and so you can see by the map what kind of holiday roadtrip this family is going on: Pan-American Highway...................To get to the rant about the idiocy of the Americans and their treatment of natives - scroll to last quote at the end of this. You can see glimpses in the quotes in the Reading Progress section...................But wait! It's a series! With the same family! The other books (from the back of the book jacket):There's Adventure in Atomic Energy - visit the Argonne National labThere's Adventure in Chemistry - hints that Sam and Randy may have a mother (in that the action involves doing things that help mother)There's Adventure in Electronics - apparently too dull for even a teaser sentence(I may have to track down the one on Atomic Energy. Someday. After I recover from this reading. It does have a different author, so there could be hope.)..................Contents:1. The "Alaskan Way"2. Through Canada3. "Galloping Gertie"4. Bay of Bridges5. Life in a Caisson6. Highway over Cities7. Pan-America8. Plugged Lifeline9. Jungle Road10. Route of the Incas11. Tunneling to Tomorrow12. Tomorrow..................Cover:http://www.flickr.com/photos/batgrl/9648285811/Some examples of the illustrations:"The chief engineer sighted through his transit."http://www.flickr.com/photos/batgrl/9651515816/"The tender lifted the heavy copper helmet over Randy's head."(I'm betting that in the background his father is saying "Don't tell mom about this part of our trip!")http://www.flickr.com/photos/batgrl/9648277769/""The benches keep the soil from running back into the excavated part," Scotty explained."http://www.flickr.com/photos/batgrl/9651507448/..................From the Chapter "Galloping Gertie," (Tacoma Narrows Bridge, at wikipedia) p 47:...This bridge looked like the one they'd seen over the Peace River in Canada, except that it was much longer.A sign announced it as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. A smaller sign, placed alongside it in jest read: Galloping Gertie No. 2."Now, Randy, what was that you were saying before about modern steel bridges never falling down? The first bridge built here collapsed four months after it was finished in 1940. It used to sway so violently in the wind the roadway would develop waves.""Really? Were they big enough to see?""They certainly were! said Mr. Morrow. "Drivers even lost sight of the traffic ahead, because car actually disappeared in the troughs of the road. It was like driving over a roller coaster. That's why motorists nicknamed it 'Galloping Gertie.'"But no one actually thought the bridge would collapse. After all, it was a modern steel bridge costing almost six and a half million dollars, and had been built by engineers who'd put up plenty of other bridges. Then, four months after it opened, it fell apart in a storm."They drove over 'Gertie the Second,' but nowhere along its 6,000-foot length did they feel the slightest movement. The engineers hadn't made the same mistake twice.And then there are several pages discussing what the bridge cables do in a suspension bridge.p. 50-52:...As the Morrows talked, a pair of men wearing open jackets and sport shirts walked down the bank and began setting up a movie camera on a tripod. Mr. Morrow moved closer. Expecting anything to happen?" the science writer asked.The men chuckled. "Not this time, I hope," one of them answered. "We're with the state highway department, and taking slow-motion films of some of these bridges is just a routine job. When the films are developed they'll show any swaying that takes place, no matter how slight.""I understand the first bridge here was a champion swayer," Mr. Morrow said."Yes, and a photogenic one too. It just happened that we were photographing 'Gertie' when she collapsed - probably the first bridge to be so honored. Later, the films helped the bridge designers to find out exactly what happened to make old Gertie fall apart."Randy was interested. Until this morning he'd never realized that modern bridges ever collapsed. "Just why did the first bridge fall down? he said. "Wasn't it strong enough?"One of the men was working the movie camera now, so the other sat down on a clump of hard earth. "It was like this, son. Gertie was strong enough, all right. She was perfectly safe for all the loads and forces she had to bear. But she hadn't been designed for the aerodynamic effect of the wind.""You mean the bridge should have been shaped like the wing of an airplane?""Yes, something like that. The second bridge was designed so as to present the least possible frontal area to the winds. See the trusses under the deck?" He pointed to the row of triangles under the roadway. "Well, the original bridge used solid girders, and the wind couldn't get through. In the new bridge the stiffening members are open trusses instead of solid steel.""Is that the only difference between the old and new bridge?""No, there was another reason for the failure of the first bridge: flexibility. Gertie was the most slender bridge ever built. The solid girder under her deck was only 8 feet deep, and with a 2,800-foot main span, that was a ratio of 350 to 1. The truss of the new bridge is 33 feet deep, making a much safer ratio of 85 to 1."The movie camera purring away on its tripod reminded Randy of another question. "What did the first bridge look like when it fell apart?" he asked."It was during a storm. We'd been watching the bridge gallop ever since it was opened to traffic. We thought we could catch more pronounced movements by photographing it while the wind was blowing hard. But we didn't expect what happened."The wind wasn't really blowing hard that day - only about 40 miles an hour - but it made the roadway twist and warp into huge waves, some of them more than 30 feet high. Finally, the suspenders broke under the strain, and the middle part of the deck fell into the Sound. Then there was a lull, but the wave motion started again and continued until it shook the rest of the deck loose."The engineer sighed. "It was 10 years before the second bridge was finished."Any engineers who wish to quibble or modernize any of the facts - note that this is a 1958 kids' book, but please do refer me to other links. Otherwise I'll just direct folk to the wikipedia link for the bridge posted earlier.THE RANT PORTION:p. 144-146, an example of the way the Morrows interact with people from other countries. Notice how Mr. Morrow feels the need to hop in and provide important facts for his children rather than, you know, having a polite conversation. Setting: mountains of Ecuador, where Indians (referred to as "barrel-chested boys" (yes really) are carrying water back to the Morrow's truck as the altitude is causing the family to feel a bit weak....this gorge was spanned by a high, narrow suspension bridge. The bridge looked hundreds of of years old, though it still served as a crossing for pedestrians and animals."That must be a very old bridge," Mr. Morrow said to the Indians."It is old," one of them answered. "It was built by the Incas 500 years ago.""I thought the Incas were in Peru," Randy said."They were centered there," Mr. Morrow explained, "but their civilization was immense. The main Incan Road, their greatest engineering feat, was more than 4000 miles long. It stretched from here near Quito to central Chile, crossing some of the most rugged mountains in the world.""I can tell you the story of this bridge," the Ecuadorian offered."Please do," Mr. Morrow said.[This goes on multiple paragraphs, just adding this description of the Ecuadorian for eyerolling reasons:]As he spoke, his barrel chest protruding proudly, he sounded pleased with his Incan ancestors, who were among the world's greatest civil engineers.So thoughts:1)When Randy says that he thought the Incas were in Peru - the majority of people brought up to have manners would have phrased this differently, because in context Randy seems to be doubting the truth of the statement that has been made. In many cultures, even in that of the US, to contradict someone like this is considered rude. And it's especially not nice when those people are carrying buckets of water for miles to your stalled vehicle. 2) Mr. Morrow doesn't try to make it better - he launches into a lecture. That the Indians may know this information doesn't occur to him because he's suddenly having a private lecture to his son. This is also something that could seem rude in that it supposes everyone needs this knowledge (because the Indians probably knew all this). The Indian - one of two WHO ARE NEVER ASKED FOR A GIVEN NAME - notes that he DOES have information on the bridge, as if noting that "if you want to stop talking to your son we could all have a conversation." Mr. M's "please do" really makes it sound like someone has made him controller of all conversations, and he is now allowing the Indian boy to talk. Sure, this might not be someone assuming you'd talk down to foreigners and who doesn't realize his dialog is rude - the author may just be a really crappy writer. But here's the thing. This is 1958. This is an era where LOTS of books (and short films, etc.) have been produced about manners, specifically in conversation, as well as what was expected between a guest and a host. And the book has made a Big Deal about how all these South American cultures are all so polite - which did NOT occur when discussing people in Canada.I didn't add it but after the Indian had explained the bridge building in a few paragraphs? Mr. Morrow then had to hop in and add that this was basically the same method used on modern bridges - thus bringing the conversation back into his "lecture to my son". One sentence on Randy pouring water and then: "They thanked the mountain Indians and were on their way."3) Another thing that happens all the time - everyone is speaking English, and the Indians seem fluent from the conversation. The Americans never seem to worry about being understood, never attempt Spanish, and just babble along without wondering if the native people understand. That the Americans seem rude, and never seem to be overly thankful to the always-polite native people who offer help, makes me wonder how much here is bad writing, how much is the author not knowing the etiquette he should have learned as a child in his own country, how much is a weird stereotyping of South Americans - and how much is this author just not EVER being able to write a scene that sounds normal.