Never say never!

In 1883, engineer John Roebling* was inspired to build a bridge connecting New York with Long Island. Bridge building experts throughout the world thought this an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea – it could not be done.

Roebling could not ignore his vision of this bridge. He knew, deep in his heart, it could be done. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.

Working together, father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished. Excited and inspired, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.

The project started well, but a tragic early accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington suffered injuries, which resulted in him not being able to walk, talk, or even move.

Critics felt that the project should be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built. In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged; his mind was still as sharp as ever.

After some thought, an idea struck him. Able to move only one finger, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife. He indicated she should call the engineers. Then he used a method of tapping her arm to direct the engineers – and the project was under way again.

For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife’s arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man’s indomitable spirit.

* John Roebling had also built the Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio, spanning the Ohio River.



Filed under Cultural, Editorial, Historical, Inspirational

6 responses to “Never say never!

  1. THAT is an amazing story – never underestimate the power of a dream!

    I’ll have to think over your prompt for this week…


  2. Fascinating!!! A person’s dream or inspiration can move mountains.

  3. wow, I forwarded this post out to my special needs yahoo group

  4. Totally amazing as well as a wonderful story.

  5. John Roebling, and Washington for that matter, were designing and creating during a great period in America, an Industrial Age when everything seemed possible through the construction of iron and steel. Great bridges were built, mighty warships, grand ocean liners, exotic and tall skyscrapers designed and came to life daily. It was this drive to build that drove some of our best Americans, to include this wonder peice about the perseverence of Washington to complete the dream he and his father had designed that which we still enjoy and depend upon to this day. I fear those days of unabashed accomplishment have come to an end in our country, given way to personal satisfaction, glorification and advancement that the devlopment and good of the country as a whole has become non-existent. It was not the government who built this bridge, it was ordinary Americans. Great story, thanks for sharing it.

  6. Gwen Mansini


    Someone sent me your story about the Brooklyn Bridge. It is wonderful and very inspiring. I am writing to ask permission to send this story to my Urban Ministries Hotline which is an e-group that is part of I would also like to share it with a team that is going on a missions trip to New York City at Christmas to do outreaches to the homeless and to do Christmas parties for kids in welfare hotels during the day.

    Thank you,

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