My father was a civil engineer.
So was my grandfather and three more up the line – it runs in the blood, it seems.
John Allen Gould III, my great-grandfather, was born in Newton Upper Falls (MA) in 1852. When he was just married, he “took employment” (as they used to say) with the Boston Water District; he became an expert in the engineering of distribution systems – eventually consulted all through the New England states.
One of his first jobs was the Sudbury River Conduit, an aqueduct system that delivered water from the outlying Sudbury River to the water mains of Boston.
It was a big deal, and the Boston Water Works hired a photographer to record the development of the conduit system – a series of one hundred stereopticon cards, numbered and dated; each head engineer received a set of them.
The top photo, workmen are finishing centering the large arch over the Charles River. They built the framework first – all by hand, of course, without power tools or machinery. There are a few men on the top; the design of the support work is beautiful to me, and the wavering reflection of the trusses in the Charles River below is amazing. Photo taken September 13, 1876.
After the wooden structure was complete, the masons moved in, and applied the stonework. Here they’re nearly half-way through their part of the job – they’ve filled in some spaces between arches, and the first layer has been applied over the top. This was taken a month later – November 13, 1876.
In this last shot of the Charles River Bridge, workmen are laying the foundation for the conduit itself – the pipeline that would carry the water into Boston.
The final part of the job, of course, was to burn out the woodwork from beneath the stonework, leaving clear passage for traffic through the arches. This shot was taken from the Newton side, looking west.
The whole project took a number of years, of course, and John Allen Gould went on to design distribution systems for the Brookline Gas Light Company; he also worked for the Boston Gas Light Company, where he became a director.
He died in Newton Upper Falls on May 18, 1919.