Helical Pile Development

The technology of applying helical piles in foundation structures date back to the 1800s. Lighthouses and piers in harbors were the most common application ground for pile foundations. They were extensively used between the 1850s through the 1890s on the east coast of the United States in the development of lighthouses. More than 100 lighthouses were erected using helical piles in that era alone. The term screw-pile lighthouse was then born based on the helical piles that were screwed into sandy or muddy sea or river bottoms to support these lighthouses.

Alexander Mitchell

Although helical piles were known to be used before the 1830s, Alexander Mitchell was the first engineer to describe the application methodology of the system in his journal titled Civil Engineers and Architects Journal in 1848. Alexander Mitchell was a prominent Irish engineer who from 1802 was blind. He was credited the inventor of the screw-pile lighthouse which gave him prominence in the helical pile industry. He went on to apply the technology in various different fields which included the erection of structures on mud-banks and shifting sands and further employed his success all over the world from Portland breakwater to Bombay bridges. He was a native of Dublin, and received his formal education at Belfast Academy. He was born on the 13th of April 1780 and died on the 25th of June 1868.

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