Wendel Bollman, one of a handful of men who transformed bridge-building from an art into a science, was born on this site to German parents on January 21, 1814.
Largely self-educated, Bollman acquired his engineering knowledge and experience at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Under the tutelage of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the railroad's chief engineer, Bollman worked his way up from apprentice to "Master of the Road."
In 1852, Bollman patented his iron suspension truss bridge. The B&O immediately began replacing its wooden spans with Bollman's bridges, and Latrobe hailed him as the "first successful iron bridge builder in this country." This successful use of iron by the country's most eminent railroad, and its endorsement by Latrobe spurred the adoption of iron as a primary bridge building material. By the late 1850's, iron bridge-building was well established throughout the world.
In 1858, Bollman formed his own company, pioneering in the design and construction of iron bridges throughout the United States, as well as in Mexico, Cuba, and Chile.
In his native town, Bollman's major surviving work is, ironically, not a bridge, but the cast iron dome atop City Hall.