A compendium of construction-related Fun Facts.
If you happen to be among those who follow us on one of our social media channels, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you may have noticed that we mention a fun fact almost every Tuesday. We post facts that have relevance to the construction contracting world. We’re bringing a few of those posts together here. We hope you find something to smile about, think about, or perhaps even be surprised about.
Whether you think of these fun facts as interesting trivia to be recounted at an opportune time, fodder for your tailgate talks, or as simply a way to spend a few minutes mentally snacking on the tidbits of information we invite you to read on.
No matter how they’re made, we still call them blueprints. Blueprints were initially created using photosensitive blue coating on paper. We have British astronomer and photographer Sir John Herschel to thank for this 1842 invention.
Screwdrivers were probably invented in the late 15th century, either in Germany or France. We find, as evidence of their existence, the screws used to secure breastplates, backplates, and helmets on medieval jousting armor. That’s something to think about next time you zip a screw into place with your marvelous cordless tool.
Did you know coquina (tiny seashells) can be used to construct buildings? Check out this amazing story of how coquina is a “bullet-proof” building material “born of the sea.”
The oldest intact European structure in Arizona is San Xavier Del Bac Mission. Some 200,000 visitors each year from all over the world come to Tucson, Arizona, to view what is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.
From flagpoles to window blinds, pulleys make the world go round – or is that “make the world go up and down?” The earliest evidence of pulleys dates to Ancient Egypt – about 1991-1802 BC. Today, in construction – cranes, material hoists, and elevators all put this ancient tool to use.
Did you know that the modern portable toilet found on many construction sites got its start on a ship? George Harding received the first patent for a porta-potty in the 1960s. Before that, he worked for the U.S. War Department during World War II, and that’s when he started building portable toilets for use by shipbuilders.
One of the first modern work gloves was patented in 1896 by D.F. Morgan. He wanted to make improvements to gloves for laborers and rail workers. He created an affordable work glove using a seamless palm to deter discomfort.
Unusual Red Tape
If you think it is hard to make it through the red tape of construction restrictions, permits, and clearances, you’ll probably be amazed by the power of the “hidden people” in Iceland. Get more info here.
From many objects found in ancient Egyptian tombs to modern laminate flooring, the glue that holds it all together is . . . well, glue. Where would today’s construction contractors be without the plethora of glue options available to them? Impossible to imagine!
“In 1940, while working as a street painter for the City of Los Angeles, Charles D. Scanlon designed a hollow, conical marker to keep cars from driving over wet paint. He patented the rubber traffic cone in 1943.” Quoted from Cityworks®.
From step ladders to extension ladders and every ladderish object in between, there is a common need in the construction industry – getting up (or down) to the place of work. The origins of ladders are lost in history. What we do know is that John H. Balsley, a master carpenter, and inventor patented a folding wooden step ladder on January 7, 1862. Thank You, Mr. Balsley!
Starting in 1907, A. V. Holman began running a manufacturing company specializing in woodworking clamps. She remained the successful leader of The Adjustable Clamp Company (now known as Pony Jorgensen) until she died in 1932.
Some Facts Ain’t Facts!
Now that you’ve had a taste of the fun facts presented here, I want to mention that we try really hard to get down to the facts. In other words, we can be pretty skeptical. Just because Sister Sally said it or even because seven or eight websites state something, we don’t always believe them.
For example, this morning, I typed these words into my search engine, “Mark Twain did not mention eating the frog.” What I found in my results was page after page of person after person, blog after blog, and website after website mentioning how Mark Twain did indeed say morning frog-eating was an acceptable start to the day.
As it turns out, there is no evidence that Twain ever said or wrote the little frog ditty. You can go here to know more about who really said it and the evidence presented about why it should not be attributed to Twain.
There are other examples of not-so-factual facts, but rather than belabor the fact (I couldn’t resist,) suffice it to say our goal is to get to the truth even about “fun facts.”
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