Modern Marvels

Season 11 Episode 59

Engineering Disasters 12

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Nov 09, 2004 on The History Channel
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Episode Summary

Engineering Disasters 12
In Milwaukee, 104 died after drinking contaminated tap water. At Texas A&M, a tradition turned tragic when a pile of bonfire logs collapsed onto its builders. Thousands of US soldiers expired in known WWII deathtraps--Sherman Tanks. In 1973, 14 men working on a 26-story building died when supports were removed from wet concrete. And in 1993, Denver's "dream" airport became a nightmare when its baggage-handling system ran amok. Aided by computer graphics, catastrophe footage, and visits to the locations today, MIT scientists, Center for Disease Control experts, WWII vets, bonfire builders, and construction engineers explain these tragedies and measures taken to prevent them in future.moreless
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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (1)

    • Don Behm
      Reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

      Paul Nannis
      Former Milwaukee Health Commissioner

      John Norquist (Archive footage)
      Mayor of Milwaukee, 1988-2003

      Dr. Dennis Juranek
      Centers for Disease Control

      Jim McTasney
      Texas A&M Class of 1992

      Larry Grosse, PhD
      Former Texas A&M Head of Const. Science

      Veronica Kastrin Callaghan
      Member, 1999 Bonfire Commission

      Ned Barnett
      Military Historian

      Belton T. Cooper
      Author, "Death Traps"

      Richard de Neufville
      Professor of Engineering Systems, MIT

      Neil T. Smith
      System Maintenance, United Airlines

      Karla Gratton
      Assistant Coordinator, DIA Baggage Command Center

      Robert F. Horan
      Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney

      Edgar V. Leyendecker, PhD
      Author, "Skyline Investigation"


    • Show Sub-topic: (None)
      The Texas A&M [Aggie] Bonfire was an annual tradition since 1909 (back when it was a military academy.) It started out as a pile of junk burned the night before the football game against University of Texas. Legand has it if the fire burns into the wee hours of the morning, A&M will win its game. By 1999 the bonfire had become an elaborate stucture aimed at building leadership and teamwork among the students.

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