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ENGERTH, Wilhelm Freiherr von

* 26. 5. 1814, Pszczyna, Poland
† 4. 9. 1884, Leesdorf near Baden, Austria

Construction and mechanical engineer

E. was the son of a court painter Joseph E. in Anhalt-Cöthen and a brother of painter Eduardo E. After studying architecture at the Academy of Art and Polytechnic Institute in Vienna E. after a brief involvement in construction works returned to the Polytechnic Institute and devoted himself to studying mechanical engineering. In 1840 he was an assistant to Adam Burg at the Department of Mechanics. Already in 1844, only thirty year old E. became a professor of mechanical engineering at the Joanneum in Graz.
After being nominated technical director in 1850, E. in 1853 took over the Department of Engineering in the Austrian Ministry of Trade in Vienna and managed it until 1855. Here he was confronted with the problem of the construction of locomotive, which would be suitable for use in the mountains and which was supposed to be used for Semmering railway, a plan of which was designed by Karl Ritter von →Ghega. Building of the railway began in 1848. In 1851 tender competition for the new locomotive did not bring the desired result, since the four proposed models could not completely solve the problem. On the basis of accumulated experience E. designed the type of locomotives, which met all the requirements and which under the name "System E." became a model for all of the following mountain locomotives. A prototype of this locomotive was drawn up in 1853, just in time for the opening of the Semmering railway (1854). At first, this tender locomotive only worked on the Semmering, but was later successfully extended to cover other parts of the country and outside it. Thus, with the construction of mountain railways the principle of adhesion was established and the old funicular railways were out of use. E. was in 1855 transferred to the newly established Austrian State Railway, where he became director of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and later assistant managing Director. In 1867 E. was a member of Commission for regulating the Danube river, which was responsible for regulating high waters and floating ice on the Danube. During this time he invented a floating barrier, called »Schwimmtor« (Floating gate) or »Sperrschiff« (Blocking ship). This floating barrier designed to protect the areas along the Danube Canal from flooding and ice was in use in Nußdorf near Vienna since 1872. At the Vienna World Exposition in 1873 he acted as the head of engineering and led the construction of the exhibition halls as the chief engineer. In 1874 he was called to the upper house of the Austrian parliament and was in 1875 named baron. In 1844 he married Karoline (born Hoffmann, 1819-1885), with whom he had four sons and two daughters.

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