Nagara Gawa Railway Bridge after the earthquake, Japan, 1891.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Damaged railway bridge, from 'The great earthquake in Japan, 1891' by John Milne, (Yokohama, 1892?). Earthquakes had a devastating effect upon western-built engineering structures. Milne (1850-1913), a professor at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo, wrote: 'we see the broken cast iron piers lying on the dry shingly bed of the river, like pieces of a huge carrot,...the original line of the bridge has, in its central part, been deflected up stream…Whether it is possible for engineers to build bridges which will resist such large bodily displacements…is a matter of question'. The earthquake of 1891 was studied using modern seismological instruments and techniques developed by Milne and his colleagues over the previous fifteen years.