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The President of the American Society of Engineers (ASCE), Mark Woodson, declared the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This is the second landmark structure for South Africa, the first being the Woodhead Dam on Table Mountain.

The plaque which commemorated the award was officially unveiled by Mark Woodson in Cape Agulhas at the Lighthouse on 14 May 2016. This was followed by a celebratory cocktail attended by among others, Thomas Smith, executive director of ASCE and Meggan Maugham-Brown, director of ACE Global Programs and dignitaries from SANPARKS under whose management the lighthouse falls, officials from L’Agulhas and academia.

Landmark status for Cape Agulhas LighthouseSAICE 2016 president, Dr Chris Herold, CEO of SAICE, Manglin Pillay, ASCE executive director Thomas Smith and Mark Woodson, president of ASCE during the unveiling of the plaque.

In the more than 40 years that ASCE has run the International Landmarks programme only about 50 projects have been identified as International Civil Engineering Landmarks and 250 as National Landmarks in the United States. To qualify for inclusion, a project must basically be over 50 years old, should have made a significant impact on civil engineering in its region, should still be in operation, and adhere to very stringent selection criteria.

The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse is situated at Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. It was the third lighthouse to be built in South Africa, and the second-oldest still operating, after Green Point. The lighthouse at Cape Agulhas was the first to be built after a long and arduous campaign by the citizens of the Cape Colony to convince the British Government to finance the construction of lighthouses in its territories around the world.

The structure was designed by the civil engineer to the Colony, Lt. Col. Charles Michell and built by Mr William Martin. The design in the Egyptian Renaissance style is thought to be unique among world lighthouses. It first displayed its light on 1 March 1849 and is still in service today. The benefit to shipping has been enormous. Today the lighthouse also serves as a tourist attraction, which stimulates the economy of the quaint village of L’Agulhas and stands tall as an edifice bearing testimony of the social and economic contributions of civil engineering.

Most non-American works on the list of ASCE International Landmarks are in the United Kingdom and include the famous Telford and Stephenson bridges and Brunel’s Great Western Railway. The Eiffel Tower, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Suez and Panama Canals are obvious inclusions, but ancient works such as Macchu Pichu and the Lake Moeris Quarry Road in Egypt have also made the list. The latter and the Victoria Falls Railway Bridge, along with South Africa’s two, appear to be the only works in Africa recognised to date.

 

 

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