Major D. D. Galliard’s Wave Level Tiles

The South Piers wave-indicator tiles photographed just before they were removed in 1985.

David D. Galliard, the first man in charge of Duluth’s 1905 Corps of Engineers Building and, therefore, the Duluth Ship Canal, had tile water-level indicators installed along the south pier so he could study wave motion from his office window The mosaics were quite colorful and decorative, featuring American Eagles and the Corps of Engineers’ logo. Galliard’s study resulted in his book Wave Action, still considered a seminal work on the subject. In 1986 the canal piers underwent an overhaul; concrete was repaired, and the tiles were removed and placed in storage.

Colonel D. D. Gaillard in 1905. (Image: Public Domain)

Galliard was sent to Duluth before the aerial bridge was built. He corresponded with bridge designer CAP Turner, suggesting that the bridge would have a more stunning appearance if its towers were extended well beyond the height of the top span. Eager to please the Corps of Engineers, Turner redrew his 1901 sketch of the bridge to include Galliard’s towers. But the towers were not included in the final design, likely because they would increase cost and did not contribute to the bridge’s operations.

After leaving Duluth in 1903 Galliard rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel while working on the the Panama Canal. Sadly, he died in 1913, two years before the Panama Canal opened, of mosquito-bourne encephalitis. President Woodrow Wilson renamed a portion of the canal known as the “Celubra Cut” to the “Gaillard Cut” and posthumously raised Gaillard’s rank to full colonel. In 1916 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Col. D. D. Gaillard, a 116-foot long dredger later responsible for most of the work widening the St. Lawrence Seaway.

CAP Turner’s drawing of the transfer bridge with Gaillard’s suggested ornamental towers. [image: Zenith City Press]