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A cantilever bridge is a bridge whose main elements are cantilevers—structures that are anchored at only one end while the other end floats horizontally without any support. A simple cantilever bridge consist of two cantilever arms extending from opposite sides of an obstacle to be crossed, such as a river. But the cantilever arms do not meet in the center; instead, they support another span—a central truss bridge which rests on the ends of the cantilever arms.

Back in the 19th century, when engineers first proposed the cantilever design to the public, it required more than a little convincing. After all, how can anybody trust a bridge that has no support underneath it?

cantilever-demonstration-3

Demonstration of the Cantilever Principle of the Forth Bridge, circa 1887.

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