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Leonardo's Miter Gate
Languedoc Canal
Caledonian Canal
Panama Canal Zone

Leonardo's Miter Gate

Leonardo's Gate Design
Leonardo's Canal Lock

Centuries of Civil Engineering

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Il Codice Atlantico.
Milan: U. Hoepli, 1894-1904.
Water Supply
Image Index

Design for a Lock at San Marco

Among the vast array of Leonardo's papers in Milan that are assembled together in the Codex Atlanticus is a remarkable drawing of a new canal lock. It is recognized as the first to show the best form for a water gate, and how another gate within the larger gate could serve to control the flow of water. Nearly all modern gates follow this principle, including the massive gates at Panama.

The design is for the lock at San Marco in Milan that was completed in 1497. The deceptively simple drawing is full of details for the miter gate, which superseded the portcullis type of gate previously used. It shows the miter and quoin posts, vertical wooden planks with horizontal and diagonal braces, iron sheathing for the joints, a brick floor underneath the gates, and a recess in the wall into which each gate folds. A detail of the wicket for letting water into the lock from the upper level is shown below the gate.


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