While most of the city’s bridges along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers are somewhat modern with a few of them being partially renovated, each bridge does have its set of history- one dealing with World War II and the other being individual because of its own design and history and appearance before the war. Over two thirds of the city was destroyed during World War II- half by the Nazis trying to blow-up bridges in their path to avert pursuit from the Allies and the other half by the Allies in a successful attempt to bring the regime of Adolf Hitler to an end and with it the war itself. Yet tragedy did provide a blueprint for the city to rebuild the majority of these structures from scratch and repair those heavily damaged by the bombings. The bridges along the Rhein and Mosel may not have the character as the ones that existed prior to the war, but they still present historians and bridge enthusiasts with an opportunity to learn about their history and the connection with Koblenz’s past. Therefore the top five pics have been chosen for tourists to visit next time the opportunity is ripe to visit the region. While the majority of them can be found in Koblenz, one in particular can be found 10 km away in Neuwied but can be seen from a distance from the Ehrenbreitstein Castle. And yes, a pair of honorably mentioned bridges will be mentioned here.
Balduin Bridge- This stone arch bridge, built in 1343, is the oldest bridge built in the city and one of the oldest bridges spanning the Mosel River, let alone one of the oldest of its type built in Germany. The bridge was constructed during the time of the rule of the Emperor of Trier but has experienced at least five changes in power as well as damage as a result of war. This included the destruction of half of the structure’s 14 arches during World War II. That section- from the north shore to the island was replaced with a beam span as part of the plan to channel the Mosel to allow shipping traffic to Trier in 1952. Nevertheless, the southern half of the bridge- which was rehabilitated in the 1970s to resemble its appearance in the 1300s, is part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage site consisting of places along the Upper Rhein and Mosel Rivers. The current structure is 246 meters long and about 25 meters wide.
Mosel River Railroad Crossing at Koblenz North- At a total of 270 meters long, this bridge is the second oldest structure in Koblenz, spanning the Mosel River and located next to the Balduin Bridge. Built in 1858, the bridge originally consisted of six arches spanning the northern half of the river and an iron cantilever bridge on the southern end. Unfortunately that half was obliterated in 1945 and was replaced with a steel beam span in 1975 after having a temporary structure built to serve traffic. The structure now serves InterCity traffic between Cologne and Mainz via Bingen.
Pfaffendorf Bridge- Built in 1864 and rebuilt in 1953 after being destroyed in the war, this bridge is the oldest structure over the Rhein in Koblenz. It was originally a three span iron deck arch bridge with two towers on each end of the river, each serving as an entrance to the two towns. There was also a memorial on the bridge dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm I, which was later added to one of the towers of the bridge. That remains in its place today. The structure used to serve rail traffic until it was converted into a vehicular bridge in 1933, leaving the Horchheim Bridge (located 2.3 km to the south) to handle railroad traffic. Today, a three span deck girder beam takes its place, built using the piers and the tower remains from its predecessor.
The bridge has a total length of 311.3 meters (main span is 104.6 meters) and carries Hwy. B 42 into Koblenz from the Pfaffendorf Tunnel, which opened in 1993. Plans are in the making to reconstruct the bridge beginning in 2012 due to structural concerns. It will last 3-4 years and cost up to 20 million Euros.
Horchheim Bridge- At a span of 312 meters long and 12.4 meters wide, this railroad bridge was built under the direction of Karl Heinrich Gispert Gilhausen in 1879 and consisted of a half pony-half deck iron arch bridge, built in three spans, with approaches consisting of four spans of concrete deck arches each. The contraption of the main spans resembled the span found at the Levensau Bridge, spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal west of Kiel in Schleswig-Holstein. As part of the plan to use this bridge exclusively for rail traffic and the Pfaffendorf Bridge for vehicular traffic, the bridge was widened in 1933 so that there were two lanes of rail traffic instead of one. Sadly the main spans became a pile of rubble and twisted metal in 1945 and a temporary bridge was erected two years later to help resume rail traffic, but only one lane. This bridge was replaced with a permanent structure in 1961, consisting of a steel deck girder bridge built on the piers of the 1879 span. The bridge has two lanes of rail traffic and a sidewalk for people to walk across the Rhine. It was reconstructed after structural concerns in 2009 and now is incorporated into the city’s bike trail system. As for the approach spans- the deck arches, they are still up and in service and can be seen directly from the boat going down the river.
Gülsbrücke- Located at the westernmost end of Koblenz, this railroad bridge is a distant cousin of the Horchheim Bridge in terms of its type, a three-span iron arch bridge over the Mosel River that was built a year before the other bridge. Both bridges serve a stretch of railroad that started in Berlin and ended in Metz (France), stopping at Magdeburg and going through parts of northern Thuringia and Hesse. While sections of it have been abandoned, this stretch is still in operation as rail service stops at various places along the Mosel, providing tourists with some awesome views of the river valley and the villages located at the water. The bridge was reconstructed to better serve traffic in 1925, but sustained significant damage during the war that warranted repairs in 1947 and later renovations in 2000. While I did not have a chance to visit the bridge for time reasons, a link to this bridge is enclosed here: http://en.structurae.de/structures/data/index.cfm?id=s0036005
Neuwied Bridge: Located just 10 km northwest of Koblenz, this bridge may be a typical cable-stayed suspension bridge with a length of 485 meters (the spans are 235.2, 38.4 and 212 meters respectively). But what makes this 1978 structure special are the following: 1. The tower has an A-shaped pylon that does NOT support the roadway. Turned sideways, the 46 cables suspended from the tower support it. This was the poster boy for another cable-stayed bridge built in a similar fashion over the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois in 1993. That span has an I-shaped pylon and replaced a multiple-span truss bridge built in the 1920s. The Neuwied Bridge replaced a truss bridge built as a temporary crossing in 1951 and was demolished once the structure is open. Another reason for adding this bridge here is the fact that the A-shaped tower is really tall- 91.8 meters tall to be exact. The bridge is tall enough that one can see it from the Ehrenbreitstein Castle on the hill. Given its proximity to Koblenz and its unique features, the Neuwied Bridge deserves to be honorably mentioned.
Münzplatz Skyway Bridge: Located at the northwest end of the historically renowned Münzplatz overlooking the Mosel, this unique bridge features three stories of apartments spanning a narrow street and a mural which can be found on the outer end at the entrance. While it is unknown when the original bridge was built, it appears that it was a duplicate of a bridge that was destroyed in the war.
Mosel Freeway Pedestrian Bridge: This structure was built in 2004 to span the main highway and interchange and features a unique cable-stayed designed. In the middle there is a tower which supports four spans in each direction. This is a rather interesting design, but one whose examples can be seen elsewhere.
But probably the most elegant of the crossings can be found with the cable car (German: Seilbahn) between the Deutsche Eck and Ehrenbreitstein Castle. Constructed for the BUGA, the cable car crossing not only provides the tourist with direct access to the castle on the hill from the old town, but it gives them a spectacular view of the city of Koblenz, the Rhein and Mosel Rivers and all the places in between. It takes approximately 5-10 minutes to go in one direction and is expensive to go there, yet the money paid for the trip is well worth it.
In the US, when it comes to bike trails and bridges, they go together like bread and butter, for there are numerous examples of trails in the country where one important bridge is included. There are Rails to Trails where former rail lines are converted into bike trails and include many iron and steel bridges in the process, like the Katy Trail, which connects St. Charles and Booneville in Missouri or the Cowboy Trail in northern Nebraska. There are those, like the Wabash-Erie Canal Trail near Delphi in Indiana, where historic bridges are used as crossings- many of which are imported from other locations that are desolate and whose roads are no longer used, so that they have a new lease in life, like it was the case with the Gilmore Bridge, one of two Stearns through truss bridges left in the country. And there are cases where either mail order bridges consisting of welded steel bridges are brought in to serve as crossings either because they were affordable or in some cases they replaced the historic bridges that were either deemed unsafe and had to be removed or collapsed because of disaster. The Horn’s Ferry Bridge in Marion County, Iowa (which a later article will explain about its history) is an example of such a case.
When cycling in Copenhagen, bridges and cycles go together like bread and butter but in a different fashion. As mentioned in the Flensburg Files article on Copenhagenization (please refer to the article on this using this link:( http://flensburgerfiles.areavoices.com/2011/10/24/copenhagenization-the-contagion-that-could-change-the-way-we-think-of-bicycles/ ), Copenhagenization refers to the establishment of bike trail networks in a city at the expense of the automobile in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which has contributed a great deal to global warming. This concept consists of including bike lanes on every main street- a concept known as sharing the road, as well as establishing bike routes going through green areas and parts of the city where one cannot reach by car. Ever since the 1950s when the concept was first developed, one will find bike routes virtually everywhere in the city, and more are being established to accommodate more bikers who seem to embrace the concept of commuting on a regular basis as a way of life in Copenhagen.
With Copenhagenization come the bridges that serve the canals and other deep ravines in and around the city. Of the four dozen or so bridges that serve the city and the region of Kastrup), all but a couple bridges are biker friendly- meaning space is made to accommodate those pedaling those two-wheelers, whose history and success dates back to the 1780s when the first bike (a walk-a bike because there were no pedals on it) was invented. In a couple cases, individual bridges were built just for bikes alone to make the trip through Copenhagen as hassle-free as possible. It is no surprise that city planners plan their bridges to serve two key purposes: functionality and conforming to the city aesthetically.
In Copenhagen (and in general, Denmark), the bridge landscape consists mainly of bascule bridges and as well as various forms of deck arches, regardless of the materials used for constructing them (some were built using brick while the rest were made of steel). One will rarely see a truss bridge in site. In fact, one can see a Town Lattice pony truss bridge spanning a lake at Norreport Park on the north end of the city center. The majority of the structures were completed in the 1930s and 40s, even though there are some exceptions to the rule- these will be presented below. However, recent developments have indicated that with the increase of cyclists roaming the streets of Copenhagen, the need for bridges to cross the bodies of water surrounding Copenhagen and the ravines consisting of small valleys- some filled with rail lines entering the city from the west and south. In the past decade alone, as many as a dozen bridges have been built in Copenhagen, most of them located in the southern and eastern ends of the city in places like Christiania, Ørestad, and Kastrup, where much of the area has been developed along the water front. While the main purpose of these new bridges still is to function as a means of transporting people from point A to point B, many bridge engineers have come up with fashionable ways to make the structures appealing to those who either cross or go past them. While many pontists would consider these bridges too modern and bland for their taste, others have embraced them as a symbol of the city and its pride in encouraging people to use the bike instead of the car to get around.
To please both parties, I have chosen five of the best historic bridges and five of the must see bridges that are part of the Copenhagenization process. Each one will feature a brief summary as well as a photo to provide a tourist with a chance to see them from the eyes of the bridge photographer and perhaps plan a visit to them while in Copenhagen. Please note that the Øresund Bridge is not included in this article for a separate article will be presented on this structure at a later time. For each category, there will be two that will be mentioned honorably with a couple remarks about them.
Jason’s Pics for Copenhagen’s Historic Bridges
Location: Slotsholmen Canal between Stormgade (near Copenhagen’s city hall) and Vindebrogade
Built: 1650/1681; rehabilitated in 1918
Description: One-span closed spandrel brick arch bridge with ornamental railings.
Bridgehunter’s comments: While the inscriptions on the concrete railings indicated that the bridge was constructed in 1650, literary sources pointed the date of 1681 as the time of its construction. Nevertheless, the bridge is perhaps the oldest bridge left in Copenhagen that is still in service. The bridge was the main show for the Swedish Army’s attack on the people of Copenhagen in 1659. Despite gaining ground on the city, the Danish eventually gained the upper hand and drove the Swedes back over the straight, leaving 2000 dead in the process. Today, this bridge still serves traffic but in a small neighborhood east of the city center. While it may be a forgotten bridge to many, this structure still holds a lot of history for those who know about it, even when talking about it over a cup of cappuccino at the cafés located nearby or passing through it by boat.
Location: Canal connecting the inner harbor between Højbro Square and Slotsholmen
Description: Closed spandrel wrought iron bridge with ornamental design
Bridgehunter’s comments: The Højbro is the most ornamental of the bridges serving the inner city of Copenhagen. With its lion head serving as the keystone (center point of the main span) and its colors of gold and grey, the bridge is largely noticeable by those either passing under it by boat or past or even over it by foot or by bike.
This the last of the works of Vilhelm Dahlerup, who was a prominent bridge builder in Denmark and given the recent renovation and its ability to handle multiple traffic, this bridge will remain over the canal for years to come.
Location: Section of Copenhagen Inner Harbour carrying H.C. Andersen Blvd. and Amager Blvd. between Zealand and Amager respectively
Built: 1954 (present structure) replacing a temporary bridge built in 1930 to replace a 1903 swing bridge. Origin of the structure dates back to 1886.
Dimensions: 250 meters long with a vertical clearance of 7 meters above water
Description: Bascule Bridge (with open spandrel arch design made of steel) with closed spandrel arch approaches
Bridgehunter’s Remarks: The Langebro is perhaps the most popular of Copenhagen’s bridges per say, as it was featured in many fine arts pieces. It was a play written by Hans Christian Andersen, who was also famous for Mother Goose and other famous children’s stories. It was a scene of an attack by a reptile-like monster in a film made in 1961 entitled Reptilicus and the bridge was left in ruins as a result. And because the original bridge was relocated from London to Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1969, the Langebro was featured as the replacement of the London Bridge in the 1971 film Geordie (the setting was also shifted to Copenhagen instead of London). From the point of view of an architect, the bridge is the largest in Copenhagen and is one that is a must see, not only in terms of its functionality as a bascule bridge, but also in terms of its appearance with its red brick arch spans and the artwork featured along the canal next to the bridge. While it is probably inappropriate to use this bridge as an imitation of the London Bridge in Georgia, one can tell that this bridge still looks like it was built five years ago instead of almost 60 years ago and will most likely stay in service for a very long time, with a little bit of maintenance work.
Location: Copenhagen Inner Harbor between Slotsholmen and Christiania
Built: 1937 as the fifth bridge built at the location. Designed by Kaj Gottlob. First bridge built in 1620 and renewed 1816, 1869, 1908 and replaced with an interim bridge in 1934
Dimension: 115 meters long and 27 meters wide
Description: Bascule Bridge (span is a deck steel cantilever) with steel beam (north side) and closed spandrel arch (south side) approaches
Bridgehunter’s Remarks: The Knippelsbro is the shorter of the two vehicular bridges spanning the Inner Harbor but is the shorter and most unique in comparison to its counterpart, the Langebro. While the bascule span looks similar to the Tower Bridge in London in terms of design and function (the two half spans open in opposite directions to allow ships to pass through), the north approach span is unique as the roadway is supported by steel cylindrical columns, which serves as hydraulic support as it lowers with the weight of traffic, making the roadway move vertically; especially when the bascule span lifts to allow ships to pass through.
This is extremely rare for a bridge, even though engineers are either building or even retrofitting many of the bridges to avoid the risk of collapse due to weight or even natural occurrences, such as an earthquake. Veering away from the technical aspects of this bridge, the bridge dates as far back as nearly 400 years, when it was first known as the Great Amager Bridge, but had its name changed two additional times until the city settled for Knippelsbro, named after Hans Knip, who became caretaker of the bridge in 1641, collecting tolls from passersby and maintaining the structure’s upkeep. His house was located nearby and was named Knippenshus and the bridge was named Knippensbro, although it is unknown when and even more so why the people of Copenhagen embraced the official name of Knippelsbro.
Location: Frederiksholm- Canal between Christiansborg Riding Ground Complex and Ny Vestergard which extends to Dante Plads via Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Description: Two-span closed spandrel arch bridge constructed of sandstone.
Bridgehunter’s Comments: The Marble Bridge is situated at the gate to the Danish palace and given its age and ornamentation that can be seen from the neighboring bridges, it definitely deserves its place in the royalty. The bridge is perhaps the second most ornamental bridge that can be found in the city and one that is a must see if you are by bike or by foot. It can be seen from the bridges located on both sides of the structure. However, given its wear and tear on the roadway (despite its cobblestone roadway, it is a rather bumpy ride across the structure) and black appearance on the ornamental designs, it would not be surprising if this bridge receives a cleansing so that it lasts another 350 years. Nevertheless, the bridge deserves to be in the top 5 because of its history and aesthetic appearance and how it conforms to the cityscape Copenhagen offers.
Holmens Bro: Built in 1954, this single span closed spandrel arch bridge was constructed out of granite. Yet it was built to replace the bridge that was designed by Dahlerup and built in 1878. Given the fact that the present structure compromised the historic value of its predecessor and its age, it fell into this category, even though the bridge is worth mentioning and a few photos.
St. Anna’s Bridge: Spanning one of the canals going through Christiania, this bridge is one of the most forgotten of Copenhagen’s bridges, as it was first built in 1781 and redone again in 1883 and 1924. The brick arch design with some ornamentation on the railings is a real eye-catcher to the pontist and the age of the bridge and its setting makes a person feel like walking into Copenhagen’s past- say 200 years ago or so.
Christian IV’s Bro: Built in the early 1920s, this bridge is located to the south of Marble Bridge over the Frederiksholm Canal and represents an example of a steel stringer bridge built before the war. Many of these types were built throughout Denmark during the 1920s to replace the ageing wooden spans. This one had a predecessor as it was built using piers from either an iron or wooden bridge. The bridge was named after King Christian IV, who ruled Denmark from 1588 until his death in 1648.
Sorterendebroen Arch Bridge: Spanning the strait connecting Sydhavn and the channel leading to the Baltic Sea, this bridge is the longest fixed structure of its kind in Copenhagen and it definitely belongs to the top 10 of the longest spans (vehicular and non-vehicular) in the city. Its closed-spandrel concrete arch design can be seen from the railroad viaduct which carries the Øresundline to the airport and eventually across the Øresund-Strait to Sweden. The road that the bridge carries runs parallel and serves as a link to the suburbs surrounding the airport. While it is unknown when the bridge was actually built, judging by its structural condition, the bridge is probably at least 50 years old. Nevertheless, it has been serving its purpose for a long time.
Kalvebobbroen Viaduct: This is the second longest bridge in Copenhagen, behind the Øresund-Bridge, with a length of 8 km. The bridge was completed in 1987 and serves the E20 motorway, which tangents its way along the Baltic Sea Coast connecting the Kastrup region (and the airport) and the southern suburbs of Copenhagen. The bridge represents a classic example of how Danish civil engineers love to build bridges that are tall and long. After all, they need to connect one island to another.
Location: Sydhavn (part of Copenhagen Inner Harbor) between Ørestad and Vesterport behind the Fisketorvet Shopping Center
Built: 2006 by Dissing and Weitling
Dimensions: 190 meters long and 5.5 meters wide
Description: Using traditional bridge type standards, the west half is cantilever deck and the east half is a beam span built on piers. Built completely of steel.
Bridgehunter’s Remarks: For an innovative bridge engineer there is always a first when it comes to designing fancy bridges. This one was a first: a rather fancy design that fits with the modern landscape; especially in the area where it has been recently developed for accommodation and business purposes with lucid architecture- breaking the traditional designs that many architects prefer. Yet like the buildings that are using renewable energy resources and are supposed to be carbon neutral, the bridge has a unique functionality which one cannot really expect from a non-vehicular bridge. The bridge is segregated where one lane is explicitly made for cyclist, the other for pedestrians only. This was designed for safety purposes so that the cyclists can cross the bridge with no delays while avoiding accidents involving pedestrians at the same time. It is unimaginable seeing such a bridge serve that purpose in the US and other places where a bridge is used for everyone including pedestrians and cyclists, but given the increased usage of bicycles and the expansion of bike trails especially in cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants, a plan for a bridge like this one may be in the cards 10 years down the road.
If one counts Sydhavn as part of Copenhagen’s Inner Harbor, then this bridge was the first one built in 52 years (the Langenbro was the last bridge built in 1954), but given the increase in the number of bikes in Copenhagen, this bridge will soon have company as other bridges are in the drafting phase waiting to be erected over the next 5-10 years.
Location: Spanning the rail lines in Vesterport, linking the Fisketorvet Shopping Center and Kødbyen
Description: Consists of two viaducts- both built of concrete and steel. One is used exclusively for automobiles and buses, the other for pedestrians and cyclists Both are 240 meters long.
Bridgehunter’s Remarks: Located not far from the Bryggebroen Bike Bridge at the north entrance to Copenhagen’s largest shopping center, this viaduct provides both the motorists as well as the cyclists with easy access to Copenhagen’s train station, which is about 5-10 minutes away pending on what form of transportation you use. Normally, one will find only one bridge whose outer lanes are reserved explicitly for cyclist and pedestrians. To a certain degree, one could imagine a historic bridge (be it arch or truss) being used exclusively for pedestrians while the modernized bridge serves vehicular traffic only. This modern but unique bridge is one of the rarest forms to be seen in Copenhagen not only because of its function but the fact that the viaduct is almost 1 km long and spans railways in a ravine that is approximately 20 meters deep. This duo viaduct is located at the north end of the Fisketorvet Shopping Center, the largest mall in the Danish capital.
Location: Over section of Sydhavn in Frederiksborg
Dimensions: 97 meters long and 12 meters wide
Description: This bridge is best compared to a glass which is filled with a third of each liquid, starting with the heaviest and ending with the lightest- like honey, jello and a fruit drink for example- and not being able to mix them together. From a bird’s eye view, it looks like a cable-stayed bridge whose thick cables are supported by only one steel tower. Seeing it up close and judging it by its side and oblique views, looks like a kingpost truss bridge with riveted connections. If that was the case, then it would be the rarest bridge in the world for the bridge type has long since been out of use, and in addition to that, most kingpost truss bridges built in the US and other places in the world consisted of pinned connections. There are only a few examples of those built using riveted connections today, like the Schoenemann Park Bridge in Luverne, Minnesota and the Waddell Kingpost through truss bridge located at English Landing Park in Parkville near Kansas City. Looking at it more closely and one will find by the appearance of hydraulics on the diagonal components, that this bridge is a drawbridge, spanning a section of Copenhagen’s west harbor and accommodating traffic in the newly developed region located just to the north and west of Ørestad.
Description: To the taste of many bridge fans, this structure does not deserve to be recognized, as it is very original and bland in color. However, one must not judge a book by its cover when it comes to this steel beam bridge. Resembling a footbridge, this structure was built using the least amount of steel possible, making a person wonder how the bridge can survive extreme weather conditions, as well as numerous residents of Ørestad using it to get to the harbor from their houses. The bridge is also difficult to access as it is blocked off on the east side and access from the western edge is difficult, forcing the person to believe that the bridge is privately owned, which it probably is. By the same token however, one can get a good side view from its neighboring bridge, the Spaellandsbroen Bridge, which runs parallel to the railway and carries traffic to Kastrup.
Location: Stadsgraven between Christianshavn and Amager in Freetown Christiania
Dimensions: 30 meters long and 2 meters wide
Description: This bridge is an example of a wooden deck truss bridge, whose design comprises of a Kingpost design and whose material used for its construction was Douglas timber. The pedestrian and bicycle bridge is a replacement of an earlier wooden beam bridge built at the beginning of the 20th Century and was used for military traffic. Plans of restoring the bridge in the 1990s was scrapped when it was revealed through the dismantling process that rot was worse than anticipated. Ax and Kelle, a team of journeymen from Germany, spent a total of 2,500 hours over the course of three months building the new structure, using the piers from the old one, and making it accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. While the columnist could not visit the bridge, a link with a picture of the 1998 structure is found below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyssebroen
Amagerbro Pedestrian Bridge– Located over a major highway in the suburb of Amagerbro, this bridge is unique to the city of Copenhagen because of its two-sided steel arch design which tilts at a 135° angle outwards, similar to a butterfly’s wing. Completed in 2008, this pedestrian bridge has won many awards on a regional level because of its unique design, even though one will see many of these bridge types painting the European landscape. Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/37001-9.jpg
The Bridges of Frederiksholm– Known as the Danish version of Little Venice, these are a network of steel and wooden bridges connecting the apartments that exist- all over a body of water belonging to Sydhavn. While they may look bland to bridge enthusiasts, the bridges serve both pedestrians and vehicular traffic that drive in and out of one of the newest residential districts in Copenhagen- in existence since 2005.
Nørreport Park Pedestrian Bridge– located at the center of the largest park in Copenhagen’s city center (located next to the train/metro station bearing the same name as the park itself), this bridge has a Town Lattice design built on steel towers and spans the center part of the lake. It is rare to see truss bridges in Denmark but even more so in Copenhagen itself as the city has at the most about 3-4 bridges of this kind overall, with the landscape consisting of beam, arch and bascule bridges. For those loving truss bridges, this 1800 structure is a beauty that is a must see while in Copenhagen. The pedestrian/ bike trail bridge is well-maintained and serves as one of the main attractions of the park.
Of the above-mentioned bridges presented here that people should see while in Copenhagen, there is one structure that stands out alone and has become the new symbol of the city and region. Construction lasted 9 years and despite the high costs, the bridge brought the city (and the country) and its next door neighbor together. In the next article on the Bridges of Copenhagen, we will look at the Øresund-Bridge.
Heading southwest in the direction of my childhood place of Jackson on a heavily used state rural highway through Dakota County, there is an old iron bridge located just off to the left of the road that one would easily forget unless he was told that it was there and was worth visiting if he ever was interested in historic bridges or even the history of the region, like Dakota County. Located just a mile northeast of Waterford and four from Northfield, the first fact that one has to know about the bridge is that it is on Canada Avenue and when turning left and crossing the single-lane railroad track, one will meet the Cannon River in an instant. While there is a concrete bridge that is open to traffic as the Dudley Bridge, the second factor one should know about is the fact that the Camelback through truss bridge can be seen on the left side. Yet getting to the 1909 structure after crossing the 2010 piece of modern concrete slab (sorry but it does look bland to the naked eye) does create an interesting challenge, as I encountered it when I parked my white Aveo off to the side and went to the bridge for some photo opportunities.
There are two ways of getting to the bridge- one following a path underneath the new bridge, which is nothing more but a pile of dirt turned into thick oozing mud when wet, and one through the weeds, whose bright yellow and dark brown Maximilian sunflowers mask the thistles and deer ticks lurking in the ground. In either way, the paths converge onto what was left of the gravel road that would follow the 30s style telephone poles and pat the south shores of the Cannon before making it sharp 45° turn towards the river and meeting the A-frame portal bracing and the plaque with the names of the people who helped build this unique structure.
The Waterford Iron Bridge was built by the Hennepin Bridge Company in Minneapolis, which has a history of its own. The company was founded by Lawrence H. Johnson in 1905. His career as a bridge builder dates back to his days with Commodore Jones and the Minneapolis Bridge Company. He also had a small bridge building business prior to that, where a rare Camelback through truss bridge near Mankato was built in 1901. Not only did he build bridges, he was into politics, as he was a state representative from 1901 to 1909, a position which included his post as speaker of the house in 1907. Apart from its sleaky silver color, the bridge is unique as it is the only structure left, whose connections are bolted. At the time of its construction in 1909, many bridge companies were experimenting with ways of making the truss bridges sturdier, more capable of carrying heavier traffic. Truss bridges were originally assembled together using pinned connections, meaning the parts would be assembled using metal pins that were screwed together with bolts. But as traffic became heavier and more numerous, tensions on these pins combined with the weather extremities caused them to weaken and corrode, forcing engineers to replace them before the structure collapsed. Already calls for standardized bridges with riveted connections- meaning the parts would slide together like a glove and screwed together- were becoming louder, namely for the fact that railroad companies were using truss bridges with these riveted connections to accomodate heavier rail traffic without incident. When the bridge was built, the parts were put together similar to that of the riveted connections, but were bolted shut to ensure that the truss bridge would remain stable. Examples of bolted connections can be found on the diagonal beams as well as along the upper and lower chords of the structure. Furthermore, the Waterford Iron Bridge was one of the very last bridges in the US that was built using iron. Iron had become obsolete when steel took over as the main material for bridge construction in 1890, and the construction of the Waterford signalled the end to iron-made bridges in Minnesota for bridges of this type were being built using steel, which was light-weight and flexible in comparison with iron, which can be brittle, corrode easily and has a lower melting temperature in comparison with steel.
The bridge remained in exceptionally good condition throughout all of its life with the exception of the fact that there were cracks in the southeast wingwall and damage to the abutments caused by flooding in 1983. Not even the floods of 2010 and spring 2011 caused havoc to the structure, which is a good sign that the bridge has been cared for by the county and the township, which will continue that process even if the bridge is now obsolete because of the neighboring Dudley Bridge.
Currently, the group responsible for saving the bridge is planning on replacing the above-mentioned sections together with the concrete and steel decking with new steel decking with treated timber, with long-term plans of incorporating it into the 26-mile Town Trail system connecting Faribault and Cannon Falls. While they applied for grants to undertake this task of prepping it up for bike trail use, they found out that their bridge is in the top 25 of the Partners for Preservation competition, where 25 of the best candidates would receive the top prize of $1 million dollars. While the Waterford bridge is the only historic bridge in the running, other candidates include the Minnesota Transportation Museum in St. Paul, Pilot Knob where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet, the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand and Ramp in Falcon Heights, and the Basilica of St. Mary Church in Minneapolis. While 2% of the population have so far voted for the Waterford Bridge, there is still time to vote before the deadline of 12 October by clicking on the link at the end of the article.
Regardless of what the outcome of the vote is, it is certain that the bridge will be cared for for generations to come because of its uniqueness and history. Furthermore, the bridge definitely provides cyclists and pedestrians alike with natural surroundings that one can rarely find in a historic bridge like this in Minnesota. Currently, only 40 or so truss bridges are left in Minnesota and the numbers are dropping by the year. Only a handful like this bridge provide some conformity with the natural surroundings and history to those who want to know more about its construction and its connection with American history. The opportunity to save the Waterford Bridge is grand and will set the precedent for other bridges of its kind, whose function of serving traffic is nearing its end, but whose beauty and history deserves its place as a recreational structure for generations to enjoy.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles wishes the group the best of luck in the contest and with their endeavors in saving the bridge. One advice: the bike trail from the bridge going south is better off going under the Dudley Bridge to provide some excitement for the cyclist at heart. 🙂
You can view the photos of the bridge via flickr, which you can click here.