Piano Bridge Restoration

Piano Bridge before the project started

In the face of modernization and improving the infrastructure, it is rare to find historic bridges built earlier than 1940 that are rehabilitated and given a new lease on life as a recreational structure. It is rarer to see them relocated to different destinations nowadays without having to be dismantled and the parts sandblasted before being reassembled. But in the case of the Piano Bridge in southeastern Texas, located near Weimar (approximately 120 kilometers southeast of Austin), one will see something that is even seldom to find: A bridge that is disassembled and reworked on site and then reassembled on site to be reused for vehicular traffic.

Julie Bowers of Workin Bridges, an organization based in Iowa dealing with historic bridge preservation, was at the site when the bridge underwent a massive remodeling process and has submitted a summary of the whole process with photos as a guest columnist, providing readers with a description of how the rehabilitation process works on the Piano Bridge, a Pratt through truss bridge built by the King Bridge Company in 1885. The project is close to completed as some final touch-ups are needed before the bridge reopens to traffic. Here is her story on the bridge. The profile of the bridge is found at the end of the article:

I have had the privilege over the last few months to document the restoration of the Piano Bridge in Dubina, Texas. Although Workin’ Bridges did not get the project for a rehabilitation and fix of the broken parts in place, we did enable the contractor, Davis Construction to have a bit of time to bid the project. They utilized our same ironworkers from BACH Steel to do the repairs. Problem number 1, how does Workin’ Bridges make money when we aren’t a construction company yet?

Removal of the Flooring

So the project was scheduled to begin in the middle of November, delayed until the week before Thanksgiving. Davis Construction was on site, but the BACH Steel crew ended up in a car accident, which derailed their construction schedule for some time. Thankfully they lived and Bob Schwensen, the supervisor for Davis already had experience in truss bridges.

The bridge lift from its foundations

Schwensen had the skills and expertise to continue on and attach the strong backs to the incline end posts using equipment that was on site from BACH Steel, the crew pulled planks and stringers and executed the bridge lift on December 2, 2011. McCray Crane Service from Houston, Texas was hired to do the lift and it took only a few hours to set the crane and about 5 minutes to move the bridge, after a week setting it all up and preparing. The disassembly of the bridge took several days, lots of heat and force and big wrenches. I was able to help at that point by saying that it would be impossible for one person to do that work and once they put two or three on getting the nuts and pins off, all proceeded smoothly.

The disassembly process

Engineering and plans were designed by TxDOT Engineer Charles Walker. His understanding of truss bridges is exceptional. He designed new splice plates, connectors and shoe plates. They also designed new tops for the caissons. TxDOT trusts that fatigue and stress were addressed and the broken parts able to be fixed to bring this bridge back onto the road system for vehicular traffic.
The holidays delayed work even more. Painters were not set up at that point and everyone left. In January the blasting of the parts began and BACH Steel arrived in the latter part of January to begin the repairs with Nels Raynor, Shane Milliken and his son Michael on the job.

Rivets for the Piano Bridge

TxDOT applied for permission to change the AASHTO Standards that demand rivets should be replaced with bolts for this job. Where it had been riveted to begin with, rivets were used for replacement. Workin’ Bridges documentary was able to get rivets donated from JayCee Rivets and a 60lb hammer from Michigan Pneumatic, as well as Black Stallion gloves from RevCo industries to use for this project. A big thank you to those folks, all of their products figure prominently in most photos.

The riveting process on the bridge

BACH Steel began by heat straightening eye-bars, removing pack rust, fixing the lattice portals, and moving forward with riveting. Many TxDOT engineers and inspectors have been on site to see this process, check the heat in the forge and approve how it was done. That process took about 2 weeks and then the reassembly began in early February. I was not there to document that process but was able to utilize photos from BACH Steel for this part of the job.

Reassembling the newly remodelled truss bridge

On February 22, Ray’s Crane Service reset the truss over the East Navidad River where it has been since 1885. The stringers for the approaches are set, the stringers for the bridge itself are welded in place and the final painting has begun this last week of February. The road approaches are nearly done and clean up of the work site is finished.
Davis Construction will start setting the decking, which was specified for Glulam planks instead of a traditional timber deck. The rest of the process should only take a few more weeks. The signs will be reattached, after being beautifully painted by S&S Painting’s Cecil Zimmerman out of Kerrville, Texas and the bridge should be reopened soon. Mr. Zimmerman also repainted the original King Bridge plaques and they will be welded onto the bridge soon.
Documenting this process has shown me that we can and must train more ironworkers in the skills that it takes to do this type of restoration work. Welding channel to channel or plates onto old iron is the same as it has always been, there was little packed rust but that was banged out with heat and a flat plate to hammer on (no direct force applied to the iron), rivets were taken out and new connectors were riveted back on, hub guard was straightened and repaired, pad welding took care of any section loss on the fishbelly floor beams where the original welded stringers were taken off and the vertical connector that was the critical failure was fixed. All connectors are new steel with more bolts, so the bridge is actually stronger than ever.
Hopefully there will be a great party when this bridge reopens. I will be there to document that and take photos of a fully restored bridge with traffic crossing it. Of course it won’t make that thundering noise like it did in the past but this is a win for the good guys.

Resetting the Piano Bridge onto new piers.

Bridge Profile:

Location: Spanning the East Navidad River on Piano Bridge Road near Dubina (Fayette County), Texas

Bridge Type: Pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with Town Lattice portal bracing

Built: 1885 by King Bridge Company

Dimensions:  137.1 feet long (truss span 79 feet) and 11 feet wide.                                    Vertical clearance is 14.8 feet

Link: http://www.bridgehunter.com/tx/fayette/piano/



Fort Steuben Bridge Comes Down- Bridge Parts Saved


Photos taken in August 2010


Here are some good news and some bad news for the bridgehunter community and those who are familiar with local history.  We will start out with some bad news. On Monday at 7:15am local time, the Fort Steuben Bridge was dropped into the Ohio River by a series of explosives.  As can be seen in a video provided by a local TV station out of Wheeling, the implosion was controlled and started with the roadway and trusses, which was then followed by the cables and finally, the towers, which were decapitated and fell into the far ends of the Ohio River.

Links on the demolition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVNM8LFVzUE


The bridge, located approximately 70 kilometers west of Pittsburgh and 35 kilometers north of Wheeling, West Virginia, was one of the last suspension bridges of its kind in the USA.  Built in 1923 by the Dravo Contracting Company of Pittsburgh, the bridge features a series of eyebar suspension cables, anchored at the piers located on both sides of the river, whose suspender (secondary vertical) cable supported the roadway that was reinforced with Warren pony trusses. Despite the extra support of the pony trusses, the tension on the cables (caused by the roadway) is far greater than with today’s suspension bridges because of the dead weight of the roadway. There are a handful of these bridges left in the country, a couple of which can be found nearby along the Ohio River with the Market Street Bridge in nearby Steubenville and the Newell Bridge, located 100 kilometers south of Youngstown, Ohio.

The Fort Steuben Bridge was closed in 2008, 18 years after the opening of the New Steubenville Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge which has come under scrutiny recently because of weakening cables and other problems identified in an inspection report conducted by the Departments of Transportation (DOT) in West Virginia and Ohio.  Attempts to save the bridge to be reused as a bike trail that would have connected Washington, DC and Indianapolis was quashed by officials of the Ohio DOT, who wanted to keep cyclists and pedestrians off the newly constructed Ohio Hwy. 7 expressway running along the west side of the river. The strive to demolish the suspension bridge persisted despite opposition from locals and preservationists wanting the bridge saved and reused for recreational purposes. Finally on Monday 20 February, 2012, officials from both states got their wish as a piece of history that tied Weirton and Steubenville together came crashing down without any remorse. In one of the videos of the demolition, one of the Ohio DOT officials stated “When ODOT’s not out plowing snow or repairing the roads we also enjoy blowing up old bridges.” Already the remark has drawn fire from critics like Nathan Holth, who compared destroying historic bridges in Ohio and surrounding states to bridges being destroyed by bombs in Europe during World War II. Needless to say, the demolition has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many with fond memories of the bridge which will linger for a long time, even after the next four historic bridges along the Ohio River are destroyed in favor of progress.

New Steubenville Bridge, the suspension bridge’s successor

The fortunate part about the Fort Steuben Bridge is at least a tiny portion of the bridge has been saved as memorabilia to be used as an education incentive to encourage students to learn how to preserve artifacts made of steel. During the visit with Holth and Luke Gordon in August 2010, I had an opportunity to examine the bridge further to see what (if anything) can be done to preserve the bridge. There were many sections in the truss superstructure that had rusted away to a point where one could punch a hole in the structure without breaking his knuckles and obtain a piece of history.  A piece rusted steel shown here in the picture below shows how neglected the bridge was prior to its closure in 2008.

Piece of history in one’s hand


If bridges like the Fort Steuben were maintained and painted regularly, like it is the case with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, there would have been a chance that the new bridge would not have been built, wasting hundreds of dollars of the taxpayers’ money. Proper maintenance and rehabilitation would have cost a tenth of the amount needed to demolish and replace the bridge.  Instead the DOTs decided to neglect that notion and moved in the name of progress, regardless of the opposition. There still would have been ways to save the structure had all parties involved decided to undertake this venture, which would have consisted of sandblasting the trusses and painted them, as it happened with the Market Street Bridge, which is open to traffic.

Still the need to exert power by using dynamite on the part of the DOTs was and is still strong. If statements like the one by the Ohio DOT persist, what would their reactions be like when a modern bridge, like the New Steubenville Bridge is slated for demolition? Would they take the same pleasure of demolishing a modern bridge as they would with a pre-1950 bridge?  Perhaps not, but when the public finds out, changes in the way bridges are maintained will come forcing the state agencies to veer away from the ideal bridge- a 100 year old bridge that requires no maintenance- and embrace in bridge maintenance which may be expensive in the short term but cost effective in the long term. This applies to historic bridges, many of which are still in good shape and can last another 100 years if cared for properly.

While the Fort Steuben Bridge may be gone, its legacy will continue as the strive to save what is left of American History will continue with a goal of jumping ahead of progress and bringing it to a halt. This is the only way to force state agencies to look at alternatives to demolition and encourage people to learn about historic bridges and their ties to the development of the US regarding its industrialization, societal issues and the cultural perspective. While it may be interesting to read about them in books, as it will have to be the case with the Fort Steuben Bridge being gone, it is even more interesting to visit and cross the bridges, like the ones at Steubenville and Newell to learn more about the history from a close-up view. It is much better than having to collect pieces of history from a bridge that was demolished to keep in the bridge collection. That is what I’m doing with mine as it is sitting on my desk waiting to be reused for my next class.

Photos of the Ft. Steuben Bridge can be seen here.

News Flyer: 

1. Another preservationist and columnist, Kaitlin O’shea of Preservation in Pink (based in Vermont), recently wrote a column on how to photograph a historic bridge. This is a small guide for people interested in visiting and photographing these pieces of artwork that are dwindling in numbers. To access the article, please click on this link below:


Sabo Bridge at night. Photo taken in August 2010

2. Cable-stayed bridges are becoming more and more scrutinized because of supporting cables that are either wearing out more quickly than expected or in one case some that have snapped. The New Steubenville Bridge recently received bad reviews based on an inspection conducted by the two aforementioned DOTs, while a near disaster was averted on the Martin Olav Sabo Pedestrian Bridge south of Minneapolis, as two pairs of cables snapped, causing the Hiawatha rail line to suspend service and Hiawatha Avenue, a main artery connecting the largest city in Minnesota and Bloomington to be restricted. Reinforcements are being added to the bridge and an inspection is being conducted to determine the cause of the damage.

Link: http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/140084813.html

and http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/02/22/sabo-bridge-repair/

The Winners of the Top Ranked Unique Savable Structures (TRUSS) Award

Meridan Street Bridge in Puyallup, Washington. Photo taken by K.A. Erickson, used with permission.


After some delays because of non-bridge related commitments on the part of the author as well as the webmaster of the Historic Bridges of the US website (James Baughn), the winners of the 2012 TRUSS Awards as well as the honorably mentioned have been announced. It is very difficult to pinpoint which bridge is the most targeted for preservation before they become a pile of broken stones and twisted metal as there were many MANY nominations that were submitted and the painstaking task to narrow them down based on appearance and urgency. Many bridges nominated for the 2012 TRUSS Awards were either winners or honorably mentioned last year and were omitted from the list. Yet there is a link to the 2011 Award winners here:

2011 TRUSS Award Winners: http://bridgehunter.com/story/1147/

In either case 15 historic bridges were awarded the prestigious prize, five of which will be mentioned here together with five of the 16 honorably mentioned bridges. In either case, the full list of winners and nominated structured can be found here:

2012 TRUSS Award Winners: http://bridgehunter.com/story/1172/

and the honorably mentioned: http://bridgehunter.com/story/1171/


Jason’s Top Five TRUSS Bridge Pics

1. Meadows Road Bridge (Northhampton County, Pennsylvania). This stone arch bridge over Saucon Creek was built in 1858 and is one of the oldest bridges in the state. Yet patchwork and alterations on the bridge make it less appealing to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, who wants to see this bridge replaced. This bridge is a classic example of a wrong attempt to give the bridge a face lift while keeping its unique appearance intact. Already, historic bridge preservationists including Nathan Holth are leading an attempt to convince PennDOT to change their minds and leave the bridge in its place while allowing a new structure to be built on a new alignment.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/pa/northampton/meadows-road

2. Cedar Grove Bridge (Franklin County, Indiana). Indiana has had an excellent reputation of preserving, restoring and reusing pre-1930s metal truss bridges for recreational use, for an average of six of these bridges have been spared annually, thanks to efforts on the part of Indiana DOT, the governor Mitch Daniels, and other actors from the private and public sectors. This leads to my question of why INDOT wants to demolish this 1914 Parker through truss bridge that was built by an in-state bridge company. According to Ed Hollowell, they and Franklin County have been at odds over the ownership of the bridge and the former highway it carried across the Whitewater River, Hwy. 1. With INDOT’s request to demolish the bridge submitted to the state historic preservation office, another party is now involved and there is hope that this request will be denied and that the ownership issue be settled; especially as many locals would like to see this bridge reused again, even if it is for recreational purposes.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/in/franklin/cedar-grove/

3. Meridian Street Bridge (Pierce County, Washington). After the fall of the Liberty Memorial Bridge in 2008, this bridge in Puyallup is perhaps the last of the Turner Truss bridges ever constructed in the United States. Turner trusses have a polygonal upper chord with Warren trusses resembling an A-frame shape, as seen at the beginning of this article. Washington DOT plans to accelerate the construction schedule and remove the bridge before 2013, yet attempts to halt the progress because of its National Register eligibility may delay these plans by a couple years. More on the fate of this bridge will come as the story unfolds……

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/wa/pierce/meridian/

4. Black Bridge (Albany County, New York). This bridge is one of two TRUSS Award winners where the public is taking a prudent stance in their attempts to save the bridge. A railroad bridge in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is the other candidate. Both are abandoned railroad bridges, yet this bridge (located in Cohoes) presents the good, the bad and the ugly with regards to good intentions and tragedy. On New Year’s Eve a man ventured onto the abandoned bridge, only to slip and fall into icy the Mohawk River. His body was found a day later. Despite a petition and demand by many citizens demanding that the bridge be torn down, the mayor took a stance opposing the demolition. This was hailed as a success by many in the pontist community and plans are still in place to repair the bridge and convert it into a pedestrian trail this year. With this staunch support for revitalizing the bridge, there is hope that instead of leaving a huge void in the cityscape (as it would have been the case with the bridge removal), that the bridge will make the city more attractive. As popular as the fallen person was, it would not be surprising if the newly converted pedestrian bridge would be named in his memory.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ny/albany/black/

Link to the Eau Claire Railroad Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/wi/eau-claire/bh36335

Note: Additional links to the Black Bridge can be found under a summary written about the structure when it was announced the winner of the TRUSS Awards.

5. Hulton Bridge near Pittsburgh (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) I visited this bridge during a tour of the region in 2010 and was awed by its impressive design: five Pennsylvania petit truss spans with the main span being over 500 feet long! This far outspans most of the bridges of this type west of the Mississippi and is second behind its cousin bridge the Donora-Webster Bridge in terms of its length of the main span in the greater Pittsburgh area. Todd Wilson of bridgemapper.com has been working together with students of his alma mater (Carnegie Mellon University and other actors in finding ways to preserve the bridge intact even though some difficulties in terms of its geographical location may make any attempts to stop the replacement process futile; especially if Pennsylvania wants to modernize its landscape and improve its infrastructure at the expense of the numerous historic bridges that exist.

Link with sublinks on the bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/pa/allegheny/hulton

WILD CARD: Murray Bridge (Humboldt County, Iowa): While most of the historic bridges in the upper Midwest have disappeared to progress, one can see a couple pieces of silver lining nearby. The Murray Bridge over the Des Moines River between Bradgate and Humboldt is unique because of its association with a local bridge builder who left its signature in a form of ornate design on its portal bracing. Yet it had been the most neglected bridge as it was not considered historic to state and national standards and is still on the county engineer’s list of bridges in dire need of replacement. After being given the TRUSS Award for 2012 and after providing an article to the local newspaper on the part of yours truly (who has visited the bridge twice already and even nominated the bridge for this year’s prize), maybe some minds will be changed on the part of Humboldt County. We will have to see.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ia/humboldt/murray/

Note: More on this bridge will come soon as an article on Humboldt County’s bridges is in the making.

Ellworth Ranch Bridge in Emmet County, Iowa. Photo taken by the author in August 2011

The Honorably Mentioned:

1. Mahned Bridge near Hattiesburg (Perry County, Mississippi): Anandoned for many years, this bridge has a checkered past that is bone-chilling.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ms/perry/mahned

2. Arkadelphia Bridge (Clark County, Arkansas): Slated for replacement, this bridge is up for the taking, and would be considered a “nomadic bridge” as it would be relocated for a second time, a feat rarely seen for a historic bridge.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ar/clark/arkadelphia

3. Ellsworth Ranch Bridge  (Emmet County, Iowa): One of only two King Bridge Company structures carrying the Thacher truss design left in the country, this bridge has been closed since 2010 and the question of its future is unclear.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ia/emmet/ellsworth-ranch/


4. Champ Clark Bridge (Pike County, Missouri). Now that the Missouri River has been “cleansed” of all the “hideous, ugly, and scary” truss bridges, the Mississippi River is now the next target of progress. This speaking as a devil’s advocate who frowns in the name of progress that is to be had on this bridge, a five-span Pennsylvania peiti truss bridge.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/mo/pike/champ-clark/


5. Chambers Ford Bridge (Tama County, Iowa). If there is a way to bring down a historic bridge the “civilian” way, try torching this two-span Pratt through truss over the Iowa River, as it happened recently. Fortunately the bridge is still intact but there is hope to beautify and reuse the structure before arsonists strike again.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ia/tama/chambers-ford/



Binging for Bridges: How Bing, Google Earth, and Yahoo Maps are helping bridgehunters find historic bridges

Riverton Railroad (now pedestrian) Bridge near Pittsburgh. Photo taken in August 2010

In the past six months in the Historic Bridges of the US website (based out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri) one has seen an increase in the number of bridges posted on the website, some of which present details of the bridges’ appearance from up above.    While some bridges are easy to find as they are on well-traveled gravel roads, others are found in hard-to-reach areas, encouraging bridge photographers to walk through waist high weeds and marsh areas to find them. In either case, the map programs, offered by Microsoft’s Bing, Google Earth, and Yahoo Maps are providing bridgehunters and photographers with an opportunity to find and track down the bridges that they want to visit and photograph them without having to travel around to find them at random, which could be time-consuming and take up a lot of money for gas.
The map programs can work in two ways. If a bridge posted on the website has a GPS coordinate on it, you can easily zoom in just by clicking on the satellite feature on each of the program. In some cases, one will have to use a bird’s eye view to get a closer look at the bridge and its surroundings. For bridges that you are looking for but do not have  GPS coordinates, you can simply use the street markings to help find the right bridge and then mark the coordinates, should the bridge be the right location.  There are several advantages to using this program.
It helps a person pinpoint the bridge that he/she wants to go to just by going by the GPS coordinates and the directions that go along with that. This was a very useful tool during my bridgehunting tour through Copenhagen and parts of the USA last summer as I found as many bridges through this mechanism than by using the traditional maps, which unless you mark the bridge type or know a shortcut by driving through someone else’s property with permission, that it is rendered useless. Some of the bridges that I found through this mechanism included those that were out of the way and required some walking time, as it was the case with the Swensrud Bridge, located at the Minnesota/Iowa border north of Northwood, an 1880 iron truss bridge that spans the Shell Rock River and is part of the state natural habitat site.

Swensrud Bridge at the Swensrud State Wildlife Habitat near Northwood, Iowa. Photo taken in August 2011

In some cases, you can also identify the bridge type and the features of a structure that was found through the maps but is out of reach in terms of driving time.  This is a difficult task when looking overhead through satellite view but it is more effective with bird’s eye view, which provides an angular view from above. Many through truss bridges have been classified just by zooming in as much as possible and using the expert knowledge of bridge type. The Coal Bank Hill Bridge, located north of Eldora (in Hardin County, Iowa) spanning the Iowa River is one of those examples. Built in 1910 by the Iowa Bridge Company replacing an 1881 through truss bridge, the bridge is inaccessible from both ends because it is on private property. Yet according to the map programs, you can identify the bridge type and the portal bracing from above: a Parker through truss bridge with an A-frame portal bracing.
It also helps you update the information on the current status of the bridges and therefore informing other interested parties on the areas that they can go to for photo opportunities while at the same time, avoid some areas that were once populated with historic bridges but are now reduced to only one or none at all. This can be a blessing or a curse, pending on how passionate a bridge lover someone is.  I found that for a person who is a novice in historic bridges, an area that is clumped with at least 8 historic bridges within a radius of up to 100km, like the ones in Fayette and Winneshiek Counties in northeastern Iowa or in areas to the east, like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, are the most likely places to visit and photograph than in areas where only a few historic bridges exist, if any at all.

Fox Road Bridge over the Volga River at the state forest in Fayette County, Iowa- one of over two dozen that can eb found today. Photo taken in August 2011

And for some areas whose numerous historic bridges had once existed on the landscape but have long since disappeared, like the ones in Clay County, Minnesota (one of the majority of counties in the state with no historic bridges remaining), one can simply drive through the region enroute to the areas where historic bridges are populous. It depends on the bridge types one is looking for and what the cutoff date is for the construction of these precious works of art.
There are some drawbacks to bridge binging, a couple of which have been experimented already and are highly discouraged. First and foremost, one cannot cut and post onto anyone’s website without explicit approval by the providers, namely Microsoft for Bing, Google for Google Map and Yahoo for Yahoo Maps.  Even if approval is granted, one has to pay thousands of dollars in user’s fees to access the programs.
Secondly it can be difficult to identify bridge types without having a contradiction from other contributors. A factor contributing to this argument is the inability of some of the programs to zoom in as close as possible to identify the location and aesthetics. I’ve found that truss bridges (in particular, through truss bridges), suspension, cantilever and other high bridges are easier to identify than bridges with low railings and whose span is short in height, like trestle, slab, beam, girder and certain deck arch bridges.  In other cases, there are some bridges one wants to find that may still exist but the views are so blurry that it is difficult to determine whether the historic bridge one is looking for is there or not. Sometimes it is worth asking the local or state engineer just to make sure as it will save the person all the problems attributed to travelling to the historic bridge site to see that it was removed before the opportunity was there to see and photograph it. This actually happened during one of the tours through western Pennsylvania in 2010, where the Kreitz Road Bridge in Crawford County  was supposed to be in place at the time of the visit, but wasn’t because it was being replaced. Fortunately, I found a souvenir from that bridge in a form of a gusset plate that is now sitting on display in my office at the university in Germany.

Kreitz Road Bridge undergoing a complete makeover at the time of the visit.

And lastly, it does encourage some photographers to encroach onto one’s property to photograph the bridge illegally. This has caused numerous problems among property owners, including those wanting a bridge removed but have not gotten their wish yet. This was the case with the West Avenue Bridge in Youngstown, Ohio and the Riverton Railroad and Highway Bridges in Pennsylvania during my bridgehunting tour in 2010, and a small bridge in Fayette County, Iowa a year later (the latter of which is in a later column on Fayette County’s historic bridges). This argument can be corrected just by asking for permission to use their property for photographing purpose. While there is a chance that it could be denied, four times out of five, the request could be granted and the photographer could be getting more then his/her bargain’s worth regarding bridge facts, additional contacts, and additional bridges worth looking for. This was my case with a couple bridges in Warren County, Iowa during my tour last summer but learning a valuable lesson from my experience with the people I was confronted with previously.
To sum up on this topic, there are many benefits to using the satellite maps to locate and identify historic bridges if they know what they are looking for. You can use it to locate the bridges you want to visit on your itinerary. You can also identify which ones are still in service and which ones have been replaced to inform others who may be visiting the area. And the views themselves can be something to look forward to when finding historic bridges, whether they are located off a well-traveled road going past farm places or if they are abandoned waiting for someone to photograph it and appreciate it and the builders for contributing to the history of the Industrialization movement in the US and elsewhere.  In either case, it helps you to get to the sites more quickly without wasting time and gas, plus you can visit and photograph as many of the sites as possible. This is a blessing for many states and regions whose population of historic bridges are dwindling fast despite very tight budgets for even the tiniest repairs on them. But it is unknown how long that grace period is going to last….
FAST FACT: During my binging adventures I’ve done myself, I’ve found some very shocking results of the historic bridges that had once existed 15 years ago but have long since disappeared. Minnesota (my place of birth)  seems to be on the path of Pennsylvania’s in terms of wiping out its number of bridges.  While the state has tried to save at least three dozen structures, many of them are facing extinction that is faster than a blink of an eye. Over half of the counties have one or no historic bridges left, including Rock, Swift, Clay, McLeod, Cottonwood, Nobles, Jackson, Martin, Freeborn, Waseca, and Watonwan Counties, just to name a few. 20 years earlier, at least four pre-1940 historic bridges were in service.
There are several states, like South Dakota, whose counties have numerous historic bridges that are closed to traffic because of structural deficiencies. One can tell from the less use of the approaches and the barriers seen through the satellite images.  Hardest hit areas are in the southeast in Yankton, Bon Homme, and Lincoln Counties (just to name a few), where the population is the most dense.
Apart from the states east of the Mississippi River, Iowa may be leading the country with its high number of historic bridges that are still in use- if not at least in the top 5. Most of the bridges found through binging are in the eastern half of the state especially those near the Mississippi River, where the tributaries empty into.
NEWS FLYER: As we are on the same page, a latest survey reveals that South Dakota is ranked fifth in the country with regards to bridges that are in dire need of repairs. The top honors go to Pennsylvania, followed by Oklahoma, Iowa and Rhode Island. Some of the areas hardest hit are the east central and southeast corners of the state, where many bridges were closed to all traffic because of structural concerns.

Link: http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/article_7c24cbd4-56a9-11e0-b2d8-001cc4c03286.html

This includes a 1907 Pratt pony truss bridge spanning the Big Sioux River in Brookings County, which was built by the Iowa Bridge Company but was closed to traffic in December 2010. It is up for sale for a limited time. Should no one take the offer, the planks will be salvaged for use on other bridges, while the truss structure itself will be scrapped.
Link: http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/article_d05fc600-111b-11e0-87db-001cc4c002e0.html
Beadle County in east central South Dakota is one of the hardest hit areas with regard to structurally deficient bridges and disasters, as two wooden beam bridges were destroyed. One collapsed near Lake Byron over Foster Creek after a school bus drove over it in September 2010 and another was destroyed by an arsonist near Cavour this past November.
Links: http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/officials-say-arson-to-blame-for-burned-beadle-county-bridge/article_ed021886-048f-11e1-bf30-001cc4c03286.html