2012 Ammann Awards- Smith picks his favorites

The incident on 26 January 2012 Photo courtesy of James Baughn
The Replacement Truss span at Eggners Ferry. Photo taken by James Baughn

The last of the Ammann Awards for this fourth Advent go to the author, who had the pleasure of picking out the bridges that deserve to be honored or dishonored in one way or another. As you can see in the pictures above, the Eggners Ferry Bridge received the Smith Award but for two reasons: one is for the dumbest way to destroy a historic bridge. On the evening of the 26th of January, a large cargo ship crashed and destroyed one of the main spans of this bridge which spans Kentucky Lake separating Trigg and Marshall Counties in Kentucky. The incident came under intense scrutiny for the captain was as careless as the one who ran the Costa Concordia aground 13 days earlier off the coast of Italy.  Of all the incidents that happened to historic bridges this year (including one that took a life in central Kentucky), the one at Eggners Ferry, even though no lives were taken, far outgunned the ones combined.  By the same token, the bridge also deserved the Award for best example of salvaging and restoring a historic bridge, by adding a truss span in the quickest time possible and opening the structure to traffic- a span of four months. The work done on the bridge showed that truss bridges are not obsolete and can be used for multiple purposes. The work is definitely on the same level as the Sutliff Bridge in Iowa. The easternmost Parker through truss span was washed away by flooding in 2008 and a replica of that span was built in its place, joining the two original spans and reconnecting Sutliff with all points to the west. It was reopened in October 2012.

Oblique overview of the Sutliff Bridge. Photo taken by Quinn Phelan

Apart from the two bridges, here are the author’s pics for 2012 that should be considered for recognition:

Dumbest way to destroy a bridge on the international scale:

Railroad Bridge in Linz (Austria)
Located over the Danube River in the third largest city in Austria, this bridge wins the award not only for the decision to demolish the 1899 three-span structure but also for allowing it to deteriorate to a point where an engineer at the Technical University of Vienna condemned it after conducting a feasibility test, and all of the government officials as well as the Austrian Railway ÖBB jumping on the bandwagon. The bridge is protected by the Austrian Preservation Laws and is the only reason for delaying the demolition process. The bridge is set to close to all traffic by the end of this year with imminent demolition to follow, unless a solution to rehabilitate the structure is reached.


Biggest Bonehead Story:
Bowstring arch bridge in Nebraska City being considered non-historic.  
This story will surely force the National Park Service to rethink and reinforce the way historic bridges are reused and maintained. The Steinhart Park Bowstring Arch Bridge used to be the centerpiece for people to see, despite being modified for pedestrian use. Yet it did not stop SHPO’s Julie Dolberg from ruling the bridge to be non-historic, thus allowing the people of Nebraska City to proceed to demolish it in favor of a newer bridge to serve a bike trail that will slice through the park and the western part of town.

An article can be viewed here.

Worst Example of Restoring a Historic Bridge:

Bear Tavern Bridge over Jacob’s Creek in New Jersey

Built in 1884 by the King Bridge Company, the bridge was a center of controversy for 80 years until the county commissioners ordered the bridge to be dismantled in favor of a new bridge against the will of the local residents. The bridge is in storage awaiting relocation…. Could it be that it may take just as long to reerect it as it took to remove the bridge in favor of progress? To be continued.

An article can be seen here.

Best find of a historic bridge:

Long Shoals Bridge in Kansas- One of the nearly forgotten bridges because of its aesthetic value, this bridge will soon have a home on a bike trail in Fort Scott.

The Bridges of Friedrichstadt, Germany- Consisting of 18 bridges with various types and with history dating back to 1650, the town is worth a day’s stop for pontists and tourists alike.

Click here for the article.

Lifetime Legacy Post Humous: Howard Newlon Jr.

Broadway Bridge over Linville Creek in Rockingham County, Virginia- one of four Thacher truss bridges remaining in the United States. Photo courtesy of HABS/HAER (part of National Park Service).

This year’s Ammann Awards received many entries, more than last year. However one of the awards that is of importance is the Lifetime Legacy Awards, given to person(s) who devoted a large amount of time and energy to saving historic bridges. In the case of one person who left this world peacefully this year, there is the Lifetime Legacy Award Post Humous given in his loving memory and honor.

Howard Newlon Jr. passed away on 25 October, 2012 at the age of 80. He spent a total of 33 years at the Virginia Transportation Research Council, involving himself with inventories and projects promoting historic bridges and ways to preserve them. He also an expert in anything dealing with concrete. This included the publication books on various bridge types in the 1970s and 80s, beginning with the first one on metal truss bridges built prior to 1932. Up until now, I have all of these books in my bridge library thanks to Ann Miller whom I had inquired on questions involving historic bridges some years ago. They will be profiled in the Chronicles next year.  When he retired in 1989, he was director of research. In addition, he spent 50 years teaching at the Institute of Engineering and Architecture at the University of Virginia and its schools, retiring in 2003. He was also active in many societies dealing with engineering, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, which handed him the History and Heritage Award in 2009. The Lifetime Legacy Award provided by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is the latest of honors going to his resume. Ann Miller and Dan Deibler, who have worked at the Virginia Transportation Research Council have agreed to provide tributes to Mr. Newlon as guest columnists here at the Chronicles, honoring him for his work. Some editing was needed for length purposes, but it is hoped that Mr. Newlon is remembered for what he did for Virginia and for the historic bridge community.

From Ann Miller with regards to his historic achievements:

Howard Newlon’s career in transportation research covered over a half century, and for much of this period he was deeply involved in issues relating to historic transportation structures and materials.  For most of his career he was associated with the Virginia Transportation Research Council (recently renamed the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation & Research [VCTIR], this is the research component of the Virginia Department of Transportation [VDOT].  Mr. Newlon received his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1953; he joined the Research Council staff in 1956 while pursuing his master’s degree in Civil Engineering.  Promoted to head of the Research Council’s concrete lab, he remained at the Research Council after receiving his master’s degree in 1959.  As the head of the Research Council’s concrete lab, he undertook groundbreaking research on concrete, and also undertook extensive research into early concrete structures and the history of concrete.

Promoted to Assistant Director of the Research Council in 1968, in addition to his internationally recognized research on concrete, Howard Newlon organized the Research Council’s history research section.  In 1972, under his direction, the Research Council undertook the first statewide survey of early metal truss bridges in the U.S.; this survey covered Virginia’s metal truss bridges from the 19th century up to 1932, when responsibility for most of Virginia’s county road systems was taken over by the state.  A survey of stone masonry and concrete arch bridges followed in the early 1980s.  Building on these early surveys, the Research Council has continued the process, undertaking additional surveys on non-arched concrete bridges, movable span bridges, covered bridges, and footbridges, as well as updating the original surveys of metal truss and arch bridges, and developing an historic bridge management plan and management recommendations for other transportation-related cultural resources. The Research Council surveys and related projects have served as models for similar surveys and management plans in other states.

Also under Mr. Newlon’s direction, the Research Council instituted its Historic Roads of Virginia series, producing transcriptions of early county transportation records (“road orders”) and histories of significant Virginia roads.  Begun in 1973, this series is still ongoing: the 28th volume is currently in production.  In company with other historians, Mr. Newlon also inaugurated, and wrote many of, the “Backsights” series of transportation history articles, which appeared in various VDOT publications from the 1970s until the early 2000s.  The “Backsights” series covers elements of Virginian and national transportation history, including associated personalities, from the 17th through the mid-20th centuries.  The articles are written in a style that holds the interest of historians and engineers, but are also accessible to laymen.

Howard Newlon was promoted to Director of the Research Council in 1981, and continued in that capacity until his retirement in 1989.  After his retirement he acted as a periodic consultant to the Research Council and to other organizations on various aspects of transportation history.

During this tenure at the Research Council, Mr. Newlon also initiated VDOT’s History Research Advisory Committee (now incorporated into the Environmental Research Advisory Committee) to assist with questions of the identification and significance of historic structures.  He was instrumental in the identification and preservation of both the only surviving Fink deck truss in the United States, and of the oldest Bowstring arch truss in Virginia.  He also participated in the restoration of the historic Meems Bottom covered bridge, which was partly burned by vandals in 1976, and was restored and reopened to traffic in 1979.

On a national level, Mr. Newlon received an 1986 Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for his contributions to protecting and preserving the nation’s historic bridges.  Also in 1986 he was designated as “Virginia’s Outstanding Civil Engineer” by the Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He served as chairman of the TRB Subcommittee on Historic Preservation as Related to Transportation from its formation in 1976 until 1988.  He was chairman of TRB Committee A1FO5 on Social, Economic, and Environmental Factors (now Committee ADC50 on Historic and Archaeological Preservation in Transportation) from 1988 until 1991.  In addition, he was an advisory member of the task group which organized TRB Committee ABG 50 on Transportation History.  In 2009, Mr. Newlon received the American Society of Civil Engineers History and Heritage Award.

Until shortly before his death, Mr. Newlon continued his involvement in the Research Council’s history program.  He served as an advisor to the Research Council’s project to collect the “Backsights” articles on transportation history and make these available in electronic format.  In addition, he presented his lecture on “The History of Transportation in Virginia” for digital recordation, and participated in the Research Council’s “History of Concrete Research” project.

Mr. Newlon was a lecturer in the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture, teaching structures, materials and preservation courses.  He also lectured at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (now Virginia Tech), the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University, Princeton University, and Ohio State University.

From Dan Deibler with regard to working with him:

In the summer of 1973, Howard Newlon hired me, a graduate student in architectural history at the University of Virginia, to turn his idea about the historical value of metal truss bridges into a reality.  Prior to this, no systematic study had been done of bridges in general let alone a study of a particular type.   My career as an architectural historian thus began.
Howard was very clear about the goal of the project but how the goal was to be achieved was assigned to me.  He introduced me to “stress and moment” theory of trusses in an afternoon and then showed me the engineering library.  I had no background in engineering and no natural interest in truss bridges; but over the next three years (I remained on the project until 1976), under Howard’s discerning eye and engaging intellect, I became totally engaged in the subject and developed a methodology to identify and evaluate the historic value of metal truss bridges.  Having Howard to consult made it easy:  he provided ample time for research; he connected me with professionals at the Smithsonian, at other universities and nationally prominent professional engineers.  His professional expertise and national reputation opened up avenues of research that otherwise would have been unavailable to me.
Howard Newlon’s idea to create a methodology for identifying and ranking metal truss bridges for historical, not structural, value was pioneering.   It was only later when I began working in different state historic preservation offices (West Virginia, Florida and Pennsylvania) that I understood the significance of the project that Howard had given me.  The opportunity to develop a systematic data collection process and the opportunity to develop an evaluation methodology proved invaluable throughout my career.  I still look at it as a gift.
I learned much by working for a person whose intellectual curiosity was never restricted by his discipline.  He talked with ease about historical topics, political issues, departmental policies as well as the research issues in concrete technology.  His mind was always focused on the world at large but when called on by an engineering colleague, he could switch his thoughts instantly to the specifics of scientific data.
For me Howard Newlon set a high standard for what to expect in a professional manager.  His modesty, his knowledge, his intellect, his sense of humor, and his graciousness can never receive too much praise.  His manner and manners made it easy for his vision to become yours.  He was truly a wonderful person and a person who made a difference.


The author would also like to thank Justin Spivey for his help in compiling the information on Mr. Newlon.


Ammann Awards 2012 Results

Browns Creek Bridge near Stillwater, Minnesota. Winner of this year’s Best Kept Secret Award for the US. Photo taken and submitted by David Parker of David Parker Photography.

Midwestern Bridges take center stage, Cooper and Newlon win Lifetime Legacy, Thuringia on the map for Best Kept Secret

After the last of the votes have been tallied, it is now time for the results of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ Othmar H. Ammann Awards and the Smith Awards for historic bridges (the results of the latter will be in the next article).  Apart from new categories, this year’s awards mark the first time that the forum had an opportunity to vote for all the categories instead of just the best photo award like last year. And while the voting turnout was low in comparison to last year, the number of entries was not only higher than last year, but the decision on who gets the award for the respective categories was especially difficult for we had some high class bridges and pontists who deserve the recognition regardless of category. For those who voted- the pontists, journalists, historians, columnists and even the common person- time was needed and the voting was based on not just on the bridge’s history (or lack of, in the case of the Mystery Bridges) but the aesthetic features that make the historic bridge an attractive place for passersby. Without further ado, here are the winners and runners-up of this year’s Ammann Awards:

Lifetime Achievement:

James L. Cooper-
Votes: 7

Professor Ermeritus of DePauw University in Indiana, Mr. Cooper has worked with historic bridge preservation for 40 years, leading to success stories of historic bridges being preserved in his home state and several publications. He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Historic Bridge Conference. An interview with him can be found here.

Howard Newlon, Jr. (Post humous)

Howard Newlon spent over 30 years at the Virginia Transportation Research Council and 50 years as professor, promoting historic bridge preservation, and spearheading publication efforts spanning 30 years and still counting. He died on 25 October and a Post Humous article provided by his colleagues can be seen here. The Chronicles is providing an award in his honor for his work.

Runner-up: Julie Bowers and Nels Raynor at Workin Bridges

Vote: 5


Best Photo:

Photo taken and submitted by John Weeks III

3rd Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota (submitted by John Weeks III)- this bridge is located over the Mississippi River, overlooking the city’s business district as seen in this picture.

Votes: 6

Photo taken and submitted by Jonathan Parrish


Runner-up:  Crosley Bridge in Jennings County, Indiana

Votes: 5

Other bridges in the race: Eau Claire Railroad Bridge, Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Mulberry Creek Bridge in Ford County, Kansas, Washington Bridge in Missouri and New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, among the 13 candidates that were entered this year.


Mystery Bridge Award:

Like in the Best Photo Award, this race was also a close one. But the winner of this award goes to….

Photo taken by Aaron Leibold

Waddell A-frame truss bridge in Texas (submitted by Aaron Leibold)

Votes: 5

Orr Bridge, one of many Mystery Bridges profiled this year that belonged to Harrison County. Photo courtesy of Clayton Fraser

Runner-up:  The Bridges of Harrison County, Iowa (submitted by a party of five people, including the author, the locals including Craig Guttau, and the city of Buellton, California)

Votes: 4


Other Mystery Bridges that entered the competition included: The Hobuck Flat Bridge in New York, Hurricane Creek Bridge in Arkansas, and a Bascule Bridge in Friedrichstadt, Germany. You can view these candidates as well as other Mystery Bridges by going to the Mystery Bridges section under the Forum and Inquiries page located in the header.

Best Kept Secret Award for the United States

This bridge is a must-see when visiting the state of Minnesota because of its beauty and historic background that is in connection with the development of the transportation infrastructure in the state. The winner of this year’s award goes to:

The Brown’s Creek Bridge near Stillwater, Minnesota (submitted by David Parker)– this bridge was one of the first that was built after the state entered the union in 1853. The 1863 stone arch structure used to carry a military road between Cottage Grove and Duluth. It is the oldest bridge left in the state and one that despite its recognition by the National Register of Historic Places, has received minimal attention- until now.

Votes: 6

We had a two-way tie for second in the Best Kept Secret Award, each receiving three votes apiece. One of the runners-up is the Newfield Bowstring Arch Bridge in New York (submitted by Karen Van Etten), the other is the US Hwy. 50 stretch going through Clay County, Illinois, which features six vintage bridges that have been out of use for many years. That was submitted by James Baughn.

Best Kept Secret International:

The race was rather tight in this category as well as the selection was very difficult to choose from. In the end, Hans-Joerg Vockrodt and Diedrich Baumbach can add this award to their resumé for the winner goes to:

Kraemerbruecke in Erfurt at Christmas time. Photo taken in December 2010

The Bridges of Erfurt, Germany- featuring two dozen pre-1920 arch and truss bridges within the capital of Thuringia, and over 200 bridges within the entire city and metropolitan area. There are two books written by the authors focusing on the restoration attempts of the arch bridges in the inner city and the history of the bridges in the entire city. While they are both in German, perhaps an English version may be in the cards, especially after receiving five votes.

Runners-up saw a tie for second between the bridges of Copenhagen, Denmark and the bridges of Friedrichstadt, Germany with three votes apiece. Each city has a collection of various bridges based on bridge type, but whose history dates back to their founding. More on these bridge can be found by clicking on the respective links.

Other Best Kept Secret entrants for this year include:

US: Good Thunder Railroad Bridge in Blue Earth County, Minnesota, Mill Creek Bridge in Independence County, Kansas, and the Bridges of Boonville, New York

International: Pont Turcot Bridge in Quebec (Canada)


Bridge of the Year for 2012:

The final award is the Bridge of the Year, which focuses on a particular bridge that was the focus of massive attention by not only the media, but also the pontists and other people associated with the bridge. This year was supposed to be the year for the Golden Gate Bridge, as it celebrated its 75th birthday. Unfortunately, other bridges received much more attention due to many circumstances that have provoked countless discussions about historic significance versus safety. One of the bridges received the Smith Award this year (more details in the next article).

Eau Claire Viaduct: This year’s bridge of the year winner. Photo taken by John Marvig

Winner of the award:

The Eau Claire Viaduct-  This bridge was found and photographed by John Marvig and is a real gem. It is a quintangular intersecting Warren deck truss bridge that was built by the Lassig Bridge Company and was used by the railroad companies Chicago and Northwestern and later Union Pacific. Although abandoned for over 20 years, the city is looking at converting the bridge into a pedestrian crossing. At the same time, it is in the running for the National Register of Historic Places.

Other candidates: Eggners Ferry Bridge in Kentucky, Kate Shelley Viaduct, Fort Dodge (Iowa) Viaduct, Golden Gate Bridge and Nine Mile Creek along the former Erie Canal.



The Bridges of Booneville, New York

Boonville Bowstring (Whipple) Arch Bridge at Canal Museum. Photo taken by Marc Scotti










Located in Oneida County in north central New York State, the Town(ship) of Boonville is one of the forgotten relicts of the bygone era. With a population of over 4,500 inhabitants, the township was founded by Gerrit Boon, who explored and bought land for his company in 1795. It is located on the Black River Canal, which connects the Black River and the Erie Canal. There are a lot of historic points of interest that makes the town special, including those in the village of Boonville, which accounts for half of the township’s population.

For bridge lovers, Boonville town(ship) is loaded with unique bridges of every size, type and history, whether it is the bowstring arch bridge, which serves as a showcase for the local museum, a Whipple truss bridge that used to serve a railroad, but now serves a snowmobile trail, or even an arch bridge. There are over 25 historic bridges within the area of Boonville, some of which are concentrated within the village of Boonville.  Because of the high number, the Chronicles will profile six of the ones that should be visited, thanks to information and photos provided by Marc Scotti of the New York State Department of Transportation. One of the bridges was entered in the Best Photo Contest for this year’s Ammann Awards.

Willett Bridge. Photo taken by Marc Scotti










Willett Bridge: This bridge spans the Mohawk River in the village of Rome, 30 minutes away from Boonville. The design features a Luten arch, characterized by its elliptical arches, as seen in the photo. The bridge is one of the more ornamental ones serving the village, as it has a unique builder’s plaque and many 20s style ornamental lighting, which makes this 1929 structure unique.

Sugar River Bridge










Sugar River Bridge:  There are many reasons why this bridge is a must-see. It was built in the 1800s by Phoenix Bridge and Iron Company, consisting of a Whipple through truss bridge with Phoenix columns. It also had double-floor beams, which is one of a kind according to today’s standards. It was converted to snowmobile traffic in the 1980s. It placed third in last year’s Ammann Awards for best bridge photo.

Bailey Truss Bridge










Boonville Museum Bridges: The Boonville Canal Museum has many features that are in connection with the Black River Canal and the town’s history. Three genuine bridges, including the Whipple arch bridge (shown at the beginning of the article) serve this area, provding tourists with a sense of nostalgia, when walking through the area about 3 square miles. The Whipple Arch Bridge was one of many bowstring arch bridges that were built by Squire Whipple in the 1870s. This one was built in 1872. Interesting fact is the fact that it was Whipple himself who patented the bridge in 1848 and most of the bridges built during his lifetime were in New York state, many of which were along the Erie Canal.  The second bridge is the Bailey Truss bridge, a riveted Howe lattice bridge that was used solely for temporary crossings during the 1940s and 50s, but this span was preserved and is used as primary access to the Whipple bridge. The youngest of the bridges happens to be the youngest bridge of its type built in New York state- the Town Lattice covered bridge. Built in 2005, the 70 foot long and 24 foot wide bridge is the most ornamental of covered bridges in the state and one of the main features of the park. A photo of the bridge, provided by Scotti is one of the candidates for this year’s Ammann Awards for Best Photo.

Boonville Covered Bridge










Other bridges worth noting but will be mentioned in later articles include those built by the Havana Bridge, Vermont Bridge and Iron and Elmira Bridge Companies, where one of two of each of the bridges are left in the state (and perhaps the country). Two thirds of them consist of a standardized truss design, but the history of each one is unique for the Boonville area because of local stories that are associated with them, in addition to the bridge builders. Unfortunately, half of these bridges will be replaced over the next couple of years. However, the Chronicles will profile the bridges in the next year in hopes that someone will pay attention to the unique value of the bridge and claim it before the bulldozer does. In addition, a Lane pony truss bridge is also located in the township, although it is unclear where it is located. Built in 1903, the truss bridge type is one of the rarest to find in the US. The Chronicles will provide a tour through the rare bridge types next year and will present the history of the bridge type and the examples that still exist.

While the number of bridges in the township is huge and cannot all be profiled, the author hopes that a few examples will provide tourists with another reason to visit the Boonville area (town(ship) and village), in addition to knowing about its history and visiting the historic places that make the are very special.  There is special bridge for everyone in the area, which justifies its place as one of the candidates for Best Kept Secret for 2012. And even if one does not visit Boonville for the bridges, there is a lot of history and heritage that makes the area worth seeing.

The author would like to thank Marc Scotti for mentioning this area and for providing the photos and information on the bridges.





The Bridges of Friedrichstadt, Germany

The Stone Arch Bridge and the market square with the Dutch facaded housing in the background. Photo taken in August 2012

Located seven km (or four miles) south of the fourth largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, Husum, and at the junction of the Eider and Treene River, seven kilometers inward from the North Sea, Friedrichstadt appears to be a typical small town in the northernmost state of Germany with rows of small houses, farmland scenery with cattle and sheep grazing in the fields, and people greeting each other with “Moin! Moin!”. The town prides itself on its tourism and the typical specialties with fish, just like the rest of the cities up north. But Friedrichstadt also prides itself on its history and multiculture. Founded in 1623 by King Friedrich III and despite surviving four wars with its neighbors plus persecution of certain races, Friedrichstadt is one of the cultural points of interest, where large groups of Dutch, Frisans, Danes, Jews and Germans speaking northern dialects have lived for almost 400 years. It was a center commerce point for trade with empires from Russia, Scandanavia and Prussia, but is now a tourist attraction, where thousands of tourists from over 100 countries visit every year.

The town was built using Amsterdam as the ante-type, featuring canals that slice through the town of 2,300, but encircling its beloved Dutch-style houses, and like the Dutch capital, the city is loaded with bridges of different types and coming from different eras of time. Eighteen Bridges can be found in this city, including two major crossings over the Eider just outside the city limits and some key notables in the town itself. Each of the crossings can be reached by foot, by bike, or by boat, with most of them telling a story or having a picture showing its history, making the town proud of its history and heritage. After all, there are many reasons why Friedrichstadt is in the running for the Ammann Awards for Best Kept Secret on the International Scale.  While one can write a library about the town’s 18 bridges, which is unusual for small town standards (a town of that size could have 3-5 bridges on average pending on location), the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will feature a handful of bridges that are definitely worth seeing when spending even a few hours in this beloved Dutch town. Each bridge will have a brief history, but photos for you to see, courtesy of not only yours truly, but also many contributors, who were willing to step forward to help. The credits will be provided at the end of the article.  So without further ado, we’ll start with the outer edge of town with the two Eider Bridges and work our way towards the Treene.

Inside the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge. Photo taken in August 2012

Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge

Spanning the Eider River at the southwest end of town, this bridge represents one of the finest works of Friedrich Voss, who had constructed many bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal, including the Rendsburg High Bridge. Built in 1916, three years after the world-renowned bridge was open to rail traffic, the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge features three spans- the center span being a two-part draw bridge; the outer spans being steel through arch bridges. While the draw span is rarely used nowadays, the bridge has received its regular wear and tear as it serves traffic going south towards Heide. It still serves traffic today despite being renovated in 2006.

Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives
Photo taken in August 2012

View of the Friedrichstadt Railroad Bridge from the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge. Photo taken in August 2012

The Friedrichstadt Railroad Bridge

This bridge is one of the more popular structures in Schleswig Holstein and northern Germany. First built in 1887, the bridge featured multiple-span truss bridges with a swing span at the river crossing, with the purpose of providing passengers with rail service between Hamburg and the Island of Sylt, located in the North Sea at the Danish Border. The first bridge featured five bowstring arch spans on the north end of the Eider, followed by two Whipple through truss spans that were separated by a bowstring arch span, as shown in the picture below:

The first bridge after it opened in 1887, looking from the north end. Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives

In 1908, the spans were replaced, one by one with another set of trusses, which featured from south to north one Pennsylvania through truss with A-frame portal bracings, one bowstring arch swing span, another Pennsylvania through truss and five polygonal Warren through truss spans. Photographer H.D. Kienitz provided a diagram of what the spans looked like below:

Diagram courtesy of H.D. Kienitz, used with permission

Five years later, an identical was built alongside the 1908 bridge and for 74 years, the bridge provided two-way traffic before a major reconstruction job took place in 1987 and lasted seven years. It consisted of replacing the bowstring arch swing span with a polygonal Warren through truss  swing span that was operated electronically and removing the 1908 span in its entirety, reducing the number of tracks on the railline to only one. This is what the bridge looks like before and after the facelift:

The duo truss bridges before the facelift in 1987. Photo taken by H.D. Kienitz, used with permission
The northern Warren trusses at the time of the facelift. Photo taken by H.D. Kienitz, used with permission
Sideview of the bridge before the facelift. Photo taken by H.D. Kienitz, used with permission
Warren through truss spans after the facelift: Photo taken in August 2012 from the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge
Photo of the main spans after the facelift. Photo taken in 1997 by H. Doose, used with permission.

The Friedrichstadt Railroad bridge still serves traffic today, which consists of the NOB Train services, which stops regularly at Friedrichstadt, and the InterCity lines, which starts at Westerland on the Island of Sylt and runs through Hamburg going to destinations in the south. It is unknown whether there will be another two-track bridge built at this site soon. It depends on the number of passengers travelling through the western part of Schleswig-Holstein and the problem with bottlenecks at this site. Right now, with four national raillines and the options available for rail travel in the region, it appears unlikely. That might change in the five years….

Fast Fact: Apart from the InterCity line connecting Sylt and Hamburg, the three other national lines include Hamburg-Luebeck- Copenhagen (crossing the Fehmarnsund Bridge), Hamburg-Rendsburg-Flensburg-Kolding (crossing the Rendsburg High Bridge) and Hamburg-Neumuenster-Kiel, the latter two of which carry ICE-Train services, whereas the second and third lines have international connections to Scandanavia.

Red Arch Bridge at Ostersielzug. Photo taken in August 2012

The Arch Bridges of Friedrichstadt:

It is unknown how many arch bridges were built during the time of the town’s infancy. But if one counts the Eider crossing, there are four arch bridges that still serve Friedrichstadt today, regardless of its shape and form. While there is little to no information about the Red Arch Bridge, located behind the main highway, as well as the modern arch bridge located near the police station (both in Ostersielzug), the most famous of the bridges is the Stone Arch Bridge, which is located at the eastern entrance to the market square. Built in 1773, the bridge is one of the oldest structures still standing in Germany. The one-span structure was renovated in 1981 by strengthening and widening it to provide traffic across the canal, which continues to do so today. It is one of the most photographed places in the town and provides tourists who eat at the ice cream parlor next to it with a picturesque background of the city.

Passenger Boat passing through the Stone Arch Bridge. Photo taken in August 2012
Cyclist crossing the Holmertor Bridge with the Mittelburg Bridge in the far distant background. Photo taken in August 2012



Wooden Bridges in Friedrichstadt

It is unknown how many wooden bridges existed in Friedrichstadt, for they differed on location and design. But today there are at least four bridges remaining that were built made of wood, most of which feature triangular deck trusses supporting wooden support piers and three of which can be found along the northern Mitteburgwall canal, the same one where the Stone Arch Bridge is located. A pair of notable bridges should be noted here. The Middle Bridge, located next to the Stone Arch Bridge, is known as the Holmertor Bridge and featured a bascule bridge supported by a wooden tower, as depicted in a painting provided by the city. It was replaced at the end of the 19th century.  The Kuhbruecke (Cows Bridge) is located at the mouth of the Treene adjacent to the Blue Bridge and is the third bridge located at the site. A lock is located right next to it and protects the town from flooding from the Treene River.

Painting of the Holmertor Bridge before its replacement. Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives
Cow’s Bridge, oblique view. Photo taken in August 2012
Photo taken in August 2012

Blue Bridge:

The final bridge on this tour is the Blue Bridge. Located over the Treene River in the district of Westersielzug, this bridge is the only one in the city that features a double leaf bascule bridge, one of the most common types of bridges to be found in Schleswig-Holstein. Yet this bridge represents a historic symbol for the city as about a handful of these bridges were constructed in the 1800s, including this bridge which was recently profiled as a Mystery Bridge and is also in the running for the Ammann Awards. That bridge was located in the same district as the Blue Bridge, according to the City Archives. Serving as a gateway to the historic city center from the north (and the train station), the Blue Bridge was constructed in 1991 to serve as a historic marker to the bridges that have long since been lost. However, the main spans were lifted only once in its lifetime. Reason? While the plan was to use the Treene as a thoroughfare, it was blocked thanks to a fixed span located to the west of the bridge. Since then, the bridge practically serves as a fixed span, even though technically it is a bascule bridge. Nevertheless, it is mentioned a great deal through boat tours and other notes in the travel guides and is a treat to those wanting to visit Friedrichstadt.

Author’s Note: The fixed span mentioned here has been in service since the 1970s. Its predecessor was the Kreisbahnbrücke, a polygonal Warren pony truss bridge that used to carry trolly traffic to the city from the train station.

Kreisbahnbruecke. Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives

To sum up, Friedrichstadt is a city full of history and surprises, no matter which aspect one is interested in. The city has 18 bridges, which is unusual, however, each one tells a story, which is worth listening to or reading about when spending time there, regardless of bridge type and size.  The city may be small, but its history and heritage makes Friedrichstadt a must-see place when visiting Schleswig-Holstein.

The author would like to thank Christiane Thomsen at the Friedrichstadt City Archives, Rainer Butenschoen, Dietrich Doose and H.D. Kienitz for their help in providing information and photos on the bridges in Friedrichstadt.







Mystery Bridge Nr. 17: A Bridge with no name; no home

Hurricane Creek Bridge (the bridge formerly known as….). Photos provided by David Backlin; taken in January 2011

There are quite a few entries for the 2012 Ammann Awards under the category Mystery Bridges. This unique through truss bridge in Saline County, Arkansas is one of them. Discovered by David Backlin in January 2011, it would be assumed that the bridge’s historic and aesthetic value would justify the county’s reason for taking the bridge off its foundations and placed it off the side of Woodland Park Road in Bryant. Yet the fact that the bridge has absolutely no record of its history (the year it was built and the bridge builder) creates the impression that the county cares a great deal for the six-panel Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings. When it was replaced in 1985 by its current structure, it was taken off its foundations, moved a few hundred feet to its current location and has remained there for over 27 years. Normally, for a structure with no name or history like this one, regardless of its appearance, it is usually demolished before anyone would have a chance to research it. In fact, nine through truss bridges out of ten meet this unfortunate fate.

The fact that the bridge is still standing is a blessing for there is the potential interest in saving the structure, let alone researching about its history, most of which can be found either in a museum or through oral resources. Yet to reuse the bridge, one will need to find a new place and consider restoring the structure  first, as some parts of the bridge have been bent due to weather extremities. But given the success story of the Piano Bridge, it is doable with little cost.

If you have any information pertaining to the bridge, you can comment it at the end of the article or send it to the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.  The bridge is up for nomination under Mystery Bridge, the category that was established this year, which explains the reason for its nomination despite its discovery a year ago. In any case, this bridge is waiting for a new home and its identity to be revealed by anyone willing to research its history.

Portal view

Success Story number 2: The Nine Mile Creek Aquaduct

Photos taken by Marc Scotti. This is the overview of the arches










The Erie Canal: One of the greatest landmarks of civil engineering in the United States and the world. Built in 1825, the canal is 584 kilometers long, extending from Albany, the capital of New York to Buffalo at the mouth of Lake Erie and at the border to Canada.  It was built with a purpose: to expand the settlement in the new world, provide commerce to the state of New York and a travel to its neighbor to the north. Countless bridges, locks and aquaducts spanned the canal before it was replaced by an even wider, more efficent New York Barge Canal in 1918. Even then, when the original Erie Canal was made obsolete, many of the structures remained in place, waiting for residents to take note of them and reuse them someday.

The Nine Mile Creek Aquaduct, located near Camilus, is one of the prized structures that one should see while visiting New York. The aquaduct was built over the creek in 1841 when the Erie Canal was enlarged to provide more traffic. It features a five-span limestone arch bridge while the decking of the bridge featured wooden decking that was strong enough to hold several thousand cubic feet of water, carrying the boats safely over the creek. It was one of the first aquaducts built to carry water and marine traffic in the US.

Sadly, when the State Barge Canal was opened in 1918, the original Erie Canal was abandoned, and with that, all the locks, bridges and aquaducts were either left abandoned, partially removed to allow nature to take its course, or were relocated to the newer canal. The Camilus Canal had its wooden decking removed, but the arch spans remained abandoned for over 90 years.

Fortunately, a group of citizens recognized the importance of this aquaduct and went ahead with the reconstruction project. Apart from making repairs on the arches, they rebuilt the wooden decking of the bridge, using glulam, a series of wooden beams which were held together with glue, and they refilled it with water. It was rededicated in 2009 and today, the aquaduct is still in use, as part of the Erie Canal that is used for recreational purposes and designated as a national heritage site by the National Park Service (it was recognized in 2004). You will find that listed on the National Register, along with the other artefacts that belong to the once prestigious canal that was a contributing force to the expansion of the United States. According to historians, this is the only remaining aquaduct in the country that is in full operation. You will find this aquaduct along a two-mile stretch connecting Sim’s Museum and Warner’s Park at the eastern edge of the original Erie Canal. According to Marc Scotti at the New York State Department of Transportation, a boat tour along the canal is available with dining possibilities, even though one will have to consider planning ahead when visiting the region. There one will have the opportunity to see a work of art that took a group of residents, financial support and a lot of technical know-how and dedication to restore.

Top view of the aquaduct










Author’s note: There will be more articles on the bridges along the Erie Canal and the northeast region in the future. This is just a taste of what you can see when driving through the region.  The bridge has been nominated for this year’s Ammann Awards under Bridge of the Year, together with five other historic bridges.

Mystery Bridge Nr. 16: A Bridge built by Horseheads

Photo taken by Marc Scotti

Things are wrapping up as far as entries for the Ammann Awards are concerned, and while there was a huge rush to submit historic bridges for their respective categories, Marc Scotti of the New York State Department of Transportation brought this mystery bridge up to the author’s attention, justifying it for being profiled here as well as being nominated it its respective category.

Located in Erie County in western New York State, this bridge is fancy in terms of its aesthetic features- a Pratt through truss bridge built with a skew and whose portal and overhead bracings feature a fan-shaped ornate heal bracings, as seen in the photo above. However, this bridge is also unique because of its association with a local but rarely known bridge company in the state, the Horseheads Bridge Company.  Little has been written about the bridge company. In fact, it was seldom mentioned in the historic bridge encyclopedia Darnell under New York State.  According to the information given, that company existed from ca. 1890 until it was absorbed into the American Bridge Company conglomerate in 1903. An attempt to revive the company occurred in 1917, bearing the name Horseheads Manufacturing Company and with William Perkins, who had run the first company up to 1903,  presiding. Unfortunately, the company folded two years later. Like many bridge builders in the US, Horseheads left its mark with its portal and overhead bracings, making it historically significant and providing a case for registration into the National Register of Historic Places, if more information is discovered to help support the cause.

And this takes us back to this bridge, located over 18-Mile Creek carrying Versailles Plank Road. Normally evidence would be found through the builder’s plaques located on the end post or portal bracings. These plus some of the ornamental features were stolen years ago, degrading the historic significance of the bridge. The bridge was abandoned in the 1960s and it was not until 1995, when efforts were undertaken to restore the bridge for recreational use. Since the restoration was completed, it has still served this purpose, serving as a public fishing access point under the name Hobuck Flat.

While an example of the Horseheads Bridge Company structure has been saved, there are still a handful of bridges left in the country that were built by this company. Can you name them and where they are located?

Furthermore, more information on the Horseheads Bridge Company is needed to determine how it was established, how many bridges it built during its short lifespan, and how it was gobbled up by an already enormous bridge conglomerate. Plus who is William Perkins and how was he and his friends influential in the business operations? Why did Perkins restart the company in 1917?

And finally, when was the Hobuck Flat Bridge constructed and why was it abandoned for such a long time? Even more so, who stepped forward and recognized the importance of the bridge and its builder and pushed forward to restore this bridge?

All these questions are open but answers can be submitted either in the comment section or directly by e-mail to the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. The bridge is one of a few that are up for nomination for Mystery Bridge Award. The winner of that prize as well as the other prizes of the Ammann Awards will be announced on 23rd December. Perhaps this bridge may take it….

Special thanks to Marc Scotti for the photo and the nomination. Nathan Holth also provided some info on this and a couple Horseheads bridges and can be accessed here, even though the number of these bridges remaining may be more than what is posted….