Newsflyer 10 September 2013 Part II

Mulberry Creek Bridge in Ford County, KS. Photo courtesy of Wayne Keller. Used with permission.

Continuing from Part I, not everything is doom and gloom regarding historic bridges. In fact some drives to save historic bridges are in gear providing a clear signal that the interest in saving these relicts is there. Here are some more highlights as we focus on part II.

Sutton-Weaver Swing Bridge to be refurbished

Spanning the Weaver River between the town of Frodsham and the village of Sutton Weaver (Chester District) in Great Britain, this bridge was built in 1923 by James Parks and features a Howe through truss swing span. It carries A56, a primary highway that connects the two communities. Structural concerns have prompted officials to close the bridge and refurbish it, a project which has commenced and is scheduled to be completed by fall 2014. A Bailey truss bridge has been erected alongside the swing bridge to ensure that motorists can use the crossing and not use a detour which is 14 miles long. More information on this bridge can be found here.

Preservation Campaign to save Mulberry Creek Bridge underway.

Last year, the Chronicles did a report on the two-span through truss bridge spanning Mulberry Creek in Ford County, Kansas, which carries a small minimum maintenance road that leads up to the farm place of Wayne Kellar (see article here for more details). Little has changed in terms of the county’s decision in June 2012 to demolish the last two spans of the original Dodge City Bridge that was built in 1906 but was relocated once before it was reerected at its current location. In fact, despite the strive to demolish the bridge in favor of a concrete culvert, Mr. Kellar has been striving to save the bridge and put it in his jurisdiction. He recently received some support- in the form of Mother Nature! Flash flooding on August 8th and 13th wiped out the road but the bridge was not touched by the floodwaters, which justified the argument against a culvert or any form of low-water crossings going to his property. Mr. Kellar has started a petition and fund-raising drive to save the bridge, convincing the county to replace a broken pin and do some minor repairs to reopen the structure to private traffic. A link to the petition drive with information on the bridge’s history and possibilities to sign the petition can be found here. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest developments with this bridge.

Covered Bridge in Vermont needs reconstruction

Built in the 1870s and spanning the Passumpsic River near the town of Lyndonville, the Sanborn Covered Bridge features one of the rarest examples of a Paddleford Truss bridge, used mainly in covered bridges. Floodwaters caused a portion of the bridge to partially sag and damage to the bridge parts.  A fundraiser drive to restore the bridge and reopen it to pedestrians and cyclists has started with the plan to relocate the bridge onto dry land, restore it and reerect it on new piers. $1.2 million is needed for the project. More information on the project and how you can donate can be found here.

Bridge to be reconstructed after a 70-year absence

Located along the Saale River southeast of Saalfeld in the German state of Thuringia, the Linkenmühlenbrücke near the village of Altenroth was probably the shortest lived bridge built along the river. Built in 1943, the steel girder bridge was in service until it was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945, shortly before Adolf Hitler’s suicide and Germany’s capitulation. For over 67 years, the only way to get from Altenroth to Linkenmühle was with the ferry. The state government is working to restore the crossing and has put 4 million Euros aside to build a bridge and provide easier access to the villages. Most likely, the bridge will be 200-300 meters long and about 20 meters high. Bridge type is unknown at the moment. Despite some scepticism, it appears that the bill will be passed in the coming weeks and work will start on the new crossing by next year, lasting over a year. More details can be found here.

Newsflyer 10 September 2013 Part 1

Bunker Mill Bridge southeast of Kalona, Iowa- victim of arson that occurred on 11 August, 2013 and whose future is in doubt. Photo taken in August 2011

Historic bridge burned with scrappers drooling for money. Another set of historic bridges  destined for scrap metal. Historic icon receives a new icon. A replica of a lost bridge to be built. A pair of historic bridges to be focus of restoration campaign.

While away on hiatus for three weeks, which included the four-day long Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa, a lot of events unfolded which involved historic bridges. This include a tragedy involving a historic bridge in Iowa whose future is now in doubt. Keeping all this in mind, the Chronicles will feature a summary of the events that are non-related to the Historic Bridge Weekend with the author’s feedback on each of the themes. Links are provided in the text, as usual.

North trestle span in the foreground with the truss span in the background. Photo taken in August 2011

Bunker Mill Bridge burns. Future in doubt.

Spanning the English River southeast of Kalona, this bridge is unique in terms of its appearance. It was built in 1887 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio and featured a six-panel iron Pratt through truss bridge with Town Lattice portal bracing with a span of 120 feet long. With the north trestle span being 170 feet long- enough to fit another through truss span- the total length of the bridge is 290 feet. In 1913, the Iowa Bridge Company reinforced the bridge which included the addition of M-frame portal bracing. Closed since 2003, plans were in the making to convert this bridge into a bike trail connecting Richmond and Kalona in Washington County. Sadly, the bridge, which was visited during the Historic Bridge Weekend, was burned on the morning of 12 August, destroying the entire bridge deck. The truss span is still in tact but it is unknown how much damage was done to the superstructure. At the present time, work is being undertaken to determine whether the bridge can be salvaged and relocated. At the same time however, sources have informed the Chronicles and the pontist community that the scrappers are making a bid to obtain the bridge for scrap metal. Police and fire officials are determining the cause of the fire, which is suspected to be caused by arson. The Chronicles has a separate article on this bridge based on the author’s visit to the bridge which will be posted after an interview with organizers trying to save the bridge is done.

Rulo Bridge in Nebraska. Photo taken in August 2011

Two Missouri River Bridges to be demolished. Two to be replaced soon.


If the rate continues its course, there will no longer be any pre-1960 bridges along the Missouri River by the year 2030. Two continuous truss bridges built in 1938 have been replaced and are closed to traffic, despite the 2-year delay because of the Great Flood of 2011 which turned the Missouri River into the Red Sea for 3/4 of the year. Already one of the bridges, the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge in Fort Atchinson, Kansas, built at the time of the disappearance of the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean, is scheduled to come down beginning 23 September after the tied arch bridge was opened to traffic. The demolition is scheduled to take two months to complete. The Rulo Bridge, which carries US Highway 159 through the Nebraska town of Rulo was rerouted to the new bridge and is now closed awaiting demolition. This may happen at the earliest in the fall but most likely in 2014. The Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth, a two-span tied arch bridge most likely to follow as Missouri and Kansas DOTs are planning on its replacement which will happen in a few years. And finally, a pair of duo continuous Warren truss bridges, the Fairfax Bridge (built in 1935 by the Kansas City Bridge Company) and the Platte Purchase Bridge (built in 1957) in Kansas City are planned to be replaced beginning in 2015. The reason for replacing the US Highway 69 crossing was because of its narrowness.  To know more about the Missouri River Bridges, it will be mentioned in detail in a presentation provided by James Baughn during the Missouri Preservation Conference, which takes place 18-20 September in Booneville. More information can be found here.

Another slab bridge collapses- this time in Illinois

Engineers and politicians are running out of bridge types to condemn in favor of modern bridges. Reason: another concrete bridge has collapsed after a truck rolled across it! This happened near Woodlawn, Illinois on 6 September. Woodlawn is near Mt. Vernon in Jefferson County. The bridge is over 200 feet long and was built in 1977. Fortunately, nobody was hurt when it happened for the structure collapsed right after the truck went across it. Investigators are trying to determine whether the weight of the loaded truck was too much and if a weight limit should have been imposed. This is the second post 1970 bridge that collapsed this year (a 1987 bridge in Missouri collapsed this past July) and has raised questions of whether weight limits should be imposed on all bridges and highways to ensure their prolongitivity and driver safety. But despite the “less is more” mentality that is becoming the norm in society, it will most likely take a few more collapses of modern slab before it get through the heads of the engineers and government agencies that are responsibility for the infrastructure in the US.

Bay Bridge Replacement opens to traffic.

When the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge first opened to traffic in 1936, the eight mile long bridge spanning San Francisco Bay was the longest in the world, with two sets of suspension bridges connecting Yerba Buena Island with San Francisco and a cantilever truss bridge and beam bridge between that island and Oakland. Since 3 September, the Oakland portion of the bridge has been replaced with a cable-stayed suspension bridge and closed to all traffic while cars are travelling on the new span. For those who are not familiar with this portion of the bridge, it was that particular bridge which partially collapsed during the Earthquake of 1989, the one that killed over 300 people, caused the double-decker Nemitz Freeway in Oakland to collapse and brought the World Series at Candlestick Park to a halt. A person videotaped the bridge and a car falling into the collapsed portion of the bridge. A link can be found here.  The bridge collapse prompted notions to replace that portion of the Bay Bridge and bring the suspension bridge portion up to earthquake proof standards, together with the Golden Gate Bridge. 24 years later, they got their wish with a cable-stayed suspension bridge made using steel made in China. This is still sparking a debate on whether Chinese steel has as high quality as American steel, especially as several flaws were discovered while building the Oakland portion of the bridge, which included broken bolts and anchors holding the stayed cables. Despite the bridge being a remarkable landmark that will surely be documented in 50 year’s time, especially with the statue found at the island, it is questionable of whether $4 billion was necessary to build the bridge or if it would have made sense to rehabilitate the cantilever bridge. This includes the cost and time it will be needed to demolish that bridge, which will commence sometime next year.

With all the bad news involving bridges in the US, there are some drives to save historic bridges with one being replicated after a 70 year absence. More in part 2 of the Chronicles’ Newsflyer.