Transporter of World-Renowned Bridge to Be Replaced

Another bridge

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Original of 1913 Transporter part of the Rendsburg High Bridge irreparable; German government plans reconstruction.

RENDSBURG, GERMANY- Relief but also with mixed reaction from the residents of Rendsburg, as well as those in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein and many preservationists and pontists alike regarding the city’s prized architectural work, the Rendsburg High Bridge. The transporter portion of the cantilever Warren through truss bridge, built in 1913, sustained substantial damage in a collision with a ship on 8 January.

 

 

Despite campaigns to rebuild the original transporter and operator’s house, the German Ministry of Transport has just announced that because of the extensive damage, it cannot be salvaged. Instead, a brand new transporter will be constructed in its place.  A sigh of relief or a sign of disappointment for the people who are attached to the bridge?  According to an interview with the newspaper SHZ, Rendsburg’s mayor Pierre Gilgenast, the reaction is mixed. On the one hand, he and many others are disappointed that the original transporter cannot be replaced. On the other hand, building a brand new transporter will eliminate the need to have a ferry trafficking people across the Baltic-North Sea Canal (a.k.a. The Grand Canal). Since June 7th, two ferries have been bussing people across the heavily travelled canal for eight hours daily on workdays only, and on weekends during the school summer break. This is a temporary relief for commuters who have been using the Rendsburg tunnel and the Europabrücke at Motorway 7 to cross.

 

 

A lot is at stake for the Rendsburg High Bridge. At the moment, neither the timeline of the construction of the new transporter has been given nor has money been earmarked for the project, yet the mayor and other parties are working with authorities in Berlin to have a concrete plan as to when the new portion will be built. Gilgenast is hoping that the plan and the project will start as soon as possible.  In addition to that, the damage to the transporter has hurt the chances of this unique superstructure to be listed as a World Heritage Site by the international organization UNESCO. Originally, the bridge was expected to be listed at the earliest 2017. The city is hoping that the replica being planned is exactly like the original that was destroyed in the collision.  For almost 20 years, the structure has been declared a Technical Heritage Site on the national level. It is hoped that the accolade reaches the international level, but all of this depends on when and how the transporter is rebuilt.

 

 

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Built in 1913, the Rendsburg High Bridge is the centerpiece of  the architectural works of famous German engineer, Friedrich Voss, whose credit also goes to the building of the Hochdonn Bridge, the Arch Bridge at Friedrichstadt and the now demolished Prince Heinrich Bridge in Kiel.  The Rendsburg High Bridge features a loop approach span north of the Grand Canal built using brick arch and steel trestle spans, inspired by the construction of the now demolished Hastings Spiral Bridge in Minnesota. The main span features a cantilever Warren through truss, which carries rail traffic between Flensburg and Hamburg. Underneath the truss span is the transporter span, which had carried pedestrians and cyclists across the canal prior to its collision with the freight ship in January. An article with videos and photos, written by the author of the Chronicles, can be found here.

 

Part of the reason behind the push for the new transporter has to do with the reconstruction of the Europabrücke. The 1971 bridge is scheduled to be replaced beginning in 2018 to accomodate six lanes of traffic along Motorway 7 between Hamburg and Denmark via Flensburg. The project will be conducted in phases with one half of the new span being built alongside the old span, followed by the demolition and replacement of the old span once traffic shifts onto the portion of the constructed new span and finally the construction of the new approaches and the widening of the motorway once the other portion of the new span is constructed and open to traffic. It’s expected to take eight years to build.  More on that bridge as well as other structures along the Grand Canal can be found in an SHZ article here and in the Chronicles here.

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Wagon Wheel Bridge Meets Tragic End

Side view of the bridge taken in Aug. 2013. The eastern half- a Pennsylvania petit and a Pratt are all that is left of the bridge. Those are to be taken down soon.
Side view of the bridge taken in Aug. 2013. The eastern half- a Pennsylvania petit and a Pratt are all that is left of the bridge. Those are to be taken down soon.

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1910 Des Moines River crossing coming down after years of neglect, vandalism and natural disasters

 

BOONE, IOWA- Three years ago, the Wagon Wheel Bridge was one of the main attractions of the Historic Bridge Convention, which was attended by over 25 pontists from five states and two countries. It was originally part of the Kate Shelley Tour conducted by the Boone County Historical Society. It was one of the longest multi-span truss bridges ever built by the Iowa Bridge Company, one of many in-state companies that had dominated the scene since the consolidation of 29 bridge companies into the American Bridge Company consortium in 1901. The 1910 bridge had a total length of over 700 feet.

 

Now the steel span is coming down for good- in sections. Workers from the Hulcher Services began pulling down the western half of the bridge yesterday, which included two Pratt through trusses, one of which sustained damaged in an ice jam in February  and subsequentially fell into the river in March.  According to the Boone County engineer Scott Kruse, as soon as the water levels of the Des Moines River recede , the eastern half, featuring the Pennsylvania through truss and another Pratt through truss will be removed. The cost for the bridge removal will be $150,000, some of which will be deducted from the county highway fund, while the taxpayers will contribute to the rest of the expenses.

 

For many who know this bridge, it brings to an end a bridge that had historic character but was highly ignored and neglected. Closed since 2007, the bridge sustained damage to the eastern approach trestle spans in 2008 during the Great Flood. It took four years until new wooden decking was built on the span, but not before residents having voted against the referendum calling for the replacement of the bridge in 2010.  Debates on the future of the bridge came to a head, as talks of converting the bridge to a memorial honoring Kathlyn Shepard came about in 2013. Reports of the leaning pier between the collapsed Pratt through truss and the one closest to the Pennsylvania truss span raised concerns that the structure would collapse, creating warnings even from local officials that one should not cross the bridge. But the last ten months brought the bridge to its untimely end, as vandals set fire to the eastern trestle spans last August, prompting the county to removed them completely. The arsonists have yet to be found and apprehended.  The ice jams and the subsequent collapse of one of the spans, prompting the county engineer to put the bridge out of its misery for good.

 

The removal of the Wagon Wheel Bridge brings closure and relief to the city of Boone and the county, for despite pleas by preservationists to save at least part of the bridge, the county is doing its best to eliminate a liability problem that has been on the minds of many residents for nine years. The county engineer declared that they do not want any more problems with the bridge and therefore entertains no plans for keeping what is left of history. The mentality of “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” is floating around in the community, yet the city and the county will lose a key piece of history that was part of Kate Shelley’s childhood past as well as the history of Iowa’s transportation heritage. A piece of history which, if thinking dollars and sense, could have been saved years earlier, had everyone read their history books in school, and come together to contribute for the cause, that is. One wonders what Kate Shelley would think of this.

 

Facts about the bridge, based on the author’s visit in 2010 can be found here.

 

If you wish to know more about Kate Shelley, a link to her life and how she became famous can be found here.

 

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has changed its cover pages on its facebook and twitter sites to honor the bridge and its heritage. If one is interested in relocating the Pennsylvania span, please contact the engineer using the information here. Hurry while the water levels are still high!

 

It is unknown if even a marker at the site of the bridge will be erected once the bridge is gone. Given the sentiment towards seeing the girl leave, chances of happening is highly unlikely unless a book is written about the county’s bridges or the bridges along the Des Moines River and the bridge is mentioned there….

 

 

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Niland’s Corner Bridge to Become History?

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Oblique view of the Colo Bridge and its historic crossing. Photos taken in 2013

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COLO, IOWA-  Looking back at the history books, in particular of America’s infrastructure, the two most important arteries that criss-crossed the country were the Jefferson Highway and the Lincoln Highway. The Jefferson started in Winnepeg (Canada) and, heading south through Des Moines, Kansas City and Baton Rouge, terminated in New Orleans. The Lincoln Highway started in San Francisco and headed east through Chicago and Cleveland before terminating in New York City. The two highways intersected at a small quiet town of Colo in eastern Iowa. Located 10 miles east of Ames, the town has prided itself on having the following landmarks:

  1. A historic gas station with a display of antique cars and gas pumps dating back to the 1930s
  2. Niland’s Cafe and Motel, one of the last of its kind that features a diner and a Sunday brunch with food prepared by hand from the home kitchen. The motel used to serve as a campground before being converted to mini houses to put travellers up for the night.
  3. The first known interchange in the country.

The third key element is at stake as officials from Iowa DOT are looking at improving the intersection. The interchange  was built in 1936 and was once used as an entrance ramp for Sherman tanks heading to military bases to be transported to Europe in World War II. The overpass, a steel plate girder span,  was constructed in 1938 and still crosses the Jefferson Highway (now US Hwy. 65) on the Lincoln Highway (now county highway E-41). The interchange is the prototype of the interchanges we see today on all freeways in the US, Canada and parts of Europe.

Because of problems involving low clearance, the DOT has proposed one of two alternatives to improve the intersection. The first is to rehabilitate the bridge and improve the intersection while installing sensors to alert drivers of oversized semi-trucks of a low clearance, warning them to get off the highway (an article can be found here).  The other option- one that has met opposition by locals and historicans- is to eliminate the entire interchange and install a four-way stop intersection. That option will completely alter the landscape of the corner as several buildings and trees would need to come down and only part of the ramp would be used as an entrance to the parking lot of Niland’s Corner.

Yet one wonders if a third option, using an alternative highway would be most viable. While assumptions have been made that traffic will increase, how much of that would consist of semis? On a two-way highway as the two historic ones, the chances of that happening are slim. Even so, a permit to use the highway for hauling oversized items and having an escort would avoid the problems of height and width issues. With two expressways to the south and west of Colo, the problem of convenience is solved, with the exception of a trucker wishing to stop at a motel for food and board for one night. 😉

This leads to the situation at hand: Is it worth the millions of dollars being doled out to alter Niland’s Corner to a point of no recognition, losing the historic status and the attractiveness of the people attached to the historic highway, or would it make much sense for truckers to use the alternative routes and save taxpayer’s money; furthermore, preserve this very unique and historic mark? Logic says take the Interstate to Albert Lea, Minnesota, where accomodations are plentiful for truckers and allow Colo to thrive under the tourists. After all, less is more for the small community and people can enjoy a little history and some good home-cooked food for a night.

Or perhaps some pics, as this author indulged profusely in doing during his visit with his family in 2013 (click here).

 

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Southern portion of the prototypical exit and the railroad underpass.

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Information on the Lincoln and Jefferson Highways can be found here (L) and here (J).

Since 1973, Albert Lea has taken over as the main meeting point of two of the busiest interstate highways in the US. Interstate 90 is an east-west route that starts in Seattle and after passing through Billings, Sioux Falls, Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo, terminates in Boston. The interstate is the longest in the country at 3,032 miles and was the last main highway to have been completely built, with the golden stripe having been built near Blue Earth, Minnesota in 1979 and the retirement of the traffic light in Wallace, Idaho in 1992. Markers can be found at both sites.   Interstate 35 starts in Duluth in Minnesota and after passing through Minneapolis,  Des Moines, Kansas City, Tulsa, Austin and Dallas, terminates in Laredo at the Mexican border. While it does not start in Canada, a major highway between Duluth and Thunder Bay provides travellers with scenic views of Lake Superior. It is the third longest interstate highway in the US behind I-75 and I-95

 

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Crow’s Bridge for Sale: Any Takers?

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Photos taken by Tony Dillon in 2009

PUTNAM COUNTY, INDIANA- The state of Indiana has long since been the poster boy for preserving historic bridges- in particular, those made of iron and/or steel. Putnam County has a wide selection of bridges of all sorts made from various materials, even though the number of truss bridges have diminished over the past 20 years. This explains the reason why the county would like to keep this bridge, but to give it to someone who is willing to reuse it.

The Crow’s Bridge, located over Big Walnut Creek north of Greencastle, has been in visier of the county for at least five years because of its age. Yet despite its rust and a builder’s plaque that has been the target of irresponsible shooters, the bridge is one of a few examples of pre-1910 truss bridges made with pinned connections and built by the American Bridge Company. The bridge was built in 1902 by the company, two years after its creation through the merger of 29 bridge builders, using the steel from the mills in Gary. It is unknown where the bridge was prefabricated and where the agents were located during that time, but given its proximity to Illinois, it is likely that the bridge came from one of the branch offices in Chicago that used to be Lassig and American Bridge Works, respectively, one or both of whom had connections with the steel mills in Gary.

In terms of description, the bridge was one of the last examples of truss bridges built with pinned connections and using a Pratt through truss design. Its portal bracing consists of a 3-rhombus Howe Lattice portal system with subdivided heel bracings having an angle of 45°. The struts feature V-laces with 45° heel bracings. Only a portion of the oroginal Howe lattice railings remain as the rest was replaced with modern steel railings. Upon its removal and relocation, the decking was all wood. The bridge is 121 feet long, 15.7 feet wide and 16.5 feet high. As in other bridge examples that can be found in Indiana, this bridge would be a perfect fit as part of a bike trail system, picnic area at a park or even as a secondary road crossing, if the structure is rehabbed accordingly to accomodate vehicular traffic.

At the present time, the truss bridge has been relocated to a field and is awaiting a new permanent home. It is currently being replaced with a concrete structure, unfortunately at the expense of historic wingwalls with inscriptions on there, as seen in the photos posted on bridgehunter.com (click here) and historicbridges.org (click here). If you have an idea what to do with the bridge and would like to take it home, please contact the Putnam County Engineer’s Office or Dan Reitmeyer at this address: danr@clrincgrp.com. You can also contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact form under About the Chronicles.

The Crow’s Bridge is one of the oldest examples of an American Bridge Company structure. It is also one of the last structures built using pinned connections. Nevertheless, it is one of the surviving examples of what created our American transportation system. It is of utmost importance that this bridge is preserved for generations to come so that they understand why bridges like this made America great. 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 67: The Railroad Bridge at Halle (Saale) Central Station

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Staying in Saxony-Anhalt for the next mystery bridge article, we head back to Halle (Saale). As many of you have probably read, the city along the Saale River has over 38 bridges along this main river, its tributaries and even along the ICE rail line. While there is a tour guide that takes you to the city’s bridges through the Chronicles and Halle in Bild, neither authors figured in that there would be a few additional outlyers with historic value that should be taken into account, and added.

Like this railroad crossing, for example.

Located less than 100 meters north of Halle Central Station, this western crossing looks like just an ordinary railroad bridge- or a series of railroad bridges as there are six bridges serving seven tracks- one each track except for the outermost crossing. As a bonus, one can enjoy the view of the historic water tower when crossing it.  Yet when looking at the bridge more closely, one can see the history behind this construction:

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The finials were located only at the southern entrance to the structure, right before entering the platform of Halle Central Station. They resemble sword-shaped towers resembling Washington Monument in the United States, with Victorian-like foundations, standing on the abutments made of sandstone and limestone brick and concrete. An inscription with the year 1909 indicated the year the bridge was constructed, spanning Delitzscher Strasse. The bridge’s railings are made of cast iron and feature a parapet that has circilar and mushroom shapes with posts that feature a pyramid-shaped finial and a an outrigger per post that resembles a raindrop.  Outriggers are diagonal posts that slant outwards at an angle 60-80° and used to support the trusses for pony truss bridges and railings for stringers, like this one, regardless of length. Many stringer bridges in Germany have these ornamental outriggers which makes the structure rather attractive. In America, one will see most outriggers on truss bridges, especially those built after 1900 with riveted connections in the form of Pratt, Howe or Warren truss designs, and have geometric shapes.

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Judging by the main span, it appears that the structure is one of two bridge types: 1. It is a stringer which was constructed a few years ago to replace an arch bridge with either open-or-closed spandrel design or a truss design. This would make the most sense as Delitzscher Strasse is one of key streets connecting Halle City and the train station with points to the west, including Delitzsch, the Leipzig-Halle Airport and neighboring Leipzig. To accommodate more traffic, the arches were removed in favor of the stringer span, but the ornamental railings and the finials were preserved as historical markers, showing people where the bridge used to stand. With the modernization of Halle Central Station, this theory would not come as a surprise, given the fact that the complex was in such a desolate state during the time of the East German Communist rule.

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Halle Hauptbahnhof Complex as it stands today.

Then there is option two, which is the stringer has stood since 1909 but had to be rehabilitated to accomodate rail traffic. This theory is tall but doable as engineering experiments have been done to either strengthen or partially replace the decking while keeping the bridge design in place, a concept that costs less money than a full replacement. Yet, given the modernization-happiness of the Deutsche Bahn, which owns the lines and the railway station complex, it is doubtful that the firm would go for quick fix-ups, as they want to conform to the modern rail standards and would rather have new bridges that function for 100 years than to have a restored bridge, like this one. Whe one looks at the firm’s campaign to have the 53-year old Fehmarn Bridge in Schleswig-Holstein torn down and replaced or the Chemnitz Viaduct replaced, one will understand why the Bahn is not listening to alternatives by local and regional governments. By the way, the fight to save the bridges is still on, and other European countries have modernized their rail lines but kept their historic bridges, including Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and even Belgium.

Keeping the theories in mind, we now turn to the forum, providing the following questions for you to ponder and share information about. Feel free to comment on them as the people in Halle would like to know more about this bridge, possibly adding it into a book that should be written on the city’s bridges (see a collection here). Here are the questions for the forum:

  1. When was this bridge built and who was behind the design?
  2. Is the current bridge the restored original or a replacement? If the latter, when was it replaced?
  3. If the bridge was restored, how was it done and who led the efforts?
  4. Who was behind the design of the ornamental railings and finials?

The forum is now open…… 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 66: The Railroad Viaduct at Grosskorbetha

Photo taken in 2011
Photo taken in 2011

While on the subject of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt as there is a quiz on this subject (click here to challenge yourself), there are a few historic bridges in the state that many of us don’t know about. Many of them have been abandoned, and the little records that may have existed in the past vanished because of war and political oppression. Saxony-Anhalt was one of five German states that fell under the rule of two different dictators between 1933 and 1990: The first with Hitler and the second under Communism. During that time, records of these structures were either lost or altered in an attempt to prop up the goodness of these two regimes, when they anything but that.

This railroad viaduct in Grosskorbetha is one of these gigantic structures that has been sitting abandoned for decades and whose records on its history may have been lost to time and the iron fist. Grosskorbetha is a village in southern Saxony-Anhalt thatis the bridge between the industrial area to the north and the wine industry to the south. It is a transitional point in terms of landscape where going south, one can see the limestone hills lining along the Saale and Unstrut Rivers. Going north, it has nothing but flat plains. It is an outlyer to the megalopolis region of Leipzig and Halle, which includes Bad Durrenberg, Merseburg, Schkopau, Delitzsch and Bitterfeld-Wolfen.  And it is the Grand Central Station (or in German terms, Hamburg Hauptbahnhof) for all freight trains, especially as they branch off into three parts going north: to Leipzig, to Halle and to the petroleum area in Leuna.  For passenger train service, no one can escape seeing these trains and industrial complexes when passing through.

And for this railroad bridge, which is an nine-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge, it is the structure which one will pass through by train, noticing all the cracks and spalling, the barriers keeping everyone off the structure, but one will have a difficult time photographing it. This shot was taken by train but at speeds of 120 km/h. The bridge is located a kilometer north of the train station, which makes walking ti the structure impossible, given the high volume of traffic at this junction. Even Nathan Holth would face the wrath of the Bahn in one form or another if he was to even try to walk to the bridge. 😉  But what we can say about the bridge is it is at least 80 years old, and it has withstood damages caused by war, wear and tear and trains passing through. Crossing the main passenger lines heading to Leipzig and Halle, one could say the bridge is well over 170 meters long. And the width is enough to hold vehicular traffic in both directions, especially when it connects Leuna and Grosskorbertha.  But…..

What else do we know about this bridge?  Any ideas in English or German would be of great help.

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Author’s Tip: As a tip when photographing bridges like these: If you cannot zoom in with your camera, try by train, but use the speed modus, and fire away as you approach the bridge. If you miss, turn around and try when the train goes away from the bridge. The second step is easier than the first, but you will be able to get a “drive-by” shot while the train is in motion.  My success here came after the train passed through the bridge, except it was with the red regional trains which have since been decommissioned due to age.  They featured windows you can open and stick your arms and camera out for a good shot.  With the newer trains by the rail service Abellio, the windows are fixed shut and it may be more difficult to photograph with a closed window, but still, it is doable.

 

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The Bridges of Halle (Saale), Germany

Berliner Brücke in Halle (Saale) Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/de/2/23/Berliner-Bruecke-Halle.jpg

Halle (Saale)- the birthplace of George Friedrich Handel. The second largest city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt and representing the second half of the metropolis Leipzig-Halle, which has 100,000 of the metro’s 600,000 inhabitants as well as one of the most renowned universities in Germany. Yet when you get off the train in Halle, you may be turned off by the ugly high-rise buildings that date back to the days of the German Democratic Republic, a communist state that existed until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German Reunification in 1990. Yet when you walk further towards the City Center, you will see another face of Halle that will sweep you off your feet: architecture dating to the Baroque Period, a statue of Handel overlooking the Cathedral and the Town Square, and further towards the Saale River, there’s the Giebichenstein Castle and the Halle Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the eastern half of Germany (Neuenbundesländer).

Surprisingly, if you are a pontist, you will be surprised to find that Halle has a wide selection of historic bridges that exist along the Saale River, its tributaries and to the south, the White Elster River, which meanders through Leipzig enroute to the Vogtland region in Thuringia and Saxony. There are 131 bridges in and around Halle; 14 of which are declared historically significant and protected by state preservation laws.  It is very rare to find historic bridges of at least four different types, or until recently have more than one cantilever truss spans, dating back to the 1880s. And in terms of German history, many of these bridges survived the test of time, including World War II, in contrast to the majority of cities and regions, whose bridges were severely damaged or destroyed through air raids and attempts by the Nazis to fend off advancing Allied troops. This plus the history that is still being sought on these bridges is what makes the bridges of the City of Salt unique.

This article will take you on a tour of the bridges that you should see, when spending a day in Halle. This includes a pair of bridges that no longer exist but are still part of the memories of the Hallenser people that still live there as well as those who were born there but have long since moved away for better possibilities. So without further ado, here is a small guide of the Bridges of Halle, keeping in mind that there are links available that will bring you to the photos and info on the bridge:

Schafbrücke: 

This bridge, built in 1733, is the last crossing along the White Elster before it empties into the Saale River in the Hallense suburb of Böllberg. It used to serve a main trading route between Merseberg and Magdeburg before it lost its importance because of the railroads. Today, the stone and concrete arch bridge serves the White Elster bike trail between Halle and Leipzig. Yet the bridge has seen its better days as the arches have deteriorated to a point where reconstruction is badly needed in order to avoid the structure to collapse.

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Halle-Neustadt Railroad Bridge:

Spanning the Saale River in the southwest end of Halle, this eight-span stone arch bridge is one of the longest of its kind in the city, as well as the oldest. Most likely dating back to the late 1800s, this bridge used to serve an InterCity train line connecting the city with Kassel and Cologne. Thanks to privatization, combined with the realignment of long-distance rail lines, the bridge now serves regional services to Sangerhausen, Halberstadt and Nordhausen, enroute to its original destination. The bridge is one of the hardest to reach for a photographer needs to fight trees, thorns and tall grass before reaching the east bank and the bridge itself.

ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct:  

With a total length of 8.5 kilometers plus two more for a branch to Halle, the ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct currently holds the title of being the longest railway viaduct in Germany. Completed in 2013, the viaduct features concrete box girder spans crossing the two rivers and swamp areas nearby but also features a steel through arch span that spans the branch that breaks off the main route to Halle. Although it passes the village of Schkopau (and with that a 1936 railroad truss bridge spanning the Saale just a kilometer south of the bridge), the viaduct is part of the ICE line connecting Erfurt and Leipzig, which since its opening in December 2015, has cut down the travel time by 60% to only 30 minutes between the two cities. The record will remain until 2017 when another viaduct located south of Erfurt will open, which will be longer than this one.

Rabeninselbrücke: 

This is the second youngest bridge in the city and the youngest to span the Saale. This bridge spans the Saale’s main river at the entrance to Rabeninsel (Raven’s Island) and features a cable-stayed bridge, whose pylon angles towards Böllberg Weg and the cables support the roadway. The roadway resembles a raindrop as it encircles the pylon. Built in 2000, the bridge measures 85 meters long and is 20 meters tall, easily seen from the main highway a kilometer away.

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Hafenbahnbrücke: 

A few months ago, the Chronicles did a segment on this mystery bridge, spanning the Saale River at the confluence of the Elisabeth Saale and Middle Saale Rivers, west of Böllberg Weg. This bridge was built in 1884 and used to serve a rail line connecting the city with Magdeburg (north) and Merseburg (south) for over 80 years. When the line was abandoned in the 1970s, the lenticular through truss span, measured at 40 meters in length, was rehabilitated and converted into a bike and pedestrian crossing, which still serves its function today. The bridge also has a dark side- and a memorial plaque is placed on the truss as a marker of this tragedy. In the night of 13-14 March, 1919, Karl Meseberg, who was a revolutionary leader during World War I, was murdered on the bridge with his body landing in the Saale. It was found five days later. While the bridge shows its bright side during the day, at dusk, one can feel the presence of a ghost at the bridge, keeping people away from the crossing. This may be in connection with this unfortunate event, but more info in the form of eyewitnesses and evidence is needed to confirm the claims of a ghost at the bridge.  If you look to the south of the bridge, you will find a blue tied-arch bridge about 100 meters away. That bridge was built in 2000 and carry water lines connecting the southern and western parts of the city.

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Genzmer Bridge: 

This steel through arch bridge is located over the Saale River at William Jost Strasse north of the Hafenbahnbrücke. Built in 1912, the grey-colored span is similar to the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne in terms of the design of the bridge, but the portal bracing resemble a bridge located west of Steinbrücke in neighboring Magdeburg. But when passing underneath the bridge, one will see the stone arched approach spans carrying the emblem of Halle on there- an impressive construction by the builder of the bridge, whoever it was.

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Mansfeld Bridge:

Spanning the Saale River at the Mansfelder Strasse, there are three crossings located within 60 meters of each other. The oldest span is a polygonal Warren pony truss with riveted connections that used to serve streetcar and vehicular traffic. Yet because of its structural obliqueness- too narrow and too light to support traffic- a vehicular crossing to the north was built in the early 1990s, which was followed by a separate streetcar crossing to the south a decade later. The truss span was later converted to pedestrian use by strenthening the trusses and adding a concrete and brick deck. An economic and interesting way to preserve a piece of history.

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Peissnitz Bridge:

Apart from the Hafenbahn, Giebichenstein, and Mühlentor Bridges, the Peissnitz Bridge is one of the crown jewels as far as Halle’s bridges are concerned. Spanning the Saale River at Peissnitz Island, carrying the street carrying the same name, the bridge is one of the most ornamental of bridges, for the 1898 structure features a cantilever Pratt truss design, with ornamental towers supporting street lights, and red quarry stone arch approach spans, presenting its grey and red colors which are typical colors of the city. When built in 1898, the bridge was the only toll bridge in the city, as money was collected for people wanting to cross the bridge and enter Peissnitz Island. This was discontinued in 1921 and the bridge has operated as a free bridge ever since. The bridge is 103 meters long, 70 meters of which represent the main span. Despite sustaining damage during World War II, it was rebuilt in 1946 and was eventually converted to a pedestrian and bike crossing, which remains that way to this day. The Peissnitz Bridge, located on the east end, is one of three bridges that provide access to the island, along with Schwanenbrücke and another bridge at the west end. The latter, built in the 1900s, was recently replaced with a steel truss bridge in 2013.

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Schwanenbrücke: 

Located at Weinberg at the northwest end of Peissnitz Island, this 1893 bridge is one of the oldest standing in Halle. The structure features a wire suspension span with eyebar connections found at the steel towers. Its roadway features a Town Lattice truss design railing which together with the suspenders, support the wooden decking. The bridge was destroyed during World War II but was later rebuilt in 1946. It was renovated in 1992, which includes dismantling, sandblasting and improving the steel parts, and reerecting the span on new abutments made of brick and concrete. The abutments feature the name Schwanenbrücke on there. The bridge is open to cyclists and pedestrians wishing to enter the island from the northwest. The bridge is next to the island park railway station, which provides service to places on the island.

Steinmühlenbrücke:  

Spanning the Mühlgraben at Peissnitzstrasse, this 1912 closed spandrel arch bridge has some unique features making a stop a necessity. Like the Pfälzer Bridge, the railings feature a Howe truss  in an Art Deco design, all in concrete. Two pairs of cast iron lanterns, encased in concrete, decorated with gargoyles, can be found on each end of the 20 meter long span, which provides the lone access to Peissnitz Island and park area to the west, let alone the Peissnitz Bridge itself. The bridge was named after a water mill, located nearby that was built in the late 1800s and was made of stone. That mill still exists today.

 Krollwitzer Brücke (aka Giebichensteinbrücke): 

This bridge and neighboring Giebichenstein Castle on the lime cliffs of the Saale River go together like bread and butter. The three-span concrete arch bridge is the fourth crossing at this site, being built in 1928 replacing a steel Parker through truss bridge, whose predecessors included a pontoon bridge, ferry and a covered bridge. The bridge is 261 meters long, 60 of which consist of the largest arch span. The bridge features two sculptures on the south side facing neighboring Peissnitz Bridge, resembling cattle- making the bridge a real treat to see. The bridge was renovated in 1995 and again in 2011, but continues to serve vehicular and street car traffic connecting the city center with the western suburb of Krollwitz.

 

Pfälzerbrücke:

Like the Peissnitz Bridge, the Pfälzer Bridge, spanning Mühlgraben-a tributary of the Saale- at Neuwerk in the northern end of the city, is the most ornamental bridge but in the form of an arch bridge. Art Deco art on the bridge’s railing and four lamp posts can be seen when crossing the 1912 span by car or bike. The railings resemble a Howe truss made of concrete, a rarity one can see these days.

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Burgbrücke: 

Located at the Robert Franz Ring, this Mühlengraben crossing is one of the newest bridges along this route. Little has been written about this bridge except for the fact that the steel deck arch span appears to date back to a time span between the 1990s, going back to the 1940s. In either case, the bridge’s lean appearance is attractive for many bridge photographers who enjoy a few minutes with the camera.

Berliner Brücke:

When leaving Halle (Saale) by train heading north, this bridge will be the last landmark to be seen on your way out. Today’s bridge, built in 2005, features a cable-stayed span that is 71 meters tall and 171 meters long, spanning the railroad tracks. Yet the bridge came at the cost of a steel eyebar suspension bridge with pony truss decking, which was built during the first World War, with the help of French soldiers. It was originally named the Hindenburg Bridge before it was changed after World War II. Despite being considered a historic landmark, excessive rust and corrosion, caused by diesel-powered trains passing underneath it, doomed the bridge, causing the city council to decide for a replacement span. The cable-stayed bridge was built to the north of the bridge and after its completion in 2005, the 1916 bridge was dismantled and sold for scrap, despite protests by many who wanted to keep the structure for reuse as a pedestrian bridge.

 

While some local newspapers have mentioned a bit about Halle’s bridges, more publicity on the structures was presented through a guide of Halle’s infrastructure, which was presented last year and included as many as 38 bridges in and around the city. Whether the article originally published in the Chronicles in 2012 as well as following newspaper articles had something to do with that or if people enjoy visiting the city’s bridges remains clear. But given the interest of tying the city’s bridges in with its history, it is a foregone conclusion that these historical structures will be properly cared for for generations to come, thus giving Halle several accolades for its heritage that had been kept under the rug by the East German government until 1989 but has shown its beautiful sides since then. And these 38 bridges, seen here in this guide (in German), together with a map of the bridges visited in 2011 and 2015, are one of many reasons why Halle is a place to visit when travelling through Germany and wanting a good bike tour through the city’s history and heritage. It is one of the cities I’ve since had on my top 10 German places to visit list. You’ll understand why when you get a chance to see it too. 🙂

Peissnitz Island Bridge Photo taken in Dec. 2015
Peissnitz Island Bridge Photo taken in Dec. 2015

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Halle (Saale) is famous for many markets and events honoring Handel and other music greats. This includes the Christmas market, which you can click here to read about. Courtesy of sister column The Flensburg Files.