Mystery Bridge Nr. 73: A “Suspension” Bridge Near Altenburg, Germany

Side view of the Gardschutz Bridge spanning the River Pleisse near Lehndorf, south of Altenburg. Photos taken in August 2016

After a brief break due to non-column commitments, we will have a look at the next mystery bridge. Not far from the last mystery bridge profiled and in the vicinity of Altenburg, in eastern Germany is this bridge. Located over the River Pleisse just north of the town of Lehndorf, the bridge is located at the Gardschutz Mill, consisting of a ranch and restaurant. It’s easily seen from the main highway on the eastern bank as well as the road going to Selleris (which also carries the Pleisse bike trail to Leipzig). The bridge resembles a suspension bridge because of its two towers and its main span. Yet its lack of support cables combined with rather modern trusses resulted in my stop at the bridge during my tour along the Pleisse from Gössnitz to Leipzig.

Examining the bridge from the outside, one could assume that the bridge is between 20 and 25 years old, for it appears to be quite modern. The arched towers appear to be quite modern, made of concrete and featuring steel roofing that is in two layers. The truss span features a bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge with welded connections and outer wings that have a 75° angle from the main truss. The diagonal bracings cross the railings in a way that the former cuts into the latter. Unique is when the truss is embedded into the towers, resulting in the towers supporting the span without the cables. The reason for the bridge being at least 20 years old is the fact that the truss span itself has already dealt with wear and tear, as moisture and weather extremities have already started to eat away at the trusses. Normally for modern pedestrian bridges built 5-10 years ago, a person does not see such deterioration right away. Even with a coat of paint, one can see the markings of a bridge that is becoming worn like a 50-year old truss. It is unknown when it was built for during the Cold War period, bridges were rarely built and if so, only with the bare materials that were enough for cars to cross, not bikes. Many of these 50-60 year old bridges are due for replacement because they can no longer handle increasing traffic. The further east one travels, the more bridges one will see with weight restrictions allowing only light-weight vehicles to cross and the most likely these bridges will appear in the newspapers with the title: to be replaced.

It is unlikely that this bridge was built before the Reunification of Germany. The question is when it was built and by whom?  The bridge continues to serve pedestrian and bicycle traffic, providing access to Gardschutz Mill and Restaurant. The bridge is a cable-less suspension bridge with a Pratt truss main span over the Pleisse. That’s it for information.

Anything else about this bridge? You know what to do. 🙂


Age is showing in the truss and railing…
View of the towers
Oblique view
View of the truss span
Welded connections
Diagonal trusses cutting into the railing

bhc jacob

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