Tearing Down the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 2: The (Il-)Logic behind the concrete bed in the river


Day two of the demolition brought more anger and frustration to a situation that has become more and more illogical. Let’s start with the logical portion: the concrete bed in the river.


As mentioned in August, concrete was poured into the bed of the Zwickau Mulde, causing the river flow to be reduced to the two tunnels. This caused some outbursts from the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge group as well as locals who claimed that this was violating the environmental laws. LASUV’s claim was that it would allow for demolition crews to get to the bridge.


Day two started to make more and more sense, but also more and more illogical at the same time.  One of the five main arches and the approach arch are now gone completely. Two diggers are at the scene, including a larger one. Yet as steep as the cliffs along the river is, many are wondering how the diggers are going to get to the bridge without tipping forward or on the side. It is just as logical as tryng to find out how to put the materials onto the truck to haul away. Just as logical as fencing off the main entrance to the houses along the river leading up to the still-existing -but-slowly-being- eaten- away- by- diggers- historic bridge.

Driveway to the bridge is completely fenced off. Drivers have to detour a couple kms just to get to their houses from the new bridge

Just as logical as the reason for tearing down the bridge in this cold: When it’s colder, it’s easier to break away at the structure.  This came after the restaurant owner was talking to the demolition crew during the day prior to my visit in the afternoon.

And we still don’t know why they didn’t start at the site of the new bridge……

Coming from Minnesota, where a polar vortex is bringing the coldest temperatures last seen in 1996, I really doubt that cold weather can break apart any structure- bridge or building alike.

Or can it?

Biggest Bonehead Story: The Rush to Tear Down a Bridge- Without Thinking


The title should have been Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 12, yet there is one problem: We lost our fight to save it. As of this date, the stone arch bridge is starting to come down, one by one. Even the cold and the large amounts of snow is not stopping the Saxony Ministry of Transport (LASUV) from getting the demo-diggers to go out there and eat away at the bridge.

But there is one exception: They are eating the wrong way!

Since the end of the summer, the northern end of the bridge where Albernau is located, let alone the Rechenhaus Restaurant, has been completely blocked off by the new bridge, for it was built 2-3 meters higher than the original roadbed of the bridge. This meant that the only way onto the bridge was on the south side where Bockau is located.


Digger on this side eating up the first arch with the new bridge in the background.

And this is where the demolition has begun. A head-scratcher. If LASUV was obsessed with tearing down the Bockau Arch Bridge, would it not make sense to start on the northern side and then work their way toward the Bockau side? With a digger like this, the old bridge would still hold it. Otherwise if one easts the wrong end, it would be impossible to tear down the rest.  More ironic is the concrete bed that has been sitting in the waters of the Zwickau Mulde. It was meant to have cranes and other demolition equipment to tear the rest of the bridge down . Yet, the digger was the only one at the scene……


….tearing down the wrong side and not being able to tear down the entire bridge. The logical question is, why? Neither the journalist nor anybody else, who looked at the bridge, will understand.

To be continued…..



BHC Newsflyer 27 January, 2019

Collapsed Packard Skyway Bridge in Detroit. Photo taken by Tom Shumaker

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The podcast on the Newsflyer can be found by clicking here. The links to the following headlines are available by just clicking on them.

Grimma Viaduct east of Leipzig to be replaced

New Bonner Bridge in North Carolina to open later than planned

Buchler Bridge (between Ronneweg and Gare/ Railroad Station) in Luxembourg to be bigger

Packard Skyway Bridge in Detroit Collapsed   (Packard Company Redevelopment)

Two Historic Bridges over the Erie Canal at Brookport and Albion in New York to be Rehabilitated

Historic Stone Arch Bridge near Fulda (Germany) to be Rehabilitated

Röhrensteg Reopens after Rehabilitation (including the survey)

Winter weather delays demolition of Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke)





BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 33

This Pic of the Week takes us back to December 2007. Bridgehunting with my wife, we visited the bridge-laden Winneshiek County, photographing the finest historic bridges, including pair of long bowstring arch bridges, a couple arch bridges and several truss bridges…..

Like this one, for example.

The Lundy Bridge is a combination of Warren pony and a Pratt through truss spans, both with riveted connections. The through truss has an M-frame portal bracing. The bridge was built at the turn of the century even though there is no confirmed date as to when it was constructed. The bridge builder was Wickes Engineering of Des Moines.  The bridge still spans the Upper Iowa River at the road bearing the bridge’s name.

This pic was taken shortly before our Christmas gathering with my family. It was an emotional time after having lost my grandma, who, like me, was an avid supporter of historic buildings and bridges. She in fact had a historic bridge like this in her back yard. 😉

But at our stop at this bridge, the scene was rather majestic. The bridge was surrounded by a landscape covered with snow, and all was quiet. My wife caught this one of the bridge with yours truly standing next to the trusses, leaning on them, and well in thought.

Which leads to this question: What was I thinking about? 🙂



Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 11: A Flicker of Hope?

A Tale of Two Bridges: The Stone Arch Bridge in the foreground and the New Bridge in the background. Photo taken on 23 January, 2019

This entry starts with a little bit of irony. The bridge was supposed to be torn down beginning the 14th after the organization Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge was unable to purchase the historic stone arch bridge for 1.7 million Euros- a price that was considered too high and the figure to fictitious to anyone’s liking. Because of a massive snowstorm that brought life in Saxony and parts of Germany to a complete standstill, it was pushed back to the 21st. As of this entry and visit to the bridge on the 23rd, the old stone lady is still standing, with no digger, no crane, no driller, no construction worker. At temperatures well below zero Celsius, it makes the planned demolition impossible. And with more snow and cold in the forecast, chances are very likely that the planned work may not even commence until sometime before Easter.

And that is a long ways away. However, this may be that window of opportunity that we need to turn it around and pull off an upset- a hat trick that is even bigger than the bunny the Ministry of Finance and Transport pulled. Already suggestions from nearby communities in Saxony indicate that people don’t want to part ways from this historic bridge just yet. In the newly consolidated Aue-Bad Schlema for example, there was a proposal to divert funding for renovating a club to go to purchasing and renovating the bridge.  In Beiersfeld near Schwarzenberg, one official suggested at least leaving the bridge piers so that a wooden bridge is put in its place. If covered, it would be a first in over 150 years. And even in Berlin, the petition to save the bridge is being examined as the federal government still owns the bridge and the highway that crosses it, although it’s crossing a new bridge on a new alignment.  So in other words, while the state is dead set on removing the structure, attempts to pull an upset is in the works. And as long as Old Man Winter hovers over the Ore Mountain region, there is still some hope to pull this off.

But how to do it?

We’re looking for any ideas to halt the demolition process. Rallies are possible, for we’ve seen this at many historic bridges in the US and Canada. Concerts as well. There is a possibility to donate to the group Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge. But more importantly, we need some sources and people willing to step in and save a piece of history, one that can be used as a crossing for cyclists and pedestrians, fishermen and photographers, anybody who would rather see a piece of history in tact as is, and not in rubble.  The old bridge has potential, and is stable enough for use. We need some ideas and your help…..



….as long as the snow is there and no green.

You can send your suggestions here, but you can also contact the following representatives of the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Freunde der Rechenhausbrücke) using the e-mails below:


Contact details:

Ulrike Kahl <ulrike.kahl@gruene-erzgebirge.de>,   Hermann Meier hermann.meier50@gmx.de , Günther Eckhardt <geck-art@gmx.de>

Please note that you should have your German language ready for use!


To close this, I would like to use a Cree Indian quote but adapted in this context, which goes like this:

Not until the the decking has been taken out

Not until the arches have been removed

Not until the piers are imploded

Not until the materials are hauled away

Not until we realize what we’ve done to our local history

That it cannot be replaced with memories.

We will fight until the last brick leaves Rechenhaus.


For those who joined the Chronicles via Skrive, you can collect the information on the bridge by clicking here, and then following the updates so that you get a bigger picture and perhaps help.

Check out our facebook page here for photos and other information. You are free to follow and join in the conversation, regardless of language.






Röhrensteg Reopened, Still Work to be Done


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ZWICKAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- A cold afternoon lingers over the Ore Mountains, the fingers tingling and icy cold, yet the brave soul prevails as he crosses a historic landmark for the first time in almost a year. The Röhrensteg, a 1500s-era covered bridge spanning the Zwickau Mulde on the south end of Zwickau is now open to traffic. After seven months of being closed due to a massive makeover, the bridge now provides access to Reinsdorf and all points east after pedestrians and cyclists were forced to take a detour either via the Schedewitz Bridges to the southwest or the Paradiesbrücke to the northeast.

While scaffolding is still on the bridge due to some minor cosmetic work done on the bridge, one will have a chance to take a look at what changes were done to the bridge, both up close and personal, as well as from a distance. To find out how much work was done, I’ve created an activity for the readers to compare and discuss. Have a look at the Röhrensteg in its original form when it was filmed and photographed in 2016 and compare it to the film I produced on the day of its posting, as well as the photos and answer the following questions:

1. What is different in the bridge after its rehabilitation in terms of its sturcture and design, both inside and out?

2. What was left as is?

3. What could be worked on further?

4. How satisfied are you with the reconstruction? With this question, I have a poll for you to grade on.


Have a look and feel free to comment as well.  🙂


Röhrensteg Before the Rehabilitation



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Rohrensteg after the Reopening and Rehabilitation 2018:


Link to gallery below here.

Additional photos via Google Photos here. An updated version can be found here.

A tour guide on Zwickau’s historic bridges can be found here.



BHC Newsflyer: 20 January, 2019

Rendsburg Bridge side view
Rendsburg High Bridge in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

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Click here to listen to the podcast via SoundCloud: Newsflyer 20 January, 2019

Headlines (click on them to get more details):

Two stone bridges on the East Coast to be replaced: in Pennsylvania and in Connecticut

Historic Truss Bridge in Mississippi succumbs to nature.

Mystery bridge on that here.

Major historic truss bridge in Germany to have its transporter span back.


People say good-bye to a historic icon in New York.



Mystery Bridge Nr. 107: The Buckatunna Truss Bridge

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Historic Bridge Collapsed after over a half of century of abandonment

MOBILE, ALABAMA/ BUCKATUNNA, MISSISSIPPI-  A historic bridge that was a local piece of history in a small town in Mississippi is no more. The Buckatunna Truss Bridge, located over Buckatunna Creek on Millry Road collapsed last week on the 16th of January after having sat abandoned for over a half century. The collapse was a result of high water undermining the lally columns, one pair of which was leaning against the trees along the shoreline. Furthermore, the bridge had been without a decking system and lower chord for many years. This is vital to ensure the truss structure is intact and together. No one was around when the collapse happened.

The Buckatunna Truss Bridge was a three-panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings, supported by subdivided heel supports. The overhead strut bracings were beam-shaped. According to history papers, the bridge was built in 1905, although it is unknown who built the structure, let alone if there had been a structure that existed before the truss bridge. Records indicated that the bridge was replaced on a different alignment in 1957 and had sat abandoned in the decades prior to its downfall. Passers-by had stopped to photograph the bridge because of its natural surroundings, which was left untouched, according to newspaper sources.

Plans are to remove the collapsed span once the floodwaters recede, however, to provide a proper closure, we need to know more about the bridge in terms of its date of construction and its life in a rural Mississippi setting. If you know more about it, leave a comment in the Chronciles page and tell us about the bridge’s story from your perspective.  We’ll be happy to read more about it. A map is enclosed below to show its location.


BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 32


This week’s pic of the week takes us to the town of Schwarzenberg, located 10 kilometers east of Aue in the Ore Mountain Region of Saxony. Located at the junction of the the rivers Schwarzwasser and Mittweida, the community of 16,000 inhabitants is famous for its castle on the hill and with it, the old town and market square. A visit to the Christmas market or even the City Festival in the summer is a must.

The city is famous for its bridges, and this is one of them, a focus of this week’s pic. The Railroad Viaduct is located east of the train and bus depot complex. It consists of a four-span stone arch bridge and according to the history books, used to serve rail traffic between Schwarzenberg and Annaberg-Buchholz via Cranzahl. Built in the late 1870s, it was abandoned in the 1950s. It took about a half a century until crews could rehabilitate the structure and convert it into a rails-to-trails route, which runs along the Schwarzwasser and is being used to this day.

This photo was taken on the cusp of dusk as I was on tour and looking for a broschure on the bridges in Schwarzenberg, for the book was released late last year. Fortunately I have a copy and will present this in the next column entries. But for now, enjoy the pic of the well-lit bridge, spanning the river and the park that was created a few years ago and people can enjoy some time down by the river. 🙂


BHC Newsflyer: 13 January, 2019


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All headlines are now being broadcasted on SoundCloud, which you can click here to listen. You can also follow there to get the latest podcasts.


Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke) to be Demolished after Talks to Purchase Historic Bridge Fails- State ministry of transportation offers bridge at an exorbitantly high price, which party was unable to afford. Demolition commences after the snow subsides: Officially the 14th but most likely the 21st. Analysis of the Fall of the Rechenhausbrücke from the author’s point of view can be seen here.  Website of the facebook page Save the Bockau Arch Bridge (here)  Purchase of the Rechenhausbrücke T-shirt available via Online Shop (here) Details of the Snowpocalyspe in Germany via Flensburg Files (here)

Man who spearheaded efforts to save the Chemnitz Viaduct receives Man of the Year Award from local newspaper.

Funding for rehabilitation of Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama, Iowa surpasses goal. Grants and other support being sought.

Truck crashes through Plummer Covered Bridge in Greene County, Indiana. Driver apprehended.

1980s-style concrete bridge in Flöha removed after fire destroyed it.

World’s first cast iron bridge in Coalbrookdale, England reopens after a thorough makeover.

The Chronicles returns to Fargo, now available on Skrive, together with the Flensburg Files  A link to the Skrive site can be found on the left-hand side or by clicking here.