Have you ever wondered how bridges were built over a century ago? What types of tools and manpower were used to complete the crossing? And most of all, how workers took pride in their completed artwork spanning a major river?
While we’ve advanced much further in our technologies in making fancier bridges, many of the civil engineers and bridge lovers have probably come across a film clip similar to this one above. It’s basically a clip featuring workers putting together a major crossing made of steel. It’s a silent film that was produced over a century ago and the construction of the bridge resembled a boy putting a building together- first with an Erector set when it was introduced at the beginning of the 20th Century, then later with other construction sets which require the use of steel parts, nuts and bolts and the like, just to produce a prized work. Every engineering and bridge building great started off small with an Erector set.
Nowadays, we put our bridges together with Lego blocks, and even though the artwork looks nice, it takes away much of the fun it would be needed just to screw something together. With Legoes come the change in technological ways of building a bridge. The question is how.
Take a look at this video and ask yourselves the following questions:
How were bridges built together then in comparison with today?
What technologies existed between then and now?
How much time do you think it took to build a bridge like in the clip? How is that in today’s world?
Do you think modern bridges or “oldtimer” bridges are easier to build? What about safer?
If there was an opportunity to bring back old technological tactics that worked for bridge building, what would it be and why?
What lessons could we learn in bridge building from this clip?
In the second film from History in Your Backyard (HYB), we stay in Alleghany County, Virginia but look at one of six phantom bridges along the original route VA Hwy. 159. The highway was rerouted in 1928 leaving the original road, plus its bridges abandoned. The culvert found in this clip dates back to 1920. Satolli Glassmeyer explains more about this bridge and highway, but most importantly, the definition and characteristics of a “Phantom Road” and a “Phantom Bridge”
To view the bridges of Alleghany County and two of the bridge replacements on the present alignment of Hwy. 159, click here.
The next two entries are film clips from History in Your Backyard, a film series produced by Satolli Glassmeyer and Co. Our first one looks at the Humpback Covered Bridge in Covington, Virginia. This bridge was built in 1856 and is the oldest covered bridge in Virginia, let alone one of the oldest in the country. The bridge was one of the first to have been rehabilitated and repurposed for pedestrians, as this was done in 1957, almost 30 years since it was replaced by a truss bridge on a new alignment and later abandoned. And lastly, it was one of the first that was nominated to the National Register, as it was listed in 1969. Take a look at the video about the bridge’s history, which includes photos and some other facts. The engineering details can be found here.
The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians on Tuesday won a lawsuit in St. Louis small-claims court against the Michigan-based group better known as Workin’ Bridges. Rich Dinkela, president of the Route 66 Association of Missouri and a member of the group trying to save the Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, filed the lawsuit in […]
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Iowa and to this bridge. The Thunder Bridge is one of two Pennsylvania through truss bridges that span the Little Sioux River in Spencer, Iowa. The bridge is the shorter of the two and also the younger, having a length of 164 feet and been built in 1905. Yet the two were built by the same company, the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company. They also have other commonality: the sound of rattling wooden planks when crossing it. In the car or even taken from an oblique angle like in this picture taken in 2011, one will hear it clearly. A video taken by another avid bridge fan and fisherman below will show you the sound taken from the car.
Currently the bridge is still open and if you want to get some photos, you can park at the nearby boat access next to the bridge. It’s highly unlikely that the bridge will close to traffic because only a few cars cross it daily. Furthermore, the street which the bridge carries makes a loop and ends a quarter mile to the west at the same highway, which makes truck deliveries easier. If anything, since Clay County has a few very unique but important artefacts, that Thunder will at the very most receive new wooden flooring in addition to the repairs of beams and the like, making it one of the classic examples of in-kind restoration, and one where the wheels will keep on rattling, just like in the pic with the US-Postal Service truck. A real treat if you visit Iowa and happen to pass by this place.
To see more of Iowa’s historic bridges, please visit the facebook website and like to follow. The link is available here.
Australian Traveller that loves to "Roam" our globe, creator of ENDLESSROAMING.COM sharing the experience through word and photography. Currently residing in my home of Newtown Sydney but hope to be back on the road late 2020. Feedback / questions are more than welcome, happy travels