The second of the birthday two-pack takes us to Ortonville, Minnesota and this unique Marsh arch bridge. The Old US Hwy. 12 Bridge is a classic example of a rainbow arch bridge made of concrete that was patented by James Marsh in 1914. His company plus the Minneapolis Bridge Company built this bridge in 1920 and used to carry the main highway until the 1990s, when it was bypassed and decommissioned. It was restored to its original glory in 2020 and is now a bike and ped crossing. It’s one of only five historic bridges that are a century old or older left along the Minnesota River. At the time of this pic in 2010 the river had twice as many bridges. The bridge is on the National Register.
Today is my 45th birthday. Being 45 feels like I have one foot in the door that will lead to the golden years, though I have another five years before I get the other foot into that room. However, it’s too early to leave my youthful era of my 30s and 40s. ⏳ It’s a time where people like myself have to make some decisions between continuing what I am doing- “Weiter So” in German and what I should stop doing “Nicht weiter so.” 💫🌱👓
But with my column and this week’s Bridge Pic it definitely belongs to the category of “Weiter So!” ❤️🥇 As a treat, you will be shown a pair of Pic of the Week photos, taking you back to Minnesota, where I was born and raised. It’s a way of saying thanks for your patronage to the Chronicles thus far and to say to you all, more is to come. As your bridge matters, it matters to us, therefore more bridge stories will come both here and in the Chronicles’ social media pages. 📸🎿☃️❤️
The first of the two-pack takes us to the village of Carver. Located SW of the Twin Cities, the town of ca. 150 people is one of the oldest towns in the state’s history. Much of the historic town center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, I wished the village’s historic bridges that spanned Carver Creek and the Minnesota River would have been included. During my visit on New Year’s Day in 2011, I was able to photograph all six historic bridges. As of today, none of them are remaining.
The bridge in the photo above was one of them and it represented the beginning of the end to Carver’s historic bridges. The Carver Viaduct featured a multiple span steel plate girder bridge with wooden trestles. It spanned the Minnesota River and was built in 1917 by Gustav Widell of Mankato and the American Bridge Company of New York. It had replaced a swing span that had been built in 1889. Its very first crossing was a multiple span wooden through truss bridge built in 1871 and was considered the first crossing over the Minnesota. The bridge used to carry rail traffic as the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad owned this bridge and others along the rail line going mostly along the Minnesota River. Union Pacific bought out the railroad company in the 1990s and this line was abandoned afterwards.
Even though there were talks about reusing parts of the railroad and this bridge as a pedestrian route, that was scrapped when flooding and a pile of debris slammed into the bridge, causing a partial collapse of the trestle. The railroad then contracted a firm during the spring of 2011 to remove the entire structure. This was completed before the spring of 2012. This photo was taken on New Year’s Day 2011 shortly before it’s demise.
A bridge that was once a fixture but is now a memory. Makes a person wonder if we will ever appreciate history or if we just let it vanish before we can ever appreciate it. 🤔📸
I spent my childhood landlocked in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a girl who loves the water, I was often restless, longing to be around water. Perhaps it is my parents’ fault for enrolling me in swim lessons at three-years-old and forcing me to continue competitive swimming throughout elementary school. I was a child of the water. […]
The spidery-thin bridge structures I’ve highlighted here have mostly been trusses of various types. Here’s a spidery suspension bridge: not only are the cables thin (it’s a shortish span) but so are the stiffening truss members and, notably, the truss-work towers. It’s the old bridge over the Little Colorado River at Cameron, Arizona. Unfortunately, HAER […]
PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WTAJ) — Emergency crews are on the scene of a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh involving several vehicles and a gas line. The collapse happened in the Frick Park area of the city Friday morning before 7 a.m. Several cars and a Port Authority bus were involved. It was reported by Pittsburgh Public Safety […]
According to information from bridgehunter.com, the bridge that collapsed is a multiple-span beam bridge made of concrete that was constructed in 1973, replacing a steel arch bridge that was built in 1901. The collapse happened hours before President Joe Biden was to visit Pittsburgh to talk about the Infrastructure Bill. Schools near the bridge have gone to online learning. The news stories is unraveling so please follow up on the latest. The link above has the information on what happened.
DRESDEN, OHIO- There are several towns in the United States that are named after the German city on the Elbe in Saxony. Dresden in Germany, with a population of 550,000 inhabitants, prides itself in the Baroque architecture, much of which was rebuilt after World War II. It has several historic bridges spanning the river which has provided commerce for as long as the city has existed, many of them are over 130 years old and survived the bombings in World War II. Four of them have been restored to their former glory and they are considered one of the places a person should visit, for there will be many stories about them.
And with that, we will look at another Dresden which has a unique suspension bridge. This village has a population of just under 1700 inhabitants and is located in Muskingum County, Ohio. It was founded in 1799 by Jonathan Cass when his family created a farmstead. By 1835, it became a small town. It profited from the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected Lake Erie near Cleveland and the Ohio River at Portsmouth and was in use during much of the 1800s. The triple lock has been preserved as a historic monument. The Episcopal Church and the Union School, both dating back to the 19th Century have become part of Dresden’s historic town. And lastly, we have the town’s suspension bridge, which the town has taken pride in.
This suspension bridge was built in 1914 by the Bellefontaine Bridge & Steel Company based in Ohio, with Clyde T. Morris overseeing the project. It had replaced a wire suspension bridge that may have been built by Roebling because of the design. But it is unknown if he had constructed such a span, let alone when it was built. We do know that either a bridge collapse due to overweight or flooding may have warranted the replacement of the original bridge with the current span, built higher and using all steel.
The suspension bridge spans the Muskingum River at the junction of state highways 666 and 208. The bridge is built all of steel, including the towers, the eyebar suspension cables, and the steel turnbuckle beams that serve as suspenders. The decking features a continuous Warren pony truss with lattice railings. At present, the decking is all steel and pavement. The bridge is one of a handful of eyebar suspension bridges in the USA and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since its listing in 1978. The bridge has a total length of 705 feet, its main span is 443 feet.
Despite its national significance, the bridge is owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation and it is planning to tear down this historic structure. The transportation agency is working to shed off some of its historic assets because of the lack of interest in keeping the structure in tact. At a virtual meeting that took place on January 24th, 2022, officials addressed the issue with the bridge and presented the following arguments justifying the bridge’s removal:
Costs for Renovation:
According to Ohio DOT, the cost for restoring the bridge is estimated to be at around $6 million, whereas removing the bridge would cost only $1 million. Should the bridge be demolished, ODOT would salvage some of the bridge parts to erect a memorial. To add salt to the open wound, the restoration would not guarantee that the bridge would last into the later part of the century, an argument that can be countered, if we look at the success stories involving the restoration of other bridges of its kind, including and especially the Sister Bridges (Rachel Carson, Roberto Clemente and Andy Warhol) in Pittsburgh, built in the same time period as this bridge and still maintaining its original form since having been rehabilitated.
No Interest in Owning the Bridge:
Neither Muskingum nor the village of Dresden have the finances to own the bridge outright and given ODOT’s current situation with regards to historic bridges falling apart, the agency, which owns the bridge, would like to relieve itsself of the obligations of owning the bridge. That argument was countered with the county being at a disadvantage regarding receiving funding for restoring, replacing and even fixing its bridges, a problem that has been recurrent and at the online meeting, was brought up to the table. Auctioning the bridge like it was the case with the Roche de Beouf Bridge in Waterville would be possible but only through parties willing to restore it and cover the costs including liability. The Roche de Beouf Bridge is scheduled for removal as early as 2023 because the interested parties could not come up with a concept to restore and reuse the partially collapsed arch bridge.
The future of the bridge is in limbo because of its location out of the way of much of the major highways and bike routes. Still the bridge is not out yet, as there are several creative options available to save the bridge. Many of the options are being used for other historic bridges. The Roche de Beouf Bridge was an epic fail with the auction because of a pair of collapsed arch spans- one wonders what the interested parties they saw in the bridge that was doomed to failure even with the money invested in securing it as a historic monument. The Dresden Suspension Bridge is in pristine condition with the only problem being that of the roadway that is drawing weight on the lower chords causing rust and corrosion. In a conversation with fellow pontist Nathan Holth, he mentioned the removal of the decking and converting it into a monument being an option, and perhaps the only option if county and local officials want to keep people off the suspension bridge.
Auctioning the bridge to a party that is willing to invest in restoring the bridge as a monument may be the best option to relieve ODOT of its duties in keeping the bridge. It would stay in Dresden and people can still enjoy the structure. If the option is chosen, it would have to include not only the local parties but also those from outside who have an interest in restoring the bridge to its original glory. As a park is next to the bridge, the bridge could be integrated into the area with information on its history.
Despite the aforementioned proposals, there are many other options available but with little time to spare. ODOT would like to demolish the bridge at the earliest in 2025/26 and has already stated that it would use its own funding and not contact federal authorities for permission. Already there is a growing opposition to the plan and given its National Register status, there may be some unknown bureaucratic red tape and other mines and traps that ODOT will have to go through in order to make its plan a reality. It will be interesting to see what proposals will be open to save the bridge- whether it can be auctioned off, converted into a park using state funds or even the craziest idea yet- relocate the bridge to Dresden, Saxony, Germany- where it would make the best company with the city’s finiest bridges spanning the Elbe and other rivers. All roads are open and ODOT will have to acknowledge that the story of the suspension bridge is not over with- not without a fight.
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a beautiful enchanted rainforest with a historical connection between Skwxwú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh Nations’ culture and the natural world. was also the name of a great Squamish chief who lived in this area in the early 1800s. Over time “Kia’palano” was anglicized into “Capilano” In 1935, First Nations placed their totem […]
Credit Monday, September 27th – What a week! Congrats to the boys for reaching over 1k downloads – such an exciting time. This week we launched our 10th episode and can’t believe we’ve made it this far. The Ludendorff bridge is rich in WWI and WWII history. It played a major part in the last […]
While we’re talking about bridges and World War II, check out this column and podcast done by the crew at Bridge Boys in September of last year, on the Ludendorf Bridge, spanning the River Rhine between Frankfurt and Cologne. A unique history of the bridge from its construction all the way to its demise in 1945.
Before the winners of the 2021 Bridgehunter Awards were announced, I received an inquiry in my mailbox from one of the readers. Jim Rungee is looking for some information pertaining to this bridge in the picture. It was a Warren deck truss bridge with riveted connections and alternating vertical beams, which means it was built in the 1920s or 30s. It was blown up in World War II, and this photo, taken by Jim’s grandfather Joe Rungee, is what was left of it. According to Jim, Joe was stationed in Germany, having been involved in combat and traveled from Bavaria, all the way to the north in Hannover and Bremen, making stops along the Rhine at Heidelberg, Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, as well as in the Bavarian Alps near Garmisch-Parteienkirchen and Rosenheim, Ulm, Munich, Stuttgart, Augsburg and Saarbrücken. A map of Joe’s journey is enclosed below:
Looking at the picture more closely, the area is heavily forested and the river is wide enough for shipping traffic, which narrows the river search down to the Rhine, Neckar, Isar and Inn Rivers. While Bremen and Bremerhaven are both along the Weser, the area is relatively flat in comparison to the hilly scenery in the picture. Much of Joe’s time was in the south of Germany which would place this bridge somewhere in Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg.
The question is where exactly? Thousands of bridges in Germany were destroyed during the war, 75% of which was through Adolf Hitler’s scorched Earth policy of blowing up every crossing to stop the advancing Allied Troops in the last year of the war, many of them were replaced with simpler truss, arch or beam spans in order to get the country moving again in the rebuilding efforts, which makes it very likely that this bridge has long since been replaced. Still, it makes a person wonder, where this bridge is located. The hunch is somewhere in the south along the aforementioned rivers- possibly Ulm or Munich, or even in the Frankfurt area along the Rhine. The question still remains…..
If you have any information pertaining to the bridge, use the contact form in the link here and feel free to send me a line. If you have any additional photos in connection with this mystery bridge, please use the e-mail address and pay attention to the MB size and jpeg format required. As an alternative, you may also comment and add photos and the like on the facebook pages of the Chronicles and sister column The Flensburg Files.
Good luck with your findings and happy bridgehunting, folks. 🙂