Bridging our past with the future by preserving our heritage in the present.
Author: Bridgehunter's Chronicles
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is a column produced by the author that focuses on historic bridges both in the USA as well as in Europe that tourists should visit before they are replaced or removed. Each bridge is profiled with the goal that people are aware of its existence and can take action regarding saving them. The Chronicles also provides a tour of some of the regions in both of the aforementioned areas, where there is a dense number of historic bridges that exist, with a goal of encouraging tourists to visit these areas and encourage others to add the place to their travel itineraries. And finally, the Chronicles provides readers with news stories of historic bridge preservation efforts, events involving historic bridge (preservation)- such as the Historic Bridge Conference, bridge symposiums, etc., discussion about historic bridges, preservation and education about them, and literary work on historic bridges that were released to the public and the public should read about.
As we celebrate National Historic Bridge Month, one question came to mind that would be worth talking about is the first bridge you ever visited- and photographed.
It’s no joke. 🙂
Bridge enthusiasts, preservationists, historians and bridge photographers became great when they saw and photographed their first historic bridge. Just by looking at its age, unique features and its setting, the bridge provides a person with a chance to cross it from the present into the future aspects. That means, with every plank that you cross, you step even closer to your dream job of being a pontist until you reach the opposite side, and to your destination. Your first bridge is the place where you look beyond its history and towards possibilities that are there for you to learn about, research on and write about or (even teach) the histories that tie everything on this planet together, just by that bridge you visited.
My destination to becoming a teacher and writer started with this bridge- the Petersburg Road Bridge on the south end of Jackson, Minnesota. The bridge was built in 1907 by Joliet Bridge and Iron Company, replacing a bowstring arch bridge that had once spanning the West Fork Des Moines River at this spot. The Pratt through truss span with Howe lattice portals with heel struts was in service until it was closed in 1984 to motorized vehicles and in 1992 to pedestrians. After partially collapsing during the Great Flood of 1993, it was torn down in February 1995. The bridge used to be a primary crossing for people living on the south end of Jackson who wished to visit the north end or even the cemetary that was on the west end. And it was that bridge, where I took my first pics, using them for a science presentation in 7th grade in 1991. And while I never became a civil engineer, my interest in historic bridges grew during my time in college, which led to several articles being written on them.
And with that came the Chronicles, in its current form. After eight years, the column lives on. 🙂
I really don’t know if the interest in saving the bridge would’ve saved the Petersburg Bridge, where I spent my time there with the camera, but the bridge did serve as the call to go out and get some more photos of other bridges, and encourage people to save them.
Now it’s your turn: What was your first bridge that you photographed and what got you to becoming who you are because of that? Feel free to leave a comment below or on the Chronicles’ facebook page. 🙂
Winter time is around the corner and it was an obligation to bid farewell to a Fall where we had mild days but lots of true colors, as we can see here in this pic from The Wave, located south of Glauchau in western Saxony. There’s really nothing much to say there except WOW! ❤ 😀
In Bernardston, Mass., cleanup efforts are under way following work to ensure the reliability and continued use of Bridge 42.81 for passenger and freight railroad operations. The rehab took place in a short period of time, but required a great deal of coordination. ‘The primary construction was successfully performed during a five-day service outage period in mid-September,’ said Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) spokesperson Patrick Marvin.
The 106th mystery bridge takes us back to western Saxony and in particular, the southern end of Zwickau, where at the junction of Fuchsgraben and Saarstrasse near the Glück-Auf Shopping Center, we have three bridges as part of the mix. Two of them are deck plate girder bridges (although one of them I was able to photograph during a bike tour back in September) that appear to have been dated back to the early 1920s, and it is unknown who built these structures. Each of them span Saarstrasse and have a length of 40 meters. One of the spans serves regional train service to Aue.
Even more interesting is a short, but rather beautiful concrete bridge located on the west end of the viaduct. It spans a creek that empties into the Zwickau Mulde at the Pöhlau Railroad Bridge and appears to be a box culvert. Yet the railings appear to have a Art Greco design, which is rather antique given its age. Bridges with Art Greco designs were common beginning in 1910 and while some served as railings for box culverts due to its short length, others functioned as a T-beam bridge, especially those with a length of more than 25 meters and whose railings are thick enough to support the roadway. Given its age, combined with its wear and tear, it is likely that the 10-meter long box culvert at Fuchsgraben is at least 85-90 years old. That structure has just been reincorporated into the city’s bike trail network, connecting Zwickau’s City Center and the suburbs of Planitz: Neu, Ober and Nieder. The city has plans to expand the network and make biking easier and safer for residents who live in these areas, connecting them with the existing main route along the Zwickau Mulde River.
If you know more about these three bridges, feel free to comment on them or provide some information via e-mail. The tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges will be updated to include this and a couple additional bridges found and documented, so any help would be much appreciated.
This November marks Historic Bridge Month, where we have a look at the achievements in restoring and saving historic bridges from modernization, while at the same time make historic bridges part of a tourist attraction, serving as a stop to learn about them. In light of the recent passing of Eric Delony on 23 October (an obituary can be found here), the Chronicles is honoring him and his achievements as well as this occasion with a collage of bridge photos the author took and collected over the years. They will be presented once a week between now and the time Ammann Awards voting starts in mid-December.
Our first collage looks at one of my favorite bridges in the US, the Smithfield Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. The bridge was a product of Gustav Lindenthal, having been built in 1883. It was expended and rehabilitated in 1911. It has been listed on the National Register since 1974. A real treat for downtown, and one can see the bridge even from Mount Washington- making it a splendid blend with the city’s skyline.
REMINDER:Entries are still being taken for the 2018 Ammann Awards between now and 1 December, especially in the category of Best Bridge Photo. Let’s honor both occasions, shall we? We have a lot to be proud of in terms of historic bridges, our heritage and the People who have done the work to preserve them. Information on how to enter ishere.
As we are in the middle of the autumn season, we still have some cool photos to show, whether they are landscape photos, parks and green areas in the city, historic buildings and even bridges. This fantastic photo belongs to the last category. This was taken at the Steinpleis Viaduct near Werdau in western Saxony. This is one of four brick arch viaducts located in and around Werdau there were built between 1840 and 1850 as the railroad lines were built between Leipzig and Zwickau via Werdau as well as the Dresden-Zwickau-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate Route. It took 30 years to complete both routes. The red brick viaduct is located at the Werdau Triangle where both rail lines meet. The lines used to have long-distance trains running past- between Leipzig and Munich and between Dresden and Nuremberg. Today only regional trains, like this one- the MRB (Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn) based in Chemnitz use the two lines, as well as the S-bahn (Light Rail) which goes to Leipzig-Halle Airport. Taken shortly before sunset, the Regio-Express train is crossing the viaduct enroute to Hof, its final stop, but not before having passed through the Triangle. Just as beautiful site taken from the bridge as it is seeing it from the train.
Author’s update: Funeral Arrangements are being planned for historic bridge preservationist Eric Delony, who died on October 23rd. According to Information from Christopher Marston, it is being scheduled for January 2019. When and where has yet to be determined, but the Chronicles will inform you in due time as soon as everything is finalized.
Mr. Marston, who worked with Eric for many years, write a much-detailed version of the obituary, honoring him for his three decades-plus work in documenting and saving historic bridges, much more than what the Chronicles covered when having honored him with the Ammann Awards for Lifetime Achievement. This was done in 2016. With his permission, the detail of his life and work are written below. More Information on him and the stories behind his historic bridge preservation will follow. For now, enjoy reading about Mr. Delony from Christopher’s point of view:
Eric N. DeLony, who served as Chief of the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) from 1987 to 2003, died on October 23, 2018, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Over his career, Eric became known as a pioneer in historic bridge documentation and preservation and one of the nation’s leading experts in historic bridges. In recognition of his achievements, Eric was the recipient of the 2000 General Tools Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Society for Industrial Archeology.
Early Years at HAER
After graduating from the Ohio State University in 1968, Eric was first hired as a summer architect on the New England Textile Mills Survey, a joint project of the Smithsonian (under the leadership of Robert Vogel) and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). The following year he became a member of the Mohawk-Hudson Area Survey, HAER’s very first field team. This ambitious project documented several industrial sites and bridges in the Albany area, and team members were challenged to devise new recording techniques for manufacturing and engineering structures. His detailed drawing of the Troy Gasholder remains the logo of the Society for Industrial Archeology to this day. Once he completed his Master’s in Historic Preservation at Columbia University under James Marston Fitch (where he first met his lifelong friend and colleague, preservation educator Chester Liebs), Eric was hired as HAER’s first full-time employee in 1971. HAER began recording a variety of bridges and other industrial structure types as part of state inventories and themed surveys. These included surveys of the Baltimore & Ohio and Erie railroads, Paterson and Lowell mill towns, and later mining, steel, power, and maritime-related sites, among others. Eric also helped initiate “SWAT teams” to record endangered structures prior to demolition. By 1987, Eric DeLony had been promoted to Chief of HAER.
HAER Historic Bridge Program
In collaboration with Emory Kemp of West Virginia University, Eric began developing the HAER Historic Bridge Program in 1973, which would become the first comprehensive national program to identify and protect historic bridges. Through Eric’s efforts, HAER developed partnerships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and state historic preservation offices (SHPOs). The first goal of the program was to promote comprehensive historic bridge inventories in each state. When inventories were required by law in 1987, Eric’s initiative became a catalyst in making highway bridges the first class of historic structures to be nationally evaluated.
After the preliminary state bridge inventories were completed, HAER partnered with state departments of transportation (DOTs) to undertake HAER summer documentation projects that would more intensively document representative bridges, with the first taking place in Ohio in 1986. Using funding from a variety of partners like the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOTs, and historic groups, HAER recording teams collaborated with national and local experts to produce large-format photographs, histories, and drawings of hundreds of historic bridges in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, from 1987-2001. Eric also worked with engineering professors such as Dario Gasparini at Case Western, Stephen Buonopane at Bucknell, and Ben Schafer at Johns Hopkins to hire students to compile detailed engineering analyses of a variety of historic bridge types, going beyond traditional architectural history reports. In appreciation of Eric’s initiatives, the White House and ACHP presented HAER’s Historic Bridge Program with a National Historic Preservation Award in 1992.
In addition to the nation’s highway bridges, the historic roads and bridges in the National Park system were also deteriorating from neglect and overuse. HAER developed a pilot project in the National Capital Region of the National Park Service (NPS) in 1988 to survey the historic and significant transportation-related structures and designed landscapes at various NPS units. With support from FHWA and NPS, this program expanded in 1989 and continued until 2002 to document the roads and bridges of large western national parks, national battlefields, and eastern parkways. HAER also partnered with New York and Connecticut to record several historic local parkways. The drawings of these projects are compiled in America’s National Park Roads and Parkways: Drawings from the Historic American Engineering Record (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2004).
Eric DeLony was also influential in HAER’s involvement with a third major initiative involving FHWA and historic bridges. Realizing that covered bridges were a beloved but endangered resource, Vermont Senator James Jeffords proposed legislation to save them. The resulting National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation (NHCBP) Program was established by FHWA in 1998 as part of the TEA-21 transportation bill. HAER received research funding beginning in 2002 to document the nation’s most significant covered bridges, as well as developing other educational initiatives including engineering studies, a traveling exhibition, national conferences, and National Historic Landmark nominations. With the benefit of continued FHWA support, HAER Project Leader Christopher Marston has continued Eric’s vision and is in the process of finalizing several research projects. These include the 2015 publication Covered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering, co-edited with Justine Christianson, and dedicated to Eric DeLony. Rehabilitation Guidelines for Historic Covered Bridges will be published later in 2018.
Eric was a longtime member of the Society for Industrial Archeology (SIA) and developed the SIA Historic Bridge Symposium beginning in the early 1980s to allow experts to share research and preservation experiences. Eric attended his last one in 2011; the 25th was held in 2016 in cooperation with the Historic Bridge Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. He was also an active participant with the Transportation Research Board (TRB)’s Committee on Historic Preservation and Archaeology in Transportation (ADC50) beginning in the 1990s, which was comprised of professionals from state DOTs, SHPOs, and consultants involved in preservation issues on federally funded transportation projects. Research and best practices on preserving and maintaining historic bridges was always a major focus of the committee. As a subcontractor to Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eric DeLony co-authored A Context for Common Historic Bridge Types with Robert Jackson, for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCPRP Project 25-25, Task 15) in 2005.
Not satisfied to just record historic bridges, Eric was also determined to see as many bridges as possible saved and preserved. Some of the projects that Eric championed included: the 1828 Blaine S-Bridge and the 1868 Zoarville Station Bridge in Ohio; the 1869 Henszey’s Bridge in Pennsylvania; and the 1858 Aldrich Change Bridge in New York. As Ohio DOT’s Tom Barrett reflected, “Through Eric’s encouragement, I feel that the historic bridge inventory in Ohio has stabilized and improved in many ways. We strive to explore all plausible alternatives to demolition and find ways to educate everyone on proper rehabilitation and design solutions. Hard-fought successes here and nationwide in bridge preservation will always be a part of Eric’s legacy.”
Eric’s advocacy extended beyond bridges to roads as well. As Preserving the Historic Road conference founder Paul Daniel Marriott stated, “Eric appreciated that roads and bridges were intertwined. He was one of the first people to acknowledge that historic research and advocacy [were needed] for historic roads. Eric DeLony was instrumental in establishing the historic roads movement.”
Eric studied at Ironbridge with Sir Neil Cossons in 1971-72 as a Fulbright Scholar, and this experience led him to encourage collaboration between HAER and industrial archeologists and preservationists in Europe and other countries. Eric consistently hired International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) foreign exchange students for his summer field teams beginning in 1984.
He represented the United States at several meetings of the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH). He also worked with several prominent European scholars, such as Barrie Trinder at Ironbridge and Louis Bergeron at Le Creusot, on various publications, exhibitions, and conferences. Another issue that Eric championed has finally shown dividends; after several decades, the U.S. delegation finally nominated the Brooklyn Bridge as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
After retiring to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2003, Eric became a bridge preservation consultant. Maintaining “The Pontists” email list, he advocated for various bridge preservation causes and initiatives, and continued to write and teach.
An avid collector of rare books, technical reports, and images of historic bridges, Eric donated his collection to two prestigious archives. The “Eric DeLony Collection of the History of Bridges and Bridge Construction” was established in 2010 at The Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. In 2013, the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri received the “Eric N. DeLony Engineering & Bridge Collection.”
After health issues removed him from public life, Eric continued to receive various honors acknowledging his legacy. Beginning in 2014, David Wright of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges established the Eric DeLony Scholarship, an annual prize awarded to a college student interested in historic preservation. Eric was also a recipient of the 2016 Othmar H. Amman Award for Lifetime Achievement from The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.
Eric DeLony was truly a pioneer in the world of historic bridge documentation, preservation, and advocacy. The 3,000+ bridges in the HAER Collection at the Library of Congress, and hundreds of examples of preserved historic bridges across the country are all a testament to his lifelong determination and passion for saving historic bridges.