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.
I was cleaning out a portion of an upstairs bedroom in the house I grew up in. This section of bedroom was piled high with all manner of… stuff: pictures, window shades, board games, a stamp collection, dishes, metal shelves, and so much more. My father had been a pack rat. […]
This post came about a couple days ago and it looks at the covered bridges in Juniata County in central Pennsylvania, written from a journalist’s point of view when he grew up in the region. Some of the bridges mentioned in his piece (click in the link above the picture) no longer exist, but the information on the dimensions and dates can be found here, courtesy of bridgehunter.com. Enjoy the facts and stories behind the bridges in the county. 🙂
In reference to the latest news story in the BHC Newsflyer from yesterday on how buildings are being recycled and reused as bridges (click here to listen to the podcast and see the video), here’s a very weird way of saving a piece of history that James Baughn found during one of his bridgehunting tours from three years ago. It’s an old farmstead in Missouri that features a unique X-lattice vertical beam that is used as one of the entry columns. When and how it was erected, let alone why the owner chose this piece of metal as a decoration remains open. Any ideas of where this is located and from which bridge the piece came from, feel free to comment.
Some of these bridges have ended up becoming decorations instead of being either recycled or placed in a heap of scrap metal. In a couple cases, one or more of the spans have been converted into houses or other places of living. One of the best examples is the use of a railroad bridge in South Africa as a hotel. That has been opened to business and provides an excellent view of the Kruger National Wildlife Preserves. Another one being planned is using one of the spans of the cantilever portion of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland to be converted into a house. If we find creative ways of reusing truss bridges instead of scrapping them, we may be able to save money in terms of demolition and transportation costs for the metal and we will definitely reduce the amount of carbon dioxide used for the two purposes. Even if the bridge is for decoration purposes, it’s better than scrapping the metal.
And now the answer to last week’s question for the forum.
The bridge at hand is the Ledbetter Truss Bridge. also known as the Clark Memorial Bridge. The three-span through truss bridge used to span the Tennessee River at the McCracken-Livingston County border and was built by Modjeski and Masters in 1931. It was bypassed by a replacement structure in 2013. Attempts to convert the bridge into a pedestrian bridge failed when sections of the approach span collapsed on June 24, 2014. The bridge was promptly removed two months later in September 2014. Had there been a chance, this bridge may have been converted into a house, but most likely on land, due to the instability of the piers that caused the bridge to collapse. Still the key word that led to its demise was liability. Liability is the curse word for historic preservation because of its extensive use by proponents of demolition. Nine out of ten cases for demolishing a bridge has this excuse in there, without thinking of the long-term benefits of preserving a bridge, let alone the energy and finances used for demolishing the bridge and its impact on the environment.
This leads to my question to all is: Who will be liable if we keep continuing the business as usual approach and we destroy our planet?
The question was poised by Greta Thunberg and has since been spreading around. Now it’s my turn to pose this question: Who will be liable if we continue making waste for a pretty and new bridge that we exploit the resources to build, instead of just reusing the bridge or try different approaches that uses recycled materials? This is a question that we’ve ignored for too long, but the time is more than ripe to embrace it and find answers to it- and quick.
There are thousands of metal truss bridges in Indiana that were discovered and documented in the 50 years James Cooper was in the field of historic bridge preservation and one could make a list of bridges that would not have existed as long as they did, had it not been for his contribution to his work. Part of the reason has to do with the fact that only a handful of truss bridges were used primarily for building purposes between 1880 and 1920, such as the Pratt, Whipple, Warren, Warren, Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Parker designs. Then we have the question of bridge builders who not only competed with each other for bridge-building contracts, but they also merged with each other and consolidated the businesses. Classic example was the creation of the American Bridge Company in 1900, which featured 28 bridge builders including Wrought Iron Bridge, Lassig Bridge and Iron Works and even Masillon Bridge Company.
Little do we pay attention to are the details of the truss bridge, such as connections, portal and strut bracings, types of beams used for the trusses, railings and most importantly, plaques and other ornaments. Most of these “decorations” indicated that the bridge builder wanted to leave their mark and make it fancier for the passers-by. In short, the more “decorations” the more likely it will be appreciated by the locals, and in terms of historic bridge preservation, the more likely it will be documented and preserved in the present for future generations to see.
In this film documentary, courtesy of Mike Daffron and Satolli Glassmeyer, we have one truss bridge that represented a classic example of a typical Pratt through truss bridge, yet its unique portal bracings and the stone abutments used for construction made it a unique structure that needed to be saved. The Stone Arch Road Bridge is located on a road where a stone arch bridge does exist nearby (will write more later), but is the more beautiful of the two bridges. The bridge spans Nineveh Creek near the community but in the Attebury Fish and Wildlife Preserves and was open to traffic in 1886. The bridge was fully restored in 2011 and has been serving vehicular traffic ever since. How the bridge was built and all the other details about it, you will find in the videos below.
West Gate Bridge Collapse On 15 October 1970, a portion of the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne collapsed, killing 35 people. The West Gate Bridge is a steel box girder cable-stayed bridge in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, spanning the Yarra River just north of its mouth into Port Phillip. It is a vital link between the inner city (CBD) and Melbourne’s western suburbs, with […]
Sometimes historic bridges are better off when they belong to nature and are left untouched. Yet there are some that have a potential for being reused as a pedestrian bridge. There is a story behind this Endangered TRUSS species that I’m presenting you here and it goes back a decade to the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend in Missouri.
We were on our last day together- myself, James and Todd (Wilson) and had just completed a long day of bridgehunting in the western part of Missouri and part of Nebraska. The Weekend was marred by one natural element which hindered my ability to keep to my original schedule- flooding! The Missouri River flooded its banks and 90% of the valley was under water. The valley included areas between Kansas City (where we were staying) and Sioux City, Iowa, and included the greater Omaha area. The highways were not passable, towns were completely under water and much of the infrastructure, including bridges, were either damaged or destroyed. Instead of combing up the western half of Iowa, I was forced to replan everything to include stops in Des Moines and in central Iowa on my way back to Minnesota. The problem was which bridges could I stop along the way?
That was where James came in and showed me a few locations for photo opportunities. Daviess County was one of them, and it was loaded with historic bridges. Dozens of metal truss bridges were on my path going to Iowa, many of which were a maximum of 10 minutes away from Interstate 35, which connects Des Moines with Kansas City.
Of the 8-9 bridges I photographed, I found this structure to be the most unique. The bridge spans the Grand River just a half mile west of US Hwy. 69 south of Pattonsburg. It features a two-span through truss design, the larger being the Whipple and the smaller being the Pratt. Each have pinned connections and Lattice portal bracings. The bridge has a total length of 330 feet. It was built by the Kansas City Bridge and Iron Company in 1883, using steel from the Carnegie Steel plant in Pittsburgh. The bridge used to serve a main highway (Old Hwy. 5) until it was bypassed by US Hwy. 69 and its bridge in 1932. 35 years later that would be bypassed by Interstate 35 located two miles to the east. It continued to serve traffic until the early 1990s and has been sitting unused ever since.
When I visited the bridge in August 2011, the entire structure was closed off and part of the decking disappeared, thus making crossing the bridge practically impossible. What made the bridge unique was because of its location next to the forest. In one of my photos, the smaller Pratt truss span was partially hidden in the trees. Given its proximity to the river and to the trees nearby, plus the fact that the old former highway is closed off on both sides of the bridge, one could wonder if the bridge and the road would make for a bike trail. It doesn’t necessarily mean a new stretch of road needs to be built. But it would be a trail that followed the original highway between Pattonsburg and Santa Rosa, but terminating at a nearby town to the south, like Alta Vista, or it could curve to nearby Lake Viking, using sections of the road that are in place already. And even if it connected Pattonsburg and the bridge, where it could be converted to a picnic area, it would be enough to satisfy locals wishing to get some fresh air and go walking or even biking.
Since that time, four of the bridges I visited on my tour from Kansas City back to Iowa have been replaced, others may be up, especially if liability issues come about. Yet if there was a choice, this structure should be the first one saved. The bridge has some connection with the history of the development of roads in the area, yet it has more potential than that, if people come together with resources and all to make repurposing and revitalizing the area around the bridge happen. The bridge is eligible for the National Register and its history in connection with the region will make the structure a really attractive place to go for an afternoon picnic and all. It’s a question of finding the will to do just that.
It is so much fun to drive the narrow, single-track roads through Scotland’s countryside. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but it’s along those routes that you often find the best surprises. On this day, the surprise was Culloden Viaduct. Culloden Viaduct (also known as Nairn Viaduct) lies about seven miles east of Inverness and […]
We’re playing catch-up with our BHC Pic of the Week due to non-bridge-related commitments that have kept me from keeping up with the weekly tradition.
We would like to show you one of the pics taken by James Baughn five years ago. It was a multiple-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections and A-frame portal bracings. It was built in the 1930s but was bypassed with a newer structure in ca. 2010 and had sat there awaiting for rehabilitation and repurposing as a pedestrian bridge. Unfortunately, its fate was sealed when three approach spans on one side of the river collapsed and it was subsequentially fenced off. It only took less than a month until it was torn down in 2016.
Does anybody have an idea what the name of the bridge is and where it is located?
Feel free to comment in the section below or on BHC’s facebook pages. The answer will come in the next week. Happy Bridgehunting, folks! 🙂
Indian Railways is building country’s first vertical-lift bridge connecting Rameswaram in Arabian Sea to mainland India that will allow ships and steamers to pass through without any hindrance. Union Railway minister shared stunning pics of this under construction bridge. He said this will be operational by March 2022 New Pamban Bridge: Facts It will be… Read…
Locals of the Isle of Man are well acquainted with the folklore around the so-called Fairy Bridge on the A5 between Ballasalla and Newtown. Local superstitions state that those who do not greet the bridge’s fey inhabitants with something like “Hello, fairies!” as they pass over it may fall prey to their malicious, mischievous whims.…
The Osborne County Hall of Fame Honors celebrates the Osborne County Sesquicentennial Year of 2021, marking the first 150 years of the county's existence. The "Honors" will present, recognize, and appreciate the various aspects of Osborne County, Kansas heritage and culture both past and present in a different manner than its parent organization, the Osborne County Hall of Fame. The series of lists that comprise the "Honors" will be revealed throughout the year on this site and via other social media. All Individuals already enshrined in the Osborne County Hall of Fame are excluded from the "Honors". Happy 150th Birthday, Osborne County!