C.W. Gove of Windom, Minnesota

Petersburg Village Bridge
Petersburg Village Bridge in Petersburg (Jackson County), MN Photo taken by MnDOT in 1963

This article is in connection with the creation of the database for the Bridge Builder’s Directory in the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ wordpress page, which you can click here to view. More information is needed on this gentleman, who contributed a great deal in engineering southwestern Minnesota, including Jackson, Cottonwood and Murray Counties. If you have information that will help, the contact details are at the end of the article.

Charles Wallace Gove is a little known figure in the engineering business as his primary focus was building bridges, roads and ditches in southern Minnesota, in and around Cottonwood County  (where Windom is located). Little is known about the bridges he built except records  indicated he built two bridges in Jackson County (which are profiled at the end of this info  sheet) and an unknown number in his county. On the political level, he was a dedicated  farmer and political journalist who left his mark at the State Capitol with his plan that is still  being used today for commercial farming.

Born in 1863 in De Witt, Iowa, he and his brother Wade settled in Jackson County, Minnesota in 1886, where he farmed and taught in nearby Lakefield until his move to Cottonwood County in 1895, where he established his farmstead in Great Bend Twp. northwest of Windom.  From that time on until his death in 1936, Mr. Gove busied himself with the transportation sector, first as a surveyor until 1912 and then afterwards, as a county engineer. During his tenure as surveyor, he led the efforts in constructing ditches in Cottonwood, Nobles and Murray Counties and later on in parts of Jackson County, as flooding was rampant during that time, and farmers needed them to provide runoff for the excess waterflow.

It was also during that time that he led the bridge building effort in parts of Jackson County, as county officials were turning to local builders who were willing to construct bridges at an affordable price. While the bridges he built were not spectacular in design, his most worthy structures were the bridge near Rost as well as the second crossing at Petersburg, built in 1912 and 1915, respectively.  When he was not building bridges and maintaining the roads in Cottonwood County, he wrote various articles and essays for local and regional newspapers, including his most famous one, the Minnesota Plan. There, he advocated simpler farming techniques, which included constructing  deeper and systematic plowing before planting and ditches to provide water run-off.  His writings dealt with philosophical thoughts mixed with a bit of wit and humor that made the readers enjoy every paragraph. He was recognized by the state for his work at the time of his death. Charles Gove died on 29 August, 1936.

Rost Bridge
Rost Bridge. Photo take by MnDOT in 1948

The Bridges built by C.W. Gove:

Rost Bridge

Location:  Little Sioux River at 390th Avenue, 0.1 mile south of Interstate 90 in Rost Twp.

Type:  Steel stringer with steel railings (altered in the 1970s)

Dimensions: 32.3 feet long; 16.4 feet wide

Built in 1912, replaced in 2002

This bridge used to carry a key road to the unincorporated village of Rost, located 2 miles north of the bridge. The village had a couple trading businesses and a church, the latter of which still exists today. The contract was given to C.W. Gove to build this bridge on 8 July, 1912, which was completed by the end of that year. The road was cut off by the Interstate in 1973 and after 90 years in service, this bridge was replaced by a pair of culverts in 2002.

 

Petersburg Village Bridge

Location: West Fork Des Moines River on a local road in Petersburg

Type: Two-span Pratt pony truss with pinned connections and steel cylindrical piers

Dimensions: 171 feet long (2x 81-foot truss spans); 16 feet wide

Built in 1915 replacing an earlier structure; destroyed in the 1965 flooding during the construction of its replacement upstream. Replacement bridge opened in 1965

The Village Bridge was the longest bridge known to have been built by C.W. Gove. He was awarded a contract to build the structure for $3050 to replace the bridge built 30 years earlier, just after it was founded. The bridge was in service until the Flood of 1965, which destroyed the structure. It was also at that time that a construction worker at the new bridge, located one mile west of the old one, fell into the icy river and drowned. His body was recovered in June 1965, three months after the replacement bridge opened to traffic

 

Do you know of other bridges built by C.W. Gove or have some more knowledge about the Minnesota plan or his written work? Let’s hear about it. Contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com and feel free to provide some additional information for this fact sheet about this unknown engineer who left a mark on the local level. The info will be added and/or modified  based on what comes in.

bhc logo newest1

Photos of the Rost and Petersburg Village Bridges are courtesy of MnDOT

 

Advertisements

New from the Chronicles

View of Quinn Creek Bridge (in Fayette County) from a distance. Photo taken by James Baughn.

As we wrap up the 2013 Ammann and Smith Awards, the author of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to make a few announcements regarding some changes and other items that will be brand new to the online column for this year.  We’ll start off with the Ammann Awards:

Author’s Choice Award or Bridge Bowl?

After receiving an enormous amount of entries this year and having some issues with the voting ballot, the Chronicles will be making some changes in terms of the structure as well as the voting process. Apart from including the category of Tour Guide Award and changing the name of Smith’s Award to Author’s Choice Awards, the dates of the Awards will also change to a certain degree.

While the number of entries for the respective categories will not be limited nor will the deadline for entries be changed, the voting deadline will be pushed back to January 6th, the Day of Epiphany for the 2014 Awards and beyond. That means entries will be accepted throughout November, but you will have a chance to vote on the bridges and/or pontist through Christmas and New Year, so that you have a chance to have a look at the candidates in each category carefully before voting. The changes have already been made in the Ammann Awards page of the Chronicles, which you can see on bar in the home page.

In addition to that, the voting process will change in time for the 2014 Awards. This means that there will be more embrace in 2.0 technology and social networks, enabling voters to interact and vote more quickly and efficiently. This includes (but is not limited to) the usage of facebook, linkedIn and Pininterest, creating videos of the bridge candidates through YouTube and Go Animate to be made available on the ballot, including the ballot on this blog, and making the ballot in Word format more user friendly. In short, more options to vote will mean more participation and less complication. By the time the Awards starts up again in November, a new and improved voting process will take shape. Other suggestions can be brought up either in the comment section or via e-mail.

New RSS Feed

The Chronicles now has a new RSS feed, so that you can subscribe to the page and read it wherever you go. Just click on the orange symbol under Subscription Options and you can receive the page on any computer device. You can also receive an e-mail subscription of the Chronicles. Just click on the envelop symbol in the options and follow the instructions on how to obtain the articles via e-mail. Both RSS feeds are courtesy of FeedBurner, which cooperates with Yahoo and other engines.  Other Subscription option symbols will be added in the next weeks, including that of flickr, PinInterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and others. Even the podcast of the Chronicles is being considered for experimental purposes. More information to come as some changes are made there.

New Stuff from the Chronicles:

While it has been experimented, the Chronicles will have more features for you to look at as you read along. For instance, a Glossary page has been set up, which will feature words associated with historic bridges and preservation practices and policies. While it is based on the Preservation ABCs, provided by Preservation in Pink, we will not be going in alphabetical order, but the words will be presented at random and through articles with some examples. While the author has some words to add to the Glossary via articles, you can also help. If you have some words to add to the Glossary, please submit them via e-mail with some examples to help, and they will be posted.

Also new will be the Bridge Tour Page, where articles about regions with a high concentration of bridges will be added, to provide you with an opportunity to plan your trip around visiting these bridges. As you saw in the 2013 Ammann Awards, there are plenty of places to see where you can photograph their bridges in a few hours’ time and still have fun at the beach or hiking in the woods.  The Tour page will include regions once populated with historic bridges but are more or less gone- the “Lost Bridges” Tour page. If you know of regions in that category, write to the Chronicles about it and it will be added- along with the pictures, of course. Individual Success Stories and Book/Media of the Month will remain as well.

 

Writers wanted!

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is looking for a few volunteer writers to write about the topics already mentioned here. If you would like to be a Guest Writer and write about some of your bridge topics, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. There’s no obligation as to how often you should write, just as long as the topics you write about are interesting to the readers. Advantage: you can put in your resumé that you did some writing on the side as a way of enhancing your career chances in the fields of journalism, history and preservation.

 

Run-Off Vote due at Midnight!

To round things off, a reminder that the run-off vote for the Smith’s Awards for Spectacular Bridge Disasters will end this evening at 12:00am Central Time or 7:00am Berlin Time. The winner will be announced tomorrow. The candidates once again are the following:

CANDIDATE 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugaVS4615P8

CANDIDATE 2: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2013/06/10/what-to-do-with-a-hb-the-newcastle-bridge/

CANDIDATE 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLVKb1HxhAY

Submit your votes via e-mail or on the Chronicles’ facebook page. The winner will be announced via Chronicles tomorrow during the course of the day.

 

World’s Oldest Concrete Bridge turns 75

Photo taken by Frank Selke, used with permission

Concrete bridges- today’s modern bridge types you see while travelling. Made of granular materials that is bound together by cement (crushed rock with burnt lime), concrete existed as far back as the period of the Roman Empire and used for infrastructures and buildings, many of which can still be found today when travelling through the regions of southern and eastern Europe once dominated by the likes of Caesar.  Concrete was first used for closed spandrel arch bridges, but its expanded usage can be found in the first three decades of the 20th century, when concrete was used for open spandrel arches, Marsh arches, slabs, girders and Luten arches– with the oval shaped arch span.

In Germany, concrete was used for the Autobahn motorways in the 1920s with several concrete slabs resembling square-shaped arches being built along the highway connecting Berlin and Munich.  But they were not the only types that were used.  In 1938, shortly before the start of World War II, a new concrete bridge type was introduced in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia: the prestressed, pretensioned concrete girder bridge, known to Germans as the Spannbetonbrücke.  The concept was invented by a French engineer, Eugéne Freyssinet (1879- 1962), where tensile steel rods are inserted into the concrete bridge to provide compressive stress as a complement to tensile stress that is normally exerted onto the concrete through live load on the bridge as well as through weather extremities (concrete expanding in warm weather and compressing in cold weather).

The concept was first used on an Autobahn overpass between Beckum and Oelde, located near the cities of Hamm and Münster in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia. There four different girders were assembled in a way that they were placed in a prestressed steel encasing and supported by I-beam suspenders. They were then fasted together and placed over the Autobahn A2, and crossing was open to traffic on 12 November, 1938. Albeit the bridge was 40 meters long, this concept was later used for spans up to three times the length. Gotthard Franz (1904-1991) of the firm Wayss and Freitag oversaw the construction using the Freyssinet concept, together with the French engineer himself, who later built several bridges of this kind, including the Railway Station Bridge in Aue (Saxony) as well as bridges in Hamburg, Kiel and Brunsbuttel (near the Baltic-North Sea Canal). The concept was later used in other countries, including the US, where one can see many of these bridges built from the 1980s onwards crossing ravines and roads today.

The Beckum-Oelde (Hesseler Weg) Overpass served traffic for 74 years until it was relocated to a rest area last year. Because it was declared a national technical landmark (technische Denkmal) in 1991, the demolition of the bridge was not allowed. Today, one can see the historic landmark, hoisted by two modern concrete piers at the rest area in Vellern-Süd.  The overpass signaled the beginning of innovation and proliferation of concrete bridges, something that would happen beginning in the 1950s, when the shortage of steel because of its usage in World War combined with the destruction of steel mills in Germany and Europe prompted the creativity of engineers to find ways to build crossings using other materials. Concrete was cheap and using the design of inventors like Freyssinet, the 1950s marked the beginning of the proliferation of concrete bridges, first used to replace structures destroyed in the war, and later used to replaced functionally obsolete bridges made of iron and steel, as seen in the US and Canada. While Freyssinet is not to blame for the invention but more to thank for ushering the era of concrete bridges, we have the honor of introducing the age of modernization, something that we still see today on our city streets and highways.

Author’s note: Nicolas Janberg wrote an article about this bridge, which you can click here.  The bridge is one of many listed as candidates for the 2013 Ammann Awards for Bridge of the Year and Best Example of a Preserved Historic Bridge. Thanks to Frank Selke for the use of his photo.

 

 

Bridge Vibration: Can a bridge bounce?

Delaware River Bridge at Lackawaxen PA- one of the first suspension bridges built by John Roebling and Russell Lord. In use since 1849 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photos courtesy of HABS HAER

To start off this terminology page under the word Bridge Vibration, there is a story that is connected with this bridge. The Lackawaxen Suspension Bridge was built in 1849 by Russell Lord and John Roebling and spans the Delaware River bordering Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Together with the suspension bridge in Nuremberg (Germany), they are the only bridges of its kind in the world where the roadway is supported by odd-numbered towers. This in addition to the fact that they were both built before 1870. But the story goes where teenagers in the 1920s and 30s would try and race their cars across the bridge, then stop abruptly in the middle, creating a wave of vibration that would shake the wooden planking of the 300 foot structure! A dangerous stunt for it could lead to the bridge to collapse, but in those days, a carefree attitude towards bridges did not include liability issues like we have nowadays.

And this is where we look at the topic of Bridge Vibration. Can a bridge vibrate and if so, to what extent can it vibrate in order to make it safe?  This is in connection with some discussion about bridge vibration and how unsafe it is. Three bridges- two in Battleboro, New Hampshire and one bridge at Sylvan Island in the Quad Cities were the primary focus of this issue. City officials in the Moline (IL) portion of the Quad Cities feared that bridge vibration would mean that the potential for bridge collapse was there and subsequentially closed the bridge to all traffic this past May. The 1911 Pratt through truss structure, once serving as the lone key access to Sylvan Island, is now scheduled to be replaced this fall with a concrete structure that is not meant to bounce. The Charles Dana and Anna Hunt Marsh Bridges in Battleboro were on the hot seat lately due to suspected negligence on the part of the New Hampshire DOT and vandalism by someone who justified his actions on bridgehunter.com and claimed that a 250 foot bridge does not bounce. Both bridges are scheduled for replacement in 5-10 years time.  This leads to the question of whether a bridge can or has to bounce. After inquiring about this with some bridge engineers who have worked with this topic, the answer to that question is yes, but with certain restrictions. Says Todd Vierendeel, who works for an engineering firm in South Dakota:  “All bridges will experience some amount of deflection under load. The repeated loading and un-loading of spans due to transient loads (truck and pedestrian) can generate the sensation of vibration, or “bouncing” as has been described here. Excessive deflection and/or vibration can cause structural issues, but it’s actually not desirable primarily from a user comfort perspective.”  Billy Wulff, a bridge engineer from Quickborn, Germany, compares this sort of vibration to a plank sitting on top of a box whose expansion and contraction is restricted in contrast to the plank.  Therefore, “…engineers build in tolerances (which they calculate) of movement.” He also added that engineers have tried to construct lighter bridges, using the same materials for both the structure and the flooring, in order for it to not move.

The danger to such vibration is that too much of it, combined with the usage of light-weight materials for bridge construction will lead to structural failure. Many bridges have collapsed because of what Wulff calls misunderstanding of science combined with unsuitable materials. The most classical example was the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington in 1940. There, too much light materials for the bridge deck on “Galloping Gertie” resulted in excessive bouncing in 40 mph wind, resulting in the bridge’s collapse.  Video of the collapse can be found here.  To regulate the vibration on all bridges, transportation agencies have bridge design codes to ensure that there is a certain tolerance to the bridge vibration; this applies to agencies responsible for highways and railroads, but as Vierendeel states, the guidelines are more stringent for pedestrian bridges as they can notice the vibrations more than automobile drivers or train conductors.

But for older bridges, like the aforementioned bridges, he adds that more care is needed to ensure that the vibrations do not cause any discomfort among drivers and pedestrians, namely because of the increase in loads going across the bridge.  Therefore, some adjustments, like additional beams, weight restrictions, and extensive maintenance are needed to prolong the bridge’s life. As for bridges that are closed to vehicular traffic but open to pedestrians, such bouncing is considered normal for as they were used to vehicles crossing it, its tolerance may have increased over the years, making the bouncing sensation more pronounced. Yet, as many experts have mentioned, it does not mean that the bridge is unsafe and sometimes, additional support and retrofitting the bridge deck to reduce the vibrations is what is needed to prevent any discomfort of bridge users. This happened with the Millenium Bridge in London, where fluid and mass dampers were retrofitted to reduce the vibration frequency caused by many people crossing the bridge.

So to answer the questions, yes it is possible for bridges to vibrate when crossing, but only within tolerances that are imposed in bridge designs approved by transportation agencies. Should bridges witness any excessive vibrations, it is possible to fix the problem by adding support to the decking and retrofitting bridge parts to ensure that the vibrations are at a minimum. There is no such thing as a bridge not vibrating because of factors involving temperature differences combined with the volume of traffic crossing the bridge.  This leads to the question of the necessity to tear down bridges that vibrate when it is all part of the way the structure functions. Sometimes some minor repairs to bridges like the ones mentioned combined with continuous maintenance is all that is needed to ensure that the bridge lasts longer and the tax payers do not have to suffer as a result of tearing down a bridge for something whose quality cannot match that of the one that is destined for the scrap heap.  While it may be too late to save the Sylvan Island Bridge, it is something officials in New Hampshire and other states should consider before deciding on replacement over restoration.

The author would like to thank Billy Wulff and Todd Vierendeel (the names and occupation were changed to protect their identity) for their help in clarifying this topic.