Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction Part II: How Art and Craftmanship are bring the bridge back together.

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY-  In a follow-up to the last article on the reconstruction of the Hirschgrund Bridge at the Castle Complex in Glauchau, I decided to attend the informational meeting and tour of the bridge, which took place on May 11th at the front court of the castle. This meeting and tour, which was divided up into three different time slots, was part of the Day of Funding and Support sponsored by the State of Saxony, and its main focus is the work that is being done to the castle itself, which started in 2017 and is scheduled to be finished by 2025.  Already finished is the construction of the front court of the castle, which features a series of flower gardens, bike racks, picnic areas and a multifunctional facility that can be used year round, including for ice skating, which is Glauchau’s past time together with its Christmas Market.

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The front court yard of the Castle Complex

This event was also tied in with the city’s first ever arts and crafts fair, which took place inside the castle and included exhibits, workshops and an auction. Due to inclimate weather, comprising of heavy rain and cold weather, the attendance was down across the board. However, we did come away with something for our own best interests- me with bridges, my daughter with arts and my wife with some ideas on how to better the arts and crafts fair. 🙂 Inspite of this, this article is on the bridge itself for based on my meeting with a representative from a construction firm working on the bridge, here are some facts that will need to be taken into account.

For instance, while newspapers and even my own previous reports had mentioned about the bridge being reopened by July, that assumption was proven false, both verbally and on the posters. Right now, if all goes well, the project should be finished and the bridge reopened by the end of November 2019 (this year). There are several factors that contributed to this delay.

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Poster of the project. The upper left-hand corner shows more demo than expected.

The first one has to do with the demolition of the bridge. According to the spokesperson at the meeting, while attempts were made to keep only the foundations and piers of the 1700s- built arch bridge, combined with the two outer arches as part of an agreement with the State Ministry of Culture and Heritage to save them, demolition of the bridge took a little more out than expected as many elements from the original bridge had to be removed because they could no longer be used for the load bearings. That means they were worn out and would not be useful for the reconstruction. A good example of the extensive work on the bridge regarding that aspect can be seen in the picture above.  If this was in American standards, this entire arch bridge would have been completely removed, going against the Historic Preservation Laws that were designed to protect historic structures like this from being destroyed. While the preservation of the outer arches and the piers were a compromise, it should be considered a stroke of luck in the face of modernization, which is becoming the norm in our society, even at our expense.

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With the removal of most of the bridge comes the preservation of more than 12,000 different grey-colored granite stones from the original structure. According to the representative from the construction firm, they will be incorporated, like I mentioned. The question is: how?

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As a facade! 🙂

This would make the best sense especially after my inquiry with the city’s civil engineer who also has been watching this project very closely. As mentioned in the previous article, the bridge is being rebuilt, first starting with the arches, then following with layers of concrete slabs supported by a skeletal system of vertical and horizontal support beams that would hold the bridge in place. The stones from the previous structure would be used as both decking as well as for the facade. While the reconstruction of the arch bridges will not be in-kind, meaning rebuilding it just like building the arch bridge from scratch beginning with the arches and then filling them in, layer by layer, the use of the skeletal system with concrete support beams as a skeleton will ensure that the new bridge will be sturdier than its original predecessor. I learned that in 2004, wooden support beams were put into place underneath the arches to keep them from collapsing. While this would have been considered useless if the bridge was coming down anyway, it did keep the bridge intact, thus helping the construction workers save as much of the materials for the rebuild as possible. Otherwise, allowing the bridge to sit derelict and let it collapse would not only eliminate that possibility, it would have been dangerous to even approach it.

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Granted that there is wooden support for all four of the bridge’s arches for the new structure, yet they were meant for building the two inner arches from the ground up and reinforcing the outer arches- for the former, they were following the recipe Romans used when building their arch bridges during their peak in power.

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Close-up of the truss supports for the arches.

With that comes the skeletal system and the layered concrete, which brings up another interesting fact I learned at the meeting. The vertical beams mentioned in the previous article feature a combination of concrete with steel wiring. This concept is often used for American bridges, in particular, with beam bridges. In Germany, it is hardly spoken of for the majority of modern bridges built after 1945 have focused solely on steel, fabricated from the mills in western Germany as well as parts of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg in the east.  With very few quarries, concrete is used rationally- mainly for abutments, piers and decking- much of it with other materials. In this case, the vertical beams have the American style of steel wiring drowned with concrete with the wiring sticking out. The main purpose here is as the concrete layers are built up, the top layer will be covered with a decking made of stone and concrete, providing a sturdy crossing for years to come.

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Add railings of up to 1.7 meters high to ensure the safety of those crossing it, the bridge will have a width of 3.7 meters and a total length of 55.3 meters from the castle to the park, with LED lighting, making the new crossing an attractive site in addition to the castle itself.  The bridge will be 9 meters tall, a few centimeters taller than its was before the complete makeover started last year.

While there were only a few people at each of the three tours in the morning due to the weather, most were eager to know more about the project and even some of them shared some memories of crossing the bridge before it was closed off due for safety reasons many years ago. Many had a chance to ask the representative more in details about what was being done with the bridge with a lot of curiosity. The atmosphere was mostly positive when I was there. But all had one thing in common- they would love to see their bridge back as it is part of the Castle Complex, connects with the park and is part of Glauchau’s history in general. In November of this year, this will come true.

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fast fact logo There are three projects that are going on around Glauchau’s Castle Complex- all of them being funded by the state. The front courtyard at the castle’s entrance was finished in December, right in time for the Christmas market. The bridge will be finished by the end of November. The third project scheduled to begin in 2020 will be redeveloping the grounds inside the castle as much of the markets and festivals take place there. That project is expected to last 2-3 years.

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T-shirts and apparel with the theme of the bridges along the Zwickau Mulde, with exemplaries of the ones in Glauchau, Zwickau and Rochlitz can be found in the online shop via word press. Click here and order one today. 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 49

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Author’s note: The Pic of the Week and the Weekly Newsflyer will trade places from now on due to time constraints. That means the Pic of the Week will be held Mondays, instead of Fridays and Newsflyer vice versa.

This week’s Pic of the Week is also a candidate for Best Kept Secret in the category Individual Bridges International. With this bridge located in the Thuringian part of the Vogtland region (not far from the borders of Saxony and Bavaria), it is one of the most forgotten because of other, more famous bridges in the region, such as the Göltzschtal Viaduct, Elstertal Viaduct near Plauen, or the most recent posting of the Border Viaduct near Hof, a mystery bridge located in a mysterious region.

Yet looking at the bridge more closely, one will find some facts right in front of you that has a connection with another region that is closer to home than you think.  This bridge alone is located over the River Saale in the village of Harra, which is five kilometers northwest of Bad Lobenstein and 10 km north of the Thuringian-Bavarian border, where the border between West and East Germany once stood. The bridge itself is a combination Parker pony truss and a polygonal Whipple through truss. Its connections are both welded and pin-connected- the former being found in the lower chords; the latter with the truss paneling. Its portal bracing is bedstead with art-greco design.

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The bridge was originally built in 1898 in Großheringen, spanning the same river but providing a connection to Bad Kösen. Großheringen is between Naumburg and Jena, the latter is the birthplace of the optics industry and was where I spent the first eight years after arriving as an exchange student in 1999. The bridge was then relocated to its current spot in Harra in 1951, to replace a bridge destroyed in World War II that was built in 1932. It was later rehabilitated in 2000, which included new paint for the trusses and a new decking. It still provides access to the campgrounds to this day. As for the crossing at Großheringen, a through arch bridge was built in 1951 and served traffic until 2011, when another arch bridge replaced that span.

The bridge’s setting makes photographing it a paradise, as it fits nicely into the landscape featuring the steep bluffs and forest-covered hills of the Saale and the landscape of the small village of 700 inhabitants. Its quiet setting makes for a day of advantures on and at the bridge itself. One can enjoy a meal at the restaurant nearby, boat along the river or even hike the hills. In either case, the Harra Bridge is a treat for anyone with an interest….

……even as a photographer, who has an album with more bridge pics which you can click here to view. 🙂

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Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Last week in the Chronicles’ Instagram page, there were a pair of photos of the progress that is being made with the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a multiple-span arch bridge spanning the ravine at the castle complex south of Glauchau’s city center. As I’ve been reporting up until now, the original bridge dating to the 1700s is being rebuilt after having sat abandoned for over four decades and having been in danger of collapsing under its own weight. With spring in the air, I took an opportunity to get a closer look at the bridge, apart from my usual vantage points, which were from both ends of the bridge. With all the scaffolding that has “encased” the bridge, this was the closest way to find out how it has progressed since my “sniper” shot of the red arches taken in the fall on the eve of a concert at St. George’s Church.

Then:

Now:

And with that I found a couple observations worth noting:

  1. The bridge was being layered with slabs of concrete, bit by bit, filling in the arches and making its way up.
  2. There was a pile of stones that are on the eastern side of the bridge- assumedly salvaged from the old structure and waiting to be reused and
  3. More curiously, vertical posts were sticking out between the arches.

With number 3, I wanted to find out what they were used for, so I got ahold of the city and one of the engineers for an inquiry. This is what I received for an explanation per e-mail (after having it translated):

The load-bearing system of the bridge consists of transverse walls on the piers and self-supporting longitudinal walls, which are then veneered. The inside of the bridge is filled with lightweight porous concrete.

In simpler languages, the newly-rebuilt bridge will have a skeletal system featuring horizontal slabs supported by the vertical piers planted between the arches. All of them will be covered in layers of concrete and then masked to make it appear historic like its original form. Should this be the case, it would not be the “in-kind” restoration of an arch bridge, meaning building it beginning with the arch and then in layers, stone-by-stone and then filled in to make sure the structure is stabilized. Yet it would represent the modern form of restoring the bridge, as it has been seen with some of the bridges restored in Germany, including those in Thuringia, Berlin and Bavaria. That would still make the arch bridge historic but with “braces” to ensure it lasts longer and is able to withstand the increasing weight and number in traffic. With the Hirschgrundbrücke itself, when reopened, it will serve pedestrians, connecting the castle complex and the park across the ravine.

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The future of the original stones from the bridge is unknown.

While there is no concrete date as to when the project will be finished and when the grand “re-opening” will take place, there are some other curious facts that will be mentioned in a tour that is scheduled to take place this weekend. On May 11th at 10:15, 11:00 and 11:45 there will be a tour of the construction site with many questions and photo sessions available. This is all part of the informational Meeting at the Castle Complex that will include what has been completed and what will be the next phases in renovating the castle- namely the grounds and the park. All of which will start at 10 and be finished after 12:00. A link to the page can be found here.

In either case, more updates on the Hirschgrundbrücke will come in the Chronicles. Stay tuned. In case you haven’t taken a look at Glauchau’s Bridge tour guide, check out this and others by clicking here.

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BHC Newsflyer: 29 April, 2019

Podcast of the Newsflyer available here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-29-april-2019

 

News Stories:

Cascade Bridge in Burlington, Iowa closed- future unknown

Rockville (Utah) Truss Bridge Re-opening Ceremony on May 3rd

Lindaunis-Schlei Drawbridge to be replaced

Article found here

Profile on the Bridge in 2011

Railroad Bridge in Calw (near Stuttgart) in danger of collapse

Replacement bridge project for Levensau Arch Bridge starts

Historic Bridge at Hull Drive near York (PA) being rehabilitated

Three bridges in Erfurt to be replaced- one of them is the Riethbrücke

Project to replace bridge in Magdeburg on hold due to legal dispute

Waiho Bridge Rebuilt and Reopened

 

PLUS: Tour Guide being updated. Click here.

 

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BHC Newsflyer: 22 April, 2019

Nieblungenbrücke in its original form prior to World War II. Photo: WikiCommons

Podcast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-22-april-2019

 

Article on the news stories in detail:

Key motorway bridge in Brazil collapses after a boat collision

Key Missouri River Crossing becomes history

Key Highway crossing in Pennsylvania to be replacedIncludes PENNDOT Bridge Marketing Profile

Nieblungen Bridge in Worms (Germany) to undergo Major makeover- main span to be replaced:Profile on the Bridge via wiki

Historic Bridge in Sonoma County, California to be replaced; trusses to be incorporated into new structure.

A 130-year old champaign bottle found in the rubble of a demolished historic bridge near Naumburg

Historic bridge in Frankfurt barely escapes a bomb in the River Main: Includes information on the Iron Bridge (not Alte Brücke as mentioned) where the bomb was found and detonated- here!

A historic bridge that survived the bombings of World War II in Hamburg to get a facelift and a new location.  Information on the Freihafenelbebrücke under the Bridges of Hamburg here.

And the second longest bowstring arch bridge in the world to be dismantled and stored until a new home is found.  Includes Facebook page on Relocating and Restoring the Kern Bridge

ALSO: Information and Petition to stop President Trump’s plan to shut down the National Register of Historic Places. Deadline is 30 April.

 

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What to do with a HB: Rosenstein- Brücke in Oberplanitz (Zwickau)

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Also the 112th Mystery Bridge.

A while back I received a phone call from a local living in Zwickau (Saxony) via the Free Press, who, in response to a newspaper article about my bridgehunting exploits there and in Glauchau, wanted me to check out a cool bridge that was not on the tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges. It was around 200 years old and was located in the suburb of Oberplanitz, which is in the southwestern part of the city. This came shortly before I got sick with the flu that was making its rounds in the region, including the school where I teach English. I had to sit it out for a couple weeks before I could get better. As soon as I was fully healthy and “physically able to perform,” I decided to embark on a small trip to get there.

The day couldn’t have been much prettier. Sunny skies accompanied with a Super Full Moon in the evening made for a trip that was well worth it. Enter the local living in Zwickau who is a “historian” having lived in the area for decades, Dieter Hofmann, whom I met at his place and who led me to the “Steinbruch” region on the northern end of Oberplanitz. We use the German word “Steinbruch” to describe the word quarry. According to Hofmann the region where the stone arch bridge is located had at least six different quarries, where different types of minerals were dug up and transported to regions for use on different forms of architecture. Red rock came from the region and was used for the construction of the Göltzschtal Viaduct in the Vogtland region in western Saxony. That bridge, built in 1851 and carries the Nuremberg-Hof-Dresden Magistrate Rail Line, still holds the title of being the largest brick arch viaduct in the world with four stories of arches spanning the River Göltzsch between Reichenbach and Greiz (Thuringia).

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After touring the quarries, all of which have been discontinued since the Reunification of Germany, we came to the jewel in the forest- a stone arch bridge spanning small creek on the outer edge of Kreuzberg Forest. According to Google Maps, the bridge used to carry Eisensteinstrasse but, according to sources, has been closed to traffic for at least 30 years. According to Hofmann and another local whom we met along the way with his dog, the road which the bridge carried was a primary route for transporting the likes of iron ore, granite, quartzite, limestone and other minerals out of the quarries and to their destinations for processing and use. That was until the route was cut short with a present-day bypass connecting Werdau and Schneeberg and dissecting the western side of Zwickau.

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The bridge itself is definitely an old, but primitive structure. It consists of a one-span stone arch span spanning the Planitzbach, a creek that eventually runs towards the Zwickau Mulde. Just before flowing underneath the bridge, the creek merges with another one on the south side. Records indicated the structure’s existence between 1839 and 1840, but given the non-existence of concrete combined with how it was built, one must not rule out it being older- at least two centuries old to be exact. The bridge was put together using layers of flattened rock, which was topped with a keystone. Another layer of stone was added for the railway. The construction of the bridge mirrors those built during the Roman Empire, most of them were on a large scale, including aqueducts. Examples of these gigantic structures still exist today in Spain, France, Italy and parts of southern Germany- the nearest ones being in Heidelberg and Trier. The bridge is approximately 20 meters long and 3-4 meters wide, yet deterioration of the bridge due to erosion has taken a meter off its width over the years.

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The bridge is famous because of the stone used for it, known as Rosenstein. It’s a grayish-red rock which if in the water, it not only changes color to red, but the creation of creases in the rock caused by erosion and water creates a round form, resembling a rose. We fished out some examples that were lying in the Planitzbach, two of which I now have in possession and have demonstrated this magic to my wife and daughter. Several neighbors have used this stone for their landscaping purposed- including the gardens.

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The bridge has been closed to traffic for 30 years, with signs and bars blocking access. Despite this, people still cross at their own risk because they use the former Eisenstrasse as a hiking trail. Yet chances of restoring the bridge to its original form is slim due to years of erosion in the arches. The worst hit area is the eastern side, where waters have eaten away at the bridge. Should this progress in the next 10-20 years without any maintenance, the bridge may collapse. As mentioned earlier, northern side of the bridge at its keystone has seen the decking being eaten away due to erosion caused by wind and rain, plus weather extremities. And vegetation has taken over the bridge with a tree and many bushes growing near or on the bridge.

Still it’s never too late to rebuild and reuse the bridge. The Rosenstein Bridge has a similar resemblance to another stone arch bridge located nearby, the Eger Bridge near Reichenbach in the Vogtland. Currently, funding has been approved for restoring the crossing which has existed since the 1769 but has been closed to traffic for over 30 years, bypassed by a concrete crossing. The arch bridge has suffered a lot since its closure, having sustained extensive damage due to floods and weather extremities.

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For the Rosenstein Bridge, one will need to rebuild the bridge from scratch, using the same materials as when it was originally constructed. Yet in order for it to be sturdy, some sort of adhesive would be needed, which could affect the bridge’s historical significance. Currently, the bridge is only known to locals and there has been no word of whether the structure would be a cultural monument, which means it could be updated into the Cultural Heritage Books (Denkmalschutzbuch) for the State of Saxony. Still, as one can see with the failed attempt to stop the demolition of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke) near Aue (Saxony), just because a bridge is protected by the cultural heritage laws, does not mean that it cannot be torn down. That bridge was the very first structure in the state that was compromised by a replacement bridge through this concept, which puts many historic bridges and other structures on notice.

Yet in order to start the process of getting the bridge listed and saving it from the wrecking ball, we need more information on it. This will require some research at the local archives in Zwickau but also some help from additional people who may know about this bridge and can add to what I’ve collected so far. This is where you as the reader come in. Afterwards the state ministry of culture and heritage in Dresden will have to step in and do a study to determine the bridge’s historic significance. Once it’s listed, the bridge’s safe from demolition, and planning as well as fundraising can proceed to restore the structure, with proposals bouncing around on the local and state levels.

While it’s easy to do it in chronological order, there has been some consideration about removing the bridge and possibly replacing it. That means everything has to be done at once to ensure we can beat the clock. This was a painful lesson we learned the hard way with the Bockau Arch Bridge- we started late and were always behind the clock, for the state ministry of transport was three goals ahead in handball and we had no chance to even tie the game- meaning in this case, delay the demolition to allow Berlin and Dresden to have a look at the petition.

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So what do we know about this find? If you are a local, tell us. What can you do to help save and restore the bridge? If you have the expertise and the will, tell us. What can you do to get the public’s attention? Apart from social media, the newspaper and meeting with people, if you have some ideas on where to start, tell us. Thanks to Dieter and his friend with the dog, we know where the bridge is in, and we have a starting point on its history. It’s just a question of moving forward.

A link to the gallery of photos taken of the Rosenstein Brücke can be found here.

 

Author’s Note:

Apart from Dieter Hofmann, there’s David Hagebäumer from the Free Press newspaper in Zwickau to thank for bringing this matter to my attention. Without the three of you and the dog, this bridge would’ve quietly vanished into history. Now we know about this gem, and knowing is half the battle.

 

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BHC Newsflyer 25 March 2019

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Podcast of all the events can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-25-march-2019

News stories with details of some of the headlines mentioned in the podcast:

Flooding in the Midwest devastates everything in its path including historic bridges

Summary of the historic bridges lost here

Aden Road Bridge in Virginia restored and in use again

Summary of the rehabilitation here

Call for Papers and Registration for the Society for Industrial Archeology Conference in Chicago

Registration and other information here

Viaduct in Atlanta’s Gulch district coming down

Information on the bridge, its replacement project and the revitalization concept here

Two 1950s bridges in Markelsheim (Bavaria) and Vilkerath (NRW) being replaced

Key Rhine Bridge and Rail line between Karlsruhe and Saarbrücken to be reused?

BHC subscriptions hacked

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The Flensburg Files

Pittsburgh pays tribute to John F. Graham

 

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