BHC Pic of the Week 11

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This Bridge Pic of the Week features not just one, but three pics- all of which are of the same bridge. The Rochsburg Suspension is a hidden gem that can be easily missed if a cyclist or tourist does not pay attention to where one is going. The bridge is deep in the Valley of the Zwickau Mulde River, located in the vicinity of Lunzenau. One has to drive over 200 meters down in zig-zagging motion, going through narrow streets lined with houses, plus a railroad underpass in order to get to the bridge. The best photos of the bridge are taken with the castle in the background, as it provides a great backdrop, especially on a nice day like this one, regardless of which angle to choose. I have two of them picked out to give you an idea: this one and the one below:

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However, do not be surprised if you see remnance of an older bridge, situated opposite the side of the castle as you cross. I took this one below while at the parking lot next to the bridge:

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There is a history that goes along with the Rochsburg Bridge. The present bridge (in the background here)  was built in 2011 and is the fourth bridge at this location. The first bridge was built in 1878. The second one replaced it in 1936. Both were destroyed by floodwaters. The bridge in the foreground in this picture here is what is left of the combination cantuilever/suspension bridge that was built in 1954. Unlike the previous two, that bridge survived the Great Flood of 2002 but the structure weakened to a point where construiction of the new was needed. The current bridge was built alongside the old one until it was finished in 2011. Afterwards, this section of bridge was saved and put on display, which was decorated with photos and history of the bridges.

In either case, the Rochsburg Suspension Bridge is a neat crossing that takes you across the river and towards the castle. You can get some great views of the river and Rochsburg while at the same time, learn some history of how the castle and the bridge itself came ínto being. And therefore this bridge is our Pic of the Week.

 

Note: This is the last regular entry of the Chronicles for now. I’m on holiday/vacation for the next three weeks and therefore, the Chronicles will be on semi-hiatus. However, enjoy the articles posted as well as the tour guides. More will come when the author returns to duty in August. 🙂

You can also follow him through the Flensburg Files. He plans on doing a series on American road trip, looking at it from his own perspective. You can click here, which will redirect you to trhe sister column.

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 100: The Bridge at Fischweg in Chemnitz

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CHEMNITZ (GERMANY)- I’m going to be very honest for this mystery bridge, which is the 100th structure I’ve posted since launching the series in 2011. It was very, VERY difficult to decide which one to post next, for there was a large selection to choose from, ranging from an abandoned bridge along Route 66, a three-span through truss bridge in Oklahoma, a suspension bridge in India and this bridge. After some thorough consideration, I decided to go with the way that is the best in terms of my own merit as the structures have been mentioned by others in one way or another.

So here it comes: a through truss bridge that has been sitting on private land for a very long time, on the outskirts of a city that was for some time named after a Communist. Found by accident but not before almost getting my Volkswagen rammed into by a lorry behind me, who was cussing at me in Polish as he passed me by, after having parked my car off to the side. 😉

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OK, the Polish guy part was fake news, but looking at the rest of the picture, one can see that you don’t need to fact-check this beauty.  The bridge is located just off Highway 107, three kilometers north of the Motorway A4 and the Exit Chemnitz-Glösa. It sits on private land next to the restaurant and hotel Landgasthof Draisdorf, around the curve.  It is an eight-panel Pratt through truss bridge, built using welded connections- meaning the beams are held together by gusset plates and are not inserted into the plates, like we would see in other truss bridges. The end posts are typical for many European truss bridges built during its time: vertical instead of angled. The portal and strut bracings feature V-laced bracings with curved heel bracings. The middle strut heels appear to be subdivided.  The bridge can be seen from the highway- although it is not recommended to stop because the highway curves around the Landgasthof and one could risk such a rear- ender plus an explanation with the police to follow.  The bridge is about 5-6 meters tall, about 30-35 meters long and 3 meters wide, judging by my presence at the bridge and the photos I took of the bridge. While the bridge is one of five known in Chemnitz, this is the only through truss bridge within the city limits, counting the village of Draisdorf, where it sits.

The fun part comes with the history of the bridge. My first judgement of the bridge was that it was located over the River Chemnitz at Heinersdorfer Strasse and it was pulled offsite and to its current location after a new bridge was constructed 100 meters to the south. The truss bridge was replaced by a new bridge in 2005.  You can see the points mentioned on the map. However, research by the Saxony Ministry of Historic Monuments and Preservation (D: Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Sachsen) in Dresden indicated that this truss bridge was not originally located at Heinersdorfer Strasse but at Fischweg near the cemetary in Glösa, only 400 meters south of the motorway exit. The map indicates that a bridge does exist but in a form of a bike and pedestrian crossing for the street ends on the grounds of a factory nearby. The date of construction of the bridge is 1900 and is currently listed in the Preservation Handbook for the State of Saxony (Denkmalschutzliste).

This leads us to the following questions which your help would be much appreciated in contributing whatever information may be of use:

  1. Is the date 1900 correct? Sometimes the year is used because of a lack of clarity in terms of when exactly it was built and open to traffic.
  2. If the bridge was not originally located at Heinersdorfer Strasse, what did the previous structure look like? When was it built and was it built by the same bridge builder as this bridge?
  3. Independent of what was mentioned in nr. 2, who was the bridge builder for this bridge?
  4. When was the current structure at Heinersdorfer Strasse built and what happened to the old structure?
  5. What factors led to the replacement of this bridge and who led the efforts in saving it for reuse?

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It’s not every day that a person and/or party steps forward to purchase the bridge and keep it for reuse. The bridge is privately owned and judging by my observations, it is being used as a picnic area with a porch swing attached to the top strut bracing. For most historic bridges that are purchased by private groups-namely homeowners, they are normally used for picnic areas and other forms of recreation more than for pedestrian and bike crossings because of liability reasons. It is different in comparison with private parties in the form of associations, park and recreational groups and the community that have more resources (including financial) to make sure the crossing is safe for reuse. But nevertheless, this bridge is safe and will most likely be in the hands of the homeowner until the need to get rid of it is near. When that happens, it can be hoped that the bridge is put back over the Chemnitz as a bike crossing. With the Chemnitztal Bike Path being extended and paved to Wechselburg, it would not be a surprise if this bridge was called to duty again given its preservation status and the interest in keeping it for generations to come.

And this is what makes this unexpected stop the most memorable- finding out the unknown about a structure like this one, which is truly a hidden gem.

And as we are on the same page, the next mystery bridge will go further downstream where a pair of structures are being refitted for bike use. More on this one in the next article. In the meantime, enjoy the photos here as well as on BHC’s facebook page.  And as for the aforementioned bridges at the beginning of the page, they will come later.

 

Author’s Note: Chemnitz was once named Karl-Marx-Stadt when it was under the rule of the German Democratic Republic. It even had a head statue of Karl Marx that can still be seen today. From 1953 until 1990, it was known that way.

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Bridges Should Be Beautiful by Ian Firth

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Abstract from ted.com: Bridges need to be functional, safe and durable, but they should also be elegant and beautiful, says structural engineer Ian Firth. In this mesmerizing tour of bridges old and new, Firth explores the potential for innovation and variety in this essential structure — and how spectacular ones reveal our connectivity, unleash our creativity and hint at our identity.

Author’s Note: This video came about via tip from one of the pontists in one of the social network sites devoted to historic bridges and serves as a reminder to another article published a week earlier on by Scottish engineers suggesting American bridge builders look for sources of inspiration in places outside their borders. In the past two decades, many new structures have been built to supplant other, fancier historic bridges, whose design presents an appealing taste to the public. The mentality of quantity versus quality at the lowest possible cost but at the same time with little or no maintenance for a century has resulted in blocks of concrete with no character ruling the rivers and streams with little or no aesthetic value. This myth is just a fantasy and is miles away from reality that we see on highways and in cities today. No wonder that protests against such projects to replace historic bridges with boring, bland modern structures presented by agencies with dilluted and questionable facts are increasing sharply, as we are seeing with the debate over the future of Frank Wood Memorial Bridge in Maine, for example.  The advice to take from the article (accessed here) and by looking at the video below is this: If a bridge needs to be replaced, find a way to reuse the structure for other purposes and if a new bridge is needed, please with an aesthetic appeal that the community will be happy with. Sometimes looking to Europe, Asia or even Africa will help engineers be creative and place quality over quantity. Better is looking at the bridge designs that have been discarded and experimenting with them. After all, money does not matter to bridge building. Communities and the lives of the People living there do, though.

Enjoy the Ted Talk Video  below. 🙂

Video:

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 8

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The next pic of the week will most likely be one of the author’s key findings deserving of the Author’s Choice Awards not just because of its unique design, but also because it is located in a small village which it overshadows. The Strassberg Viaduct is a 300 meter long Bowstring Whipple through arch bridge that spans one of the tributaries that empties into the White Elster River in the village bearing its name. This bridge was built in 2007 and replaced a multiple-span concrete arch bridge built in 1874 but was no longer suitable for rail traffic. While the arch viaduct was small and its height was lower than the grain elevators and church which had been the tallest in the village, this bridge is the tallest of the architecture. The bridge was built in time for the village’s 825th anniversary in 2019 and continues to serve rail traffic connecting Gera with Weichlitz via Greiz, Elsterberg and Plauen operated by Erfurter Bahn Services. The photo taken at sundown shows the gigantic size of the structure even overshadowing the stone arch bridge shown in the background. Strassberg itself has five bridges including this one. All of them will be mentioned in the tour guide on the bridges in and around Plauen.

So, stay tuned! 🙂

 

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Till Eulenspiegel on the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt

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ERFURT, GERMANY-  In Germany, we have quite a few satire magazines that poke fun at politics and social issues affecting Germany today. The Eulenspiegel is one of those satire magazines that is also one of the most popular a person can find at the book store. It was founded in 1954 and was the only known satire magazine in the former German Democratic Republic until German Reunification in 1990. Based in Berlin, the magazine still exists in its original form today (see link) but its origin goes back many centuries.

To the 15th Century and in the form of Till Eulenspiegel, that is. 🙂

The story of Till Eulenspiegel was first published as a chapbook in 1515 and is still considered a typical Middle German Folklore by many Germanists and historians today. The character Eulenspiegel:  “is native of Brunswick whose picaresque career takes him to many places throughout the Holy Roman Empire. He plays practical jokes on his contemporaries, especially scatological in nature, exposing vices at every turn. His life is set in the first half of the 14th century, and the final chapters of the chapbook describe his death from the plague of 1350. His name translates to “owl mirror”, and the frontispiece of the 1515 chapbook, as well as his alleged tombstone in Mölln, Schleswig-Holstein, display the name in rebus writing, by an owl and a hand mirror.” Many artefacts honoring Eulenspiegel can be found today. Museums in Mölln (Schleswig-Holstein), Schöppenstedt, Presseck-Waffenhammer, and Damme (Belgium) are devoted to the works of Till Eulenspiegel, where as monuments honoring him can be found in Bernburg (Saale), Einbeck (Lower Saxony), Knetlingen, Calbe (Saale), Magdeburg,

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….and Erfurt, the site of this year’s Krämerbrücke Festival.

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As many as 130,000 tourist visited the bridge this past weekend and were taken aback by the thousands of shoes and quotes that covered the oldest bridge in the city and one of the oldest housed bridges of its kind in the world. The answer stems from Eulenspiegel’s folklore, which went along these lines:

One day in a small village, Till Eulenspiegel asked for 199 people to come follow him to the river. He announced that he was going to present a circus act and  asked them to take off their left shoe and give it to him. He tied the shoe strings together and after placing them in a bag, he got onto a line he had tied to both sides of the river and balanced across it, before stopping halfway. He then took out the shoes and threw them down into the crowd, where they searched frantically for their left shoe. He was later pursued by the townspeople only to end in vain as he was hiding inside his mother’s house.

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While the theme of shoes and Posters with commentaries by the most unpopular leaders, including Donald Trump, became the theme for this year’s Bridge Festival in Erfurt, it actually honored Eulenspiegel and his folklore in different ways. Firstly, volunteers donated their left shoe days before the three-day event so that they can hang them onto strings that went across from side to side (and from house to house) on the Bridge. Secondly, when the festival ended, the shoes were taken down but not before having small gifts inside for the owners to receive upon getting their shoes back. It was a creative way to honor Eulenspiegel with his “prank-style” decorations on the Bridge, making the visitors guess at the origins of the left shoe. 🙂

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The Festival was bigger than in years past with over 190 booths offering arts and crafts as well as different Kinds of Food and beverage s that were typical of the region. Yet the Festival is typically musical as it had a combination of Medieval music and jazz that one could see in each of the seven market squares in Erfurt’s City Center and the Bridge itself.

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Despite having mostly sunny skies, the Festival was shadowed by Germany’s loss to Mexico in the first round of the World Cup in Russia. While there was public viewing throughout much of the Festival, the mood was somewhat somber when Yogi’s 11 lost by a score of 1-0, ist first loss in the first round of the World Cup since 1982. The Coach Joachim (Yogi) Loewe is currently retooling the Team for ist upcoming match with Sweden in hopes that the defending World Champions of 2014 will be able to win the last two games and move on, defending their title against possible Teams that have been upending traditional Teams lately.

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Will they succeed or will Yogi look for a new Job as a Coach, we will stay tuned and see. 🙂

In the meantime, enjoy the photos of the Festival both here as well as on the Chronicles’ Instagram page, not to mentioned the rest of the World Cup. 🙂  Information on the history of the Krämerbrücke can be found here as the Chronicles did a coverage on Erfurt’s bridges in 2012 and included this bridge as a separate part.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 7

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This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to Germany and to the state of Saxony. This time, however, we are going to the Vogtland region and to this city, Plauen.  With 66,200 inhabitants, the city is the capital of the Vogtland district and is the second largest city along the White Elster River, The city is the sixth largest in the state behind Zwickau, Chemnitz, Görlitz, Leipzig and Dresden. And this historic arch bridge is one of the oldest in Saxony. It was built in 1636 and had served traffic connecting its city center with the southern suburbs before it was decommissioned in favor of a concrete bridge, built 40 meters to the west, in 2001. The bridge has since been repurposed as a pedestrian and bike crossing and even has a beach pub on the northern bank of the river.

This shot was taken at sundown in May 2018 and features the bridge, the city’s skyline featuring the cathedral and the tower of the city hall, and a colorful background that makes this sunset shot a “once in a lifetime” one, even after making some artwork out of it with Instagram.

As far as the other bridges in Plauen are concerned, there are at least two dozen structures in the city as well as within a radius of 10 kilometers. They include those in the outlying areas, such as Jocketa, Oessnitz, Weichlitz and even Pirk, some of them being viaducts carrying either the Nuremberg-Hof-Chemnitz-Dresden Railline or the Motorway A 72 which originally connected Chemnitz with Hof but has now included an Extension to Leipzig-Süd. The author is in the process of touring the area and will have a tour guide ready by the end of this year. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the scenery this Bridge and the city’s guideline presents you.

Have a nice Weekend! 🙂

 

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BHC Bridge Pic of the Week Nr. 4

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The next pic of the week takes us a kilometer or two downstream along the Zwickau Mulde to this bridge, the Paradiesbrücke.   Built in 1900 by a bridge builder located in Schlesia (now in the Czech Republic), the bridge is unique for it was the first cantilever truss bridge that has one tower and has no overhead chords, as seen with the Queensboro Bridge in New York City. Until the opening of the Lunzernau Bridge in 2017, it hd been the only bridge of its kind in Germany and on the European continent. It is the most ornamnetal of the bridges along the river, which is 280 kilometers long from its starting point in Schönebeck (near Plauen) until its merger with the Freiberger Mulde south of Grimma.

This Instagram photo was taken at sundown where the skies were clear blue and the sun was setting. Because the skyline of Zwickau is to the west of the bridge, this shot was necessary for the buildings on the west end are mainly condominiums from the East German period (1949-1990). This was taken from the Mulde Bike Path at a park that opened in 2004 and was part of the project that included building a tunnel for the main highway B-93 and the rehabilitation and reuse of this bridge, which is now a pedestrian crossing. At night, the bridge is also well-lit by its gas-powered lanterns, flanked by yellow sodium lamps on both sides of the river bank (check out the Chronicles’ tumblr page to see the difference).  Yet the yellow lamps will eventually be replaced with white LEDS. Once completed, it will be brighter but the color difference will be much different, be it to our liking or disdain.  🙂

More information about this bridge, plus pics, you an find here.

 

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