The 57th pic of the week takes us to the second to last bridge I photographed along the original Motorway A 72 between Chemnitz and Hof (the last one will come in the next pic). This one is located east of Plauen and has a unique history. The Pöhl Viaduct is a seven-span stone arch bridge that was built from 1937 until its completion in 1940. The 232-meter long viaduct once spanned the valley of the River Pöhl near the village that bore that name, as well as the neighboring villages of Altensalz and Neuensalz. What was once a viaduct spanning a valley became a viaduct spanning a lake, as the Pöhl Reservoir (in German: Talsperre Pöhl) was created in 1964. The project took seven years and included the relocation of residents from Pöhl, the dredging of the valley and lastly, the construction of the dam on the north side of the reservoir as well as two dams and locks at Alten- and Neuensalz. This pic was taken from a boat, as we were on a boat tour along the Reservoir. The viaduct is difficult to photograph due to a lack of access from land. Therefore, it is recommended to spend 13 Euros and enjoy the boat tour that lasts an hour and gives you a brief look at what a person can find along the Reservoir. After all, one will never get an opportunity to photograph a bridge crossing emerald green water.
By the way, where did that emerald green water come from, anyway? 🙂
: The Reservoir Pöhl can be accessed by exiting either Treuen or Plauen-Ost. The area provides great opportunities to go swimming, (sail-)boating or hiking. There are many campgrounds nearby where one can camp while enjoying the views.
The next mystery bridge takes us further towards the Czech Republic, right into the town of Olbernhau. With a population of 11,000 inhabitants, the community is known as the City of Seven Valleys, because of the valley of the River Flöha and ist six other tributaries that meet there. Because of that, the community has many historic bridges that one needs plenty of time to visit, even though the length of the crossings are short enough to equal either one 50 foot pony truss span or one arch span of between 15 and 20 meters.
Nevertheless, our focus of this mystery bridge is the longest of the spans, a railroad bridge spanning the River Flöha on the far eastern edge of town, right at the Czech Border. Its exact location can be found in the map below. The bridge is easy to find for when heading east, you cross both the railroad tracks and the bridge before turning right. The railroad bridge is on the right-hand side.
The railroad bridge is one of the most unusual of truss bridges in Europe and beyond. The 68-meter long crossing features a skewed span, where the truss panels are placed parallel of each other along the tracks but in a slanted position at around 60°. That means the truss panel on the left side starts first and after 20 meters, the right one. While there are no portal bracings that support the two truss panelings, the horizontal strut bracings- five panels of them- hold the trusses together. The struts consist of the system of Pratt-heel bracings angled at 15° with the center portion being M-framed. The truss bridge itself is a camelback Lattice truss design with riveted connections, yet they are not the typical truss designs used for the bridges. These have stiffened connections similar to the designs patented by Claus Köpke, an engineer responsible for the construction of the Blaue Wunder Brücke, Marienbrücke and the Alberthafenbrücken all in Dresden as well as a railroad bridge in Riesa. Köpke started his career as a bridge engineer, building bridges from 1872 until his death in 1911. And while he left his mark in the greater Dresden area and parts of Thuringia, it is unknown whether he built many crossings in the Ore Mountains, let alone at this location.
The bridge was built in 1895, according to historic records and is the longest of the bridges, not only in Olbernhau but also along the rail line and the River Flöha. The construction of the bridge was part of the extension of the rail line from Olbernhau to Neuhausen, running along the Czech border. The crossing is part of the rail line that connected Pockau-Lengenfeld and Neuhausen, where the line was completed at Olbernhau in 1873, and 12 years later, extended to Nauhausen. The line was shut down in 2001 due to structural issues along the tracks and other infrastructure, yet was reactivated in 2011 after years of campaigning on the part of the mayor of Olbernhau combined with renovating the line, its train stations, and the crossings along the River Flöha. Today, the Deutsche Bahn Regional Services operates the line as it terminates in Flöha.
The bridge is listed as a German heritage site and has been since 1998, yet still its historical significance is unknown. Did Köpke oversee the construction of the bridge as part of the rail project? If not, was he responsible for the design and another bridge builder took to the task? If neither that nor that, who was the genius behind this design? This question remains open for both the readers and bridge fans, as well as the locals in and around Olbernhau. If you have any information on the bridge builder behind this bridge, please contact the Chronicles. Whatever information is useful will be added here and the Office of German Heritage (Büro für Denkmalschutz) will be able to add this to the file that exists to this day. Whatever you can find will be much useful for the region and its enriched historic heritage.
In other words, your contribution will be of utmost use. Thank you for your support.
Call for help to save a historic bridge in Missouri; A city in Saxony to receive three new bridges; Man pees off of bridge onto ship; A historic bridge gets a new home at a park in Indiana and at a church in Massachusetts; Changes to take place for the Chronicles.
Calls to Halt MoDOT’s plan to demolish Gasconade Bridge
Hazlegreen, MO:The future of the Gasconade Bridge near Hazlegreen is in the balance. Between now and July 5th, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is collecting information from residents concerning the multiple-span through truss bridge that was built 95 years ago but has been closed to traffic since 2015. A replacement span is being constructed on a new alignment to carry a frontage road which used to be Route 66. Should the majority favor keeping the bridge, then it will be up to MoDOT, who had built the structure, to find a way to keep it out of the hands of the wrecker. Information on how you can help can be found by clicking here.
Flöha to Receive Three New Bridges
Flöha (Saxony), Germany-Eight months after a fire destroyed the Apfelsinebrücke (Orange Bridge) near the city center, the city council approved a deal to construct a new bridge that spans the River Zschopau near the City Park Baumwolle. Unlike the previous structure, which was built in the early 1980s, this one will be lower and without steps thus allowing for cyclists to cross. The cost will be 800,000 Euros. It is one of three bridges that the city is looking to replace. The others include replacing the Kirschenbrücke (Cherry Bridge) at Augustusstrasse, which spans the same river. The 120-year old two span arch bridge will be replaced with a beam structure with no center pier in the river. Originally, the arch bridge was supposed to be rehabilitated, yet floodwaters in 2013 caused extensive damage that made even rebuilding the bridge to its original form impossible due to costs deemed exorbitant. The 2.3 million Euro project includes rebuilding the street approaching the bridge. The third bridge to be replaced is a wooden through arch bridge located near Niederwiesa. Built in 2006, the bridge is deemed unsafe due to deterioration in the wood. Its replacement structure will be a steel through arch bridge with truss features. It will still carry the Zschopau Bike trail connecting Flöha and Frankenberg. All three projects are scheduled to start this fall and is expected to last a year.
Man Pees off Historic Bridge onto Tour Ship in Berlin- 4 injured
And lastly, some changes are coming to the Chronicles. After two years in Schneeberg, its main office is being moved to Glauchau, located 10 kilometers north of Zwickau in western Saxony. The city of 24,000 is the center point between the cities of Jena and Erfurt to the west and Chemnitz and Dresden to the east. The move is ongoing and is expected to last through August. The Chronicles will have some pauses in between due to the move. Furthermore, the Chronicles no longer is available on Skrive, for the platform was shut down on June 15th. However, it is pursuing other social media platforms to provide coverage, which will include the use of Spotify and other podcast apps, as well as some local platforms for better coverage in the US and Europe. The project is expected to last until the end of August. To give you an idea of the move, check out the Chronicles’ on Instagram, which has a series on Moving Art.
As the state of Bavaria is striving for the world record with the construction of the longest pedestrian suspension bridge over the Selbitz Valley near the Thuringian-Bavarian border, one wonders if the project is too ambitious, given the fact that we have too many “marode” bridges in the region. Apart from the problems with the Sparnberg Bridge near the Motorway Crossing at Rudolphstein, we have another crossing that needs attention very badly. And for a good reason too: the bridge is located right at the junction of seven different hiking trails going in each direction!
The Selbitz Bridge is located in the small town of Blankenstein, located on the Thuringian side of the former East-West German border. The bridge spans the river Selbitz and is the last crossing before it empties into the River Saale. For four kilometers between the confluence with the Saale and the junction with Muschwitz Creek, the Selbitz separates the two states and had once been a military border that kept Blankenstein behind the Iron Curtain and people from fleeing over the river. In fact, only a kilometer northeast of the confluence between the Selbitz and the Saale, there was a site of an attempted escape to the western half of Germany, which occurred on 6 January, 1989, nine months before the Fall of the Wall. There, three men and a lady tried escaping over the wall erected on the Thuringian side during the night. After going over the first wall and approaching the second inside the “Death Zone,” they were spotted by East German and Russian guards who shot at them. Eventually, one of the men succeeded in swimming across the icy cold Saale into Bavaria; the other three were arrested. Blankenstein was one of the key escape routes used by many wanting to try and escape to the West until the borders were opened on 9 November, 1989. Some succeeded by breaking through the barriers. Others were arrested and imprisoned. One fatality was recorded in 1964.
After the Fall of the Wall came the demolition of the borders that had separated the two Germanys for 28 years. And with that, the construction of several bridges over the rivers and streams that had been fenced off. The Selbitz Bridge was one of the bridges that was built crossing the former border. Originally a Waddell through truss bridge, the 29-meter long wooden crossing was completed in 1991. With that came an opportunity to reunite Thuringia and Bavaria by foot, providing hikers with an opportunity to explore the Thuringian Forest, the Fichtel Mountains and the Schiefgebirge using seven hiking trails- six here plus another one in the making that runs along the former border that had separated Germany prior to November 1989. After the construction of the bridge, two monuments, built on each side of the Selbitz, as well as parking areas and a combination tourist information and first aid station were built, where the six current (and one planned) routes meet. The bridge practically served as the key meeting point between two points of junction, one for each state.
Despite the bridge connecting the two states, problems arose in 2015 with the truss structure itself. Due to a combination of weather extremities, wear and tear and the damages caused by the two floods that ravaged Germany- 2002 and 2013, the Selbitz Bridge was considered structurally unsound, getting a grade of 3.4 out of 5 during an annual inspection in 2016. Bridges with a grade of 3 or worse are required to be rehabilitated to make it safer or be completely replaced. The end result was an unusual move designed to keep the structure’s integrity but also give the bridge a new look. Hence the gabled tower and the top half of the Waddell truss were taken down, new bracings were added in its place, thus creating a Parker through truss design that is supported with X-framed portal bracings. Furthermore, the decking was supported with leaning beams with x-bracings, anchored into the abutment, as seen in the picture below:
Inspite this, this may not be enough to save the bridge, for a lot of wood rot and cracks are appearing in the lower half of the trusses. Most glaring are the end posts, one of which looks so shredded that it could potentially cause the bridge to collapse under ist weight or even flip over into the water. The least it could happen is that the trusses would tilt, putting more tension on the wooden truss parts. While some work has been done on the bridge already, with the truss conversion, it only represents a dressing to the problems the bridge has and the inevitable that the City of Blankenstein as well as the states of Thurngia and Bavaria will have to face- namely that the bridge will need to be replaced. Whether there is funding available remains unclear, especially in light of the recent approval of the construction of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in the world at Lohbachtal and Höllental at the cost of 23 Million Euros.
While this controversial project remains ambitious and will surely bring in hundreds of thousands of tourists to the region, one wonders if this project is being carried out at the expense of several bridges in the region that are in dire need of attention. And the numbers are growing as more people come to the region for vacationing. By making the necessary repairs to the crossings, like in Sparnberg and here in Blankenstein, it will do more than provide safety for drivers, cyclists and hikers.
A Map of the Bridges at the Thuringian-Bavarian border can be found here. The Selbitz Bridge is on the far left.
Hof District Council Members vote unanimously for the 23 million Euro project. Construction to start immediately; to be completed by 2022
HOF (BAVARIA)/ SCHLEIZ (THURINGIA), GERMANY- There is an old religious saying: As I walk in the valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for the Lord will be here with me, helping my way through. Apparently, the Lord did find a creative way at the Thuringian-Bavarian border near the village of Lichtenberg to guide people through the valley (known as the Selbitz) but in mid-air.
The district council of Hof voted unanimously yesterday in favor of the project that will
feature the longest suspension bridge of its kind in the world. The vote count was 35 for and 15 against. Construction is expected to start very soon and is slated to be completed by the beginning of 2022 at the latest- a span of ca. 18 months.
As wide and steep as the valley of the Selbitz is, the project will feature two pedestrian
suspension bridges: one that will be 380 meters and suspended by cables, supported by two pylon towers, one of which will be anchored at the castle ruin Burg Lichtenberg. That will span the Lohbach Valley. The second suspension bridge will careen the valley of the Selbitz, eventually crossing it enroute to the Thuringian border near Blankenberg. Known as the Höllentalbrücke, the span of 1030 meters will break the record set by another suspension bridge in Germany, located in the Harz region in Saxony-Anhalt (see article here). That bridge was built in 2017. Both bridges will be built using solely steel and will feature spans resembling the letter „S“. A video depicting what the suspension bridges will look like can be seen below:
News on the Decision and the Opposition:
In addition to that, a tourist information center at Lichtenberg and viewing platforms will be erected to allow for tourists and hikers to enjoy the view of the forest from high above. The cost for the project is estimated to cost 23 million Euros- 14 million will be allocated to the two bridges, while the rest will be used for the platforms, the tourist information center, marketing strategies and lastly but most importantly, the protection of the natural habitat and the historic castle ruin at Lichtenberg- two major areas of concern that opposers of the project demonstrated at meetings, rallies and the like, prior to the vote yesterday. The costs will be financed by the Bavarian government (80%) and local municipalities (20%). This doesn’t include the cost for accessing the suspension bridge from the Thuringia, for the town of Blankenstein will have to shoulder, according to the OTZ-Newspaper.
Discussion on the Proposal:
With the project given the official go, the new suspension bridge will provide not only the visitors a chance to see the heavily forested and mountainous Franconian Forest, with a chance to see the Fichtel Mountains, the Länderdreiecken, the cities of Hof and Bayreuth on the Bavarian side as well as the Saaletal region where Lobenstein, Saalburg and Schleiz from the air. It will also provide direct passage through the valleys, where „evil lurks“ by walking on air. That was the Lord’s plan to begin with and for many, it will be a blessing. 🙂
Map of the proposed bridges:
1. The Länderdreiecken refer to two points where three states meet. One is near the village of Prex (Bavaria), where the German states of Saxony and Bavaria as well as the Czech Republic meet. The other is near the village of Mödlareuth, where the three German states of Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria meet. At both areas the former East-West German borders once separated Bavaria (American zone) from the Communist regions, where Saxony and Thuringia once belonged to East Germany (GDR), and the Czech Republic, which was once the western half of Czechoslovakia. That country existed from 1919 until the Velvet Divorce in 1993.
2. The District of Saale-Orla is considering many options to provide access to the suspension bridges from Blankenstein. One is providing E-service, but there may be more options on the table. Discussions with the Thuringian government has not yet begun as of this posting.
3. The Europa Suspension Bridgenear Randa in Switzerland, opened in late 2017, now holds the record previously set by the suspension bridge in the Harz Region, with a span of 494 meters.
4. The suspension bridge project is the second project along the former East-West German border that is in motion. The bike trail, which extends from the Dreieck near Prex to Blankenberg is also being built with vast stretches going along the route formerly known as the Death Zone. Much of it has been completed and open for use. This includes going through the village of Mödlareuth, where a museum devoted to the former border is located. More on that via links: