HAZELGREEN/ ST. LOUIS- In connection with the recent pull-out of Workin Bridges from the Gasconade Bridge Project, members of the Group, now known as the Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians, have been Meeting to come up with plans to save the Bridge itself but on a small scale. As mentioned in a release on Monday, the withdrawl of the Grinnell-based organization owned by Julie Bowers was due to a combination of lack of concept in restoring the multiple span through truss Bridge, built at the same time of the Establishment of the mother road Route 66 between Chicago, but also some restoration and funding techniques that were considered questionable. After the meeting of 12 February, members have agreed to continue on with their own concept and have drawn out guidelines as to how to save the bridge without all the hassle. As mentioned in a conversation with Rich Dinkela, the motivational factor presented by Workin Bridges was (and still is) the catalyst to continuing the strive to preserve a pure treasure like the Gasconade. Yet as seen in the stories and some literature written about the Mother Road and its crossings, despite many artefacts having been abandoned or replaced in the name of progress, one cannot save everything, just those that are considered attachments to the communities and friends of Route 66. And those that can be saved like the Gasconade and other bridges are best done in small steps and on a tiny scale, sometimes at low costs.
Here is the Press Release made by the Guardians. You can visit their Facebook page entitled The Rte. 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians. You can follow their page as they will be providing updates on fundraising and preservation plans:
The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians (Guardians) have been working hard to raise awareness of the potential fate of the Bridge since MoDot closed it to traffic in December 2014. Our efforts during the past 3 plus years resulted in a “stay of execution” for the Bridge and brought a company, Workin’ Bridges into the picture. After 5 months of their own efforts however, they have backed out of the project. The Guardians met again Feb 11, 2018, to discuss new ideas for bringing life back into the rescue effort.
We will be working hard in the coming months to raise the money necessary to save our Bridge. 1. We need to finance an engineering assessment of the condition of the bridge and obtain an estimate of costs required to make the bridge safe – perhaps for bicycle and or light traffic. Anticipated cost of survey $8,000-$10,000. 2. We need to create a persona associated with the Bridge so that it becomes a travel destination point 3. We need to figure out how we can create a situation so that the Bridge can help pay for its costs (insurance & continued upkeep). 4. We’d like to find an organization, private or governmental, that’s willing to take ownership of the Bridge. We believe it has much potential.
The Guardians core group is 8 people strong – but we believe we have hundreds – no thousands – of folks that are ready and willing to help us. We (Guardians) pledge that we will be transparent to the public with what we do, what our goals are, how much money we raise, and how it’s spent. We need your help in spreading the word, and we need your help in raising the funds needed, and we will need whatever time and talent you can donate to the cause of saving this grand old lady – The Gasconade River Bridge.
San Antonio, Texas- one of the most unique cities in the state. With a population of 1.5 million inhabitants, the city, which was founded by the Spanish over 200 years ago, is rich in its history and cultural heritage. It is home of the Alamo, the site of the battle for Texas where all of the rangers who fought the troops under Santa Ana lost their lives, triggering the famous cry by Sam Houston, which won the war against the Mexicans. It is home of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team with its storied history of championships in the NBA. And it is home of the famous River Walk and its numerous bridges along the route.
While San Antonio has as many bridges as Pittsburgh, the majority of the city’s historic bridges are located along the River Walk. The idea of the River Walk dates back to a tragedy that took many lives more than 90 years ago. In 1921, flooding along the river devastated much of San Antonio, killing 90 people. It was when city planners undertook a massive effort to create a series of dams and diversion canals, designed to reroute the river around the city. While work commenced on the Olmos Dam and diversion canals in 1926, the conservation society stopped a proposal to construct a pavement sewer canal, thus leading to one local architect who conceived an idea which became the face of today’s city center.
Robert Hugman (1902-1980) submitted his plan for the canal and riverwalk project in 1929. Despite opposition to the plan, Hugman received backing from mayor Jack White, who in 1938 passed a bond that resulted in the beautification of the city center along the river. There, 4 kilometers of canals, walkways and many bridges were constructed as part of the Works Progress Administration, resulting in the increase of commerce and tourism. Many bridges crossing the River Walk today date back to the late 1930s.
This takes us to a pair of videos that will show you the River Walk area according to boat tour. While the Hays Street Bridge is not among those crossing the river, there are some others that are as old as the 1887 structure but were brought to the River Walk area.
Can you find out how many bridges cross the River Walk area? And if so, which types of bridges and from which eras did they come from. Click onto the data file from bridgehunter.com (here) and compare. You will be amazed at the number of (many historic) bridges that you can see while touring by boat.
Workin Bridges withdraws support due to questions about its transparency and methods of preservation; Friends of the Gasconade Bridge regrouping to find other ways of preserving the historic bridge.
HAZELGREEN, MISSOURI- Members of the Group Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians are regrouping after a major donor, Workin Bridges, has withdrawn support for preserving the historic bridge near Hazelgreen. According to a statement by the director Julie Bowers, the Grinell, Iowa-based organization plans to return the $6900 in donations to the members beginning this week after having been confronted by many members of the Route 66 Guardians about the organization’s credibility and transparency in terms of collecting donations and using the money for preserving the bridge.
In a statement provided by Ed Klein at Route 66 World, he stated that the lack of communication between Bowers and members affiliated with not only the efforts to preserve the historic bridge but other Route 66 organizations combined with a lack of vision was one of the key factors in leading to some discord during the project:
Actually, the Guardians were the ones who started it, and if I remember correctly they reached out to see who can help, and your group came in, on your white horse, to save the day. To be fair, it seemed like this is ‘what you do’ so at the time it seemed like a natural fit BUT as time went on and very little info was passed out and around, and the fact of any real transparency of where the money is going, we are here at this moment fighting about it.
— If you feel the bridge will not be saved in the alloted time, why the continuous fundraising and donations?
— If the bridge does not get saved, what happens to the funds that were given to you to save the BRIDGE, and not for admin and travel costs?
— Is there more than one “bucket” for funds (donations for particular bridge projection versus admin and other expenses)?
— If not, why not?
— If so, why is the donations for repairing the bridge (and engineering costs) going elsewhere (like road trips)?
And for the record, I can swear on the lives of my children the vast majority of us would be RIGHT behind you and helping you, but you never once asked (other than donations) and the information we all received as a sparse, if at all.
This is not new as some have reported that there have been other historic bridge projects that were burned by the organization’s politicking, including one in Iowa where members of that group are seeking returned funding collected by Workin Bridges through legal action.
Bowers said according to MoDOT estimates, repairing the bridge would take $3.1 million, including $1.2 million in removing lead paint. This was disputed by Rich Dinkela, one of the members of the Guardians Group, claiming that the removal of lead paint from the bridge may not be a necessity in restoring the bridge. Dinkela is one of the leaders of the group and has a collection of videos on youtube that is devoted to Route 66 (click here for details). A Revive 66 website had been planned where donations of $66 per person would go towards projects along the Mother Road, including the Gasconade Bridge. A total of $7000 had been collected before Bowers cut the cord on the project last week. That money collected was meant for marketing, yet as Dinkela mention in an interview, it was one of many grandiose ideas for the project, which included establishing an investment account, where the interest accrued from the thousands of dollars donated would be used for insurance and inspections. Another was converting the bridge into the longest bar on the route- a concept mentioned by John McNulty, manager of Grand Canyon Caverns in Arizona.
With many ideas out there that were met with scrutiny and opposition because of the practicality, combined with the lack of information regarding the actual sum for the preservation project and what is needed to restore the bridge, both sides agreed to part ways, with Bowers moving onto other bridge projects and Dinkela and other members returning to the drawing table to conceive a new plan as to how this 94-year old bridge can be saved.
But time is running out. The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to construct a replacement parallel to the historic bridge in 2019 and hopes to integrate it into some park or recreation area. However if no funds are collected to restore the bridge before the completion of the bridge and no owner is willing to step forward to own it, the Gasconade Bridge may find itself in a pile of scrap heap by 2021 at the latest.
To follow up on the events with the Gasconade Bridge, please click on the following webpages:
A summary of my interview with Rich Dinkela about this bridge can be found here. This includes the bridge’s history as well as its connection with the beloved highway many even outside the US love.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you updated on the latest with this historic bridge, whose future is still clouded but it is hoped the organization will come up with plans to save it as they see fit. 🙂
This next mystery bridge takes us to a place out in the middle of nowhere east of a larger city in Indiana. The Van Loon Bridge was one of the most unusual truss bridges found on record. The bridge used to span the Little Calumet River east of Hammond and features a two-span pony arch bridge with Warren truss features and riveted connections. According to an article in the Engineering News Magazine dated in 1915, the bridge was assembled using scrap metal from an unknown source in Van Loon, Indiana. Unfortunately there were no records that indicated the existence of the community except that it was probably located somewhere outside Hammond. While fellow pontist Nathan Holth pinpointed the bridge’s location to the east, it is not 100% correct and chances are most likely that it could be either to the west or even somewhere along the Calumet. The same applies to the community of Van Loon for the community may have existed for a few years before having disappeared even from the record books. What we do know is that the bridge, which is approximately 100-120 feet long and 13 feet wide has been extant for many years. This leads to several questions that need explaining about this bridge:
Where exactly along the Calumet was this bridge located?
Where was Van Loon located? When was the community founded, let alone when it vanished?
If the bridge was built using scrap metal, where (in or around Van Loon) did the metal come from?
When was the bridge built and by whom?
When was the bridge demolished?
Was there a replacement for the bridge?
This mystery bridge is unique for we are not only looking for the history of the bridge itself but also the community that only existed for a Brief time. Henceforth if you have any history of Van Loon that would be of great help for to better understand about the bridge’s history, one Needs to know more about the community it served. This includes the people who lived there, the businesses and the events that affected the community, including the factors that led to ist disappearance. You can provide one or both here or through the bridgehunter.com website.
While we have seen fancy bridges, like the one constructed using the remains of a Ferris Wheel, a car dealership, a stadium and the like, nothing is as fancy and interesting is a unique bridge built using parts from an unknown location. The bridge at Van Loon is one of those particular bridges that has that beauty.
114-year old bridge collapsed into water. Crews seeking to remove it.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA- Funeral services are being made for the 114-year old Jones Bridge, as the 114-year old bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River at an Atlanta metro park. According to recent sources, the collapse of the remaining span happened on the 25th of January 2018 at around 1:00pm local time. No one was reported injured at that time. The remaining span was an eight-panel Camelback through truss bridge with pinned connections and a three-rhombus portal bracings. The bridge was between 100 and 130 feet and was the remaining half of the two-span bridge that had existed for only a short time. The bridge was built in 1904 by an unknown contractor and had once connected Fulton and Gwinett Counties at John’s Creek. According to sources, the bridge served traffic for only 20 years before being made obsolete by a concrete bridge. It was subsequentially closed by 1930, yet how things led to the bridge being halved remains a mystery. Newspapers reported that a person masquerading as a bridge contractor had tried to tear down the bridge and sell the parts as scrap metal. Yet residents became suspicious and alerted law enforcement authorities, who came and arrested him but not before having successfully taken down one of the two through truss spans and the approach spans. The question is when exactly did this incident happen, for newspapers claimed that the incident happened in the 1940s, yet ariel imagery showed the entire span still remaining in place in 1955 and the span being halved in the 1960s. It is unknown which of the sources is proven incorrect for newspapers can make typing errors including the wrong date, whereas the photos make have been mixed up to make it look like the sturcture had existed during the 1950s when it was gone by that time. What is needed to solve this case is the exact date of construction of the bridge and its bridge builder, as well as the full detail of the incident: who were involved, when did it happen and lastly, what happened to the perpetraitor?
Two parks surround the remains of the structure are named after the bridge: The Jones Bridge section of the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area to the north and the Jones Bridge County Park in the south. Both facilities will miss having the bridge there as crews work to remove the bridge and possibly salvage part of it as a monument. Yet for a bridge that had survived 70+ years in tact, one wondered had actioned has taken place prior to the incident if that remaining section would have been converted into a picnick area or even fishing pier. All it needed was a new set of cassion piers (as the one in the river had tipped over, causing it to collapse) and new decking. Unfortunately we may never know. However, the collapse will surely signal the need to look at other abandoned structures to see if they can be saved and reused for future purposes. If so, time is ticking for the next abandoned structure next door may be the next to go.
143-year old historic viaduct, one of the highest in the country is being removed after new replacement span opens.
LETCHWOOD STATE PARK, NY (USA)- The Portage Viaduct at Letchwood State Park was one of the most important attractions in the state. Hundreds of thousands come to Letchwood State Park annually to see a spectacular site- an 820-foot long combination iron and steel viaduct with a height of over 300 feet towering over the falls of the Genessee River. The bridge used to serve Erie Railroad until it was acquired by first Conrail and later, its owner, Norfolk Southern. After 143 years in service, the National Register-listed bridge is coming down. Work has begun to remove the structure, piece by piece, beginning with the railbed, and then dismantling it down to the foundation. The project is expected to be completed by this summer.
This comes after a replacement structure, located 75 feet south of the structure, was open to rail traffic in December. The new bridge, a Warren deck arch bridge with riveted connections and made of heavy steel, was a necessity as the old structure was no longer able to carry heavy rail traffic. Because of heavy traffic combined with shale mining nearby, the contract was let in 2014 to build the new structure which would replace the historic bridge upon its opening. It took two years to build the bridge.
The historic Portage viaduct is actually the third sturcture in the history of the crossing. According to a small essay posted on bridgehunter.com by Sherman Cahal:
“The Erie Railroad completed a wooden crossing of the Genesee on August 16, 1852 at a cost of $175,000. At 234-feet-high and 800-feet-long, with 13 stone piers, it was the largest wooden bridge in the world.”
“The Erie Railroad moved to quickly replace the wooden bridge with an iron and steel structure after it burned in 1875. A contract for a wrought iron bridge was let to the Watson Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey on May 10, just four days after the fire. Construction began on the second crossing on June 8, 1875, opening to traffic on July 31.”
The third structure came in 1903 but it was only in the form of replacing the iron parts with that of steel, thus making it a full-fledged rehabilitation and renovation of the bridge. The McClintic-Marshall Company of Chicago and Pittsburgh were the contractors for the 1903 viaduct, the same company that built the 1848 High Bridge in New York City (the oldest known bridge in the city), the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit and the Beaver Falls Railroad Bridge in Pennsylvania. The (still) current structure has a combination of deck Pratt truss and girder spans, supported by tall, layered rectangular towers with X-lacing. The connections with the skeletal towers are riveted while the trusses and the lacings are pin-connected. The bridge (and the park itself) were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s. The newest bridge that is replacing this one, a product of the American Bridge Company as well as Mojeski & Masters, is the fourth structure on the Northfolk & Southern Route.
Unlike the Kate Shelley Viaduct in Boone County, Iowa, there was no interest in converting the historic viaduct into a walkway pier- neither from the railroad nor from the state park officials, which led to the decision to include the demolition of the bridge in the contract for the new bridge. The historic viaduct in Iowa has been out of service since 2008 when a new one south of the structure was open to traffic and plans to make the bridge an observation point and/or monument has been on the table since then. But the historic Portage Viaduct received no such interest from park and railroad officials because of the importance of progress due to shale mining.
While the new Portage Bridge may eventually replace the historic variant as the new scenic place of photography at Letchwood, there are many who still feel attached to the older bridge and will definitely take the opportunity to photograph the bridge was it comes down, bit by bit….
Just 12 hours after publishing the press release of Part 1 of the Ammann Award winners, there was a lot of positive feedback from our Readers, especially in the category of Best Photo, where Chauncy Neumann came out the winner in that category, followed by Esko Räntilla and lastly, Kevin Skow- just to name the top three of the top six winners of the Awards. However, just after posting the first half of the results, I contacted the winner of Lifetime Achievement Award for an interview, informing him that he had won and asking him if he would be interviewed about his work. His response: cool as heckfire, let’s do it! 🙂 There are two reasons for Nels Raynor to be honored for this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. The first has to do with his many years of hard work in restoring numerous bridges, especially with his company BACH Steel, located in Michigan. There will be more on his successes when the interview is finished and posted. The second has to do with a historic bridge he restored that won an accolade this year. That will come in a bit. But looking at the results, Raynor was in a dog-eat-dog battle with silver medalist James Baughn of Bridgehunter.com throughout most of the competition until he pulled away with 245 votes to Baughn’s 105 in the waning days of the voting process. The Bronze and Tourquois Medals had to be split up among three people in each standing, all of whom had at least 104 votes but the margin between third and fourth place was only a single vote. Nevertheless, the finishing results look like this:
TOUR GUIDE INTERNATIONAL:
This category was the only one in the Ammann Awards where each candidate successfully vied for first place and stayed there before being dethroned by another one. Even the bridges in a small town of Rochlitz, southeast of Leipzig, took first place honors for a few days before being outvoted by silver medalist, Winnepeg (Canada) and bronze medalist, St. Petersburg (Russia). It finished in fourth with 92 votes, five less than St. Petersburg. It also marked a first where a candidate was entered twice due to additional bridges that were added after the first run. That was with Glauchau (Saxony), Germany, which finished fifth in the 2016 Awards but because of four additional bridges, plus information from local historians and local publicity from the newspapers, it was reentered in the 2017 competition. It finished fifth, receiving the Quartzite Medal, after receiving 56 votes, far outdoing Quebec City, London (UK) and Cambridge (UK). The winner of the Tour Guide International Award goes to the bridges in the Aue-Schneeberg Region in western Saxony, Germany. Featuring the bridges along the Zwickauer Mulde, Schwarzwasser and Schlema Rivers, the region, which has bridges in the cities of Aue, Schneeberg, Schlema and even Zschorlau finished with 126 votes, after lagging behind Glauchau until the second-to-last day, thus receiving the Gold medal. More Information on the bridges in the region can be found here. Here are the rest of the results:
TOUR GUIDE USA:
There are many characteristics that make this year’s winner a treat to visit. Lehigh County, Pennsylvania has a wide array of covered bridges as well as arch bridges. They include, on the one hand, the Geiger and Rex Covered Bridges- both the oldest still in use- but also the oldest stone arch bridge in Reading (built in 1824) and the Albertus Meyer Memorial Bridge in Allentown, a 1913 arch viaduct that is the longest in the county. That was probably the main reason why the majority of voters selected Lehigh County as this year’s Tour Guide winner. After tangling with Clinton County, New York, Lehigh County received the gold medal with 201 votes, 71 more than Clinton County, which received the Ore Medal with 131 votes. Silver and Bronze go to the bridges in northern West Virginia, where Marshall County finished second with 149 votes and Wheeling finished with only two votes less. Civil war-based arch bridges in Bridges to the Past in Hardin County received tourquois with 132 votes. While the Cleveland Browns Football Team are walking away from the most humiliating football Season on record with an 0-16 record, the people of Cleveland are taking pride in the city’s bridges with 131 voters checking the City in for a fifth place finish and a Quartzite Medal. Here is the final tally of the top six of 14 candidates.
BEST EXAMPLE OF A RESTORED HISTORIC BRIDGE
In perhaps the most intensive finish in the history of the Ammann Awards, the race came down to two bridges, each with its own preservation Story. The Springfield Bowstring Arch was perhaps one of the most successful bridge preservation stories on record, as crews saved the leaning 1871 iron bowstring arch bridge from disaster by dismantling it as well as rebuilding it at its new location at a park in Conway in Faulkner County, Arkansas. For Nels Raynor, Julie Bowers and crew, this 18-month project, which included several volunteers, consultants and historians, was one of the shortest and most successful on record, for it usually takes 2-3 years to accomplish such a feat. But for the crew, it was the most successful story in the company’s history and one of the best in bridge preservation history.
It had some massive competition from another bridge, located in Des Moines, Iowa, in the Green Bridge. The 1898 three-span Pratt through truss bridge was restored on site with new cassion piers and truss bridge parts as well as new decking and lighting and became a posterboy in the face of the city council’s attempts to modernize the Des Moines River crossings by replacing arch bridges with faux arches. Grand Avenue fell victim with Locust and Court Avenues coming up on their plans. With their success Story, perhaps the City will rethink the way they treat their historic structures as they have been on the onslaught by those who think newer and leaner is better. Both Green and Springfield had raced neck-on-neck, changing leads at least two dozen times in the last two weeks of the competition before Springfield finally edged the Green Bridge for Gold Medal by a score of 1720 votes to the silver medalist’s 1682. Bronze went to the Ponte Pensil Sao Vicente in Santos, Brazil, with 717 votes. This category had more bowstring arch bridges in the top six than in the past, as the crossings at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds in Ohio and at Merrimack College near Boston finished in fourth and fifth respectively. The Ore Medal for sixth place goes to the Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter, Minnesota, which the Minnesota River crossing garnered 366 votes. 6126 votes were recorded in this category, which was the second best behind the last category of the Awards.
BRIDGE OF THE YEAR:
With 7160 votes total for 13 candidates, the Bridge of the Year category set a new record for the highest number of votes recorded in the history of the Ammann Awards. None of the candidates received less than 200 votes each but there was a fierce competition for first place among five bridge candidates which lasted until the final four days of voting. It was then that 1800 voters selected the two-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge spanning the Chippewa River in Wisconsin, the Cobban Bridge. The 1908 product of Modern Steel Structures Company is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but its future is in peril after county officials voted to close off the bridge to all traffic last year, deeming it unsafe. Officials want to see the bridge replaced by 2021, but locals would like to see the bridge saved and rehabilitated for reuse. There has been on ongoing debate on what to do with the bridge. Despite claims that the cost for rehabilitating the bridge is prohibitive, figures have been revealed as overexaggerating. Could the Cobban Bridge be the next Green Bridge of Des Moines? 2018 will be the decisive year for residents of Chippewa County and the state of Wisconsin as to what will become the lone truss bridge of its design in the state, let alone the last of its kind in the country.
Apart from the Cobban Bridge receiving gold, the silver medal winner went to the Springfield Bowstring Arch Bridge with 617 votes, two thirds shy of the triple crown for BACH Steel. The duo truss bridges of Pulp Mill in Berlin, New Hampshire received the bronze with 589 votes, despite having competed with Cobban, fourth place finisher Hvita Bridge in Iceland (which received 580 votes) and the Wave in Glauchau, Germany for first place. Pulp Mill had traded leads with Cobban several times before the last rush put it out of reach by a long shot. The Wave finished tied for 10th with the Green Bridge in Des Moines and well out of medal range. Despite being arsoned for the second time in over a decade, the Cedar Covered Bridge near Winterset, Iowa received the Quartzite and finished fifth with 435 votes, 11 votes more than the ore medal winner, the Covered Bridges of New Brunswick, Canada, the topic of discussion and many stories because of closures due to structural issues and drivers falling through the flooring. Here is the tally in detail:
And with that ends the most intensive but exciting 2017 Ammann Awards. Observing the voting process and watching people get engaged made this round as exciting as the Holiday Season itself, even though the latter was shorter than normal due to Christmas Eve falling on thr Fourth Advent which meant shorter Holiday Shopping and time for Christmas Markets. In any case, with plans of other Websites, like Bridgehunter.com planning to go international and the Chronicles providiing more coverage, including bridge tours, bridge book profiles, interviews and others, it is hoped that the 2018 Ammann Awards will be bigger and more exciting than this year.
While the author of the Chronicles picks his favorites to be published in the next article, those interested in submitting bridges, photos and more should keep in mind that nominations officially begin on October 3rd and end December 3rd. Voting will proceed right afterwards, ending on January 8th, 2019. Winners to be announced on January 12th. For details, click here and/or contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles if you have any questions.
For now, let’s have a look at the Author’s Choice Awards, which follows this article and I must warn you: If you are a fan of Judge Marilyn Milian of the People’s Court, you will have a blast at what she could have said to the stories that made headlines in 2017. Stay tuned! 🙂