Mystery Bridge Nr. 118: Wichert Truss Viaduct Serving Industrial Trains

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This Mystery Bridge is in connection with last week’s photo of the week. It is a unique find and one that will come up fast when approaching the city of Mittweida, located 15 kilometers north-northeast of Chemnitz. The city of 15,000 inhabitants is home to the college of applied sciences and has a unique historic setting, which straddles the valley of the River Zschopau and its tributaries.

This bridge is located at the junction of Burgstädter Strasse and Stadtring, which heads north towards the college. It’s a three span railroad viaduct that features a combination Pratt and Wichert Truss designs supported on steel, A-shaped piers. The total length is approximately 100 meters. The Wichert truss was designed by E.M. Wichert in Pittsburgh in 1930 and is characterized by its deck arch design with a diamond-shaped panel above each pier. The curved lower chord gives the bridge the form of an arch, but it does not rely on arch action to carry the load, according to sources. Wichert trusses were experimented with numerous deck-truss-arch bridges in and around Pittsburgh, and many of them still exist today. The most common Wichert truss bridge is the Homestead Grays Bridge near Pittsburgh. The 3,100-foot long bridge was built in 1936 and was last rehabilitated in 2006. Other Wichert truss spans can be found in Maryland and West Virginia.

Yet the viaduct in Mittweida had the characteristics of the Wichert truss design in it, which leads to the question of how Wichert developed and patented the truss design. Was it based on his observations of the previous designs, directly or indirectly? There is little known information written about Wichert, except the fact that his family name is predominantly German, meaning he may have emigrated from Germany to the US during one point in his life to start his career in Civil Engineering, just like the bridge builders before him, such as Albert Fink, Gustav Lindenthal, John Roebling, and Fritz Leonhardt. Finding out more about Wichert would open the doors to find out about his life and career. It would also help answer the question of the origin of his patented truss span.

As far as the bridge itself is concerned, the structure was built between 1906 and 1907 as part of the project to build a railroad line connecting Mittweida and Dreiwerden, located 12 km to the southeast. The line was built to allow trains to carry goods to the paper factory in Dreiwerden. The northern branch connecting Mittweida and Ringenthal was built at the same time to transport raw materials to the power plant. That line was dismantled after 1974. As for the southern branch where this viaduct is located, train service continued until its abandonment in 1997. The line has since been partially dismantled, but the bridge still stands today. It is unknown who built the bridge during that time, but the line was built under the auspisces of the Saxony Railroad Company (Sächsische Eisenbahngesellschaft GmbH) and financed by the Kingdom of Saxony during that time.

To summarize the points on this mystery bridge:

  1. The bridge was built between 1906 and 1907, serving the Mittweida-Dreiwerden southern branch, connecting the main train station with the paper factory.
  2. The bridge features one of the earliest of the Wichert truss designs even though it was patented in 1930.
  3. Little is known about E.M. Wichert, the inventor of the truss design, except that he may have been one of the German-immigrants that started his career in the States as a bridge builder and engineer.

Now it’s your turn to provide some information about this bridge and the inventor of the Wichert truss. If you have some useful information for either the bridge or the engineer, feel free to contact the Chronicles, using the channels available. The information will be updated as it comes in. A biography of E.M. Wichert will be included in the Chronicles under the category Bridge Builders Directory. Wishing you happy hunting and many thanks for your help.

Till we meet again. 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 53

This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to 2011 and the state of Iowa. This time to Spencer, where one of two Pennsylvania through trusses still exist. The Dump Road Bridge (also known as Old Rusty) spans the Little Sioux River at 18th Avenue west of the city. Built by the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company in 1901, Old Rusty was brought here in 1915 after having served Main Street crossing the same river along with another through truss span for 14 years. That crossing was replaced with a multiple-span arch bridge which was replaced by the current structure in 2008. Old Rusty still serves traffic but as a light-weight three ton crossing. Fitting to its location as very few cars cross the bridge. However, due to its age, one has to start considering its prospects as a bike/pedestrian crossing in the long-run.

Newsflyer 1 April, 2019

Kern Bridge in Mankato. Photo taken by James Baughn

Podcast can be found here.

 

Click on the highlighted links below to read more.

FB Page to save Kern Bridge in Mankato launched. Link: here

FB Page on Iowa’s Historic Bridges to be launched, replacing the Green Bridge page. Link: here

FB Page on Saxony’s Historic Bridges to be launched, replacing the Bockau Arch Bridge page. Link: here

Watts Mill Bridge being restored.

Freeway Bridge Collapses in Tennessee

Arch Bridge in Scotland a Death Trap for Dogs

Flensburg Files’ survey on Automatic Donors after Death.

 

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Newsflyer: 18 March, 2019

Carns State Aid in Rock County, Nebraska: Damaged by Flash Flooding  Photo: wikiCommons

Link to the podcast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-18-march-2019

 

Links to the article for more details:

Key US/Canadian Crossing at Baudette to be Replaced

Historic Hayden Bridge in Oregon reopens to pedestrians

Another historic bridge in Flöha (Saxony) to be replaced

High winds blow train off high trestle in New Mexico

Floods claim the first victim in Iowa- Trolley Bridge

A summary of the bridges destroyed by historic flooding here

Trucker loses his goods in an accident off a bridge in Hesse

The future of a long abandoned historic railroad bridge west of Flensburg hangs in the balance

Key historic bridge in Lubeck causing headaches for travelers

A third viaduct in Chemnitz is getting a facelift

Chronicles says good-bye to Google+

And a quick update on the historic bridge on the island of Crete that was washed away due to flooding.

ALSO: The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is looking into the suspicious loss of subscribers on its regular wordpress page. On Saturday the 16th, the number of subscribers went from 901 to 201 for unknown reasons. It is possible that subscribers may not be getting their articles on a regular basis. If you are one of them, please resubscribe via E-Mail or follow the Chronicles on the social network platforms. We would like to make sure everyone is connected and are getting the Posts and the like on a regular Basis. The Slogan is “No Reader/Subscriber left behind.” For those who are interested in following the Chronicles, please spread the word and encourage others to join.

 

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Newsflyer: 25 February, 2019

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Alberthafen Brücke in Dresden: Currently under the knife for rehabilitation. Photo taken in February 2019

The podcast of the Newsflyer can be listened to by clicking on this link: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-25-february-2019

 

Headlines:

Alberthafen Brücke in Dresden to be rehabilitated. Project completion in 2020.

Rabenstein Viaduct in Chemnitz has enough funding for its own rehabilitation. Question: when?

Mühlheim Suspension Bridge in Cologne to get a facelift

Group to save the historic Jenkins Bridge in Missouri formed

Future of the Green Bridge facebook website after bridge was restored and reopened

Historic bridge at train station a subject of satire and debate over its future.

 

Click on the headlines to read more. Three of the articles are in German but an English-speaking article will come in the Chronicles.

 

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Zumbrota Covered Bridge Collapses

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The Zumbrota Covered Bridge at its current location. Photo taken in October 2005

150-year old covered bridge loses roof in snow collapse. To be rebuilt pending on degree of damage.

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ZUMBROTA, MINNESOTA (USA)- Record-setting February snowfall in the Midwest is starting to take its toll on its infrastructure due to the development of potholes and cracks on the roads. It is also taking its toll on the architecture, for too much snow on the rooves of houses and covered bridges- especially heavy, thick snow- can cause a roof to cave in.

Ask the people in the town of Zumbrota, located between Cannon Falls and Rochester in Goodhue County in southeastern Minnesota. Their prized centerpiece of the community of over 500 inhabitants has an uncertain future as the Zumbrota Covered Bridge partially collapsed over the weekend.

Built in 1869, the covered bridge is a Smith through truss, which is similar to a Lattice truss with diagonal beams criss-crossing each other, except its outer diagonal beams represent an end-post angled at 30°. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1932, 1950 and again in 1997, when the 120-foot long structure was moved 100 yards downstream to a park, which is situated just off Hwy. 58. It had previously crossed at Main Street. The park covers much of the eastern shore of the North Branch Zumbro River and provides people with some recreational possibilities. The structure has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. Even though there had been another covered bridge of its kind built for a railroad north of Zumbrota, this covered bridge is the last one in service in the state of Minnesota.

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The Covered Bridge after the roof collapse. Photo taken by Mayor Bradley Drenckhahn on 24 February

As you can see in the Picture above, presented by mayor Bradley Drenckhahn, this was not what people had expected from the bridge. This was taken on the 24th, just after the roof of the covered bridge caved in, which had happened sometime overnight. Fortunately, no one was injured.

It is unclear if the center pier, built the same year the covered bridge was relocated, was affected by the collapse. The degree of the collapse will be inspected by transportation officials. The fortunate part is that the bridge is insured and town officials will rebuild the bridge once the snow has melted. The question is: just the roof or the whole structure? This is important for it could affect the upcoming events commemorating the covered bridge’s 150th birthday. According to its website, the covered bridge festival will take place on June 15th and 16th, whereas the birthday celebrations will be August 3rd and 4th. Both will take place at the park. How the collapse and the subsequent reconstruction will affect the festivities remain unknown.

A link to the covered bridge website is available and can be clicked here. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on this bridge.

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