Mystery Bridge Nr. 178  : Trinity Street Bridge in Hartford, Connecticut

Source: Google

When visiting Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, one will be amazed at the architecture that the city of 123,000 inhabitants has to offer. Apart from the Wadsworth Athenium, Hartford has several historic buildings that date back to the 1700s, such as historic public library, the Old State House, the Travelers Tower and the campus of the University of Connecticut, which is the powerhouse of women’s college basketball. Apart from the history centers that are devoted to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain, one of the places that is worth visiting is the historic State Capitol Building. Located Bushnell Park, the Capitol is accompanied with various historic sites, including this one in the picture above, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.  Located on Trinity Street in the park, the arch was built by George Keller in 1886 and was the first memorial arch of its kind in the United States. It was dedicated to honor over 4000 soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Source: Wikimedia

Little do the people realize, there was once a bridge that was attached to the arch. The bridge was brought to the attention of the pontist community recently because of its unique design. The bridge features a five-span stone arch bridge with a total length of between 160 and 200 feet. When looking at the photos and postcards of the bridge in bridgehunter.com, the first two historic bridges in Europe came to mind: The Alte Brücke in Heidelberg, Germany and the Charles Bridge in Prague in Czechia. Unlike the two, this bridge in Hartford was dated back to the 1700s, but we don’t know when it was built exactly. One postcard pinpointed the build date to 1757, but it is unknown whether this date is accurate. The other is we don’t know who built the stone arch bridge.  If the memorial arch was constructed in 1886, it could be that Keller may have built the stone arch bridge itself, which means the bridge is younger than what was on the postcard.  In other words, the question we have about the stone arch bridge is when exactly was it built and by whom?

Source: bridgehunter.com

Sadly though, as part of the modernization of the city in the face of increasing population and traffic, the stone arch bridge and the Park River itself were both buried with the river now running underground enroute to the Connecticut River.  The memorial arch itself still stands, and cars can travel through it going one way towards the Capitol. An additional street was built that goes past the arch, carrying traffic to the City Center and XL Arena. Hartford itself has been dealing with poverty issues and population loss itself. Once touted as the richest city in the USA, in the past three decades, Hartford has been one of the poorest cities in the country with 30% of the population living below the poverty line and the city being beset by social inequalities and crime.

Hartford however has a lot to offer and it’s a question of civic leaders and city officials to find ways of making the city attractive again. It doesn’t necessarily mean trying to bring in professional teams as they did in the past for hockey, basketball and football. The last professional hockey team, the Hartford Whalers, moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997. Hartford is loaded with a lot of history and architecture it should pride itself on and should build off on. The Memorial Arch is one of them, as with the now buried Mystery Bridge. It’s a question of how to turn the city around and exploit the city’s strength. From there, it’s all uphill from there.

If you have any information on the Mystery Bridge, feel free to use the Contact Details or comment in the section below.  Happy Bridgehunting, folks. 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 194

Photo by Quinn Phelan

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This week’s Pic of the Week provides us with a rare example of a historic bridge that is homemade- built by bridge companies that are local with a local engineer overseeing the design and construction. This bridge is located in Linn County, spanning the Iowa River. The Greencastle Avenue Bridge is located NW of Cedar Rapids in the Hawkeye Wildlife Area. It features a pin-connected Pratt pony truss span and a riveted Pratt through truss span with A-frame portals. Originally built as a three-span bridge in 1922, one of the spans was destroyed in the flooding in 1949 and was replaced with a temporary span in 1950. That span was then removed and filled in, reducing the crossing to only two spans. The bridge has been abandoned since 1992 though one can access the bridge by car from the north side but going down a steep hill. At the entrance to the bridge on the north side, it is all for pedestrians.

The bridge is unique as it was built and rebuilt by four different bridge builders, all of which were located in Iowa. Two of them came from the same county as where this bridge is located- Linn County. The pony truss span was built by the Iowa Bridge Company of Des Moines; the through truss span was a standardized bridge built by the Iowa State Highway Commission of Ames. For the reconstruction of the bridge after the flood of 1949, there were two local bridge engineers responsible: Ned L. Ashton of Iowa City and A.P. Munson of Marion. Ashton was well known for bridges during his time, for each of the Cedar River crossings in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City that exist today were either built by him or whose predecessor spans had been built by him but were replaced in the end. The crossing is the second one in its present location as a previous structure, a through truss span, was built by another Iowa bridge firm, J.E. Jayne and Sons, located in Iowa City. That bridge, known by locals as the Dupont Mill Bridge, was built in 1908 and replaced in 1922. All in all, there were five different bridge builders all in this location, three of which in Linn County! Amazing how such a bridge could have the markings left by locals.

The bridge is not on the National Register but should because of its history, including what was mentioned already. The structure is still in place but is in need of a full restoration in order for it to continue its life as a pedestrian crossing. Given its location and setting, it would be perfect except to say, one could make a picnic area out of it, with info boards on its history and that of the adjacent Dupont Mill. Whether it will happen depends on the interest and there seems to be a lot of interest in keeping the bridge and reusing it. The question is whether Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Linn County would agree. But given the county’s high number of historic bridges and the way they have been maintained, there is a chance that the officials will listen and make the proper maintenance of and repairs to ensure the bridge will continue its use for years to come.

Iowa is celebrating 175 years this year and if there is a piece of history that should be considered, it’s this bridge. While the state has seen the likes of King, Jensen, Thacher, Wickes, and Jayne in several of the bridges, there are some that deserve recognition for their work, like Ashton and Munson. And this bridge represents such a structural work that deserves attention from these people.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 175: The Iron Road Bridge in Jackson County, Iowa

Photos taken by Troy Knox of Bridging the Driftless

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The next bridge in the Mystery Bridge series is the second of two installments of the bridges in Jackson County, in eastern Iowa. Yet one can look at it as two bridges, because each one has the same problem: looking for the bridge builder. And judging by the identical length these structures have, it may appear that they came from a multiple span structure that had been cut up into spans before shipping them.

After looking at the now extant Caven Bridge, we have this bridge at Iron Bridge Road. It spans the Maquoketa River on the road bearing the bridge’s name, approximately 8-10 miles NW of Spragueville. It’s at the junction of Miller Access Road. The bridge is a Pennsylvania through truss bridge with riveted connections, I-beams and M-frame portal bracings. It has a total length of 420 feet but the truss bridge’s length is 250 feet, thus making it the longest single-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge built in the state. It’s even longer than the Traer Street Bridge in Greene (in Butler County), which was replaced in 1981 after 79 years in service.

According to records in bridgehunter.com, the bridge was built by the Iowa State Highway Commission, which today is the Iowa Department of Transportation. It was established in 1904 and was one of the first highway institutions to have made firsts in the field of transportation, which included traffic signs, like the No Passing Zone sign, as well as paved highways made of tar and later concrete, and finally bridge designs. Yet despite the claims that the State Highway Commission was responsible for building the bridge, it can only be credited for making the design of the standardized truss bridges, which were introduced from 1910 on. What is missing is having the bridge builder who is in charge of constructing the bridge as well as the company that fabricated and transported the steel from the steel mills. It is a foregone conclusion that a highway agency would not have a bridge building firm with steel mills on their lots unless the agency had vast amounts of land to build the steel mills. That would have taken up half of Ames, where the highway agency is still located today.

This leads us to this question: If the highway designed the truss bridge, like the one on Iron Road, where did the steel come from, and who oversaw the construction of the bridge?

These are the two key questions not only for the Iron Bridge here but also its twin bridge, the Damon Bridge, spanning the same river but on 435th Avenue (County Hwy. Z 34), six miles north of Preston. The bridge has the exact same form as the Iron Bridge but was built six years later, in 1956. If you have any information on the two bridges and their predecessors, feel free to comment in the Chronicles directly online, but also in bridgehunter.com under their respective pages.

Your bridge matters! Best of luck in the research. 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 174: Caven Bridge in Jackson County, Iowa

All Photos Courtesy of Troy Knox of Bridging the Driftless

The next two mystery bridges will take us to Jackson County, Iowa, located in the far eastern portion of the state. There are two bridges that fellow pontist Troy Knox of Bridging the Driftless brought to the audience’s attention via his personal blog.

This is the first of them. The Caven Bridge was a single span Pratt through truss bridge that spanned the North Fork Maquoketa River on 60th Avenue north of Canton and Emeline. The bridge had a total length of 160 feet, 110 of which consisted of the truss span. Its portal bracing is A-frame but condensed vertically. Nothing is known about the date except sources had it down for 1900. Whether it was built in that year or a couple years earlier or later remain open. There is no information about the bridge builder, except bridges like this one, judging by its portals, may have been built by the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company. Yet there is no information as far as builder’s plaques or any inscriptions in the metal beams.

Portal bracing and tunnel view

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The reason why the information is in past tense is because the Caven Bridge no longer exists. According to information, crews tore down the bridge in November 2021, even though the bridge had been closed to traffic for some time. It is unlikely a replacement span will be built soon as the road is rarely used and the area is sparsely populated. Nevertheless, it would be a great closure to determine when exactly was the bridge built and by whom.

This is where you come in. Feel free to find and comment about this structure. After all your bridge matters. Thank you for your help and best of luck! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 190

I was digging out some photos that the new owners of Niland’s Cafe in Colo, Iowa needed as they were preparing to reopen the restaurant and business after a three months absence when I came across this photo, taken in 2013. The photo was shot just after we were finished with the Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa and we decided to get a few shots of the bridges in and around Des Moines before visiting family in Minnesota. It’s a well-known bridge but its design makes it a very attractive place to visit, even at night when the LEDs are lit. I just had to make some changes to make it what it is here.

It’s the Madrid Railroad Viaduct. The bridge was built in 2010 using the piers of a previous railroad viaduct that used to be a deck plate girder made of steel and was used by the Milwaukee Railroad before it went bankrupt in 1980. Chicago and Northwestern then used the line until it was abandoned in 2002 and the bridge spans were removed. The line was then converted into a rails-to-trails and a new bridge with this unique desgn was put into place. You can see more photos and information on the structure by clicking here.

The bridge spans the Des Moines River between Madrid and Woodward, NW of Des Moines. If you are travelling through the area, I would recommend this stop for some photos and a break as there is a picnic area nearby. If there was ever a book on the Bridges of the Des Moines River in the future, this bridge would be in it, perhaps as a cover page. But it’s up to the author to decide. 🙂

BHC Newsflyer: 5 February, 2022

De Hef Lift Bridge in Rotterdam: To be dismantled to allow for Jeff Bezos’ Multi-Story Yacht to pass. Source: elm3r, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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To listen to the podcast, click here for Anchor or here for WP version

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Headlines:

Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh taken three weeks before its collapse. Source: Samstein, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh Collapses ahead of Biden Visit

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/28/us/pittsburgh-bridge-collapse/index.html

WGN Article: Pittsburgh bridge collapses hours before Biden visit about infrastructure — WGN-TV

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/pa/allegheny/bh96087/

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More Viaducts Along the Motorway 45 in the Sauerland Region in Germany will need to be replaced!

Link: https://www1.wdr.de/nachrichten/bruecken-ersetzen-a45-sauerlandlinie-100.html

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Historic De Hef Bridge in Rotterdam to be Dismantled for Jeff Bezos’ Mega-Yacht

Link: https://amp.dw.com/en/netherlands-to-dismantle-historic-bridge-for-jeff-bezos-megayacht/a-60638161

Bridge Info: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Hef

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Poltruded Expansion of Historic Bridge in Torun, Poland

Link: https://www.innovationintextiles.com/construction-architecture/pultruded-expansion-for-historic-bridge/

Bridge Info: https://structurae.net/en/structures/jozef-pilsudski-bridge

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Old Dobbs Ford Bridge in Cleveland before its restoration. Photo by Calvin Snead (bridgehunter.com)

Historic Bridge in Cleveland (Tennessee) Restored and Reopened

Link: https://www.wdef.com/historic-bridge-gets-new-home-at-new-cleveland-greenway/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/tn/bradley/old-dobbs-ford/

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Historic Carrollton Covered Bridge after the arson in 2017. Photo by Jack Schmidt (bridgehunter.com)

Work Starts on Historic Carrolton Covered Bridge in West Virginia

Link: https://www.mybuckhannon.com/work-is-underway-to-restore-historic-carrollton-covered-bridge-in-barbour-county/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/wv/barbour/carrollton-covered/

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Bridge Documentary on the Historic Bridges of Donegal, Ireland

Link: https://www.donegaldaily.com/2022/02/01/secrets-behind-donegal-bridges-unveiled-in-tv-doc/

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 163: A Stone Arch Bridge in Winona?

Provided by Alex T. Dettman/ Negative converted by Chester Gehman, used with permission

Our first mystery bridge of 2022 takes us to Minnesota. A negative photo was brought to the attention at bridgehunter.com recently by Alex Dettmann, a resident of Minneapolis. It features a stone arch bridge of about 20 feet long, and according to the writing, the bridge was located on Mankato Avenue and was built by Fred H. Pickles. It took some Google Research to determine that Mankato Avenue was located in Winona, though he wasn’t sure that it was the right address because the present-day avenue ended at the riverside. The negative came from a collection dating between 1910 and 1920.

Source: bridgehunter.com

As soon as it was presented, a postcard with an arch bridge similar to this was found and posted on the same website by fellow pontist Luke Harden. According to information, it was located near Lake Winona, spanning Gilmore Creek. If the Mankato Avenue picture is correct, the bridge was located at the tip of the lake on the east end. Chances are likely because of only a couple crossings that exist over Gilmore Creek that the arch bridge at Mankato Avenue does indeed match.

In either case, we’re looking for information about the person responsible for building the stone arch bridge in Winona, Mr. Pickles. Most stone arch bridges in Minnesota were built between 1880 and 1900, including the famous Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. What we would like to know is when this bridge was built, what type of stone was used for the crossing and from which quarry. Because Mankato Avenue has become a major throughway, it’s unlikely that the bridge no longer exists. However, even if it was replaced, when did this take place.

You can provide this information under this link in bridgehunter.com with comments and additional photos.

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/mn/winona/lake-winona/

Should there be any questions, contact Jason Smith here at the Chronicles who can help you.

Happy Bridgehunting folks and have a great start in 2022!

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2021 Bridgehunter Awards Notice:

Don’t forget! You have 15 days left to vote in the 2021 Bridgehunter Awards. If you haven’t done so yet, click on the links and submit your votes. Encourage others to vote. Spread the word. The more votes, the better.

Part 1: 2021 Bridgehunter Awards Voting Part 1: Best Bridge Photo

Part 2: 2021 Bridgehunter Awards Voting Ballot Part 2

Part 3: 2021 Bridgehunter Awards Part 3

Picture profiles on most of the candidates can be found on the Chronicles’ Instagram page by clicking here:

Link: https://www.instagram.com/bridgehunters_chronicles17/

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Endangered TRUSS: Grand River Bridge on Old Highway 5 in Daviess County, Missouri

JB

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Sometimes historic bridges are better off when they belong to nature and are left untouched. Yet there are some that have a potential for being reused as a pedestrian bridge. There is a story behind this Endangered TRUSS species that I’m presenting you here and it goes back a decade to the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend in Missouri.

We were on our last day together- myself, James and Todd (Wilson) and had just completed a long day of bridgehunting in the western part of Missouri and part of Nebraska. The Weekend was marred by one natural element which hindered my ability to keep to my original schedule- flooding! The Missouri River flooded its banks and 90% of the valley was under water. The valley included areas between Kansas City (where we were staying) and Sioux City, Iowa, and included the greater Omaha area. The highways were not passable, towns were completely under water and much of the infrastructure, including bridges, were either damaged or destroyed.  Instead of combing up the western half of Iowa, I was forced to replan everything to include stops in Des Moines and in central Iowa on my way back to Minnesota.  The problem was which bridges could I stop along the way?

That was where James came in and showed me a few locations for photo opportunities. Daviess County was one of them, and it was loaded with historic bridges. Dozens of metal truss bridges were on my path going to Iowa, many of which were a maximum of 10 minutes away from Interstate 35, which connects Des Moines with Kansas City.

JB

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Of the 8-9 bridges I photographed, I found this structure to be the most unique. The bridge spans the Grand River just a half mile west of US Hwy. 69 south of Pattonsburg. It features a two-span through truss design, the larger being the Whipple and the smaller being the Pratt. Each have pinned connections and Lattice portal bracings. The bridge has a total length of 330 feet. It was built by the Kansas City Bridge and Iron Company in 1883, using steel from the Carnegie Steel plant in Pittsburgh. The bridge used to serve a main highway (Old Hwy. 5) until it was bypassed by US Hwy. 69 and its bridge in 1932. 35 years later that would be bypassed by Interstate 35 located two miles to the east.  It continued to serve traffic until the early 1990s and has been sitting unused ever since.

JS

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When I visited the bridge in August 2011, the entire structure was closed off and part of the decking disappeared, thus making crossing the bridge practically impossible. What made the bridge unique was because of its location next to the forest. In one of my photos, the smaller Pratt truss span was partially hidden in the trees. Given its proximity to the river and to the trees nearby, plus the fact that the old former highway is closed off on both sides of the bridge, one could wonder if the bridge and the road would make for a bike trail. It doesn’t necessarily mean a new stretch of road needs to be built. But it would be a trail that followed the original highway between Pattonsburg and Santa Rosa, but terminating at a nearby town to the south, like Alta Vista, or it could curve to nearby Lake Viking, using sections of the road that are in place already.  And even if it connected Pattonsburg and the bridge, where it could be converted to a picnic area, it would be enough to satisfy locals wishing to get some fresh air and go walking or even biking.

JS

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Since that time, four of the bridges I visited on my tour from Kansas City back to Iowa have been replaced, others may be up, especially if liability issues come about. Yet if there was a choice, this structure should be the first one saved. The bridge has some connection with the history of the development of roads in the area, yet it has more potential than that, if people come together with resources and all to make repurposing and revitalizing the area around the bridge happen. The bridge is eligible for the National Register and its history in connection with the region will make the structure a really attractive place to go for an afternoon picnic and all. It’s a question of finding the will to do just that. 

JB

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More information on the bridge can be found here.

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JB: Photos taken by James Baughn in 2010

JS: Photos taken by Jason Smith in 2011

Bostian Bridge Tragedy: 27 August, 1891

Photograph by William Stimson, courtesy of Betty Boyd. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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We’ve heard of a lot of ghost stories involving bridges in our lifetimes. However the next film documentary presented here in the Chronicles has to do with one of the worst in its history. The story takes us to Statesville, in Iradell County, North Carolina and to one of the most haunted bridges in the state- Bostian’s Bridge. The bridge features five concrete closed spandrel arch spans, spanning Third Creek carrying the Norfolk and Southern Railroad. The bridge is 260 feet long and the deepest point oft he ravine is approximately 60 meters.  It is unknown when the bridge was built or who built it, the bridge is infamous for a tragedy that happened 130 years ago. On August 27th, 1891, a train disaster happened on the bridge which was so gruelsome, the historians have pegged it as one of the worst train-bridge disasters in the history of American railroad, sometimes comparing it tot he Ashtabula Railroad Bridge disaster of 1876. The disaster, as will be told in this documentary presented here, eventually produced supernatural encounters that have lingered to the present, eventually causing another train-bridge disatser 119 years later. Have a look at the story:

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This is what the bridge looks like today, the photo courtesy of Royce and Bobette Haley:

The train still serves traffic to this day, yet should the line be discontinued at some point, there will definitely be some hesitancy in repurposing the bridge because of its haunted past. Chances are likely that it will eventually succumb to nature, which will take over, and allow the ghosts to be at peace. For some haunted bridges, they are best if left as is without altering or even destroying it.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 155- An Unusual Vierendeel Bridge in Missouri

Our 155th Mystery Bridge takes us to Vulcan, in Missouri and this unusual bridge. The bridge was built by Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1949 and spans not only Highway BB but also a small stream running alongside it. The bridge was built using concrete and features a rather unusual style that is similar to a rare truss design, the Vierendeel.

Arthur Vierendeel patented the design and it consists of trusses where only the vertical beam supports the upper and lower chords of the truss. Normally, truss bridges use triangular beams, consisting of a combination of vertical and diagonal beams needed to support the span. Because of the lack of diagonal members, Vierendeel trusses employ moment joints to resist substantial bending forces.. Vierendeel trusses are more common in Europe, with most of the trusses being located in Belgium. This includes the first truss built in 1902 at AvelgemBelgium. Most of the spans can be found in and around the metropolitan areas of Brussels and Antwerp. While Vierendeels are seldom to be found in the United States, the city of Glendale, California has three Vierendeel truss bridges: the Geneva Street, Kenilworth Avenue, and Glenoaks Boulevard bridges, all two-lane bridges spanning 95 feet. They were built in 1937 as part of the Verdugo Flood Control Project, the first project of the United States Army Corps of Engineers after passage of the Flood Control Act of 1936.

While steel Vierendeels were common for bridge construction, it was not unusual to find them made of concrete, which takes us back to this bridge in Vulcan. One can see clearly that the spans are Vierendeel using heel supports to ensure that the bridge maintains its stability. Originally the bridge was built as part of the project to introduce fast moving trains between Missouri and Texas. The structure is still being used by Union Pacific Railroad to this day. The question is who was behind the design of this bridge and what were his/her motives for using the Vierendeel?

This is one for the historians and pontists to find out. 😉 Happy Bridgehunting, folks.

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