Longest Bowstring Arch Bridge in the USA Removed

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The Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge to be dismantled and stored awaiting relocation to a new home.

MANKATO, MINNESOTA- It finally happened. After 147 years spanning the LeSueur River south of Mankato as the longest bowstring arch bridge in the US (and second longest in the world behind the Blackfriars Road Bridge in Canada), the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge is off the river and awaiting for a new home.  Construction crews on Thursday lifted the 189-foot long bowstring arch bridge, in one piece, off its stone foundations and placed it in the field to the east of where it once stood.

One of the main obstacles that workers faced was the issues with the crumbling eastern abutment. “We were all kind of holding our breath,” said Lisa Bigham, state aid engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District 7 in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News. “It took a while to get everything kind of in place, the cranes to be positioned where they needed to be. Then, we were just kind of watching. And then, all of a sudden you could see air in between the bridge and the abutment. And it actually went very smoothly.” The eastern abutment had been coming apart, piece by piece in the past 5-10 years thanks to years of erosion and neglect, raising concerns across the board, from engineers and preservationists to even locals that the historic structure could potentially collapse. The structure had been closed to all traffic since 1989, with the township road having been abandoned. But nonetheless, the workers were satisfied with the lifting as it went smoothly as it could.

With the bridge standing in the nearby field, the wrought iron structure will be disassembled and stored in containers awaiting relocation for reuse as a bike and pedestrian crossing. Currently, MnDOT is soliciting proposals for reusing the bridge at a different location on a statewide level. “The pieces will be kept safe and dry,” Bigham said. “And so then whoever gets to take this bridge in the future, will be able to put the pieces back together and they’ll have a really cool bridge.”  Federal and state funding has been placed aside for the project, with some funding having already been collected prior to the move. Carlton Companies of Mankato bidded $595,660 for the move itself. Because many bridge parts may need to be sandblasted and/or repaired before being reassembled, the cost for completing the whole project, including rehabilitation and reassembly is still unknown. The bottom line is the bridge is out of the water and is safe on land. The question will be what the future will hold for the bridge. That will be answered in the coming months.

The Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in 1873, 15 years after the creation of the State of Minnesota. It was also known as the Yaeger Bridge, named after the nearby farm owned by George Yaeger. The structure is all wrought iron with pinned connections. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and the relocation project will not affect its status. The bridge is the last of its kind in Minnesota, even though dozens of them had existed mainly in the southern half of the state up until the 1970s. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1989 and was taken off the highway and bridge data bank in 2003. The structure has been the focus of literary works and also attempts to refurbish it for future use, all of whom had failed to date. This attempt came because of its historic significance and popularity among pontists and (bridge) photographers and locals familiar with the bridge and its enriched history. Since 2019, a facebook page on Relocating the Kern Bridge has been in use, where people can share ideas on how to reuse the bowstring arch structure, as well as photos, stories and the like. A link to the page is at the end of the article.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest with the Kern Bridge and its future.

Links:

Bridge information:

bridgehunter.com: http://bridgehunter.com/mn/blue-earth/bh36213/

historicbridges.org: https://historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=minnesota/kern/

 

Bridge Removal Project:

-MPR News: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/02/06/cranes-lift-historic-minnesota-bridge-from-its-crumbling-perch

-KEYC TV: https://www.keyc.com/2020/02/07/americas-longest-bowstring-arch-truss-bridge-removed-near-mankato/ 

 

facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Relocate-and-Restore-the-Historic-Kern-Bowstring-Arch-Bridge-in-Mankato-1257649057723433/?modal=admin_todo_tour

 

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Sarto Iron Bridge in Louisiana- Dave Trips Documentary

Photo by Cliff Darby

Film clip

This short film documentary takes us to Avoyelles Parish, and this bridge, located out in the country. The Sarto Swing Bridge was built in 1916 by the Austin Brothers Bridge Company of Dallas, Texas at a cost of over $5200. The structure, spanning the Bayou des Glaises, was the first bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places, when it was nominated in 1989, the year after it was closed. Dave Baker of KATC-TV provides you with a quick glimpse into the bridge’s history and what you can see at the bridge site. The bridge is open to pedestrians.

Information on the bridge can be found here: http://bridgehunter.com/la/avoyelles/sarto/

 

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2019 BHC Bridgehunter Awards- Final Results

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Harrisburg Covered Bridge in South Carolina: Winner of the Jet Lowe Awards   Photo taken by Darlene Hunter

 

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After revealing the author’s pics through the Author’s Choice Awards yesterday, here are the final results of the 2019 Bridgehunter Awards. I’m doing things a bit differently this year. The results will be posted including some highlights. Yet the details of this award and the Author’s Choice Awards will be posted as a podcast, to enable readers to get to the point in terms of results but also listen to the details. The podcast will appear in the next post.

Best Photo

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Highlights: 

Top Four photos taken by two photographers.

New records set in this category including highest number of votes in one category.

Not one candidate had less than 200 votes

 

Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge International

BHA 19 Best Kept Ind Int

Highlights:

Brunel Swivel and Rosenstein also share the Author’s Choice Award title for best Bridge Find.

Top Six finishers either from Germany or the UK.

Blow-out finish for the Swivel.

 

Tour Guide International

BHA 19 Tour Guide International

Highlights:

Title stays in Germany but going west for the first time

Big day for the Bridges of Edersee in this and the category Mystery Bridge (finishing second)

 

Lifetime Achievement

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Highlights:

Tight race especially in the top three

Winner, who has been the webmaster of Bridgehunter.com, will be interviewed later in the year. Congratulations to James Baughn on his 20 years experience.

 

Bridge of the Year

BHA 19 Bridge of the Year

Highlights:

Two Iowa Bridges finish in the top 2 outdoing the international competition. This despite their uncertain futures

Tight finish between the second and fifth place finishers.

 

Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge US/Canada:

BHA 19 Best Kept Ind US

Highlights:

Top two finishers are scheduled to be renovated.

Bronze medalist’s future unclear

Royal Springs Bridge oldest in Kentucky.

 

Bridge Tour Guide USA

BHA 19 Bridge Tour Guide USA

Highlights:

Winner has several restored historic truss bridges including the lone remaining Stearns through truss span (Gilmore Bridge)

Book on the Bridges along Route 66 to be presented plus interview later in the Chronicles

Madison County includes the freshly rebuilt Cedar Covered Bridge plus five other original covered bridges.

 

Mystery Bridge

BHA 19 Mystery

Highlights:

Top eight finishers received more than 100 votes each. 7th place finisher (Rosenstein) received 120 votes. 8th place finisher (Wichert Viaduct) received 100 votes.

Tight finish among the top six finishers.

Third and fourth place finishers are no longer extant- Buckatunna collapsed in January ’19; Dale Bend was destroyed in an accident on January 30th, ’19

 

Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge

BHA 19 Delony Awards

Highlights:

Third Award in a row in this category for the crew of Julie Bowers, Nels Raynor and crew at Workin Bridges and BACH Steel.

Longfellow and Winona Bridges Awarded Author’s Choice for their work.

Second place finisher is first bridge in the world made of cast iron. Delicate restoration needed.

Several lead changes in this category.

 

Last but not least, the following announcements:

This year’s Bridgehunter Awards will be its 10th, which coincides with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ 10th anniversary. Therefore, entries are being taken now and until December 1st for the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards. They include two new categories which will be presented in detail in a later article. Details on how to enter is found here. 

The top four finishers in the category Best Bridge Photo will have their photos displayed on the Chronicles’ website and its facebook and twitter pages between the middle of January and the end of July this year. Details in the podcast.

The 2019 Bridgehunter Awards will include a tribute to a former bridge engineer from Pittsburgh, whose invention has made inspecting bridges and diagnosting deficiencies requiring repairs instead of replacement much more advanced. More on him after the podcast.

Congratulations to all the candidates on their bridge entries and voters like you for supporting them in the 2019 Awards. And a big honor to the top finishers in each category! You deserve it! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 78

As we close out the year, which is also the last day of the second decade of the third millenium, we would like to take you back to 2014 and this bridge, theI-74 Bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Bettendorf and Moline in the Quad Cities. The twin spans that are literally identical, were built in 1935 and 1961, respectively and are still one of two twin suspension bridges of its kind that exist in the States. The other is the twin set at Wilmington, Delaware. Sadly, the twins are in their last year of their operational lives. To the east a new set of twins are being built, consisting of basket handle tied arches. The project, which includes rebuilding much of the I-74 corridor has been going on since 2017. Next year, the twin spans will be completed and all of I-74 traffic will be rerouted onto the new spans. The original spans will then be removed, and the bridge will be nothing more than a memory.  While you still can, you might want to pay homage to this bridge and get as many pics as you can. By 2022, it will be a memory.

More on the I-74 Bridge project can be found here:https://i74riverbridge.com/

 

And with that ends 2019 with a bang for the Chronicles, even though voting for this year’s Bridgehunter Awards is still ongoing and will conclude on January 10th with the winners to be announced on the 12th. If you still haven’t had the chance to vote, click here and do so. There are two ballots, each page representing a ballot. Your vote, however many bridges and times you cast, matters.  🙂

2020 will not only usher in a new decade- and hopefully one more promising than this one. It will mark the 10th anniversary of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column The Flensburg Files. Some events marking the celebration are in the making and will be presented during the year. The Bridgehunter Awards (originally known as the Ammann Awards) will enter its 10th year as well. Stay tuned and subscribe to follow up on the latest as we celebrate 10 years of success and many more to come.

We wish you and yours all the best as we say good-bye to the old (including the bhc logo) and ring in the new. Happy New Years!  Cheers!  🙂 ❤

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 76

While we’re talking Bridgehunter Awards and Best Kept Secret, I would like to address this bridge as this week’s best pic. The Green Valley Bridge used to span Three-Mile Creek a mile north of Green Valley. It’s four miles north of Marshall, the county seat of Lyon County. It was a Warren pony truss bridge with riveted connections and vertical angles, having been built in 1931. While it is unknown who built the bridge, during my visit in 2010, I saw that there used to be a plaque on the end post, which had been removed years before. Henceforth it is most likely that if there was any information, it would be in the library at the State Historical Society or in the bridge archives at MnDOT (both in St. Paul).

Nevertheless, while going north to hunt bridges, the bridge was visible from MN Hwy. 23 and given the vast amounts of snow we got during the trip, the bridge was definitely worth the stop. While the area is flat enough that one can see the horizon as far as the eye can see, this bridge exemplified a typical wintry rural setting: a horizon full of trees lining along the river, telephone poles and drifts of snow. It had a serene setting where as long as the structure was left alone, it can serve its purpose.

Unfortunately, with an expanding cityscape like Marshall, combined with age, it was never meant to be left as is. It was removed in 2017 and replaced with a concrete slab bridge, serving as a reminder of progress at the expense of nature and enjoyment. Going past there in the winter time nowadays, if one stops for a visit, there’s no doubt that the photographer would be disgusted at the bland structure that has taken its place. If this is making America Great Again, then maybe they should reread the history books on how America became great to begin with.

My two sents on this pic and opinion.

 

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2019 Bridgehunter Awards Voting Ballot Part 2

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BHC FORUM

<=  Part One

After voting in the first part of the ballot, here is the second part and the same procedure as in the first. Information on the Lifetime Achievement Candidates you will find at the end of the ballot, including links.  The deadline to vote is 11:59pm your local time on 10th January, 2020. The winners will be announced two days later. Good luck with the voting! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information on the Lifetime Achievement Candidates:

Satolli Glassmeyer: An interview with him and how he created History in Your Own Backyard can be found here: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/12/04/finding-history-in-your-backyard-an-interview-with-satolli-glassmeyer/ 

Workin Bridges:  In business since 2009, Workin Bridges has been the leader in restoring historic bridges in the United States, both big and small. Consisting of a crew of bridge restoration experts, the company has garnered up lots of awards for bridge restoration, plus documentaries on a couple key historic bridges. Link: https://www.workinbridges.org/

Dan McCain: Chairman of the Wabash Canal Trails Association in Indiana, Mr. McCain spearheaded efforts to relocate several historic truss bridges to the Delphi area to be erected along the canal as bike and pedestrian crossings. This includes the Gilmore Bridge, the last of the Stearns through truss bridge in the country. Link: http://www.huntingtoncountytab.com/community/52080/mccain-discuss-wabash-and-erie-canal-march-20-history-museum

James Schiffer: Founder of Schiffer Group, based in Michigan, Mr. Schiffer brings over 30 years of experience in the world of civil engineering and has worked with several preservation groups in restoring some historic bridges; among them the Paper Mill Bridge, now in Delaware. Link:http://www.schiffergroup.com/

John Marvig: Mr. Marvig brings over a decade of experience in historic railroad bridges in the upper half of the United States. You can find them on his website: http://johnmarvigbridges.org/

Friends of Brunel’s Swivel Bridge in Bristol, England: This bridge celebrated its 170th birthday this year and the group has been working to restore and reactivate I.K. Brunel’s bridge over the canal and River Avon for almost a decade. This features bridge (preservation) experts, historians, welders, city officials and the like- both past and present. Link: https://www.brunelsotherbridge.org.uk/

James Baughn of bridgehunter.com: For almost two decades, Mr. Baughn has run Bridgehunter.com, a database containing millions of historic bridges in the United States and Puerto Rico, both past and present. It still is active in collecting and storing information for people to use. Link: http://bridgehunter.com/

Organization to Save the Chemnitz Viaduct: Since the announcement to tear down the railroad viaduct in the third largest city in Saxony in 2002, this organization worked tirelessly to convince the German Railways to change its mind and counter it with restoring the bridge instead. This turned out to be successful this year:https://viadukt-chemnitz.de/and https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2018/06/04/chemnitz-viaduct-spared-demolition/

 

Author’s Note: Should you have problems accessing the links in the different categories, highlight and copy (Ctrl. + C) the link you want to open, then paste (Ctrl. + V)  it onto the bar of a new window. In case of further problems with the ballot, feel free to contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact form here. 

 

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