BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 158: Tribute to James Baughn

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This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Kansas City and to this unique landmark, the ASB Bridge. While the city has many unique historic structures to choose from, this one stands out as being the bridge you must absolutely see when bridgehunting, period. The bridge was built in 1911 by a combination of Armour Packing CompanySwift & Company, and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. It’s a double-decker bridge featuring an upper deck used for highway traffic and a lower deck used for rail traffic. The most stunning is its vertical lift span of the lower deck, which lifts up towards the bottom of the upper deck. You can see how the span lifts in the video below:

This unique mechanism was part of the design introduced by engineer John Alexander Low Waddell in 1909 and is the only bridge of its kind that has it. While the upper deck has long since been removed with the replacement bridge having been built next to this span in 1986, the bridge is still being used for rail traffic. It is owned by BNSF Railways. The pic was taken during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2011 where James and I (as well as other pontists) saw the bridge. While we never saw the lift span in action, we were treated to a train crossing the span. Unlike our trains in Germany, American trains are usually 5-10 kilometers long, and one has to wait just as many minutes as with the train’s length because most trains run at a maximum speed of 60 mph (100 mph). It was nevertheless a treat to see the structure in its awe and beauty. While I took many pictures of the bridge, this one was taken by Mr. Baughn, who created a detailed database of the bridge on his website shortly after our conference. You can find it here. In 1996, the remaining part of the ASB was designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It is elgible for the National Register and it is hoped that this bridge will be added in the near future. With many bridges disappearing in the Kansas City area, this bridge deserves to be kept in its rightful place and deserves to be a tourist attraction.

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Covered Bridge in Maine Destroyed by Arson

Photo taken by Jack Schmidt in 2014

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LITTLETON, MAINE- One of Maine’s handful of century-old bridges was incinerated and the state fire marshal is looking into the possible causes. The Watson Settlement Bridge was a covered bridge featuring a Howe through truss design. It spanned the Meduxnekeag Stream on Former Carson Road in Littleton in Aroostook County, located between US Hwy 1 and the US-Canada border. It was built in 1911 and had served traffic until 1984 when the current concrete structure was built on a new alignment and the historic bridge was converted to a pedestrian crossing. Listed on the National Register since 1970, the 170 foot long bridge was named after the nearby Watson Settlement and was a magnet for photo opportunities including graduation photos.

May be an image of fire and outdoors
Soruce: Citizens of Littleton

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Fire Crews were called to the scene of a fire on Monday afternoon at 2:45pm Eastern Time only to find the covered bridge engulfed in flames. Three different fire departments from Littleton, Houghton and Monticello were at the scene to put down the blaze. The State Fire Marshal Office arrived at the scene an hour later to investigate. The entire structure, consisting of charred beams and a partially collapsed roof, has been considered a total loss and will have to be torn down. It is unknown at this point whether a replica will be constructed. The area has been barracaded off to keep people from going on the bridge due to its structural instability. The State Fire Marshal is looking into any information to determine the cause of the fire, including finding any potential arsonists. People with information on the fire should contact their office at 1-888-870-6162.

The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest involving the bridge, the fire and what happens next.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 156 Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Series dedicated to James Baughn takes us to Bowling Green, Kentucky and this span- one of the last of its kind in the United States. The Richardsville Bowstring Arch Bridge is a three-span arch bridge spanning the Barren River on Old Richardsville Road near the Historic Beechmont Farm near Bowling Green. The bridge is a through truss design with the upper chord featuring beams with heeled bracings. The arches are I-beam shaped. Connections are pinned. The bridge was built in 1889 by the King Bridge Company in Cleveland and has a total length of 442 feet, each span has a length of 138 feet.  The bridge has been on the National Register since 1980. As of today, the bridge is the last of its kind in the state of Kentucky and currently efforts are being carried out to preserve the bridge and the road it carries to ensure it is visited by future generations. It had been closed since last year but funding has been garnered so that work on restoring the bridge can start.  The photo taken by Mr. Baughn in 2015 was when the bridge was still open to traffic.  The question is when the bridge is restored, will it maintain its continued use as a vehicular crossing, or will it be repurposed for pedestrians?

The bridge has a haunted secret which you can see more of here:

This one we don’t have an answer to. Yet if you have any updates, please feel free to add them in the comment section. It would be much appreciated.  Happy bridgehunting, folks. Enjoy this video of the bridge and the old abandoned road:

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 155 Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week series paying tribute to James Baughn takes us to Beaver, in Caroll County, Arkansas and the Golden Gate Bridge. Many of us think of the Golden Gate Bridge as the big red suspension bridge, the symbol of San Francisco and the largest masterpiece designed and built by Joseph Strauss that took five years to be built before opening in 1937. No one has considered the fact that there is a mini-version located in Arkansas, spanning the White River at Table Rock Reservoir.

This bridge was built in 1949 by the Pioneer Construction Company of Malvern, which was one of Arkansas’ largest bridge builder during that time. Thomas Behrends was a project manager for this bridge. He had already established a reputation for the area, having oversawn a dozen bridges during the time this bridge was built. The Beaver Bridge was named after the nearby town that was named after its founder, Wilson Ashbury Beaver (1851-1915), who bought 348 acres of land in the area to create a small community. The 600 foot long bridge is one of the longest in the area. The bridge gets the nickname Golden Gate because of the color of paint. Literally, the steel towers (all laden with riveted lattice connections), the decking and even the cables are painted in gold. Therefore it is not named after a strait as is the case with the more popular and beloved monument of San Francisco, which was the backdrop for Starfleet in the Star Trek films and TV series.

Though the little Golden Gate Bridge in Arkansas was a focus of an incident on October 18, 2018, where two busses crossed the bridge, causing the decking to sag. Had the bridge given out, there would have been a catastrophe of monstrous proportions not only because the bus drivers disobeyed the weight limit sign but also there were dozens of tourists on the two busses.

Unfortunately, there was no information on the operator of the bus firm yet it shows that education is needed in terms of maths and laws. The bridge has a weight limit of 10 tons. Weight limits mean no vehicle exceeding the limit are allowed to cross. And lastly, to make sure it never happens, GPS and other maps should be made to ensure that something like this never happens. In practice however, we still keep seeing ignorance and lack of education ruling the roads. And while the Beaver Bridge was spared with only minor damages, ignorance and stupidity will reveal its ugly face at a cost of another bridge in the near future.

And while you can’t fix stupidity, you can cure it with hard labor behind bars and a year’s worth of money (or two) taken away by the state. Perhaps that is what we need to put an end to this madness, not just with bridges but with other aspects on the road.

Remember: laws save lives. Math matters. And common sense is the god of mankind.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 150 Tribute to James Baughn

The 150th Pic of the Week is a bit fitting given the fact that it falls into the series paying tribute to James Baughn, let alone the time where we start saying our good-byes in one way or another. James’ memorial service was this past Sunday at Burfordville Mill and Covered Bridge in Missouri, with up to 175 people in attendance- family, friends, colleagues in the field of historic preservation and pontists. And those who couldn’t make it for various reasons, we had our minds focused on him and what he did for the community as we shared some memories of the event. Already plans for memorial bridgehunting tours in person are being considered, whereas the Chronicles has one of its own in the social media spectrum. If you are interested, click here to learn how.

James provided us with some very unique angles in bridge photography and this one is no exception. It’s a portal view of a through truss bridge with a steep cliff as a backdrop. This serves as a reminder of the McCaffrey Bridge in Winneshiek County in northeastern Iowa, yet there are three distinct differences:

  1. The portals of this bridge are different in contrast to the aforementioned structure
  2. The truss design is also different.
  3. This bridge no longer exist, whereas the Iowa structure still stands.

Nevertheless, such locations were useful in a way that it served as a notice to slow down while driving across, otherwise, something like this happens. Yet with the advancement of sleekness and speed, many of these bridges have given way to newer, more modern and straighter structures, where they are supposed to be safer, yet they are anything but that because of they encourage drivers to race across the bridge and they are ill-effective against floods. Even a 20-year old piece of concrete slab can be wiped out by floodwaters within a matter of minutes!

So with that in mind, our Guessing Quiz question is: Where is this bridge located? Any ideas? Feel free to submit your answers here or on the Chronicles’ facebook pages.

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And by the way, to answer the Guessing Quiz Question to last week’s pic taken by James Baughn, the answer is Madison County Iowa, near the Roseman Bridge. Info on that bridge can be found here.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 152: The Jay Bridge in Maine- The Oldest Cable-Stayed Bridge Ever Built?

This next mystery bridge article presents a riddle to be solved. It has to do with the suspension bridge versus the cable-stayed bridge. Before we start with this article, a question for the forum:

Which bridge type came first- the cable-stayed or the suspension bridge?

 Both types first appeared in the 15th century, but the oldest suspension bridge in the world to exist can be found in Tweed in Scotland with the Union Chain Bridge, built 201 years ago. In the US, it’s the Cincinnati-Covington Ohio River Bridge, which was built in 1869 by John Roebling, 14 years before his masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.  And while the first oldest cable-stayed bridge going by modern standards was built in 1817 in the UK, the oldest existing bridge in the world can be found in Texas, with the Bluff Dale Bridge, built in 1890.

This leads to the question of when the first cable-stayed bridge was built in the United States. We know that the first suspension bridge in the country was built in 1855 at Niagara Falls– built by the same engineer, Roebling. However this post card of a bridge in Maine may not only be the first cable-stayed bridge in the States, but the first bridge on the North American continent, whose roadway was supported by cables hung on towers.

The information dates the Jay Bridge back to 1835. The bridge spanned West Channel Androscoggin River and featured three towers supporting cable-stays that may have been built out of concrete or wood. Looking at the pic more closely and how the roadway was warped, the best bet was that it was a wooden structure. Supporting the deck were pony arches that were attached to the towers. This bridge had served traffic until it was replaced in 1914 by the Pine Island Arch Bridge, a two-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge that was built by the Cry Brothers. That bridge is still in use. There used to be three bridges connecting the shores on both side of the river with the island. Today, only the Pine Arch Bridge remains, whereas a modern bridge bypasses the island as it crosses the river into the town of Jay.

If the records are proven correct, then the Jay Bridge was the oldest bridge of its kind built in the US. It could be possible that the bridge was built later and the markings were written in by accident. This has to do with the fact that cable-stayed bridges were once built using chain and wire. Concrete was not considered the norm for materials used for bridge construction. Wood was plentiful, yet for someone to design a bridge like that would require an artist who focused on the bridge’s aethetics. The oldest wooden arch bridge known to exist is the Wan’an Bridge in China, built 1000 years ago, yet the arches are more trapezoidal than curved. The technology needed to build arches out of wood came much later in the late 19th Century.

This leads to the question of the validity of the claims that the Jay Bridge was indeed built in 1835. If the information is correct, then who was responsible for designing such a bridge and what materials were used for the bridge construction?

That plus the first question can be discussed in the Comment section below…….

Happy Bridgehunting, Folks! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 147: Tribute to James Baughn

As summer vacation is approaching, we would like to take you to a man-made lake and this unique duo crossing, located in Taney County, Missouri. The Shadow Rock Bridge spans Swan Creek at the site where US 160 once crossed near the town of Forsyth. The crossing features two different bridges, located next to each other but having different types and even heights. The lower bridge features an open-spandrel deck arch with concrete deck cantilever approach spans. That span was built in 1932 by M.E. Gillioz and replaced the first crossing, a two-span Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings. The higher bridge succeeded the arch span 20 years later. The two-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections and WV portal bracings was built by Porter and DeWitt in 1952. Both bridges are still being used to this day, with the arch bridge serving as direct access to Shadow Rock Park and statue. The truss spans carries through traffic but is in need of new paint and some rehab work, though the picture taken by Mr. Baughn doesn’t show the rust but the silver coloring.

Duo bridges of this kind are rare to find these as they are either being replaced with modern structures or removed in their entirety. This was noticeable with a bridge couple in Floyd County, Iowa at Nora Springs. We had a two-span arch bridge at First Street that was built in 1916 and a taller Viaduct at Congress Street built only 300 feet away in 1955. It was a pleasant site to see them side-by-side during my visit there in 1998. Sadly both are gone now- the viaduct was replaced in 2008, the arch bridge was removed in December last year. 

But aside from the Shadow Rock Bridges where two bridges are side-by-side and at least 65 years old, which other examples do you know? Feel free to comment. Who knows, it might give bridgehunters a chance to visit them this summer, especially as we’re slowly but surely returning to normal after a year in standstill because of the Corona epidemic and chaos caused by…… You know who I’m referring to, right? 😉

Happy Bridgehunting, folks! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 146: Tribute to James Baughn

Photo taken by James Baughn
This is our 151st Mystery Bridge as well!

This week’s Pic of the Week James Baughn series takes us to Osage City and this unusual railroad bridge. The Osage City Railroad Bridge spans the Osage River in the town of Osage City at the site where Water Street is located on the west bank. The bridge features from west to east: one pony plate girder span, one riveted Pratt through truss bridge with vertical endposts and heel portal braces, and five pony plate girders. It is unknown when the bridge was built, yet records indicate that the this span was built reusing parts from a previous bridge. There are two reasons behind it- one that is physically present and one that is theoretical. The practical point falls in line with the through truss span. Judging by the connections between the endpost and the upper chords, it appears this bridge span was imported from another bridge- a rather large one, be it a swing bridge bascule bridge, or a deck truss bridge. The reasons are that the markings indicate that a truss span was cut out of the bridge and imported to this location to serve as high-clearance span and encourage ships to pass under that span. This would have to have been done as the river bed of the Osage River was at its lowest below the water level.

The theoretical standpoint of having a patchwork bridge span may have come by the owner’s pursuit of reusing spans from another bridge in order to cut costs of building a new span. That story takes us to the Booneville Railroad Bridge, which spans the Missouri River and features a vertical lift span. That bridge used to belong to Union Pacific Railroad (UP) which had purchased the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (a.k.a. KATY Lines) in 1988 after it went out of business. Before UP’s purchase of KATY, an agreement was made with the State of Missouri a year earlier to designate the entire line into a state park trail and the Booneville Bridge was part of the incorporation plans. Unfortunately, UP wanted to demolish the vertical lift span and take the five spans to Osage City for use at the crossing. After the plan was announced in 2004, and the Department of Natural Resources ceded ownership of the bridge to UP, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon sued the DNR and later UP for breaching the 1987 agreement. At the same time, a preservation group was formed, and the bridge was ultimately spared demolition. UP backed off from the bridge and decided to pursue another unused bridge for reuse, hence this truss span.

It is obvious that the truss span at the Osage City crossing came from another bridge. The question is when was this patchwork bridge built? And why was it built?

The irony behind the Osage City Bridge is that UP did build a brand new bridge alongside the truss span and the line is now two-tracked, meaning this patchwork bridge now has one way traffic. This happened in 2014. As UP was working to expand its network and cutomers, the modernization and widening of the tracks were a necessity to compete with the likes of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk & Southern, Canadian Pacific and Southern Pacific, though I would give UP credit for its attempts of reusing the truss bridges for cost-cutting purposes. Not every bridge that is over a century old means it’s the end of the road and it must be demolished.  This is something that the likes of BNSF should consider, especially as they’re pursuing the demolition of a prized piece of historic artwork in Bismarck, North Dakota.

I bet Ralph Mojeski is turning over multiple times in his grave for that.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 150: The Raritan River Bridge at Bound Brook, New Jersey

Source: https://bridgehunterschronicles.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/a2916-1875raritanriverbridge.jpg

Our 150th Mystery Bridge takes us to Mannville, in Somerset County, New Jersey, located west of Edison and even New York City. This bridge came to our attention on bridgehunter.com because of its fancy portal bracings as well as the vertical end posts. Judging by the plaque on the portal bracing, the bridge was built in 1875. Judging by its features and the fact that steel was not as comonly used as it was 15 years later, this bridge was definitely built of either cast or wrought iron. The number of spans, judging by the tunnel view, is between four and six, thus making the length of the entire bridge between 200 and 400 feet long. The structure used to serve a railline connecting the area with Philadelphia and Reading in Pennsylvania. In fact, the bridge was part of the Philadelphia-Reading Railroad consortium, which was established in 1833 and had been in service until 1976. It was one of the oldest railroads in the country.

The bridge was replaced with a two-span Parker through truss though the date is not given, nor is there information in bridgehunter.com. Hence the first question that comes about is when the present-day span was built and this span removed.

It is unknown what type of truss was used for this railroad bridge, though at first hand, it appears to have been a Howe through truss design. Yet at the time of its construction, other truss designs were also used that have Lattice features, such as the Post, Whipple and even Pratt. So looks can be deceiving. So the next question is what type of truss bridge was this crossing.

And lastly, the third question behind this bridge is who built this to begin with and what was the motive behind the portals and end posts, which are not only typical for iron truss bridges during that time, but also one of the most ornamental of the bridges in the area? Although these trusses are rare to find these days, decorative truss bridges show not only the engineer’s signature but also the artwork that was put into the structure, especially when it comes to cast or wrought iron. These were dominant between 1870 and 1895 when steel became the norm for truss bridge construction and with it, sleeker truss designs with letter-shaped portals, such as the common A-frame, as well as W, M, WV, and MA, as well as Howe Lattice.

To to review the questions we need to solve for this research:

  1. When was the truss bridge replaced by the current structure?
  2. What type of truss bridge was this crossing?
  3. Who was behind the design for this railroad crossing?

And with that, best of luck with the research. Feel free to submit your comments here if you find some information on the bridge. Happy Bridgehunting and happy trails! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 145: Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to Paoli, Indiana and this shot, taken by James Baughn. This is of the Gospel Street Truss Bridge (left) and Bowstring Arch Bridge (right), standing side-by-side. The truss span was built in 1880 by the Cleveland Bridge & Iron Company and was built using iron. The Bowstring Arch Bridge dates back to the 1930s, even though we don’t know when exactly and by whom the span was built. This pic was taken before the town of Paoli made the news on Christmas Day when a semi-truck tried to cross the span- and failed to succeed, putting the truss bridge into the waters of Lick Creek.

While the truck driver, a rather inexperienced Bible-thumper, got jail time for the incident, and the trucking firm was forced to close down, questions still linger as to how the truck driver managed to ignore the “No Trucks Allowed” sign, bigger than the Weight Limit sign! We know that the driver didn’t figure the math and that the GPS put her in the wrong location. But really: How much bigger can the sign be?

Sometimes, a sign like this one may be needed in order for drivers to pay attention:

Photo by Art Suckewer

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The bright side to this bridge disaster is that it made for an example of how the police should handle situations like this in the classroom, for regardless of country, the police officer has to know how to handle such a situation in his/her own language, let alone the fines for disobeying the traffic signs and other restructions. In my classroom in the German state of Saxony, it has been a hit for discussion both in English as well as in German, especially as the state has a few metal and wooden truss bridges left including five covered bridges.

The bridge has been restored to its former glory, with the trucking company having paid for the whole project. You can see it in the video below:

And even with the headache bars and other restrictions, there’s still work to be done to ensure that truckers must obey the traffic laws, even if it means having to redo some of the features in the GPS system to ensure that they stay off the roads where light-weight, small but historic bridges are located. But at the same time, tougher measures will still be needed to hold the truck driver and the company responsible. Jail time, fines and other sanctions are one thing, but education in trucking and law enforcement are just as important. After all, even if we live in a democracy, we have laws and laws are there to save lives and protect persons and property.

And that tops all the money being spent on more modern but bland concrete slabs whose value will never top a structure like the Gospel Twins of Paoli. 🙂 ❤

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