BRUNSWICK, KANSAS- Heavy rainfalls and flooding has been the theme for this year in much of the central and Midwestern parts of the US. High waters have damaged or destroyed many buildings, highways and bridges, disrupting services and causing billions of dollars in damage.
The Norfolk and Southern Railroad (NSR) Bridge spanning the Grand River near Brunswick, Kansas has joined the growing list of casualties from this abnormal year. A week ago on October 1st, high waters and debris from fallen trees and buildings took out the century old viaduct, thus cutting off service between Moberley and Kansas City, Missouri. While the photo of the bridge remains in its aftermath is scary, a video posted by officials at NSR, showing the power of Mother Nature and the magnitude of the destruction of this bridge puts it beyond what we saw with the ice jams destroying bridges in Nebraska earlier in the year. It can even be comparative to a movie laden with such disasters.
The bridge itself was the second crossing at Brunswick. The multiple-span deck plate girder spans were built in 1916 and had a span of over 600 feet long. Its predecessor was a four-span Whipple through truss bridge that had been built in 1885 and served the Wabash Railroad for nearly three decades. These spans were eventually reused on branches of the railroad connecting Moberley and Des Moines, Iowa as well as Moulton and Ottumwa, also in Iowa. These lines were discontinued by the early 1980s, and all but one of the spans have been removed and scrapped. The remaining span from the original Brunswick crossing is privately owned and can be found spanning Village Creek south of Ottumwa. Two of the demolished truss spans used to span English Creek before they were destroyed to make way for the Red Rock Lake project, which was completed by 1968.
The author would like to thank Sandra Huemann-Kelly for bringing this to the readers’ attention.
This week’s Pic of the Week comes earlier than usual because of the Newsflyer podcast being moved later. It’s also a throwback to almost a decade ago. There, together with Nathan Holth and Luke Gordon, we found this gem in Jefferson County, Ohio, near the border to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The Piney Fork Truss Bridge is located off Ohio State Highway 152, north of Dillonvale. It carries a private drive but can be accessed from the highway. The bridge is a Lattice girder pony truss bridge, which is the only one of its kind left in the USA which has an outrigger, which one normally finds in a truss bridge with angled endposts. And while the bridge’s uniqueness and history can be explained further via HistoricBridges.org website (click here), this side view was taken in August 2010 at the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend in Pittsburgh. The bridge’s setting is right in the middle of summer, only a couple weeks before the first leaves turned color. The pic was taken in the middle of the creek when water levels were low. Nevertheless, it was a one-in-a-bluemoon shot.
The bridge still stands to this day, unaltered and alone. But be rest assured the bridge will get a few visits as the forest will present their colors, just like the rest of the Appalachian region.
This week’s pic of the week is a throwback to eight years ago and to this bridge. The Ellsworth Ranch Bridge, located in Emmet County, Iowa, is one of five remaining Thacher truss bridges left in the United States and one of two of its kind left in Iowa. Patented by Edwin Thacher in 1881, the Thacher truss is a hybrid between a Warren, Pratt and Kellogg trusses that supports the middle portion of the span with the tension being on the lower chord. There were two different types of Thachers- of which this one only has one vertical column per outer panel that slanted down towards the central panel, which features the A-frame. In other words, this type consists of three panels. Some detailed pictures can be found per link via bridgehunter.com which you can click here.
This crossing was built by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio in 1895. That company was primarily responsible for these three-panel variants of the Thacher truss. Milo O. Adams was the company’s agent at that time. It was closed to traffic in 2007 and has since been standing. Despite this, the structure appears to be in tact, the flooring unaltered and not worn out. And the green color still keeps its color, camouflaging the surrounding green, including the cornfield in the background. And this is what makes this sniper, tunnel view taken from the road at about 400 feet more unique. This picture was taken in July 2011 while on an extensive bridgehunting tour through Iowa enroute to St. Louis for the Historic Bridge Convention. One can get this shot still, but the bridge has its unique vantage points, including the side view with trees in the background as well as the deck view while on the bridge. It’s a good starting point for the novice photographer who is working with his/her camera for the first time.
So go out there, find your favorite bridge and have at it. 🙂 ❤
The other Thacher bridge in Iowa is the Okoboji Bridge in Dickinson County, the only known Thacher pony truss bridge that had spanned the Little Sioux River. That bridge is currently in storage awaiting relocation. For more information, click here.Iowa was one of the breeding grounds for Thacher truss bridges for as many as 10 were built between 1885 and 1900.
The Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio was the other bridge company responsible for constructing Thacher truss bridges but using the textbook design featuring Pratt, Warren and Kellogg designs. The longest of its kind ever built was the Philipps Mill and Crossing in Floyd County in Iowa. Today, theCostilla Crossing in Colorado and the Linnville Bridge in Virginia are the only two bridges of its kind left in the country.
HOLBROOK, ARIZONA- Fellow pontist James McCray had an interesting found that was brought to the attention of the readers via bridgehunter.com. During his recent trip in Navajo County in Arizona, he found six pony trusses alongside a road west of Holbrook. They are near I-40 and US Highway 180 which used to be Route 66 before it was decommissioned by 1980. The trusses are double-intersecting Pratt with riveted connections, which pins the construction date to the earliest 1900. Each one is between 40 and 60 feet long. The question is where did they originate from? Were these spans part of a multiple-span crossing? Even a Route 66 crossing?
Click on the link here to get the coordinates and additional information including photos. Feel free to comment on them or even express interest in taking them. Currently they are in storage, standing side-by-side, awaiting relocation.