Wartime Bridge Story: Lange Brücke in Forst (Lausitz)

Source: A. Savin vis wikiCommons. Photo taken in 2016

Wartime Bridge Series

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Our next Wartime Bridge takes us a bit further south in the German state of Brandenburg but this time, we continue along the Neisse River until we reach the city of Forst. With a population of 18,000 inhabitants, the city is located east of Cottbus. Prior to the Fall of the Wall, Forst was well known for its textile industry, for a large factory was located there. Yet since its closure, the city has been on the decline, falling from 31,000 inhabitants in 1945 to under 20,000 by 2011. Despite its steady decline, the city is dependent on tourism as there are several historic artefacts one can see either by bike or by car, including the historic water tower, the factory, the church and historic city center…..

…..and its bridges that span the River Neisse.

There are four bridges that connect Forst with its neighbor to the east, Zaseki on the Polish side. The village of 250 inhabitants used to be a suburb of Forst when Germany had its state of Schlesia. In fact the town was modernized beginning in 1897 to accommodate more people as many of them found jobs in the textile factory and other industrial sites nearby. Three bridges connected Forst with its former neighbor prior to 1945. Today only one of them, a six-span truss span is still in use, providing rail service to Lodz from Cottbus.

And this is where we look at the other two bridge ruins- one that used to serve vehicular traffic and one that used to serve pedestrian traffic. The pedestrian crossing had been in use from the 1920s until the end of World War II and  featured multiple spans of concrete, using Luten arches.  The other one is known as the Lange Brücke.

The Lange Brücke was a six-span concrete arch bridge with closed spandrels. The structure was built in 1921 and had a total length of 170 meters. The width was about 14 meters. It was an ornamental structure where it was decorated with fancy light posts and rail posts at the entrance to as well as on the bridge. The bridge was a predecessor to a wooden crossing, which featured multiple spans of kingpost pony trusses. It had been built in 1863, had a total length of 101 meters and was only 5.75 meters wide. In 1889, it was widened by another 3 meters. Still, because of the increase in traffic due to the expansion of Forst, the city council agreed to build a new span, which took two years to complete.

Neither of the bridges survived as well as much of the city of Forst in 1945. In the middle of February of that year, the Soviet troops had lined up on the Polish side of the River Neisse at the entry to the Lange Brücke. While it is unknown whether the Nazis had blown the structure up prior to that, it was known that Forst became under seige with bombs and bullets devastating much of the city. Half the population had perished by the time the town surrendered on 18 April, 1945; 85% of the city was in ruins.

A video showing the ruins of the Lange Brücke can be seen here. The river span was the only one imploded, while the outer spans have remained in tact. Interestingly enough, many of the ornamental relicts belonging to the bridge are still standing today.

 

 

At the present time, talks are underway to rebuild the Lange Brücke and its pedestrian counterpart in an attempt to reconnect Forst with Zasieki. The city council had originally planned to add at least two bridges to the Neisse before 2020. At present the Northern Bypass Bridge, which carries Highway 157 is the only vehicular crossing that connects Forst with Poland. The concrete structure was built only a few years ago. The railroad bridge to the south of Forst is the other crossing. It’s a contrast to the situation in Eisenhüttenstadt (see article), but there’s a ways to go. Because of the interest in a central connection via Lange Brücke, it is very likely that a new span will be built sometime in the near future, whether it is reconstructing the Lange Brücke to its original glory or building on on a new alignment and leaving the old one as a monument. The question is with not only the planning but also the finances, especially during these difficult times with the Corona Virus. But nevertheless, a new bridge will happen because of the will of the people to make it happen.

 

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As a treat, I have this video showing the ariel view of three of the four crossings connecting Forst and Zasieki. Check out the gorgeous views of the bridges from up above and up close.

 

Sources:

History of Forst: https://edoc.hu-berlin.de/bitstream/handle/18452/7622/knpv.PDF

History of the Bridge: https://www.lr-online.de/lausitz/forst/die-alte-_lange-bruecke_-36431060.html

 

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Wartime Bridge Story Nr. 1: The Tangermünde Crossing

2001 Tangermünde Bridge. Photo: Mazbln assumed (based on copyright claims). / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

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Wartime Bridge Series

Located in the southern part of the district of Stendal, the city of Tangermünde is located on the River Elbe in the northern part of the German state of Saxony Anhalt. The city has over 10,400 inhabitants and is famous for its historic architecture dating back to the Medieval period. It’s one of only a handful of walled cities left in Germany that is in tact and one can find many historic places within the walls of the city, such as the towers, St. Stephan’s Church, Elbe Gate, and the historic city hall.  The hanseatic city survived almost unscathed during World War II, for only a few trussed houses (Fachwerkhäuser) were destroyed.

Yet one of the city’s prized historic works, the Elbe River Crossing, was destroyed, leaving a scar on the city.

The Tangermünde Bridge was built in 1933, after taking two years of construction. The 833-meter long bridge features a steel through arch main span (at 115 meters) with a height of 15 meters and a vertical clearance of 9 meters. There were a total of 24 spans featuring many forms of steel girders, through and pony alike.  The bridge remained in service for only 12 years. On 12 April, 1945, in an attempt to hinder the advancing American army, Nazi soldiers blew up the crossing while retreating towards Berlin. Nevertheless, to avoid being sent to Soviet camps,  sections of the 9th and 12th Wehrmacht armies (Germany) surrendered to the Americans. They had used the destroyed spans to help residents fleeing the advancing Soviet army. A temporary crossing was constructed afterwards.

Here are some videos of the Tangermünde Crossing after it was destroyed by explosives. This was filmed after the Nazis surrendered to American troops. The gravity of the destruction of the bridge was huge and was a symbol of the destruction that would be bestowed upon in all of Germany.

 

Aftermath:

The Tangermünde Crossing was rebuilt by the Soviets and the East Germans after Tangermünde became part of East Germany in 1950. They recycled the bridge parts and rebuilt a multiple-span crossing that featured as a main span a curved Pratt through truss with welded connections. Ist portal was I-beam with 45° angle heels. The remaining spans featured Bailey trusses, both pony as well as through truss. A tunnel view oft he Bailey through truss can be found in a blog which you can read here.

Ulamm / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

The structure lasted through the Fall of the Wall before it was replaced with the current structure, a steel through arch that mimicks that of the 1933 span. The bridge itself is almost twice as long as the original span, having a total length of nearly 1.5 km. It was built nearly two kilometers to the north of the old span, which remained in use until it was closed to all traffic in 2001 when the new bridge opened to traffic. The old structure was removed two years later. At the same time, the main highway, B-188, was rerouted, thus bypassing much of the city and having only local traffic going through town.

Today, the Tangermünde Crossing still serves local traffic. Its design has fit into the rest of the city’s historic landscape, much of which has been restored since 1990. Yet as we celebrate the end of World War II, many people remember how their prized work was destroyed towards the end of the war in a cowardly attempt to prevent the inevitable. And because the city was for the most part spared, Tangermünde has continued to become a tourist attraction. People can go back to the Medieval times and enjoy the architecture, before heading to the River Elbe to see the structural beauty. Despite being one of the youngest crossings along the Elbe, it is one with a story to tell to children and grandchildren alike.

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BHC Newsflyer: 17 April 2020

Phelps Mill Bridge in Otter Tail County, MN: Photo taken by Jake Lennington

 

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To listen to the podcast, click on the link here: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-17-April-2020-ect4hb

 

 

Headlines:

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Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge Has (Possible) New Home in Fergus Falls
Photo taken in 2009
 
3rd Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis to be Rehabilitated
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Kassberg Bridge. Photo taken in 2017
 
Kassberg Bridge in Chemnitz Reopens After 2-year Restoration
 
Historic Bridge in Halsbrücke to be Removed
 
Amrutanjan Viaduct in India Imploded
Article on the demolition:  Amrutanjan Bridge Demolished
 
Champlain Bridge before its replacement bridge. Photo: UncivilFire / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Team Selected for Champlain Bridge Removal in Montreal
 
Work Commences to Finish Sixaola Bridge Project
Photo taken by John Phelan (NPS)
 
Art Competition for Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge:
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BHC Newsflyer: April 10, 2020

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Heiligborn Viaduct in Waldheim (Saxony), Germany. Photo taken in 2018

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To listen to the podcast, click onto the link: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-10-April-2020-eclf2j

 

Headlines:

Railroad Bridge north of Basel (Switzerland) Collapses- One Dead

Information on the incident: https://www.brueckenweb.de/2content/datenbank/bruecken/3brueckenblatt.php?bas=97327

 

A10 Bridge in Tuscany Region. Photo by Frank Selke

Century Old Bridge in Italy Collapses- Minor Casualties

Article:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52213898

Bridge info:  https://www.brueckenweb.de/2content/datenbank/bruecken/3brueckenblatt.php?bas=86926

 

 

Spencerville Covered Bridge Recognized as State’s Favorite

Article:  https://www.kpcnews.com/thestar/article_90e3aec5-2039-51c9-8f97-6ff9ebf11b70.html

Bridge Information: https://bridgehunter.com/in/de-kalb/spencerville/

 

Bridge Street Bridge in Gardiner. Photo taken by Brian Bartlett

Gardiner Bridge Project Delayed Due to Corona Virus

Article: https://www.centralmaine.com/2020/04/07/gardiner-bridge-replacement-project-delayed/#

Info on the Project: https://reed-reed.com/gardiner-maine-bridges/

Bridge Info: https://bridgehunter.com/me/kennebec/bh59101/

 

Finlay Bridge in Medicine Hat (Alberta), Canada. Photo by Bryan Leitch / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Finlay Bridge in Medicine Hat (Alberta), Canada to be Rehabilitated

Article: https://chatnewstoday.ca/2020/04/06/city-planning-rehabilitation-of-finlay-bridge/

Bridge Info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finlay_Bridge

 

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Bothell Bridge. Photo taken by John Gateley

Bothell Wooden Truss Bridge to be Replaced

Info on Bridge Project: http://www.ci.bothell.wa.us/487/Park-at-Bothell-Landing-Pedestrian-Bridg?fbclid=IwAR1udFEhVnOu6xcG1RsNJNY_MY39J5H3TvrxCwgwSIHX6wk_QjncTI2A8lg

 

Tour Guide on the Bridges of Waldheim (Saxony), Germany

Tour Guide: The Bridges of Waldheim (Saxony), Germany

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 91

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Looks can be deceiving in this week’s Pic of the Week. This photo was taken in August 2011 and showed a car that wanted to cross this historic through truss bridge, only to be stopped by a Road Closed sign and a bunch of weeds. A tunnel view shot with some colorful reactions from the driver, which starts with …………

You finish the sentence.  😉

About the bridge itself, the Pratt through truss structure spanned the East Branch of the Des Moines River just off US Hwy. 169 north of the Humboldt-Kossuth County line. It was built in 1895 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was one of only a handful of bridges left in the state of Iowa that was built directly by Zenas King. His son George E. King established his bridge building company in Des Moines and was responsible for dozens more, many of them are still standing today.  Closed in 2010, the structure was removed during the Winter 2016/17.  More information and photos of the bridge can be found here.

 

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Lunabahn Trestle in Leipzig to be Demolished

 

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Century-old trestle to be removed with no plans for a new structure. Abandoned since the 1980s

LEIPZIG, GERMANY- With close to 600,000 inhabitants, Leipzig is the fastest growing city in Germany, with the population expected to reach 1 million by 2030. And with the growth comes cracks in the city’s infrastructure that are an average of 50 years old and in dire need of replacement. This includes numerous bridges that are even two times older than some of Leipzig’s key federal and state highways, and they have existed since the 1980s.

With many older bridges, come some that have been abandoned for years and its decaying process has presented a hazard for pedestrians and motorists. This is where the Lunabahn Trestle comes in. This bridge is located at Auensee, in the northwestern part of Leipzig, sandwiched between the Rivers White Elster and Neue Luppe. The trestle is made of concrete and has 17 spans in total. The piers are arched and have a semi, A-shaped design. Built in 1914, the trestle was originally used for the 6-gauge rail line known as the Lunabahn, which connected the main restaurant with the main entrance to the Park Am Auensee (at present-day Gustav-Esche-Strasse) and ending at the beach (near present-day Elsteraue). The trestle basically dissected the northwestern part of the lake. The line continued until the mid-1930s, when the bridge was converted to pedestrian and car use. The line would later be revitalized in 1951 and to this day, it encircles the entire lake. The trestle lost its functionality by the 1980s and was subsequentially closed to all traffic before the Fall of the Wall in 1989.

After being abandoned for almost four decades and having lost its functionality, the City of Leipzig voted to tear down the structure, which began on January 6th. Crews will remove the ca. 160-meter long bridge at a cost of 150,000 Euros. The project is expected to be completed by February 14th. The bridge’s deteriorating condition made it impossible to consider the option of restoring the structure for pedestrian use. There are no plans for a new bridge at this current site. For photographers and bridge enthusiasts, Leipzig will lose a unique structure, whose fitting background with the natural surroundings of Auensee will be missed and whose historic association with the Lunabahn will be gone forever. One of the close-ups of the photo can be seen via link here.

 

Links to the bridge, the lake and the historic railroad can be found below:

Auensee (includes information on the park railroad): https://www.leipzig.de/freizeit-kultur-und-tourismus/seen-fluesse-und-gewaesser/auensee/

Lunabahn and Trestle: http://www.auenseebahn.de/Luna-Express.htm

News on the Demolition (courtesy of LVZ- in German): https://www.lvz.de/Leipzig/Lokales/Marode-Bruecke-am-Leipziger-Auensee-wird-abgerissen

 

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Brunswick Railroad Bridge Washes Away

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Photo courtesy of NSR, found on bridgehunter.com website

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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.

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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.

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Pont de Trous: The Bridge of Tears

Pont des Trous over the River Scheldt. Photo taken by Jean-Pol Grandmont via wikiCommons

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TOURNAIS, BELGIUM- This article pays a tribute to the Pont de Trous, a bridge spanning the River Scheldt in the City of Tournai in Belgium. At the time of this posting, this bridge is all but a memory as it was pushed aside in the name of progress. The project to demolish the bridge started on August 9th as part of the project to deepen and widen the River Scheldt to allow ships to sail through France to join the Seine, which flows into the Atlantic.  The bridge was built in 1290 to replace a wooden crossing and was the last of the military crossings of its kind in the world.  However, as the city claimed the bridge is being rebuilt with the stones being saved for reuse, this was the scene of this “reconstruction project:”

A news report shows the details of this senseless destruction:

A new bridge mimicking the original historic character of the crossing is expected to be in place by the end of 2020. However, despite its McDonald’s arches that are being proposed, one has to ask if this was really necessary, given the fact that the bridge was part of Tournai’s old town. Featuring historic buildings, inside the fort and a cathedral, all from the same era as the bridge, the old town of Tournai has been a UNSESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. With the proposed rebuilding of the bridge, one has to ask himself if this was really a necessity. Do we need larger ships to pass through or if it makes sense to transport by land, which has enough highways and railways taking goods and persons to ports in the areas mentioned? Is it really necessary to have the bigger is better mentality or is less really more? And lastly, how much do we care about history in general?

With this demolition of one of the most historic bridges in the world, I’m reminded of a comment one of my students mentioned about history in class: “History is history. We need to worry about the future.” Yet history is important to understand the present and change it for our future and that of the next generation. Without history we will never know how we got to where we are now and what is expected to come.  We will never know how we progressed with our infrastructure and how it contributed to forming a nation, partnerships with other nations and society that we have today. It’s like the environment we fighting to save: We’ll never know until there’s nothing left…….

……but a memory. If we even remember this bridge a generation later, or if all that is left in memory are Ronald’s Golden Arches…….

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 117: The Bridges of Atlantis

The Asel Bridge. Photo taken by Hubert Beberich via wikiCommons

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The next Mystery Bridge article is in connection with the last Newsflyer article published last week on Lake Eder (in German: Edersee) and how the receding water levels are revealing relicts of the past, including a pair of bridges. To give you a brief summary of its location, Edersee is located in the district of Waldeck-Frankenberg in the northern part of Hesse, between the cities of Kassel and Warburg (Westphalia) in central Germany. One needs two hours from Frankfurt/Main in order to reach the lake. Edersee is an artificial lake that was built on orders of Emperor (Kaiser) Wilhelm II beginning in 1911. The dam and reservoir, located near Hemfurth was completed in 1914, but not before three villages were emptied of their inhabitants and later inundated. One of the villages is Asel, where the village’s lone surviving structure still stands.

The Asel Bridge is known by many as the Bridge to Atlantis at Asel (in German: Aselerbrücke). The bridge used to cross the river Eder when it was built in 1890. It is a four-span stone arch bridge, whose builder is unknown. It used to connect Asel with Vöhl before it was inundated with the creation of the reservoir. Over time, the bridge could be seen when water levels were low during the warm months from April to August. However, in the past decade, the levels have been decreasing to a point where the bridge can be seen in its glory year round. Furthermore, access to the bridge is possible on both ends and people can see relicts from the village before its relocation up the hill. The bridge, which has seen increasing numbers of visitors annually, is a living example of the village that had to move aside in the name of progress, having survived the test of time for more than a century.

Yet another crossing, located towards the dam between Scheid and Bringhausen, was not that lucky and only remains of the structure can be seen at low water point. The Eder Bridge at Bringhausen was built in 1893, made of wood, but it is unknown what type of bridge it was before its destruction- whether it was a covered bridge, truss bridge or a beam bridge. We also don’t know who built the bridge and at what cost. What we do know is when Scheid was relocated and the village was destroyed, so was the bridge itself. Today, what is left are the approach spans- made of stone- and the piers that used to support the wooden bridge- made of stone and concrete.

And finally, the third structural ruins that is closest to the dam is the Werbebrücke. This was located in the village of Berich, which is two Kilometers southwest of Waldeck Castle on the North end. Berich was the original site of the dam, water mill and mine that were constructed in the 1750s. The 75-meter long, five-span, stone arch bridge, with concrete keystone arch supports followed in 1899, even though we don’t know who was behind the work. We do know that the bridge was inundated along with the rest of Berich when the Reservoir was created. It was only  until 2010, when water levels started its constant drop, that scuba divers found the bridge remains and some relicts from the old village. Since then, one can see the relicts from shore, including the outer two of the five arches of the bridge.

Not much information on the three structures exists for they were either hidden somewhere or were lost in time due to the relocation and inundation to form the reservoir. As the dam at Hemfurth was one of four dams that were damaged extensively during the bombing raids of 1943, it is possible that fire and floods may have taken the rest of the documents. The dams were rebuilt after the end of World War II, using the Nazi prisoners of war as labor, as American forces rebuilt the area they occupied. Aside from their completion in 1947-49, they have been rehabilitated five times ever since.

Still the information presented on the three bridges at Asel, Berich and Scheid should be the starting point for research. What else do we know about the three bridges, aside from what was mentioned here? If you have some useful information to share, feel free to comment- either by e-mail or in the comment section below. To understand more about the Edersee, there are some useful links to help you. The facts can be found via wiki (here), but there is a website that has all the information on places of interests and activities for you to try (click here). There, you can keep an eye on water levels and plan for your next outing. A documentary on the history of Edersee via HNA can be accessed here.

 

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The infamous Edersee bombing raid happened on 17 May, 1943, when the British Squadron Nr. 617 under the Command of Guy Gibson, used the roll-and-rotating bombs dropped at the reservoir to bomb the dams. Holes were created causing damage to the dams and massive flooding that reached depths of up to eight meters. As many as 749 people perished and hundreds of homes and factories were destroyed in the attacks. The Americans took over the region, together with Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg and started a rebuilding plan, using prisoners of war plus troops who remained in Germany. While the area was rebuilt in five years’ time, the process of rebuilding Germany to its pre-war state took three decades to complete due to complications from the Cold War with the Soviets, who occupied the northeastern part of Germany (today: Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and “East” Berlin). This is despite the Britons and French occupying the rest of what became later known as West Germany.

Prior to the destruction of Berich, a new village was established in 1912, approximately 15 kilometers away. Neu-Berich is located near the border to North Rhine-Westphalia west of Landau. For more on its history (and to buy the book), click here.

 

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Newsflyer: 5 August, 2019

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Champ Clark Bridge before its replacement bridge was built. Photo taken by Steve Conro in 2012.

 

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To listen to the podcast in detail, please click here.

Articles in connection with the headlines:

Pont des Trous in Tournais. Photo taken by Jean-Pol Grandmond (wikiCommons)

Historic Bridge in Tournai (Belgium) Dating back to the 13th Century Removed

News article on the Bridge removal

Information on the City of Tournai

Flooding Destroys Historic Bridge in Yorkshire (UK), threatens Cycling World Cup

News article on the flooding

Information on the Cycling World Cup.

Anderson Bridge in Singapore: One of three bridges gazetted as national Monuments. Photo by Kensang via wikiCommons

Three historic bridges and an open park in Singapore to be declared national Monuments

News article via Strait Times

Details on the three bridges via Strait Times

Tour Guide on the Bridges of Singapore (now a candidate for the 2019 Bridgehunter  Awards in Tour Guide International).

New Harmony Bridge in Indiana Gets a New Owner: Rehabilitation and Reopening Planned

Article on the Harmony Way Bridge Act

Information on the Harmony Way Bridge via bridgehunter.com

 

Champ Clark Bridge’s replacement span open; old Bridge coming down

Information on the Bridge and replacement project

Karnin Lift Bridge as of today. Photo by Kläuser via wikiCommons

The Reactivation of the railroad line to Usedom Island (Germany) and the Karnin Lift Bridge Close to Reality

Article on the Reactivation Project

Information on the Karnin Lift Bridge

The Bridge of Asel when water levels of Lake Eder are at its lowest. Photo taken in 2017 by Hubert Beberich via wikiCommons Levels have reached even lower since this photo was taken.

Low Waters make for Discovery of Atlantis in a Lake in Hesse

Article via FFH Frankfurt

Information on Findings via Lake Eder website

 

The Future of the Meadowbrook Park Truss Bridge after the Fire of 2017:

Article (poll included)

Information on the bridge

Feel free to comment in the Comment section below

 

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