Borders to Bridges: A Guessing Quiz on the Bridges of the former East-West German Border

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1989 marks the year of the Fall of the Wall. 30 years ago on November 9th, the East German government opened the borders that had separated East and West Germany for 21 years. This resulted in the Fall of the Wall and as a consequence, the Reunification of Germany, which happened on 3 October, 1990.

 

GUESSING QUIZ: THE BRIDGES ALONG THE BORDER

When the border and the Berlin Wall went up, many of the bridges that made up the border between the Federal Republic of Germany (West) and the German Democratic Republic (East) were closed down or even removed. Only a handful of crossings remained open but under stringent control by the East German border guards, to ensure that no one left the country who was not supposed to.

The question is: Which bridges were affected?  Look at the pictures below, determine if they were borders or not by marking Yes or No, and state your reason why by identifying where they are located. Borders meant that the bridges were either shut down to all passage or were under strict control by the East German army. The 16 German states are listed below to help you.  Good luck! 🙂

1.

Photo: R. Kirchner for wikiCommons

Y    /      N                                       Where? ____________________________________________________

 

2.

glienicker 2

Y      /       N                                  Where? _____________________________________________________

 

3.

61277351_2446054655425169_9220180807434371072_o

Y    /       N                                             Where? ________________________________________________

 

4.

o-burg

Y        /           N                                  Where? _________________________________________________

 

5.

Photo by Torsten Bätge for wikiCommons

Y         /            N                                                            Where? __________________________________

 

6.

bornholm str. br

Y            /                  N                                                 Where? ___________________________________

 

7.

60348074_2428639390500029_8081718061121404928_o

Y       /          N                                            Where? _____________________________________________

 

8.

IMGP8692

Y           /            N                                Where? ________________________________________________

 

9.

Photo by Störfix for WikiCommons

Y        /            N                                  Where?__________________________________________________

 

10.

Y        /         N                                                   Where? _________________________________________

 

11.

DSCF8658

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

12.

71240654_2689168554447110_8234287724815712256_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

13.

67123024_2551689028195064_8252882931752632320_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

14.

IMG_20190506_165214196_HDR

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

15.

selbitz 3

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

16.

60831355_2487501947935430_5515844232725659648_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

17.

59655835_2414395578591077_246195518340857856_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

18.

31934788_1874852035878770_8085130455587749888_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

19.

ZwSch

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

20.

IMG_20190506_175912431_HDR

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

German States:

Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia

 

The answers to the quiz are HERE.

 

Check out the Flensburg Files and follow the updates pertaining to the 30th anniversary celebrations. There are lots of articles that have been written on this topic, including former border crossings and videos, just to name a few. As a hint, some of the answers to this quiz lie both there as well as here. You will find them all here.

 

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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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What to do with a Historic Bridge: Camsdorfer Bridge in Jena, Germany

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Camsdorfer Brücke (Camsdorf Bridge) spanning the Saale River between City Center and Jena-Ost.

 

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To be or not to be. That is the question that the city eastern Thuringia is facing in many aspects as it deals with housing and overpopulation issues, combined with education, social infrastructure, bike trails, and this bridge- the Camsdorfer Bridge, spanning the River Saale east of the city center.

The current bridge was constructed in 1913 but was widened in 2005 to accommodate additional lanes and two street car tracks. There is one problem though: the bridge is east of the railroad, which runs parallel to the main highway at Am Anger. While there are crossings at the intersections on both sides of the bridge, people are finding it annoying to not have an underpass running underneath as they are forced to dismount their bikes just to cross Camsdorfer Strasse at the bridge regardless of each end.

The Saale bike trail goes across the bridge but makes a sharp turn to the left at Wenigerjenaer Ufer at the Restaurant Grüne Tanne. A branch of the trail runs alongside the track before crossing at Griesbrücke near the train Station Saalbahnhof.  Now the debate is ongoing as to whether the trail should run underneath the Camsdorfer Bridge or if other measures should be carried out to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, which includes a traffic light at Grüne Tanne. The catch to the debate is that the west end of the bridge, where the trail would run underneath, is protected by law. According to the local newspaper OTZ, the area west of the bridge is considered a natural habitat due to rare plants and other species. Since 2000, the area has been considered off limits. The east end of the bridge is impassable due to the steepness of the cliffs plus the lack of space to have a bike trail.

This leads to the question of what to do in the case of the bike crossing at the Camsdorf Bridge. The support for having the bike trail underneath the Camsdorf Bridge is growing for claims of “There’s no other possibility,” as mentioned by politician Christian Gerlitz, is growing. Yet in order to lift the ban at the western end, the City of Jena will have to go through every Office responsible for Flora and Fauna, from the local level to one in Berlin. That will take lots of time, energy and valuable resources away, which can be used for other issues Jena is facing, which are both numerous and huge for one of the fast growing cities in the eastern half of Germany and one of the most expensive places to live in all of Germany, competing with the likes of Leipzig, Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich.

This leads to the question of whether an underpass is well worth the fight, or should it look for alternatives, as seen in this questionnaire below. Look at the options and mark which one you would take. A map of the area around the Camsdorf Bridge with the options being discussed, plus the newspaper article (click here) will help you understand the situation and make a choice objectively.  Comments can be added in the survey as well as in this article regardless of which language (English or German).  Good luck! 🙂

 

Note: OTZ is short for Ostthüringer Zeitung, which serves Jena and the eastern half of the State of Thuringia. It is part of the Funke Media conglomerate which is based in Erfurt.

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What to do with the facebook site: Save the Green Bridge at 5th Avenue SW in Des Moines, Iowa

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Photos by C J Johnson

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DES MOINES, IOWA (USA)/ GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- It has been almost six years since the closure of the Fifth Avenue Bridge, spanning the Raccoon River at the confluence with the Des Moines River at Iowa’s state capital. It has been five years since the creation of the social network platform devoted to saving the three-span Pratt through truss bridge, nicknamed as the Green Bridge, which was built by local, but well-known bridge builder, George E. King in 1898. And lastly, it has been three years since the reopening of this historic bridge and with that, two years since the introduction of new lighting. Quite an achievement for one bridge which has received the support of over 1300 people since its launch.

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Now the facebook page Save the Fifth Avenue Pedestrian Bridge (Green Bridge)  has reached the crossroads and we need your help. There are some bridges in and around Des Moines that are being targeted for replacement, some them have already been approved. At the same time, articles, postcards and other photos on these structures have been found and posted on multiple websites and facebook pages. The Lost Des Moines facebook page is getting bigger and bigger, with more and more relicts of the past having been met with the wrecking ball.

And with that, the bridges as well. After all, they are just as important to the history and heritage to Des Moines as the historic buildings themselves. Therefore, the Chronicles would like some input regarding the Green Bridge page. There are ……. Options. You should decide what to do there.

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Photo taken by C J Johnson

Option 1: Do nothing. The Green Bridge page would remain as is, and photos and info on the bridge would be added from time to time.

Option 2: Change the page and focus on the Bridges of Des Moines: Past and Present. Here, everyone could add photos, newspaper articles, postcards, stories and even news events that deal with bridges in Des Moines

Option 3: Change the page and focus on the historic bridges in Iowa, past and present. Based on the Lost Places in Iowa facebook page, this one would focus on historic bridges in the state, past and present and would welcome the items mentioned in Option 2.

Option 4: The same as in Option 4, but it would focus on the Bridges along the Des Moines River from its starting point in southwestern Minnesota until its confluence with the Mississippi.

Option 5: Other ideas. Here you need to be specific and write down your ideas in the comment page

Option 6: Shut it down and archive it. This would be the last resort.

Green Bridge draft
Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa

 

What do you think?  Click on the ballot below and spread the word. The voting will close on 1 April with a decision to follow afterwards.

 

Social networking has played a key role in preserving many historic bridges in the US and beyond, as it has served as a platform for ideas and debate. It is hoped that the Green Bridge facebook site continues operating as it has been, but perhaps under a different name and format. The question is how? And this is where you come in.

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Photo courtesy of C J Johnson

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2018 Ammann Awards Ballot

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Finally, after the last minute push for nominations, combined with all the registrations being added, the 2018 Ammann Awards voting Ballot is now here. Between now and 7th January, you have a chance to vote for your favorite bridges in each of the categories below. As in the past, there is no limit in the number of votes you can submit per category. Yet a couple minor items to keep in mind:

  1. In the categories of Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge, Mystery Bridge  and Best Bridge Photo, only the photos with little information is available. This way, voters can have a look at the photos more carefully before voting. Especially in the Restored Historic Bridge, the voter should have a closer look at what was done with each bridge and decide what was done with it. All the information will be revealed when the winners are announced in January.
  2. Before you vote, you can look at the Information for each of the candidates and click on the links for more Details. For all except the category Best Bridge Photo, you can find the Information by clicking onto this link here.

In case of questions on the voting process or any issues that come about, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles at the following address: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. The polls will Close on 7th January at 11:59pm Chicago time, which means 6:59am Berlin time on 8th January.

Good luck and may the voting begin! 😀 We have a bumper crop this time around!

 

Lifetime Achievement

 

Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge

 

Tour Guide USA

 

Tour Guide International

 

Mystery Bridge

 

Bridge of the Year

 

Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge

 

Best Bridge Photo

 

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Forum: The First Bridge You Ever Photographed

 

Petersburg Rd. Bridge
Petersburg Road Bridge in Jackson, Minnesota. Built in 1907, the bridge was torn down in 1995. Photo taken in 1992.

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As we celebrate National Historic Bridge Month, one question came to mind that would be worth talking about is the first bridge you ever visited- and photographed.

It’s no joke. 🙂

Bridge enthusiasts, preservationists, historians and bridge photographers became great when they saw and photographed their first historic bridge. Just by looking at its age, unique features and its setting, the bridge provides a person with a chance to cross it from the present into the future aspects. That means, with every plank that you cross, you step even closer to your dream job of being a pontist until you reach the opposite side, and to your destination. Your first bridge is the place where you look beyond its history and towards possibilities that are there for you to learn about, research on and write about or (even teach) the histories that tie everything on this planet together, just by that bridge you visited.

My destination to becoming a teacher and writer started with this bridge- the Petersburg Road Bridge on the south end of Jackson, Minnesota. The bridge was built in 1907 by Joliet Bridge and Iron Company, replacing a bowstring arch bridge that had once spanning the West Fork Des Moines River at this spot. The Pratt through truss span with Howe lattice portals with heel struts was in service until it was closed in 1984 to motorized vehicles and in 1992 to pedestrians. After partially collapsing during the Great Flood of 1993, it was torn down in February 1995. The bridge used to be a primary crossing for people living on the south end of Jackson who wished to visit the north end or even the cemetary that was on the west end. And it was that bridge, where I took my first pics, using them for a science presentation in 7th grade in 1991. And while I never became a civil engineer, my interest in historic bridges grew during my time in college, which led to several articles being written on them.

And with that came the Chronicles, in its current form. After eight years, the column lives on. 🙂

I really don’t know if the interest in saving the bridge would’ve saved the Petersburg Bridge, where I spent my time there with the camera, but the bridge did serve as the call to go out and get some more photos of other bridges, and encourage  people to save them.

 

Now it’s your turn: What was your first bridge that you photographed and what got you to becoming who you are because of that? Feel free to leave a comment below or on the Chronicles’ facebook page.  🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 100: The Bridge at Fischweg in Chemnitz

fischweg

CHEMNITZ (GERMANY)- I’m going to be very honest for this mystery bridge, which is the 100th structure I’ve posted since launching the series in 2011. It was very, VERY difficult to decide which one to post next, for there was a large selection to choose from, ranging from an abandoned bridge along Route 66, a three-span through truss bridge in Oklahoma, a suspension bridge in India and this bridge. After some thorough consideration, I decided to go with the way that is the best in terms of my own merit as the structures have been mentioned by others in one way or another.

So here it comes: a through truss bridge that has been sitting on private land for a very long time, on the outskirts of a city that was for some time named after a Communist. Found by accident but not before almost getting my Volkswagen rammed into by a lorry behind me, who was cussing at me in Polish as he passed me by, after having parked my car off to the side. 😉

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OK, the Polish guy part was fake news, but looking at the rest of the picture, one can see that you don’t need to fact-check this beauty.  The bridge is located just off Highway 107, three kilometers north of the Motorway A4 and the Exit Chemnitz-Glösa. It sits on private land next to the restaurant and hotel Landgasthof Draisdorf, around the curve.  It is an eight-panel Pratt through truss bridge, built using welded connections- meaning the beams are held together by gusset plates and are not inserted into the plates, like we would see in other truss bridges. The end posts are typical for many European truss bridges built during its time: vertical instead of angled. The portal and strut bracings feature V-laced bracings with curved heel bracings. The middle strut heels appear to be subdivided.  The bridge can be seen from the highway- although it is not recommended to stop because the highway curves around the Landgasthof and one could risk such a rear- ender plus an explanation with the police to follow.  The bridge is about 5-6 meters tall, about 30-35 meters long and 3 meters wide, judging by my presence at the bridge and the photos I took of the bridge. While the bridge is one of five known in Chemnitz, this is the only through truss bridge within the city limits, counting the village of Draisdorf, where it sits.

The fun part comes with the history of the bridge. My first judgement of the bridge was that it was located over the River Chemnitz at Heinersdorfer Strasse and it was pulled offsite and to its current location after a new bridge was constructed 100 meters to the south. The truss bridge was replaced by a new bridge in 2005.  You can see the points mentioned on the map. However, research by the Saxony Ministry of Historic Monuments and Preservation (D: Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Sachsen) in Dresden indicated that this truss bridge was not originally located at Heinersdorfer Strasse but at Fischweg near the cemetary in Glösa, only 400 meters south of the motorway exit. The map indicates that a bridge does exist but in a form of a bike and pedestrian crossing for the street ends on the grounds of a factory nearby. The date of construction of the bridge is 1900 and is currently listed in the Preservation Handbook for the State of Saxony (Denkmalschutzliste).

This leads us to the following questions which your help would be much appreciated in contributing whatever information may be of use:

  1. Is the date 1900 correct? Sometimes the year is used because of a lack of clarity in terms of when exactly it was built and open to traffic.
  2. If the bridge was not originally located at Heinersdorfer Strasse, what did the previous structure look like? When was it built and was it built by the same bridge builder as this bridge?
  3. Independent of what was mentioned in nr. 2, who was the bridge builder for this bridge?
  4. When was the current structure at Heinersdorfer Strasse built and what happened to the old structure?
  5. What factors led to the replacement of this bridge and who led the efforts in saving it for reuse?

fischweg2

It’s not every day that a person and/or party steps forward to purchase the bridge and keep it for reuse. The bridge is privately owned and judging by my observations, it is being used as a picnic area with a porch swing attached to the top strut bracing. For most historic bridges that are purchased by private groups-namely homeowners, they are normally used for picnic areas and other forms of recreation more than for pedestrian and bike crossings because of liability reasons. It is different in comparison with private parties in the form of associations, park and recreational groups and the community that have more resources (including financial) to make sure the crossing is safe for reuse. But nevertheless, this bridge is safe and will most likely be in the hands of the homeowner until the need to get rid of it is near. When that happens, it can be hoped that the bridge is put back over the Chemnitz as a bike crossing. With the Chemnitztal Bike Path being extended and paved to Wechselburg, it would not be a surprise if this bridge was called to duty again given its preservation status and the interest in keeping it for generations to come.

And this is what makes this unexpected stop the most memorable- finding out the unknown about a structure like this one, which is truly a hidden gem.

And as we are on the same page, the next mystery bridge will go further downstream where a pair of structures are being refitted for bike use. More on this one in the next article. In the meantime, enjoy the photos here as well as on BHC’s facebook page.  And as for the aforementioned bridges at the beginning of the page, they will come later.

 

Author’s Note: Chemnitz was once named Karl-Marx-Stadt when it was under the rule of the German Democratic Republic. It even had a head statue of Karl Marx that can still be seen today. From 1953 until 1990, it was known that way.

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