BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 133: Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Week tribute to James Baughn takes us out of Missouri and to neighboring Iowa. Located southeast of Mount Pleasant, the county seat of Henry County in the southeastern corner of the state is the Oakland Mills Truss Bridge. Spanning the Skunk River west of Franklin Avenue, the bridge was built in 1876 by the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company which was based in Leavenworth, Kansas. It’s one of a handful of combination spans left in the State of Iowa, featuring (from north to south) a Pratt half-hip, a wooden trestle, two Pratt through trusses and a four-panel Pratt pony. Sources indicated the trestle may have replaced a third Pratt through truss span but it hasn’t been confirmed in the bridge records. The entire truss system features pinned connections while the southern through truss span has ornamental portal bracings. The bridge was converted into a park in the 1970s and has been on the National Register of Historic Places for almost a half century.

The Missouri Valley was one of a few companies that lasted well into the modern era, having been formed in 1874. It was dissolved in 1975 after a fire destroyed the shop at its original home in Leavenworth. It was reorganized shortly afterwards but it left the bridge building business altogether. The Kansas State Historical Society did an extensive write-up on the company’s history, which you can view here. In the 101 years of business, the company constructed a wide variety of bridges, ranging from single and multiple span truss bridges to cantilever spans. It even constructed a concrete pony truss in New Mexico in 1915, one of two of its kind left in the US. 80% of all bridges built by Missouri Valley were towards the south central part of the country, concentrating on Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. Only two bridges in Iowa were reportedly built by this company, yet the Oakland Mills is the only one left in the state that’s still standing.

And it is also one of the most popular bridges to visit among bridge lovers, tourists and historians as one can make a picnic on the bridge and devote time to spending it on the bridge. Even at night, one is greeted with Christmas lighting as was my case when I visited the bridge in 2011 in the evening, on the eve of the Historic Bridge Weekend in St. Louis. But James’ pic was taken at the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa- two years later! In my opinion, the daytime shot was better than all the shots I took because of the lighting.

Still, who’s competing? 🙂 We both agree: The bridge is worth stopping for a visit, no matter for what purpose. And if properly and regularly maintained, the bridge will be around for generations to come. ❤ 🙂

HYB: Orient Bridge in Pickaway County, Ohio

One bridge that a person should visit while bridgehunting is this structure: The Orient Bridge. Located south of Harrisburg, this unique truss structure can be seen easily from Darby Creek Road where County Road 26 and Ohio State Highway 726 meet. The 225-foot long bridge features a Whipple through truss span with one of the most ornamental features of a portal bracing one will see while looking for bridges in Ohio. The portal bracing features from the top down, trapezoidal beam with four-leaf pedestals carved out, followed by a one-rhombus Lattice with ornaments at the Xes, and lastly a Town Lattice with heels. Builders plaque is on the top tier as well as finials that look like an ornamental bowl set with covers. Built in 1885 by the Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company, the Orient Bridge represents the most ornamental example of a bridge built by this bridge building company. Ironically, another bridge built by the same company, can be found in Paoli, Indiana. There, a female truck driver tried driving across the truss bridge causing it to collapse. Fortunately, the bridge has been restored to its original glory.

Here are some more bridge facts you will find in a video recently produced by History in Your Own Backyard.

Some other stories and facts you can find through bridgehunter.com and historicbridges.org. Just click on the highlighted words and you will be directed to the respective sites. Enjoy the info and hope you will take a chance to visit the bridge on your next road trip. 🙂

Happy Bridgehunting, folks! 🙂

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Photo courtesy of Satolli Glassmeyer.

Truss Bridge with an A: A Look at the Difference Between the Lane and the Miller-Borcherding Truss Design

Buffalo Ridge Road Bridge in Franklin Co., Missouri (replaced in 1999). Source: Missouri DOT

Imagine this scenario: You have a rail line that is abandoned but not before leaving in the rail ties and rail track. You have a pair of abandoned railroad cars, one of which used to be a dining car while the other used to be a loading bed for logs. And your town needs a new bridge because the old one collapsed during a flood. Your town doesn’t have enough money to build a super, duper new concrete bridge. Your replacement bridge must be 40 feet long. How would you create your make-shift bridge?

Crab Run Lane Truss Bridge near McDowell, Virginia. Source: C. Hanchey

This was the question that two of the bridge builders had when they were finding ways to recycle steel and wood for a unique bridge design of their own. Daniel Lane, who later established the Lane Bridge Company in New York, and the bridge building firm of Miller & Borcherding, based in St. Louis, were not quite well-known bridge builders in the US in comparison with the likes of Wrought Iron Bridge and the King family in Ohio, let alone the bridge builders from the Minneapolis school. However the designers found a creative, but also affordable way to design truss bridges, using recycled materials such as steel parts, wiring and wood.

Ward & Teslow Bridge in Winneshiek Co., Iowa. Example of a Warren truss bridge. Source: J. Smith

Using the Warren truss design, with its W-shaped pattern as a motif, they came up with a unique design with a three-panel truss span, where the center panel features the A-frame. The difference is how the outer panels are constructed and how the diagonal beams are constructed.

Keeney Settlement Bridge near Cuyler, New York. Source: C. Gehman

The Lane Truss

Daniel Lane, who was the proprietor of the Lane Bridge Works Company developed the truss design using old railroad and trolley tracks. Between 1890 and 1901 the bridge company constructed single span Howe truss bridge designs, using old rails which were reformed and clamped together by bolts that were once used for laying the track. These rods were to represent the upper and lower chord of the design, pinned together by nuts and bolts by just simply inserting the bolts through the rails and screwing the nut on afterward. This made the disassembling and reassembling of the truss design a lot easier.  This design was to be a Howe truss configuration but with three panels with the center span consisting of an A-frame design. Many of the trusses constructed during Lane’s tenure were no longer than 100 ft. in length. 

While many of these Lane pony trusses became popular at the turn of the century, one can only find four existing Lane trusses today: a 30 ft. long structure near Mc Dowell, Virginia built in 1896 and christened the Crab Run Bridge, the 90 ft. long Park’s Gap Bridge near Martinsburg, West Virginia, which built two years earlier, the Bonnie Branch Bridge in Howard County, Maryland and lastly, the Keeney Settlement Bridge in Cuyler, New York. The Crab Run and Keeney Settlement Bridges have been restored and repurposed for recreational use, while the Bonnie Branch is open for private use. Park’s Gap Bridge is still in use but features a three-layered Queenpost truss design with a Lane truss in the central panel. The company itself dissolved sometime after 1903, according to the Darnell Bridge Builder catalogue yet there is little information on both the company and Mr. Lane himself.

Portal view of the Hargrove Bridge in Butler Co., Missouri Source: J. Baughn

The Miller-Borcherding Truss:

While the Lane truss bridge was phased out after 1901, another company in Missouri, the Miller and Borcherding Bridge Builders of St. Louis altered the Lane and made it sturdier but easier to   disassemble and re-assemble. The company featured two different bridge builders- R.L. Miller, who had established a bridge building company in 1888, and Louis Borcherding, a German-born engineer whose firm merged with Millers in 1915 but lasted only two years. The Miller-Borcherding truss was developed using the remnants of the Lane truss. The Lane truss was altered by adding vertical beams which start at the lower chord and vertical post and end at the center of the end post at a 90° angle. Unlike the Lane truss, the Miller-Borcherding trusses design were fabricated using steel, just like with the original designs of the Pratt, Warren, and Howe designs that were being constructed during this time, and the joints were riveted, meaning the beams could be slid and molded together.  

Most of these bridges were constructed during the 1910s and 20s in Missouri, with many of them located in Butler County. Five of them were reportedly built, yet only one of them still exists to this day- an unusual 219-ft. two-span structure supported by a steel tower in the middle of the river west of Poplar Bluff, also known as the Hargrove Bridge. Built in 1917, the bridge was restored in 1999 and continues to serve traffic to this day. It is one of the most unique of the Miller-Borcherding truss bridges that can be found. All in all, a total of three bridges of its kind can be found today, counting the Hargrove Bridge. The Logan Creek Bridge in Callaway County is the oldest of the Miller-Borcherding trusses with a build date of 1911. This was perhaps the prototype that was built. It is abandoned. The Slagle Creek Bridge in Bollinger County is the last single span truss bridge in use. Another bridge in Cape Girardeau County was replaced yet the trusses were last seen leaning on the barn awaiting its fate.  

Cane Creek Bridge in Butler County, Missouri (now extant). Source: J. Baughn

Fazit:

While there were other truss designs that were developed or even modified with the purpose of using recycled materials, the Miller-Borcherding and the Lane trusses represent a more common example of this type of trend. With bridge building firms in fierce competition, combined with the rise in the price of steel, regions with a dense population but with enough financial resources were able to take advantage of the offers provided by them and were greeted with sturdy but sometimes fancy truss spans, using designs that were becoming more and more common for use: Pratt, Warren, Pennsylvania, Parker and Baltimore. The regions with a sparse population and with that, the lack of financial resources, were forced to either go with cheaper offers by smaller, less known bridge firms or had to resort with recycling the materials to be used for crossings. Both of these were done through local firms that only existed for a short period of time because of the competition. Yet these were the firms that designed and patented the bridge design for the purpose of making a crossing that is affordable to build and easier to disassemble and reassemble elsewhere. 

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Parks Gap Bridge in West Virginia. Source: Sewing Taylor (wikiCommons)

The idea of disassembling and reassembling trusses was later adapted with the introduction of standardized trusses beginning in 1910 with riveted connections. Yet the shortage of steel during the two World Wars and a Great Depression in between also led to the pinned-connected truss spans to be reused elsewhere on roads that were less traveled.  In any case, the idea of recycling materials was kept but at the cost of creativity as seen with the two truss designs presented here. The Miller-Borcherding and Lane Trusses represent one of the last examples of truss designs where creativity but with less use of materials, like steel, came together like bread and butter. And in today’s world of bridge building, both are left aside in the name of functionality, the mentality most engineers have, to ensure a crossing carries a road from point A to point B.

The Bridges of Frankfort, Kentucky

Singing Bridge. Photo taken by David Eads

Our next bridge tour takes us to the city of Frankfort. With a population of 27,600 inhabitants, it’s the capital of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the county seat of Franklin County. Frankfort is home to Fort Hill, an important post that played a role in the Civil War. It’s now a monument and park complex. The city is situated at the junction oft he Kentucky River and Benson Creek, and contrary to common beliefs, Frankfort was not derived from the name of the German city of Frankfurt but of Frank’s Ford, a crossing and salt mill that were established by settlers out of Bryan Ford (now Lexington) but was abandoned after an attack by the Native Americans in the late 1780s. The plot is across the river from the tract of land purchased by James Wilkinson in 1786 which later became known as Frankfort.

Our focus of the bridge tour is on the remaining truss bridges that span both Benson Creek and Kentucky River. Subtracting our bonus bridge at Devil’s Hollow Road, all but one bridge in Frankfort was built before 1895. The lone bridge built after that period was built in the 1920s and became part of a dual bridge crossing complex. When visiting Frankfort and its bridges, you will be amazed at what you will find there, including these crossings:

Photo by J. Parrish

Benson Creek Bridge at Taylor Avenue:

Built in 1881, the Taylor Avenue Bridge is the last crossing over Benson Creek before it empties into the Kentucky River. The structure is a pin-connected Whipple through truss bridge with Howe lattice portals and angled knee braces. Unusual for the pin-connected truss span is the square-shaped pin nuts used for connecting the truss beams. The bridge is the third crossing at its original site for the first crossing was a covered bridge built in 1871. Nine years later, it was moved to the Red Bridge site at Devil’s Hollow Road and an iron bridge was built in its place, using the abutments from the covered bridge. It collapsed before it was completed and was subsequentially replaced with the current span, even though it is unknown which bridge building company was contracted to build the structure. The Taylor Avenue Bridge served traffic until its replacement on a new alignment at State Highway 1211. The truss span was rehabilitated in 1996 and has since served pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge survived the 2010 floods, as water levels rose halfway up the truss span- miraculously without a scratch!

Photo taken by James MacCray

The Broadway Avenue Duo Bridges:

When traveling along the Kentucky River on Taylor Avenue, one will be greeted by the Whipple Truss structure. Yet he will be awed by this duo crossing complex at Broadway Avenue. It features two through truss crossings over the Kentucky River, but there have been five crossings at this place over the past 170+ years. The first two crossings featured covered bridge spans. The first crossing was destroyed by the Confederates during the Civil War in 1863. At that time, Frankfort was occupied but the Union troops later successfully liberated the city after it was held captive for over a year. The second covered bridge was washed away by flooding in 1867. It was decided that an iron bridge must take its place. The third crossing featured a multiple-span Fink through truss bridge. Built in 1868, it had served traffic for 30 years until a steel through truss bridge, the Pratt span with Town lattice portals, replaced it in 1898. Rail traffic had started using the Fink truss span until its replacement. It was then shifted onto the 1898 span. In 1928, the American Bridge Company built a massive, multiple-span crossing right next to the Pratt through truss span. It features two truss spans- a Pratt and a Pennsylvania, each with riveted connections. Rail traffic was shifted onto that span in 1929. The Pratt span was then converted to vehicular traffic and raised several feet to avoid flooding. The duo spans have a total length of over 600 feet across the river. Currently, the 1929 span is serving rail traffic, while the future of the 1898 span is up in the air. It has been closed to traffic and fenced off completely, yet given its unique history, especially in connection with the railroad, there is hope that the Pratt through truss span is rehabilitated and put to use in another life form- for recreation.

Singing Bridge
Photo by Elaine Deutsch

Singing Bridge:

The tallest and perhaps the longest single span truss bridge in Frankfort is the Singing Bridge. The bridge spans the Kentucky River and carries Us Hwy. 60 into the historic business district of the city. With a span of 405 feet long, it is the longest remaining span of its kind left in the country that was built by the Cleveland-based King Bridge Company. The bridge was built in 1893 and has been rehabilitated twice- the last one was in 2010. It’s a pin-connected Pennsylvania through truss bridge with Town Lattice portals and heel bracings. It’s unknown how tall the bridge is, but estimates point to somewhere between 25 and 40 feet tall. Sans plaque and gothic railings, the bridge still retains its unique feature- a metal grate girder, which makes a humming noise when crossing the structure. Hence the nickname- turned official name, the Singing Bridge. 😉

Photo by Elaine Deutsch

Red Bridge:

The last truss bridge featured here is the Red Bridge. It spans Benson Creek and is located seven miles west of Frankfort along State Highway 1005. The single-span, pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge, with Town Lattice portals and curved heels, was built in 1896 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, replacing a covered bridge that had been relocated to this site from the Taylor Avenue Bridge spanning the same creek. Interestingly enough, that covered bridge span replaced the first bridge that was also covered, but christened the name Belleport. That structure collapsed on April 30, 1880 due to flooding and was replaced with the second covered bridge from Frankfort. It remained in service until King built this span. In 1980, the replacement span was built alongside the truss bridge. Since then, it has been left standing and has maintained its structural integrity. It’s eligible for the National Register and there is hope that this bridge will be rehabbed and reused for pedestrian purposes.

To sum up the tour, five well-known truss bridges are worth seeing in and around Frankfort. While three of them are seeing some use, there is hope that the other two will follow suit in the near future. Each structure has a unique history that is important for the city of Frankfort, especially because of King and Fink. Yet even with the historical facts, it is up to the people to decide what to do with them. When looking at them, I really hope that people will see the value in these structures as I do, as well as the rest of the bridge community.

There is a facebook site devoted to these bridges which you can click on, visit and contribute. Check it out:

https://www.facebook.com/HistoricBridgesofFrankfortKY/

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Media Tip: Cleveland State University Album

Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

The first Media Tip of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, and a first bridge book/genre in a long time, this tip takes us to Cleveland State University and to the Wilbur & Sara Ruth Watson Bridge Book Collection. This website was found by chance while searching for some bridge information and it’s one that is considered a jewel.

Dr. Sara Ruth Watson donated a series of rare books written and collected by her father Wilbur J. Watson to the Michael Schwarz Library at the University in 1983. Wilbur was a well-renowned civil engineer and bridge designer who founded the Watson Engineering Company in Cleveland. He authored several books including one that was produced together with her daughters, Ruth and Emily. The Emily M. Watson Endowment Fund was created three years later and focused on the collection of civil engineering works, including that of the Watson Company.

The Schwarz Library has recently been digitized with several works written by Watson on Cleveland’s bridges that can be found online. Yet this website features a gallery of photos collected by Watson during his lifetime, sixteen chapters worth with structures found throughout the US, Canada and Europe, including some in the southern and western half of Germany. They are categorized based on the chronological period of bridge construction, stemming from pre-1890, all the way to the 1920s. Feel free to access the site and the literature written by Watson, et. al.

Link: http://web.ulib.csuohio.edu/watson/albums/album11pg1.html

Wartime Bridge: The Legacy of the Bailey Truss

Photo taken by Kevin Skow.

One will find this one anywhere. Even on the backroads like this one: a single span truss span spanning Soldier River just south of Iowa Hwy. 141 in Crawford County. The bridge was erected here in 1957 to replace a span destroyed during the great flood of 1945. At 90 feet, one would think a through truss span could have fit here. Yet the span is a pony truss and it was put together in layers and put together with bolts. A set of Tinker Toys that was put together easily with the purpose of ensuring even the heaviest vehicles- in this case, farm equipment like tractors- would be allowed to cross it. One has to assume that it was imported somewhere where it had a purpose.

And it was. This span is an example of a Bailey Truss bridge. And even though one can find them here and there, in the farmlands of Iowa to the steep hills of central Saxony, even to the far east, such as India, Australia and New Zealand.  Bailey Trusses were unique because all they require is a few metal beams and bolts, combined with manpower, and the bridge is put together in an instant.  Bailey Trusses were the works of a brillant engineer and and without his expertise, it would not have won World War II. As Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, the British commander, once said. ”It was the best thing in that line we ever had; without the Bailey Bridge we should not have won the war.”

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Who was that brillant engineer?  Sir Donald Coleman Bailey.

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Source: Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer / Public domain

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Bailey was born on 15 September, 1901 in Rotherham in Yorkshire. He obtained a degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Sheffield in 1923 and was a civil servant in the War Department when the war broke out in 1939.  The concept of the Bailey Truss was developed in 1936, when Bailey scribbled the design on the back of an envelope. His idea was that prefabricated sections that were interchangable could be deployed to the war front and, with steel pins, soldiers could construct the span, which would be anchored on one side and connected on the other side by the use of force. No heavy equipment would be needed to construct a temporary span, and the parts could be transported with the basic equipment or with man power from one place to another because of their lightweight. Constructing them would be easy for it could be achieved within hours, instead of months. For the war effort, the concept of makeshift bridge construction in the shortest time span possible was of utmost importance in order to win the war.

Firstly ignored, Bailey’s truss design was accepted in 1941 when the Ministry of Supply requested that Bailey construct a full scale span completed by May 1st.  The design was successfully tested at the Experimental Bridging Establishment (EBE), in Christchurch, Hampshire, with several parts being provided by Braithwaite & Co. The first prototype was tested in 1941. For early tests, the bridge was laid across a field, about 2 feet (0.61 m) above the ground, and several Mark V tanks were filled with pig iron and stacked upon each other. Another prototype was constructed in 1943 at Stanpit Marsh also in Dorset and was proven successful. That span still exists to this day. After a series of successful trials, the Corps of Royal Engineers introduced the Bailey Truss as a means of construction in 1942 and companies began constructing parts for the Bailey Truss to be transported to the war front.

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Use in World War II:

The first Bailey Truss was constructed over Medjerda River near Medjez el Bab in Tunisia on the night of 26 November 1942 by the by 237 Field Company R.E. After learning about the bridge‘s success, both the Canadians and Americans embraced the truss and started their own production to complement that of  Britain. Detroit Steel Products Company, the American Elevator Company and the Commercial Shearing and Stamping Company were three of dozens of companies that constructed the Bailey Trusses in the US, which was known as the Portable Panel Bridge. In total, over 600 firms were involved in the making of over 200 miles of bridges using the Bailey design,  composing of 500,000 tons, or 700,000 panels of bridging during the war- at the height of the war, the number was at 20,000 panels that were produced and transported. Bailey Trusses were used successfully for transporting military equipment and supplies during the war, including the Normandy and Italy. American troops built over 3200 Bailey Trusses in Italy as they advanced through the Alps into Germany from the south.  The longest bridge there was located over the Sangro and had a span of 1200 feet.

Bailey Trusses were also implemented in Germany, when hundreds of key structures were imploded by the Nazis as a way to slowing or stopping the advancement of Allied Troops. This included the bridges along the Rivers Rhine and Main. Canadians were credited for building the longest Bailey Bridge during the war. The Blackfriars Bridge, a 1814 foot long (558 meters) over the River Rhine at Rees, in North Rhine-Westphalia, was the longest span in the world when it opened to traffic on 28 March, 1945.

US Army soldiers working together to put a Bailey Truss span in place at the site of the crossing at Wesel (NRW). Source: Beck, Alfred M., et al, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Even when the war ended on May 7th, 1945, Bailey trusses were in use as temporary crossings while the bridges were either repaired or rebuilt throughout Germany. It had a dual purpose: To help displaced residence get around and to allow for the transportation of necessary goods needed while the country was being rebuilt. Some of them were made permanent, while others, including the major crossings along the Rhine, Main and Elbe were temporary, allowing time for the original structures to be either repaired or rebuilt fully.

Bailey Truss span erected over damaged arch bridge in Italy in 1944. Source: War Office official photographer / Public domain

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After World War II:

When the war was over, there was a surplus of Bailey spans that were available for reuse. This allowed for Americans, British and Canadians alike to reuse them for various projects. Many of them made their way to Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, where counties in the western half of the state needed at least temporary crossings to replace the spans that were destroyed during the floods of 1945 and again in 1952. Some examples still remain in use today. Bailey trusses were used as temporary crossings as bridges were being replaced. In the case of a viaduct in Maryland, the Bailey spans were built prior to the original trestle being replaced with steel trestles.

Large numbers of Bailey truss spans were built in mountainous areas in California where constructing bridges to accomodate travelers was difficult because of the steep, rocky terrain. Some of the spans were part of the ACROW bridge- temporarily built as moveable bridges. The Fore River Bridge and the Lynn Baschule Bridge both in Massachusetts are classic examples of such Bailey Trusses used. Bailey trusses were also used as extra support for the truss bridge, as is the case with the Haiti Island Bridge in New York, which happened in 2007. The span and the truss bridge itself were replaced three years later.

Ontario had the largest number of Bailey truss spans for the years after the war, with the spans being built in and around Toronto in response to damages caused by Hurricane Hazel. The Finch Avenue Bridge is the last of its kind and is now a historic landmark. The Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission used some for their office and as walkways. And lastly, Australia built several Bailey bridges, including the world record holder, a 2585-foot (788 meter), two-lane structure over the Derwent River at Hobart, which was constructed in 1975. It served as a temporary structure before the Tasman Bridge was opened to traffic on October 8, 1977. Later, Bailey Truss Bridges were constructed in the far east, including northern Africa, Suriname, and India. Many of them, like the trestle at Wadi el Kuf in Lybia were built by the British during the time of its Empire.

Bailey bridge, Wadi el Kuf, Libya. Constructed by the British Army, shortly after World War II. Source: Jollyswagman on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

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The Legacy of Bailey:

Many scholars and even those who served in the military during WWII believed that the Bailey Truss was the key to mobilizing Allied Troops and securing a victory over Germany and Italy in World War II. As a result, Mr. Bailey received several international accolades for his work. In Britain alone, he was given the Knighthood on 1 January, 1946 and the Commander of the Order of Orange-Nassau exactly two years later. By that time, Bailey was living in Southbourne in Bournemouth and was unaware that he had been knighted until one of the girls at the bank had informed him about it. Bailey would live out his days in Bournemouth, where he died in 1985.

He was considered a quiet man but one where he left a footprint with his truss bridge design, which is still widely used in bridge construction, big and small. And while the successes of World War II fell to the common person who fought for freedom and democracy, Bailey was considered one that played a key role, not only in helping bring an end to the war, but to help rebuild the areas ravaged by war with the Bailey Truss. And when you see a bridge like this one below, one will see how the use of simple parts and tools, combined with the use of manpower could make a work of simple art, something we still see today on our roads.

The Prototype Bailey Bridge at Stanpit Marsh. Photo by Eugene Birchall for wiki

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Memorials:

There are not many memorials dedicated to Bailey, even in Britain, for most of the places where he lived have been razed and replaced with newer housing. Yet the prototype Bailey span at Stanpit Marsh still exists today and his birthplace at 24 Albany Street in Rotherham still stands albeit privately owned. Yet there are some companies that specialize in Bailey trusses, including one in Alabama that bears its name. Bailey trusses were rarely used in films, except one based on the battle of Arnhem, A Bridge Too Far, released in 1977. There, the Bailey Truss Bridge was used in the film.

It is really hoped that a statue and/or additional honors, even a museum would be created honoring Bailey for his life and works. 75 years after the end of the great war, nothing of that sort has been considered. This should be considered, especially as talk of the significance of World War II is disappearing together with the War Generation and the children of the Baby Boom that followed. For historians, bridge enthusiasts, teachers and the public in general, it would produce some great talks about the common man who did great things and became Sir Donald Bailey in the end.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 139: The Lucile Bridge with its Double-Trusses

Photos by Karl Sweitzer

The next Mystery Bridge takes us to the State of Idaho and this bridge. It’s a Pennsylvania through truss span with Howe Lattice portals supported by 45° heel bracings. The bridge has a total length of 344 feet, with the main span having a total length of 233 feet. The decking is 16 feet wide. Unique about this bridge is the arch that is found in the truss span itself, thus making it a “double-truss” bridge. These are rare to find, for there are 12 truss bridges of this kind known to exist, including the Currie Parkway Bridge in Michigan, the Southwind Rail to Trail Bridge in Kansas and the LeSeuer Railroad Bridge in Minnesota. Another bridge of its kind, the Meade Avenue Bridge in Pennsylvania, is currently in storage awaiting re-erection in Delaware. These bridges are supported with an additional truss to provide a sturdier structure for traffic. This bridge appears to have had its arch span added in 1975, given its age, rust and appearance as shown in the photos on bridgehunter.com by Karl Sweitzer.

Portal view

The construction date for the Lucile Bridge is 1937 according to records. Yet the bridge has pinned connected trusses which had been phased out for bridge construction before 1920 thanks to the introduction of standardized bridge designs on the state level which began in 1910 and featured trusses that had riveted connections. While some Pennsylvania trusses were used in some states, only the Pratt, Parker, Warren and polygonal Warren designs were preferred for bridge construction. This leads to the possibility that the Lucile Bridge was relocated to its present site: the Salmon River at Cow Creek Road not far from US Hwy. 95. and just outside the village. If that is the case, then the following questions arise that should require research to answer them:

1. Was there a crossing in Lucile prior to 1937?

2. Where did this truss span originate from?

3. When was it built at its original site and by whom?

4. When was it dismantled and transported to its current location?

If you have some information on the bridge’s history, feel free to add it here in the comment section and/or that of bridgehunter.com. Your help in solving this mystery would be much appreciated. Happy research and happy bridgehunting.

Pop Quiz: The Number of Bridge Spans

Photos taken in August 2020

Our next Wartime Bridge takes us to the village of Dömitz. The town is located on the River Elbe in the German state of Mecklenburg-Pommerania (MV) and is known for its lone crossing that connected MV and Lower Saxony, the Dömitz Elbe River Bridge.

While there are two crossings that exist, our focus is on the railroad bridge, which was built in 1873 and at the time of its opening, it was the longest bridge in Germany, with a length of just under one kilometer (exact: 986 meters). World War II and the subsequent division into East and West Germany- including the infamous border, doomed the structure for all that is left are 16 pony truss spans on the Lower Saxony side. All totaling 660 meters from its portal to the very last span before reaching the river.

Question to the forum:

Before writing more about the structure’s history here’s a pop quiz:

How many spans did the Dömitz Railroad Bridge have before it was bombed during World War II?

The answer will come next week. Good luck! 🙂

Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge Available for Reuse: Any Takers?

Photo by James Baughn

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MANKATO, MINNESOTA-  The longest bowstring arch bridge in the United States and second longest in the world is available for reuse. The question is who has some ideas for the structure?  The Minnesota Department of Transportation  is soliciting interest in the purchase and relocation of the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, which had spanned the Le Seuer River on Township Rd. 190 south of Mankato between now and August 31st.

The bridge was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company under the direction of John Mahowald in 1873 and was originally named the Yaeger Bridge, after the farmer George Yaeger. The 189 foot long bowstring arch span served traffic until its closure in 1989. Crews lifted the span off its crumbling limestone piers on 7 February of this year and carefully dismantled the structure; the pieces are in storage and the new owner that acquires it will have a herculean challenge of not only putting it back together again but also restoring it for recreational reuse.

According to information on the MnDoT website, the bridge must be rehabilitated to meet historic standards as stated in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Projects. The restoration project must comply to the guidelines of both MnDOT and the Federal Highway and Safety Administration. Currently, costs for reconstructing and restoring the historic bridge is estimated to be at approximately $1.5 million.  Fortunately, federal funding is available to cover 80% of the costs for the whole project, which means 20% must to brought up by the party owning the bridge.  The bridge has currently been delisted from the National Register, yet it can be re-listed once the structure is reconstructed and reopened for use.

Letters of intent are currently being collected by cities as well as county and state agencies, with cities having 5000 of less inhabitants being required to have a county sponsor. At present two suitors are in the running, both cities and both outside Blue Earth County, where the bridge once stood for almost a century and a half: Fergus Falls in Otter Tail County and North Mankato in Nicollet County. Both plan to have the structure span a body of water and be used as a pedestrian bridge. It is unknown who else is interested in acquiring the structure at present.

If you are interested in acquiring the bridge, you should click onto link that will usher you to MnDOT’s Historic Bridge website. There, information, contact details and applications are available. The Letter of Intent is to be submitted by no later than 31 August. Applications for the bridge must then be filled out and the deadline is 30 September.

We have seen many bowstring arch bridges being reused for various recreational purposes. The Freeport and Eureka Bridges in Winneshiek County, Iowa are now picnic areas in parks.  Springfield in Arkansas and Paper Millin Delaware are now pedestrian crossings. The interest in reusing the Kern Bridge as a crossing for pedestrians and cyclists is strong among those in Minnesota and beyond who wish to see her in action again. The question is where will it go and how will it be reused?

The story of the bridge’s fate is unraveling and we’ll keep you posted……

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 108

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This week’s pic of the week takes us back to Saxony and to the city of Chemnitz. I haven’t done much bridge photography this year on the count of the Corona Virus and the subsequent lockdown we were all in. Since the beginning of May, we’ve been loosening up the restrictions and when I photographed this bridge recently, it was just after the state government allowed for festivals to take place. For many that had been cooped up in their homes, it was a relief to be out and about, even if it meant wearing  mouth masks in public to ensure nobody gets sick.

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The Medieval Festival took place at the Rabenstein Castle this past weekend; it was one of the first of such festivals to take place in public. The castle is located near another historic jewel, namely this viaduct.

The Rabenstein Viaduct was built in 1897 and it features a main span- a cantilever deck Warren truss with riveted connections, supported by two concrete arch approach spans. It was built to serve the local railroad line that connected Chemnitz Central Station with the town of Wüstenbrand. Trains used this line until it was discontinued by 1950. In the early 1980s, the East German government provided funding to repurpose the structure for pedestrian use, which it still does to this day. It’s a great place for hikers, as they can see the village of Rabenstein, with its historic houses below, as well as hills in the background, where Chemnitz is located.  The viaduct has been listed by the Saxony Ministry of Heritage and Historic Places (Denkmalschutz) for its unique design and its connection with the industrial and transportational history for the region of Chemnitz.  The viaduct is expected to be rehabilitated in the coming years to make the structure safer to use, yet the organization that owns the viaduct is collecting donations in order for the rehabilitation to happen.  Information on how to help can be found in the link below. There you can also read up on the history of the Wüstenbrand Railline.

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Link:

http://www.rabenstein-sa.de/sehenswertes/Rabensteiner_Viadukt/rabensteiner_viadukt.html

The viaduct is located about 400 meters from the Rabenstein Castle, yet finding it was a real difficulty because of the steep hills combined with thick forests and curvy hiking trails. Even vast portions of Rabenstein were lying on hills and the streets that connected the main highway with the castle and nearby campground made driving treacherous and hiking a challenge. Still no matter where you go, you will still reach the bridge regardless of which end you enter. When you are there, then it’s only five minutes tot he castle but not before climbing down to the main highway, which runs past the castle, first. You will see that with the pics that I present you of the bridge.  A real treat if you love the history of bridges and railroads, but also love the great outdoors.

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