Mystery Bridge Nr. 104: Trussed Arch Bridge in Indiana

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The 104th mystery bridge takes us to Chesterton, Indiana. Spanning Coffee Creek, this is one of the most unusual truss bridges found on record to date because of its design. The bridge is a combination pony arch with riveted Howe truss features as a top chord. Pony arch because of the vertical beams supporting the arched truss spans, each beam is supported by an outrigger. The bridge had six panels total.   Howe truss because of the X-frame design going from end to end in an arched fashion, all of it arched. Unique is the V-laced bracing running along the top part of the arched trusses, something that would have made it to the National Register of Historic Places, had it been left as is.

Records have pointed to the construction date of between 1893 and 1896, which would make this bridge one of the first ever to use riveted truss connections. Local records claim that it was built in 1893 and was located near the cemetary. Others claim that it was located somewhere else along the creek and that the location pointed in bridgehunter.com was only a guess.  One claim shows that another bridge similar to this one was built in 1895 by the Indiana Bridge Company in Muncie.

This contradictory information leads us to the following questions:

  1. When was this bridge built and where exactly?
  2. Who was the bridge builder for this bridge? Was it the company in Muncie, or was it another company?
  3. How was this bridge built? Was it built using trusses from a demolished building- one of my guesses?
  4. How long did the bridge serve traffic before it was removed?
  5. How many other bridges- if any- existed during this time?

The bridge was estimated to have been between 40 and 60 feet long; the trusses were up to seven feet high and the width was 16 feet wide. Anything else about the bridge depends on how much information a person can provide. If you have some to add, please feel free to comment.

Good luck and let us know more about this bridge.  🙂

Link to the bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/in/porter/coffee-creek/

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Mystery Bridge 103: A Hidden Gem near the Mall

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The 103rd mystery bridge takes us back to the state of Saxony, but this time to Zwickau. In 2016, I did a tour guide on the city’s bridges because of its history and unique design. This tour guide can be seen here. Regrettably, I missed a few bridges most recently, which may mean an update. This bridge was one of them.

I found this bridge by chance during a bike tour to explore the city. Zwickau is the city that I’m planning on moving to with my family next summer, so it was my duty to find a good place to re-establish the household, not to mention my business of the Chronicles. The bridge is located at Außer Schneeberger Strasse just south of Breithauptstrasse, just behind Glück Auf,  the largest shopping area in Zwickau and the Zwickauer Land region (which includes Aue, Schneeberg, Kirchberg, Glauchau, Stollberg and Hohenstein-Ernstthal). The bridge currently spans a pipeline and runs parallel to an abandoned rail line between the central station and Pöhlau.

Next to the bridge is a steel plate girder span that appears to have been built in the 1970s. The bridge we are looking at is a Town Lattice truss bridge, which appears to have been built in the 1880s. There are three such spans, all of which are supported by stone piers. Each span is about 40 meters long and about 7 meters wide. The truss spans appears to have been painted recently in order to prevent rust and corrosion. The steel span is about 20 meters longer, twice as wide, and appears to have had two tracks at that time. The question we have here is whether the Town Lattice truss bridge was used first as a railroad crossing before it was converted to its current function as a pipeline crossing. This in addition to finding out when exactly it was built and who the builder way.

The map is enclosed below. Do you know more about the bridge? If so, it would be much appreciated if you can share some info. This bridge is easy to miss, yet by foot one should take some time to visit it. Let alone find out more about this missing gem…… 🙂

 

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Historic Truss Bridge in Chemnitz to be torn down

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The Bridge at Eckstrasse in Chemnitz. Photo taken in December 2016

CHEMNITZ, GERMANY- Located in the central part of the German state of Saxony, Chemnitz, with a population of 245,000 inhabitants, is the third largest city in the state. It also has one of the largest number of historic bridges in the state, competing with the likes of Dresden, Leipzig and even some smaller communities, like Plauen, Glauchau, Rochlitz and Waldheim, just to name a few.   Among the historic bridges, Chemnitz has five truss bridges, half as many as the city’s arch bridges. This includes the Chemnitz Viaduct, the railroad overpass near the Central Railway Station, and in the photo above, the bridge at Eckstrasse in the northern part of the city center.

Spanning the River Chemnitz, this 25 meter long span is a bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge with riveted connections. The vertical beams are V-laced and there are parallel diagonal beams. Although there are no records about its builder, the bridge was constructed in 1893 and survived two World Wars and the Cold War unscathed, which is in contrast to the buildings that had once stood before the bombings in February and March 1945. Sadly the bridge was also the subject of neglect as there were no repairs or rehabilitations done with the structure. It was closed to motorized vehicles in 2006 and was voted Germany’s worst bridge by the automobile association ADAC, a year later.

After years of neglect, the bridge’s days are officially number, according to the Chemnitz Free Press in connection with the city council’s decision. Beginning 13 August 2018, the bridge will be permanently closed to all traffic including cyclists and pedestrians. At the cost of 30,000 Euros, the construction crews will remove the truss structure in its entirety. No replacement is expected, which means cyclists and pedestrians will be forced to use the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge. A map below shows you the three bridges:

The project is expected to take two weeks to complete. The reason behind the decision to remove the bridge does not have much to do with the cost for rehabilitating the bridge but more on the practicality of doing it, for many structural elements on the truss bridge is kaputt. Even during the visit in December 2016, one of the first impressions was the rust and corrosion on the truss superstructure itself. That went along with the rough decking with dips and cracks. These were issues that could have been fixed at the time prior to its closing in 2006, yet lack of funding may have played a role in delaying the rehabilitation process, eventually to a point of no return in the end. With over two dozen bridges over the River Chemnitz, with four bridges in the north of the city center, the Eckstrasse crossing was considered expendable because of the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge, each were approx. 250 meters apart from this bridge.

The Eckstrasse Bridge will leave the cityscape with two opposite impressions. On the one hand, it will leave as one of the rarest historic bridges in Saxony that withstood history and the test of time. Yet it will be relieved of the humility of being the most neglected bridge that, if there had been expertise and financial resources, it could’ve been rehabbed and reused. Sometimes one has to follow the Indiana rule, which is if the bridge cannot carry vehicular traffic, it is rehabbed right away instead of being abandoned first. 80% of historic bridges in the Hoosier state were preserved that way. And while it is too late to save this rare jewel in Chemnitz, the state of Saxony should be put on notice should another historic bridge be put under the knife for structural deficiencies.

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MacArthur Bridge in St. Louis

 

The MacArthur Bridge is one of many historic gems that makes the City of St. Louis the place to visit. Spanning the Mississippi River, this three-span Pennsylvania through truss opened to traffic in 1917, eight years after construction started on the crossing. It featured a double-decker span, with rail traffic serving the bottom deck and the upper deck having had highway traffic. The bridge used to carry Route 66 until the Chain of Rocks Bridge opened in 1928 and the highway was relocated there. Another highway, US 460 also crossed the bridge. In 1941, the bridge was named in honor of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the war hero of World War II in the Pacific and an opposing candidate to Harry Truman in the 1948 US Presidential Elections. The upper deck was closed to all traffic in 1981 and has since been removed. The bottom deck is still receiving rail traffic on a regional and local basis although in the future, a new bridge may be needed.

To know more about the bridge, one has to look at what the bridge was like in the pas as well as in the future. I had an opportunity to find and watch this documentary on the history of the MacArthur Bridge. Produced by Rich Dinkela (Roaming Rich), it features old photos and films as well as drone footage of the structure to present viewers with a glimpse of a historic landmark and its history. More here and enjoy the docu! 🙂

Video:

There is a link that Shows you more of the MacArthur Bridge then and now. Note the Bridge is being alterated bit by bit to a Point where only the railroad Portion of the Bridge will remain in use. And then only for a short time as talks of replacing it with a newer span at ist own expense has been underway. More here.

 

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Hopfenbrücke in Vogtland

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All photos taken in June 2018 after the rehabilitation and reopening of the bridge.

While travelling along the main artery connecting Munich with Berlin, the Motorway 9, one ought to consider turning off at Schleiz and following the Highway B 282 and E 49 in the direction of Plauen for a good 15 Kilometers to the east, heading into the small but rather active village of Mühltroff. With a population of 1800 inhabitants, Mühltroff straddles the river Wisenta and is one of the oldest villages in Saxony; it was first mentioned in 1274 and was officially declared a town by the district of Plauen in 1327. It was once a fishing community and ist shield reflects the hertitage of the community. With its historic houses lining up along the Wisenta, Mühltroff resembles Little Venice alá Vogtland, even though fishing no longer exists today, and only three bridges are known to exist.

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One of them is the focus of the author’s stop on the journey, the Hopfenbrücke.  The structure is one of the oldest in Saxony, having been built in 1396, and was the main crossing connecting the eastern and western halves of the village until after World War II. The structure features a one-span stone-brick arch bridge, which is anchored by houses on both sides of the Wisenta. Judging by the setting of the bridge, on each corner of its abutment was a historic house, and it appeared that there was an entrance on both sides at one time, resembling the housed bridges that were built during that time- among them that exist today still are the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt and the Rathausbrücke in Bamberg. Sadly, despite its historic appeal, the houses on the western side will become history for one became a garden a couple decades ago and the other will be removed before the end of 2018, according to recent newspaper articles.

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The name Hopfenbrücke has nothing to do with the beer route nor a brewery for Mühltroff had neighter of them according to record. In fact, the community has a palace dating back to 1349, a windmill dating back to the 14th century and a textile industry that started in the 15th Century and is one of the key aspects of Mühltroff to this day.  The Hopfensbrücke was named after the Hopf Family, whose house was next to the bridge and who also owned a shop at the structure until the beginning of the 1900s. The road it carried was a main route connecting Schleiz and Plauen, where horse and buggy first crossed, followed by cars. By the end of the second World War, there was a need to realign the road, especially to accomodate the military vehicles that had to be stationed near the border that had once divided Germany until 1990 when it became Saxony and Thuringia on the northeastern edge and Bavaria to the southwest. Therefore, another arch bridge was built to the north of the bridge, but unlike its neighbor, it was a Luten arch span and was made of concrete. That structure still carries traffic, and one can see the stone arch bridge 100 meters away while crossing the Wisenta.

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The bridge was reopened recently after having been closed for rehabilitation. The cost for the work was 460,000 Euros and it consisted of strengthening the arches, removing the concrete facade covering the arch span and making repairs to the structure. It had been damaged by flooding in 2013 and was declared unsafe to cross. However, with the grand opening last Friday (the 7th of June), the community welcomed the bridge back with open arms. And it was good that way; despite its population and size, Mühltroff happens to be one of the livelier of the communities, with people walking the streets even in the evenings, music being played in the apartments, and apartments having colorful facades to make it look attractive to the tourists. Even the market square, which starts at the historic bridge and goes down the main street to the castle is narrow and enclosed, but lively. Next to the bridge across from the City Hall is the East German Museum, where people can visit, see the artefacts that were typical during that period before 1990 and learn about its history.

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But inspite that, the people are happy to have their historic bridge back. After 600 years, the structure still symbolizes the community and its heritage- a former fishing community that is still today the Little Venice of the Vogtland. One can see the palace and historic windmill, but the visit is not complete without seeing the bridge, the structure that will hopefully continue its service for another 600 years. So take some time in Mühltroff and don’t forget the bridge. 😉

 

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Mühltroff is only three kilometers east of the Saxony/Thuringia border. It had belonged to the District of Gera and on the Thuringian side from 1949 until March 1992, two years after Germany reunited. It became part of Saxony in April 1992 and merged with neighboring Pausa to become a joint community in 2013. Today, the community belongs to the Vogtland District, whose county seat is (none other than) Plauen, which is 22 kilometers to the east.

Map of Mühltroff and Hopfenbrücke:

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 97: The Unknown Truss Bridge at Westword (Iowa)

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The best historic bridges are the ones that are unknown, undocumented and undiscovered, for they are the ones itching to be researched by those who are interested.

A couple weeks ago, as I was looking for some information on another bridge, I happened to stumble on this rather unknown historic bridge by accident. And while this bridge was filed by bridgehunter.com, this historic Iowa structure is very unknown. No historian, like the late James Hippen has touched it. No agency like IowaDOT and Henry County has mentioned it, yet. No information was ever recorded in any historic bridge or building survey. However when this gets out, many historians and bridge lovers will flock to it for pictures to be posted in the social media, the portal that is the most appropriate location to share information and discuss this.

The bridge at hand is a through truss bridge spanning the old channel of the Skunk River. Its exact location is in the Westwood district, a mile west of Mount Pleasant. It is a quarter mile south of the old Hwy. 34, a quarter mile east of Franklin Avenue (County Highway W55) and a half mile northwest of the Henry County Quarry. It used to carry what is now Graham Avenue, which ends 500 feet east of the bridge. Judging by the bird’s eye perspective via Google Map, the bridge appears to have 5-8 panels and pinned connections. Looking at it more closely, it appears to be a Pratt truss. It has been abandoned for many years but may have been fenced off to keep people from approaching the structure (and crossing private property), which would explain why the bridge has been untouched for that long of time.

And that is all we know of the bridge. We have no further information about its appearance up-close, meaning its portal view, truss type, its connections, builder’s plaques and even its total dimensions. Furthermore, we have no information about its history, which is very important as we would like to know whether or not it is elgible for the National Register of Historic Places. We basically know absolutely nothing about the bridge, except for its location. We just know that the river was channeled a century ago to straighten it out and protect the area from flooding. But the rest is completely open for research.

What do we know about the bridge? What does it look like? What about its history?

Comment via mail, in the comment section both here or on the Chronicles’ facebook page. A photo folder will be made for photos of this bridge should you decide to visit the bridge. The main thing is whether the bridge is historically significant to join Oakland Mills Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places.

Can you answer any of these questions and provide some stories and photos? If so, we are ready to read them. Thank you for your help. 🙂

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Triple Whipple Bridge in Dearborn, County, Indiana

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Our next bridge profile is a true rarity found in the US; in particular, in one of the most historic bridge-laden states in the country- Indiana. Three miles south of Aurora in Dearborn County, and a half mile west of the Ohio River is the Triple Whipple Bridge. The origin of the name comes from the fact that this 298 foot long through truss bridge is the only truss bridge of its kind left in the United States, whose diagonal beams pass through three panels instead of the two that are typical of the truss design invented by Squire Whipple. Normally, truss bridges have diagonals supporting one panel. The bridge was built in 1878 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company and used to serve a major highway until the 1950s. Restored in 2008, it still receives its lion’s share of pedestrians and cyclists today.  It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.

A while back, History in Your Backyard did a documentary on this bridge, which includes an in-depth coverage of its history, let alone a detailed view of the bridge, both ariel as well as on the ground. Before explaining further about this bridge, one should have a look at the film and plan a visit. A map with the bridge’s location is at the end of this article.  Tell us about your impressions of the structure. Recommend it to others, even if they are passing through. There you will see a prime example of how Indiana takes care of its artefacts for others to see while stopping by. Enjoy! 🙂

 

 

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