BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 92

Vessy Bridge

PW

Tying together bridges and the last entry on Robert Maillart in yesterday’s post, I’ve decided to move up the Pic of the Week by one day to show you another example of a work of art credited to the bridge engineer’s name. The Vessy Bridge spans the River Arve between the suburbs of Vessy and Veyrier in the southeastern portion of Geneva in Switzerland. The bridge is a deck arch span which features Maillart’s signature design, a three-hinged arch design. Construction started in 1936 and the 52 meter long structure was opened to traffic in 1937, three years before his passing.

These photos were taken in 2006, during my three month stay in Geneva. I did an internship for my Master’s studies at the World Health Organization during that time, and while I was there, I had an opportunity to photograph every bridge in the city, especially along the three rivers. This was one of them, which I photographed on a Saturday afternoon while on tour by bike. It was one of the rarest opportunities to get some shots from the middle of the river, like in picture below, for the Arve was at its lowest in terms of river levels. Despite having some vegetation in the foreground, one can get a closer look at the bridge and Malliart’s designs. Even more unique about this bridge are the vertical posts supporting the hinged arches as they are shaped like hour glasses. When I photographed the bridge in 2006, they still maintained a creme white color. Yet lately, they have been colorized with spraypaint and designs that are mostly deemed tasteless. You can find them in the photos taken by my colleague Nic Janberg via link here. In that link, you will find more literature pertaining to Maillart and his bridges.

Vessy Bridge

Vessy Bridge

Stay healthy and stay safe. Happy Bridgehunting! 🙂

BHC 10 years

The Bridges of Connersville, Indiana

Willowbrook Country Club Bridge. Photo taken by Ed Hollowell in 2018

bhc tour guide

Film clip

Located on the Whitewater River in southeastern Indiana, Connersville, with a population of 13,200 inhabitants, may be considered a county seat of Fayette County and a typical community located deep in the plains of Indiana. The town was founded by and named after John Conner in 1813 and much of the historic downtown remains in tact to this day.

Yet little do many realize is Connersville was once home to one of the longest covered bridges in the state, a Burr Arch Covered Bridge that had once spanned the Whitewater. It has a restored covered bridge at Roberts Park and an aqueduct that had once provided water to the community.

Lastly, it had been served by a passenger railroad company, the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Traction Company (ICT), whose existence lasted for only three decades due to financial issues, but whose bridges still exist in and around Connersville.

This tour guide shows you which bridges you can see while visiting Connersville. It features a film from HYB on the bridges by ICT which includes the railroad’s history.  It also includes a tour guide of the other bridges, courtesy of bridgehunter.com.

So sit back and enjoy this film clip. 🙂

 

You can click onto the link which will take you to the bridges of Connersville below:

http://bridgehunter.com/category/city/connersville-indiana/

Information on the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Traction Line bridges are here and the company itself here.

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 87

PW

This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Berlin and to this bridge: The Moltke Bridge. This red-colored stone arch bridge (made with Main sandstone) features three main spans over the River Spree, as seen in the picture above, and two outer arches that cross bike paths and sidewalks on each end. The bridge was built in 1891 and named after Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder (1800–1891), chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years. Moltke died just before the bridge’s completion and it was inaugurated by his funeral cortege. The bridge was one of only a few that survived World War II. The Nazis tried to detonate the structure in an attempt to stop the Soviet troops from advancing towards the Reichstag Building in the center of Berlin. Even though the detonation caused extensive damage to the bridge, it was not fully destroyed, and the Soviet troops crossed the bridge on April 28th, 1945. On May 1st, the Reichstag was captured and six days later, Germany capitulated to the allies.

The bridge was rebuilt to its original form and later rehabilitated to accommodate vehicular traffic, yet only cars and light-weight vehicles are allowed to use the crossing every day. Cyclists and pedestrians can also use the bridge, especially as there are many places of interest located between Berlin Central Station, the Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate and Alt-Moabit, one of the city’s suburbs.

This series of photos were taken in 2005, during the Open House on the grounds of the Regierungsgelände, where all of Germany’s parliamentary complex is located, including the Reichstag Building and Brandenburg Gate. The bridge was only 10 minutes’ walk from the open house, so I took a chance and photographed the structure. It appeared it had been rehabilitated at the time for the masonary red sandstones were cleaned and refurbished, there was new decking and the lighting appeared to be brand new. While the stone arches with all of the gargoyles and inscriptions were impressive, the ornamental lighting and railings were the ones that make the structure stand out the most. One could photograph them for hours, from different angles and using different experiments. Many of them survived the war and the subsequent division of Berlin that would occur until the Fall of the Wall. Judging by their texture, it appeared that they too were restored after 1990. Nevertheless, while the design and material used were impressive, this one has the “aha-“ effect for they are the first things one will see when crossing the bridge. They are also a rare breed for many modern bridges nowadays don’t feature the ornaments for they are too expensive and time-consuming. Yet sometimes a little decoration does make a bridge more attractive instead of bland.

Enjoy this series of bridge pics but keep this in mind:  One wonders what the bridge looks like when photographed at night. This one is worth a shot and if so, one can capture the structure and its glowing lanterns in all of its glory. For those wanting to try it, it’s worth a shot, in my (humble) opinion.

More information, photos and data can be accessed here.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 129: The Phantom Bridge at Moss Run

Film clip

BHC Mystery Bridge

In the second film from History in Your Backyard (HYB), we stay in Alleghany County, Virginia but look at one of six phantom bridges along the original route VA Hwy. 159. The highway was rerouted in 1928 leaving the original road, plus its bridges abandoned. The culvert found in this clip dates back to 1920. Satolli Glassmeyer explains more about this bridge and highway, but most importantly, the definition and characteristics of a “Phantom Road” and a “Phantom Bridge”

To view the bridges of Alleghany County and two of the bridge replacements on the present alignment of Hwy. 159, click here.

 

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HYB: Humpback Covered Bridge

Film clip

The next two entries are film clips from History in Your Backyard, a film series produced by Satolli Glassmeyer and Co.  Our first one looks at the Humpback Covered Bridge in Covington, Virginia. This bridge was built in 1856 and is the oldest covered bridge in Virginia, let alone one of the oldest in the country.  The bridge was one of the first to have been rehabilitated and repurposed for pedestrians, as this was done in 1957, almost 30 years since it was replaced by a truss bridge on a new alignment and later abandoned. And lastly, it was one of the first that was nominated to the National Register, as it was listed in 1969.  Take a look at the video about the bridge’s history, which includes photos and some other facts. The engineering details can be found here.

BHC 10 years

Two changes to Facebook Pages

 

bhc newsflyer new

Two pages changed to honor the (historic) bridges of Saxony (Germany) and Iowa.

GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Two facebook webpage have been changed and henceforth will honor areas that are highly populated with historic bridges- and with that, their history, heritage and ways to keep them from becoming a memory.

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The Bridges of Saxony (Die Brücken Sachsens)

The original page Friends of the Rechenhausbrücke (Bockau Arch Bridge) was changed to The Bridges of Saxony. The webpage was originally created in 2018 and was used as a platform to campaign for preserving the 150-year old structure that used to span the Zwickau Mulde River near the village of Bockau, located six kilometers southwest of Aue and 10 km south of Schneeberg in the Ore Mountains. Despite all the efforts, the bridge was torn down last year after a new span was built on a new alignment. More details can be found here. 

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Since then, the page was gradually modified to include, first the bridges in the western Ore Mountain region and lastly the whole of Saxony. Saxony has one of the highest number of historic bridges that exist in Germany. Many of them survived two World Wars and the Cold War all intact. Some of them are still scheduled to be either rehabilitated or replaced.

To access the facebook page and like to follow, click  here.

The Historic Bridges of Iowa:

Another webpage that has been changed recently is the one for saving the Green Bridge at Jackson Street and Fifth Avenue in Des Moines. Like its Saxon predecessor, the original page was a campaign platform for saving the 1898 three-span structure built by George E. King, but whose future was in doubt due to structural concerns. Unlike its predecessor though, the bridge was saved thanks to a wide array of campaigns and fund-raisers. The bridge was restored and reopened in 2017.

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Afterwards, a survey was carried out on what to do with the page. There, 70% of the respondants favored converting the page into one honoring the historic bridges in Iowa. Iowa is in the top five in terms of the highest number of bridges ages 70 and older in the US. Many of them have been preserved while others have been closed down and their futures are in doubt, like the Cascade Bridge in Burlington.  Some have already been demolished despite historical status, like it happened with the Wagon Wheel Bridge   in 2016. Since yesterday, the name was changed. The facebook page is now called The Historic Bridges of Iowa and it can be accessed here.

Both pages have the same mission:

1. It will be used to share photos, stories and histories of bridges in their respective areas. People wishing to post them are more than welcome to do so.

2. News articles, aside from what comes from BHC, on historic bridges are also welcome.

3. If people have books on certain bridges in the Iowa or Saxony that they wish to present on the platform, they can do so.

4. It will also be a platform for exchanging ideas involving preserving historic bridges in Iowa and Saxony. This includes any initiatives from groups that are fighting to keep their bridge instead of being demolished.

Given the political situation facing Germany/Europe and the US, no political commentaries are allowed on the respective pages. They are solely used for talking about bridges.

Like to follow on both the pages and enjoy the bridge photos, stories and the like that you will see when visiting the pages. 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 128: The Disappearing Thacher Truss Bridge in Castlewood, SD

BHC Mystery Bridge

This Mystery Bridge entry takes us to the town of Castlewood in Hamlin County, The town is located east of the Big Sioux River, which snakes its way through the field in its infancy before it widens near Watertown. While Castlewood may be a typical rural American town, it does hold a treasure that is historically significant and one where we’re looking for.

The Castlewood Truss Bridge was a Thacher through truss bridge that had spanned the Big Sioux River southeast of town. It carries 184th street. The structure is 100 feet long with the main span having been 80 feet. The bridge was built by the King Bridge Company in 1894 under the direction of agent Milo Adams, and was the second of two bridges that was discovered and researched by the National Park Service in 1989. The second was at Yellow Bank Church Bridge in Laq Qui Parle County in neighboring Minnesota, built one year earlier. . Together with the Ellworth Ranch Bridge in Emmet County, Iowa, the Castlewood Bridge represented an example of the hybrid form of the Thacher Truss Bridge, which was patented by Edwin Thacher in 1881.

The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 9th, 1993, yet the bridge was replaced on a new alignment by a low-water crossing in the summer of 1990. According to recent satellite view, the Thacher Truss structure is no-more. All that is left are the wing-walls and the lally columns on the west bank of the river.

This leads us to the main question: What happened to the bridge?

Research in newspaper articles and correspondences have thus far come up with nothing concrete. The exception was the plan to replace the bridge in 1989 after reports revealed that the structure was rusting and no longer able to carry traffic, which ran parallel to the research into the bridge’s historic significance. Bridgehunter.com had pinpointed the replacement date as sometime after June 1990, even though the article mentioned August 1990 as its planned replacement date.

This leads us to why the Castlewood Bridge was listed before the end of 1993. According to the National Register of Historic Places, any historic structure can be listed on the register if they comply to the requirements of historic significance. Once it’s listed, then grants and funding are made available for restoring and protecting the place, and it is next to impossible to demolish the historic place unless plausible arguments are made justifying it, which includes understanding the consequences of destroying it, which is its delisting. If the Castlewood Bridge was demolished for any reason, the bridge would be delisted from the National Register, and all records pertaining to its nomination, history and the like would be archived and made unavailable for researchers. If the bridge was replaced before its nomination in 1993, why list the structure to begin with? And if it was destroyed after its listing in 1993, why is it still listed?

This leads us to the question of what happened to the Castlewood Bridge. One has to assume that the bridge was dismantled and put into storage to be reused elsewhere. This was what happened to the Yellow Bank Church Bridge, and the truss bridge now has a new home at the historic village park south of Hastings in Minnesota. Its role is mimicking the Famous Hastings Spiral Bridge, the first bridge in the world with a loop approach. With regards to the Castlewood Bridge, the question is: Where’s the bridge? And will it be reused somewhere, if it has not been re-erected already? If the bridge no longer exist, then the question is 1. Why justify its existence on the National Register, and 2. Were any bridge parts been preserved as a historical marker?

The research about the bridge’s fate has not born any fruit to date. Therefore, the question goes straight to the locals of Hamlin County, South Dakota and the residents of Castlewood with this in mind:

“Where’s the Bridge?”

BHC 10 years