Endangered TRUSS: The Jefferson Highway Bridge at Okay, Oklahoma

All photos courtesy of Mark W. Brown

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OKAY, OKLAHOMA- There are many historic structures that are endangered because of the need to have a concrete bridge to move traffic from point A to point B. There are some that have been sitting abandoned- many of which for too long and need the attention of the public to save it from its ultimate doom. When I think of the first endangered TRUSS candidate, the first bridge that comes to mind is this one: The Okay Truss Bridge. The bridge spans the old channel of the Verdigris River to the west of the town of Okay in Wagoner County. The structure was first discovered a decade ago and even though it has been abandoned for several decades, records have indicated that the structure was once part of the Jefferson Highway, the second oldest intercontinental highway that was built in 1915 and went from Winnepeg, Canada to New Orleans, cutting through parts of Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma in the process.

There is not much information on the bridge’s history except to say that given the materials needed to build the structure, let alone the features, the bridge must have been built between 1910 and 1915, as part of the project to extend the Jefferson Highway through the small community. The bridge features two Parker through truss main spans. Each span features a 3-rhombus Howe Lattice portal bracings with angled heels, latticed struts and V-laced vertical beams. There is also a Pratt pony truss span on each outer end of the bridge. The connections are pinned and the material: steel for the trusses and wood for the decking.

Westernmost pony truss approach span

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The bridge was later bypassed by another structure to the south, as part of the project to rechannel the Verdigris and the truss span has been sitting abandoned and in disarray ever since. The easternmost pony truss span collapsed many years ago and it would take a lot of climbing just to get onto the bridge itself.

The gravest problem though lies with the through truss spans because of a failing pier. It is unknown when and how this occurred, but the center pier is crumbling, causing the end post of the western through truss span to slip.

While the damage may be minimal when looking at it from a bird’s eye view, when on the bridge, it is far worse than it seems, as the crumbling pier, combined with the sagging of the endpost, is causing the western truss span to lean and twist on its side.

The twisted metal brought a reminder of one bridge that fell victim to flooding in 1990, which was the Rockport Bridge in Arkansas. Prior to its downfall, flooding in 1987 caused severe damage to the center piers causing the center span to tilt and twist. This is exactly what is happening to the Okay Truss Bridge, and if nothing is done with the truss span, the next flooding may be the bridge’s last.

What can be done to save the truss bridge? The easiest is to take the truss spans off the piers and dismantle them for storage. As it happened with the Bridgeport Bridge in Michigan, the twisted western Parker truss span could be straightened through welding, whereas the trusses in general would need to be sandblasted and repainted. The piers would need to be replaced and because the easternmost pony span is considered a total loss, a replacement span could take its place if one reerects the restored truss span and converts the area on the east end and the island between the old and new channels of the Verdigris into a park area. As this bridge is part of the original Jefferson Highway, research is needed on the structure’s history to nominate it to the National Register.

Oklahoma has seen a big drop in the number of truss bridges in the last two decades, yet efforts are being taken to save what is left of the bridges. There is little doubt that the Okay Truss Bridge can be saved if action is taken to salvage the trusses and rebuild the entire structure, while erecting a park to honor its history. It takes the will of not only the locals but also members of the Jefferson Highway Association to make it happen. Yet time is running out and we’re fighting windmills regarding even saving the truss structure before the next floodwaters. If there is a tiny sense of hope, removing and storing the trusses should be top priority. Afterwards, time and finances could be allotted to restore and rebuild the bridge to its former glory.

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Author’s Note: A big thanks to Mark W. Brown for allowing me to use his pictures for this article.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 148: Red Arrow Road Bridge (HYB)

Photo by Greg Saurbier

Our first Mystery Bridge of 2021 and the 148th in the series takes us to Michigan and the Red Arrow Highway Bridge. The bridge is 28 feet long and is located near Benton Heights, spanning Blue Creek. The bridge has been out of use for well over 110 years and is currently privately owned. Yet the bridge has a lot of ornamental features that makes visiting it a must. Satolli Glassmeyer from History in Your Own Backyard produced a film about this phantom bridge, the historic Red Arrow Highway and the history that we know to date. What we don’t know is who built it and who designed the rail piers?

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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.

Mystery Bridge Nr. 138: The Unknown Bridge at the German-Danish Border

This Mystery Bridge entry is a joint-article written with The Flensburg Files as part of the series on the 100th Anniversary of the German-Danish Border and German-Danish Friendship.

One can see it from Google-Maps and if the skies are clear, from an airplane. Yet this mystery bridge is rather hidden in the forest and can only be reached by bike or on foot- assuming you don’t have a border to cross. This bridge is located right at the German-Danish border at Zollsiedlung, a district of Harrislee that is north of Flensburg and south of the Danish cities of Krusau and Pattburg.

Zollsiedlung at the Border. Here was where a hotel and border station located.

It’s three kilometers north of the Bridge of Friendship at Wassersleben, which is also a German-Danish pedestrian crossing. And like that bridge, this one crosses the Stream Krusau, which empties into the Flensburg Fjord. The crossing is known as the northermost in Germany and this since the creation of the German-Danish border in 1920. The bridge is accessible only by bike or on foot for there’s no cars allowed at the border.

What is known is that the bridge is a concrete beam bridge, yet judging by its wear and tear, it was probably built in the 1970s or 80s. It’s 12-15 meters long and narrow enough for one car to cross, even though the Madeskovvej is solely for bike and pedestrian use, unless you have a private residence nearby.

What is unknown is when exactly it was built and whether there was a previous structure at this location. If there was, then what did it look like?

We do know is that the bridge is owned by the Danes and is at the border that was established through a referendum in 1920. Flensburg and the areas of Tondern, Sonderburg, Apenrade, Hoyer, Husum, Schleswig and Rendsburg belonged to the former state of Schleswig which had been fought over three times between Denmark and the former Prussian (and later German) Empire. With Germany having lost World War I and being forced to pay reparations to France, Britain and the USA, the Versailles Treaty included a clause that allowed residents in the region to vote on moving the border, which had stopped at Sonderburg and Tonder in the north but had a potential to be pushed as far south as the Baltic-North Sea Canal . The present border was established through a referendum that was conducted on 10 February and 14 March, 1920, respectively, where the northern half (Sonderburg, Apenrade and Tondern) voted to be annexed by Denmark, while the southern half and Flensburg voted to remain in Germany. The votes were unanimous despite both areas having strong minorities. Flensburg remained a border town, despite having survived World War II with damages due to the bomb raids. Today, both the Danes and German are able to cross the border and do their shopping and commerce in their respective neighboring countries.

While at the bridge, it was fenced off because of restrictions due to the Corona Virus but also due to the Swine Flu that has been a major concern since 2015. Still, it didn’t stop the photographer from stealing a couple pics before moving on with hiking in the Tunnel Valley (Tunneltal), where the Krusau flows towards Niehuus. While walking towards the area, one has to wonder how this bridge came about? Any ideas?

A separate article on the German-Danish border will be posted in the Flensburg Files. If you want to tour Flensburg’s bridges, click here.

     

Mystery Bridge Nr. 134: The Bridge “Daheim”

Photo by Geoff Hobbs

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The 132nd mystery bridge takes us to Duchess County, New York and to the Hitchcock Estate near Millbrook. The estate was originally established through the purchase and consolidation of five farmsin 1889  by Charles Dieterich, a German entrepreneuer and acetylene gas mongul, who founded the Union Carbide Company in 1917.  Addison Mizner designed the four-story 38-room mansion which Dieterich named “Daheim” (“Home”) in 1912. The mansion was characterized for being late-Victorian, interpreted for having Queen Anne style or Bavarian Baroque architecture by many critics. The mansion has turrets, verandas, and gardens, as well as large gatehouse, horse stables, and other outbuildings.The mansion changed hands many times before the Hitchcock Family (William, Thomas and Margaret (Peggy). It was later handed down to Timothy Leary, who was famous for the psychedelic movement in the 1960s. The complex has been sitting vacant for over four decades, yet it has a lot of surprises in terms of its history- not just in terms oft he architecture, but also oft he families who had owned Daheim.

And this takes us to one of the accessories of the Hitchcock Estate, the stone arch bridge. Geoff Hubbs found this postcard and posted it to bridgehunter.com recently, although another postcard with another view of the bridge can be found on eBay. It features a three-span stone arch bridge spanning a body of water that has long since been covered in soil and grass. It featured a guard house also made of stone. Judging by the angle of the bridge compared to the other postcards, the roadway and the arches seemed curved. The bridge has long since been removed but its missing history can be added to the mysteries that Daheim has in general.

In particular:

  1. When was the bridge built?
  2. Who designed and constructed the bridge?
  3. How long was it in service before it was torn down?
  4. When was the bridge removed and why?

These bridge questions can be tied into the questions we have about the families that had owned the estate prior to ist abandonment, including their lifestyles, their backgrounds in business and the like, their role in the expansion and/or upkeep of the estate, etc. What we do know is a circumneutral bog lake (a spring fed calcareous body of water that usually supports the vegetation of both acidic bogs and calcareous marshes) was discovered by scientists in 2003 and efforts were being taken to preserve and restore it because of ist rarity. It is unknown how this is in direct relation with the estate and whether it plays a role in restoring the estate itself in the future. We do know that it belongs to one of the secrets that the Hitchcock Estate has to offer.

It’s doubtful that there is a connection between the Hitchcock Family and Alfred Hitchcock, the famous horror story producer. But we do know that the Hitchcock Estate- Daheim- would be a perfect scene for an Alfred Hitchcock film because of all the dirt it can dig up. The bridge itself is one of many examples of mysteries the estate has to offer……

 

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

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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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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 83

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This week’s Pic takes us back to Dresden, Germany and to the Old Town. The Old Town features many buildings that date back to the Baroque Period, characterized by their ornamental designs, sculptures, shields and other forms of artwork. Many of them have been restored to their former glory after having sustained significant damage during the bombings of Dresden in February 1945, which signified the beginning of the end of World War II. This includes the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), which was built in 1743, was totally destroyed on 15 February, 1945 but was restored in-kind to its pre-war origin in 2005.

Dresden had many skyways connecting these historic buildings in addition to their historic bridges. Two of them that still exist today are those that survived the war in tact. This is one of them. The bridge is located over Chaviergasse between the Cathedral Hofkirche  and the Castle of Dresden,  just east of Theaterplatz and Sophienstrasse.  The construction of the bridge dates back to the 1700s at the time when the church became the Catholic Church, while the Frauenkirche, which was once owned by the Catholic Church, became a Protestant Church.  The purpose was to connect the church with the castle to allow for passage between the Catholic Elector and the royal families, which consisted mainly of the Albertine House of Wettin and the Kings of Poland. The church was designed by architect Gaetano Chiaveri. The castle dates back to the 14th century. We don’t know if Chiaveri included the bridge as part of the project to build the cathedral between 1738 and 1751. We do know that the skyway was rebuilt after 1989 to its original form after years of damage and neglect. This leads to the question of its history- who originally built the structure? Did it survive World War II or was it completely obliterated? And had it stood, why didn’t the East German government make any attempts to restore it, despite their feeble attempts to restore the castle and the cathedral? A mystery that’s definitely worth solving in this aspect- hence our 126th mystery bridge. 🙂

This pic was taken in January while touring Dresden with a group of students. This was a black and white photo where the Chaviergasse goes underneath the structure enroute to the Frauenkirche. While the narrow alley is a perfect place for photos, including close-ups, the shot from the Sophienstrasse is the best view because of the backdrop from the castle and other historic buildings in the background. It is one bridge that is worth stopping enroute to many attractions one will see while in Dresden. This includes eateries as the capital of Saxony has hundreds of them with specialties originating from at least 80 countries. And we found one that was around the corner from another bridge of its caliber, which you will see in the next pic. 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

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Finding History in Your Backyard: An Interview with Satolli Glassmeyer

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Satolli Glassmeyer doing a segment at one of the stone arch bridges for HYB. 

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Have you found something that was small and unnoticeable from the outside but you find high historic value in that you want to document on it? It could be a ghost town, abandoned church, a historic bridge that is closed or even a historic site that is open but doesn’t receive enough attention to get any notice?  How would you document it: in print form, video, online, or a combination of the mentioned items?  History is an underrated commodity where even the most popular places are sometimes ignored and hidden jewels that have high historic value are forgotten- buried under a pile of dirt representing time, until someone discovers it and want to talk about it.

Someone like Satolli Glassmeyer, the creator of History in Your Backyard (HYB).  Launched in 2014, HYB is an online portal where videos on artefacts of the past can be found, be it abandoned school houses and churches, memorials commemorating history or in this case, historic bridges, which are disappearing in vast numbers every year.  Much of the coverage has been between Chicago and Cleveland, for Mr. Glassmeyer originates from Cincinnati, Ohio and spent much of his childhood visiting many spots in the vicinity (and later beyond).

But how was HYB conceived and how successful has it been since its launch?  The Chronicles did an interview with Mr. Glassmeyer and found out some interesting details about HYB and the direction it’s going in the future.  Here’s what I found out about him and HYB’s successes. Please note that some video examples from HYB are included for you to watch.

 

  1. I wanted to start off by asking you what motivated you to starting this video program?

This  is  kind  of  a  long  story  but  here  we  go….When  I  was  a  teenager  back  in  the  mid  1970s  I  had  zero  interest  in  history  such  as  the  War  of  1812  or  the  Magna  Carta.  However  I  was  a  huge  bicycle  enthusiast  riding  my  bike  at  least  10 miles  a  day  and  then  typically  doing  75-100  mile  bike  rides  on  a  Saturday  or  Sunday.  My  longer  weekend  trips  would  take  me  through  small  towns  where  I  began  to  fall  in  love  with  the  buildings  and  bridges  constructed  in  the  late  1800s  and  early  1900s.  I  was  fascinated  with  what  was  built  back  then  and  with  what  little  they  had  to  work  with  compared  to  the  modern  construction  equipment  that  we  have  today.

 

When  I  was  18  I  bought  my  first  car,  a  1970  AMX  which  was  also  another  passion  of  mine.  About  a  year  later  I  formed  an  AMX  club  in  the  greater  Cincinnati  area  which  eventually  included  20-25 owners  of  these  unique  automobiles.  We  would  get  together  once  a  month  and  have  events  for  the  club.  Some  of  the  “older  guys”  in  their  30s  and  40s  taught  us  younger  guys  how  to  do  “road  rallies”  which  is  basically  a  scavenger  hunt  using  an  automobile.  Once  again  I  fell  in  love  with  the  road  rally  concept  and  did  quite  a  few  for  the  club  as  a  hobby  until  I  turned  it  into  a  business  in  the  late  1990s  called  Scenic  Road  Rallies.  With  the  rallies,  I  found  that  I  was  able  to  take  my  passion  for  fast  automobiles  and  combine  it  with  my  passion  for  historic  structures.  In  the  direction  packets  that  I  handed  out  for  each  road  rally  event  I  included  a  few  short  lines  about  each  historic  building  the  teams  would  pass  or  each  bridge  they  would  cross  over.

 

The  teams  enjoyed  the  short  history  lessons  but  asked  for  more  information  on  these  sites.  Information  that  they  could  use  on  their  own  time  without  having  to  do  a  road  rally  event.  So  in  2011  I  began  producing  driving  booklets  that  I  sold  which  were  basically  guided  road  tours  spelling  out  in  detail  (With  pictures)  all  of  the  historic  buildings  and  bridges  along  the  route.  I  put  myself  on  a  strict  schedule  of  producing  one  driving  tour  booklet  a  month  until  after  2  years  I  had  accumulated  a  small  24  volume  library  of  tour  guides.

 

Unfortunately  the  booklets  didn’t  sell  as  expected.  A  couple  of  friends  pointed  out  that  people  don’t  read  much  anymore  and  videos  now  seem  to  be  the  way  most  people  get  their  information.  I  gave  it  some  thought,  then  when  out  and  bought  a  cheap  video  camera,  named  my  new  company  History  In  Your  Own  Backyard  and  went  off  to  document  the  forgotten  historic  structures  in  the  region.  That’s  basically  how  we  arrived  at  this  point  in  time.

 

  1. How are your historic places selected? Based on personal visit, personal request or both?

Since  this  is  a  business,  I  typically  don’t  choose  the  site,  the  client  makes  the  selection  be  it  a  church,  a  bridge  or  a  cemetery.  If  I  have  time  after  the  clients  shoot,  I  will  go  out  and  film  other  obscure  sites  such  as  bridges  that  I’m  sure  no  client  will  pay  for  yet  needs  to  be  documented  for  future  generations.

 

  1. What is all involved in the filming process?

 

It’s  a  fairly  involved  process  to  film  a  site.  I  have  a  check  list  of  29  points  that  need  to  be  addressed  to  get  a  video  from  start  to  finish.  Beginning  with  discussing  the  potential  project  with  the  sponsor  to  contacting  the  local  newspaper  after  the  video  is  released  so  that  they  can  write  a  story  about  the  video  project.

 

 

  1. How do you collect the information on your historic artifact?

 

This  is  basically  the  sponsors  responsibility.  However  if  I  am  doing  a  video  on  a  site  of  my  choosing,  the  research  process  can  entail  online  searches,  books,  personal  interviews,  etc.  Each  project  is  different  when  it  comes  to  an  information  source  and  history  is  always  muddy.  No  matter  how  much  research  you  do,  once  the  video  is  produced,  someone  will  say  “you’re  wrong”.  So  you  just  have  to  do  your  best  and  keep  an  open  mind  that  not  everything  you  read  or  see  is  accurate.

 

  1. Many videos on bridges are between a half hour and an hour. Yours are between 3-5 minutes on average, with some being only 10 minutes.  Why so short?

 

Good  question!  My  video  style  is  much  different  from  traditional  videos.

Everyday  around  the  world  we  lose  historic  buildings  and  bridges  to  fire,  flood,  storms,  neglect,  progress,  civil  unrest,  war,  earthquakes,  etc.  Nothing  lasts  forever  and  it’s  important  to  me  to  document  these  structures  as  quickly  as  possible  before  they  are  lost  forever.  My  goal  is  to  produce  10,000  documentaries  before  I  die.  Right  now  I  have  about  420  documentaries  completed  which  means  even  if  I  produce  a  documentary  every  day  from  here  on  out,  I  still  have  over  26  years  of  work  ahead  of  me.  I’m  62  now  so  I’m  basically  running  out  of  time  here.

 

I  produce  short  documentaries  for  a  couple  of  reasons:

One  is  that  statistically  speaking  most  people  who  watch  a  video  on  YouTube  (Where  all  of  my  videos  are  featured)  only  watch  about  4  minutes  of  a  video  before  they  click  off  and  move  on  to  the  next  selection.  If  you  produce  a  relatively  short  video  you  have  a  better  chance  of  having  the  video  completely  viewed  to  the  end  and  a  better  chance  of  having  the  viewer  share  that  video  with  their  friends  and  family.  Longer  videos  are  rarely  watched  completely  and  it’s  even  rarer  for  them  to  be  shared.  The  whole  idea  behind  my  project  is  to  get  as  many  eyes  on  these  videos  as  possible  so  that  people  will  sit  up  and  take  notice  of  these  structures  and  possibly  save  them  for  future  generations.  My  videos  are  not  designed  to  be  entertainment  but  rather  peak  peoples  interest  so  that  they  get  in  their  car  and  go  out  to  look  at  the  site.

Video  production  isn’t  cheap  and  is  very  time  consuming.  When  it  comes  to  my  videos,  for  every  one  minute  of  video  you  see,  it  takes  about  1  hour  of  research,  shooting  video  and  editing  to  complete  the  job.  So  a  5  minute  video  may  take  about  5  hours  while  a  30  minute  video  could  take  30  hours  or  more.

 

Secondly,  I’m  trying  to  do  this  project  as  cheaply  as  possible  so  that  anyone  who  wants  a  video  can  afford  it.  I  produce  these  videos  at  about  1/3  the  going  rate  of  a  typical  video  production  company.  Mainly  because  I  have  very  little  overhead,  a  small  crew  and  I’m  pretty  damn  good  at  keeping  costs  down. I  charge  between  $399.00  and  $1899.00  to  produce  a  video  depending  on  the  site,  location  and  needs  of  the  client.

A  50  minute  long  documentary  you  might  see  on  PBS  can  take  years  to  produce  using  an  army  of  people  and  hundreds  of  thousands  of  dollars. I  know  someone  that  produced  a  documentary  for  PBS  using  just  grants.  The  documentary  turned  out  great  but  took  5  years  to  make  and  over  $120,000.00.  I  personally  don’t  have  the  time  to  mess  around  for  3,  4  or  5  years  to  produce  one  indepth  video.

 

I  know  of  a  tourism  bureau  who  had  a  local  TV  station  produce  a  60  second  video  on  the  sights  and  sounds  of  their  town.  The  project  cost  them  $6,000.00  ($100.00  per  second)  and  all  they  received  was  a  DVD  of  the  project.  It  was  never  shown  on  TV.  It  was  for  their  own  personal  use.  Not  many  of  my  clients  have  $6,000.00  to  spend  on  a  60  second  video  so  that’s  where  I  come  into  play  with  a  decent  quality  video  at  a  very  reasonable  price  which  will  be  viewed  by  thousands  of  people.

 

  1. Aside from Youtube, how are your videos published?

 

Yes,  my  videos  can  be  found  on  YouTube  under  the  History  In  Your  Own  Backyard  channel.  All  of  those  videos  are  linked  to  my website  database  where  the  videos  are  broken  down  by  State/County/Town  and  also  include  a  map  to  show  the  location  of  the  site.  (By clicking onto the two highlighted links, you will be redirected to their respective sites) All  of  the  schools  in  the  county  where  the  video  was  shot  and  all  of  the  schools  in  the  surrounding  counties  are  sent  a  link  to  the  video  so  that  the  history  teachers  can  share  it  with  their  students.  All  of  the  mayors  and  council  members  in  the  county  where  the  video  was  shot  and  all  of  the  council  members  in  the  surrounding  counties  are  sent  a  link  to  the  video  so  that  they  can  share  it  with  their  residents.  The  video  is  placed  on  a  Google  Maps  page  where  you  can  click  on  any  of  the  420+  pinpoints  to  see  a  video  in  that  exact  location.  Eventually  all  of  the  videos  will  be  archived  in  the  state  libraries  where  they  were  shot  so  that  future  generations  can  look  back  to  see  what  existed  in  2019.  I  did  contact  the  Library  of  Congress  regarding  these  videos  being  archived  but  that  was  very  early  on  in  the  project.  I  was  asked  to  contact  the  department  later  after  I  had  a substantial  number  of  videos  produced.  When  I  hit  the  500  mark  next  year,  I’ll  reach  back  out  to  them.

 

  1. How many  people  are  on  your  staff?

 

My  direct  staff  is  just  me  and  the  two  cats.  However  I  do  have  a  couple  of  interviewers  that  work  for  me  directly  on  the  videos  shoots.  So  in  a  nutshell,  I  do  just  about  everything,  sales,  research,  shooting  video,  editing  video  and  the  archiving  process.

 

 

 

  1. Give me your top three favorite historic bridges that you’ve filmed?

 

Tough  question  Jason!  In  no  particular  order:

 

The  Triple  Whipple  Bridge  near  Aurora,  Indiana  is  high  on  my  list.  As  someone  else  said,  she’s  the  Queen  Mary  of  all  bridges!  Beautiful,  tall,  restored  and  the  only  one  of  it’s  kind  still  standing.  The  bridge  is  only  about  15  miles  from  my  home  so  I  get  to  see  her  fairly  often.

Film on the bridge:

The  Dresden  Suspension  Bridge  in  Dresden,  Ohio  is  a  favorite  that  we  just  covered  this  year  with  the  Ohio  Historic  Bridge  Association.  A  beautiful  bridge  that  is  easily  viewed.

Film on the bridge:

Finally  the  Crosley  Bridge  in Jennings  County,  Indiana.  A  private  steel  truss  bridge  built  by  Powel  Crosley,  the  bridge  is  extremely  narrow  and  hidden  deep  in  the  woods  via  a  dirt  road.

Film on the bridge:

 

  1. What historic bridge do you regret seeing demolished?

 

Definitely  it  was  the  Cedar  Grove  Bridge  in  Cedar  Grove,  Indiana.  Long  story  short,  I  was  part  of  a  group  who  tried  to  save  this  bridge  from  demolition.  The  State  of  Indiana  offered  to  give  our  group  the  money  they  would  pay  for  the  demolition  if  we  could  find  a  local  government  entity  who  would  take  ownership  of  the  bridge  for  30  seconds  while  signing  the  bridge  over  to  us  where  it  would  be  refurbished  and  turned  into  a  park  for  the  locals.  Unfortunately  the  town  council  in  Cedar  Grove  and  the  Franklin  County  Commissioners  had  zero  interest  in  seeing  the  bridge  survive.  After  a  2+  year  fight  to  save  the  bridge,  when  it  became  apparent  that  all  of  the  government  entities  and  the  locals  themselves  had  zero  interest  in  the  structure,  we  abandoned  our  cause  and  the  bridge  was  demolished  via  the  State  of  Indiana  on  February  17,  2016.

Film on the bridge’s demise: 

  1. Complete this sentence: A historic bridge in your opinion……..

 

A  historic  bridge  in  my  opinion  is  a  mix  of  style,  engineering  and  quality  from  an  era  that  we  will  never  see  again.  It  was  a  different  breed  of  men  that  built  bridges  in  the  1800s  and  early  1900s.

 

 

  1. What is important for keeping the historic bridge “historic” instead of neglecting it to a point of demolition?

 

Once  these  bridges  are  gone,  they  are  gone  forever.  Bridges  are  probably  the  most  used  structure  no  matter  where  they  were  built.  Some  bridges  only  see  5  or  10  crossing  per  day  while  others  literally  see  tens  of  thousands  of  crossings  if  not  more.  It’s  hard  to  think  of  another  item  produced  by  man  that  gets  this  much  usage  and    can  last  for  100  or  more  years.  Holding  on  to  these  structures  for  future  generations  is  important  not  only  for  educational  purposes  but  for  general  enjoyment  as  well.

 

  1. What are your future plans for HYB? What bridges are on your agenda?

 

Right  now  as  I  think  I  mentioned  earlier,  I  have  over  420  videos  produced  and  hope  to  add  at  least  100  more  documentary  videos  in  2020.  I  have  about  20  bridge  videos  that  have  been  shot  and  are  awaiting  the  editing  process.  They  are  scattered  throughout  Ohio,  Indiana,  Kentucky,  Virginia  &  West  Virginia.  Hopefully  I  can  get  those  finished  over  the  Winter.

 

 

  1. If a person has a historic bridge that needs to be filmed, like for example Kern Bridge in Minnesota or the Bridgeport Bridge in Michigan, who to contact?

 

It’s  simple,  just  give  me  (Satolli  Glassmeyer)  a  call  at  812-623-5727  between  8:00 am  and  9:00 pm.  If  I  don’t  answer,  leave  a  message.  Or  if  you  like,  send  an  email  to  Info@HistoryInYourOwnBackyard.com.  We  can  discuss  your  needs  and  wants  for  the  video  project  while  I  guide  you  to  the  best  option  to  preserve  that  bridge  on  video  now  and  in  the  future.

 

A  closing  thought……Statistically  speaking,  over  the  next  100  years  we  will  lose  50%  of  the  historic  bridges  currently  standing  due  to  fire,  flood,  storms,  neglect,  progress,  civil  unrest,  war,  earthquakes,  etc.  99%  of  those  historic  bridges  will  disappear  over  the  next  200  years  for  the  same  reasons  and  eventually  all  will  disappear.  Nothing  lasts  forever.  At  some  point  down  the  road,  we’ll  no  longer  need  bridges  and  this  project  will  at  least  preserve  the  memory  of  when  we  used  these  engineering  marvels  to  cross  vast  expanses  of  water  or  terrain

 

Thank you for your time and interview at the Chronicles and wishing you all the best in your career. 

 

Just recently, HYB got its 1 millionth view on YouTube on its page. It currently has over 3900 viewers with just as many (if not more) visitors daily, which makes it one of the most popular short-film documentaries in the US. A video on that can be found here:

HYB provides people with a short glimpse of some of the historic artefacts that people can see while they are in the area, let alone should see before they are gone.  Sometimes less means more- the most basic means the more interest in seeing the places in person.  So as Satolli would say: Travel Slowly, Stop Often. 🙂

 

Author’s Note: Some of HYB’s bridges will also appear on this page from time to time, to encourage people to watch them and eventually visit them. 

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 61

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This week’s Pic of the Week is in connection with a “Never say never” moment regarding a historic bridge that is hard to get to, unless you fight through weeds, rotten wood and potholes on abandoned roads to get it what you want.

This was one of them. The Filzwerk Truss Bridge is located on the south end of Hof at the junction of Ascher Strasse and Hofer Strasse. Like the Alsenberg Truss Bridge seen in another Pic of the Week article (see here), the bridge is a Pratt through truss with welded connections, approximately 35 meters long and spanning the same river- the Saale. Both were built between 1900 and 1920, but we don’t know much about the two…..

Or do we?

This bridge is located on the south side of the Filzwerk factory, a company that produced textile products until its closure a couple decades ago. It was since that time, half of the company was converted into a cultural events center, which garners tens of thousands of visitors to Hof every year. The other half is still in operation but has seen better days with empty buildings and lots, all of which are fenced off to the public.

Even when walking to the bridge from the north side, outside the fenced area and through the weeds and thorns that are waist high, you will be confronted by security guards and told to leave for trespassers pose a security threat in their eyes.

On the south side, however, you can access the bridge at the junction of the aforementioned streets. Even though the intersection is officially a T, it used to be a cross-road junction with the road leading to the factory and the truss bridge. The road is no longer passable by car as it is chained off. Yet you can go by foot as you cross three steel beam bridges- each with a length of 10-15 meters- before turning right and going directly onto the through truss span! You will be greeted with trapezoidal portal and strut bracings as you go across. Yet the north portal side has been fenced off by the factory to keep trespassers from entering the complex on the bridge end. The best photo shots can be found at either the oblique or portal views as a side view may be impossible to get unless it’s in the winter time.

Unlike the Alsenberg Truss Bridge, the Filzwerk Bridge appears to be in a lot better shape with its wooden decking intact, and there is a potential to reuse it in the future, but at a different location. However little is known about the bridge’s history nor are there any concrete plans at the present time for the bridge, for three other structures in and around Hof are either being replaced or rehabilitated. Therefore the bridge will most likely sit in place for long time until there is potential interest for the structure.

And it is probably a good thing too. The bridge is one of those potential hideouts kids can use, as long as they are careful and the bridge is not harmed in anyway.

 

Do you know more about this bridge (or even the Alsenberg Truss Bridge), send us a comment and other information using the contact details by clicking here.

 

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