Mystery Bridge Nr. 112: A double-barreled concrete bridge that used to serve a major road?

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This is the first video podcast of the bridge. The bridge is between 90 and 110 years old, spans a tributary of the River Zschopau south of Wolkenstein in central Saxony in the suburb of Niederau. The rest can be found by clicking here.

Video:

Map:

 

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Questions:

1. When was the bridge built? Who was the bridge builder?

2. What kind of road did it serve and what industries existed in the area of the bridge?

 

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What to do with a HB: Rosenstein- Brücke in Oberplanitz (Zwickau)

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Also the 112th Mystery Bridge.

A while back I received a phone call from a local living in Zwickau (Saxony) via the Free Press, who, in response to a newspaper article about my bridgehunting exploits there and in Glauchau, wanted me to check out a cool bridge that was not on the tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges. It was around 200 years old and was located in the suburb of Oberplanitz, which is in the southwestern part of the city. This came shortly before I got sick with the flu that was making its rounds in the region, including the school where I teach English. I had to sit it out for a couple weeks before I could get better. As soon as I was fully healthy and “physically able to perform,” I decided to embark on a small trip to get there.

The day couldn’t have been much prettier. Sunny skies accompanied with a Super Full Moon in the evening made for a trip that was well worth it. Enter the local living in Zwickau who is a “historian” having lived in the area for decades, Dieter Hofmann, whom I met at his place and who led me to the “Steinbruch” region on the northern end of Oberplanitz. We use the German word “Steinbruch” to describe the word quarry. According to Hofmann the region where the stone arch bridge is located had at least six different quarries, where different types of minerals were dug up and transported to regions for use on different forms of architecture. Red rock came from the region and was used for the construction of the Göltzschtal Viaduct in the Vogtland region in western Saxony. That bridge, built in 1851 and carries the Nuremberg-Hof-Dresden Magistrate Rail Line, still holds the title of being the largest brick arch viaduct in the world with four stories of arches spanning the River Göltzsch between Reichenbach and Greiz (Thuringia).

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After touring the quarries, all of which have been discontinued since the Reunification of Germany, we came to the jewel in the forest- a stone arch bridge spanning small creek on the outer edge of Kreuzberg Forest. According to Google Maps, the bridge used to carry Eisensteinstrasse but, according to sources, has been closed to traffic for at least 30 years. According to Hofmann and another local whom we met along the way with his dog, the road which the bridge carried was a primary route for transporting the likes of iron ore, granite, quartzite, limestone and other minerals out of the quarries and to their destinations for processing and use. That was until the route was cut short with a present-day bypass connecting Werdau and Schneeberg and dissecting the western side of Zwickau.

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The bridge itself is definitely an old, but primitive structure. It consists of a one-span stone arch span spanning the Planitzbach, a creek that eventually runs towards the Zwickau Mulde. Just before flowing underneath the bridge, the creek merges with another one on the south side. Records indicated the structure’s existence between 1839 and 1840, but given the non-existence of concrete combined with how it was built, one must not rule out it being older- at least two centuries old to be exact. The bridge was put together using layers of flattened rock, which was topped with a keystone. Another layer of stone was added for the railway. The construction of the bridge mirrors those built during the Roman Empire, most of them were on a large scale, including aqueducts. Examples of these gigantic structures still exist today in Spain, France, Italy and parts of southern Germany- the nearest ones being in Heidelberg and Trier. The bridge is approximately 20 meters long and 3-4 meters wide, yet deterioration of the bridge due to erosion has taken a meter off its width over the years.

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The bridge is famous because of the stone used for it, known as Rosenstein. It’s a grayish-red rock which if in the water, it not only changes color to red, but the creation of creases in the rock caused by erosion and water creates a round form, resembling a rose. We fished out some examples that were lying in the Planitzbach, two of which I now have in possession and have demonstrated this magic to my wife and daughter. Several neighbors have used this stone for their landscaping purposed- including the gardens.

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The bridge has been closed to traffic for 30 years, with signs and bars blocking access. Despite this, people still cross at their own risk because they use the former Eisenstrasse as a hiking trail. Yet chances of restoring the bridge to its original form is slim due to years of erosion in the arches. The worst hit area is the eastern side, where waters have eaten away at the bridge. Should this progress in the next 10-20 years without any maintenance, the bridge may collapse. As mentioned earlier, northern side of the bridge at its keystone has seen the decking being eaten away due to erosion caused by wind and rain, plus weather extremities. And vegetation has taken over the bridge with a tree and many bushes growing near or on the bridge.

Still it’s never too late to rebuild and reuse the bridge. The Rosenstein Bridge has a similar resemblance to another stone arch bridge located nearby, the Eger Bridge near Reichenbach in the Vogtland. Currently, funding has been approved for restoring the crossing which has existed since the 1769 but has been closed to traffic for over 30 years, bypassed by a concrete crossing. The arch bridge has suffered a lot since its closure, having sustained extensive damage due to floods and weather extremities.

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For the Rosenstein Bridge, one will need to rebuild the bridge from scratch, using the same materials as when it was originally constructed. Yet in order for it to be sturdy, some sort of adhesive would be needed, which could affect the bridge’s historical significance. Currently, the bridge is only known to locals and there has been no word of whether the structure would be a cultural monument, which means it could be updated into the Cultural Heritage Books (Denkmalschutzbuch) for the State of Saxony. Still, as one can see with the failed attempt to stop the demolition of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke) near Aue (Saxony), just because a bridge is protected by the cultural heritage laws, does not mean that it cannot be torn down. That bridge was the very first structure in the state that was compromised by a replacement bridge through this concept, which puts many historic bridges and other structures on notice.

Yet in order to start the process of getting the bridge listed and saving it from the wrecking ball, we need more information on it. This will require some research at the local archives in Zwickau but also some help from additional people who may know about this bridge and can add to what I’ve collected so far. This is where you as the reader come in. Afterwards the state ministry of culture and heritage in Dresden will have to step in and do a study to determine the bridge’s historic significance. Once it’s listed, the bridge’s safe from demolition, and planning as well as fundraising can proceed to restore the structure, with proposals bouncing around on the local and state levels.

While it’s easy to do it in chronological order, there has been some consideration about removing the bridge and possibly replacing it. That means everything has to be done at once to ensure we can beat the clock. This was a painful lesson we learned the hard way with the Bockau Arch Bridge- we started late and were always behind the clock, for the state ministry of transport was three goals ahead in handball and we had no chance to even tie the game- meaning in this case, delay the demolition to allow Berlin and Dresden to have a look at the petition.

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So what do we know about this find? If you are a local, tell us. What can you do to help save and restore the bridge? If you have the expertise and the will, tell us. What can you do to get the public’s attention? Apart from social media, the newspaper and meeting with people, if you have some ideas on where to start, tell us. Thanks to Dieter and his friend with the dog, we know where the bridge is in, and we have a starting point on its history. It’s just a question of moving forward.

A link to the gallery of photos taken of the Rosenstein Brücke can be found here.

 

Author’s Note:

Apart from Dieter Hofmann, there’s David Hagebäumer from the Free Press newspaper in Zwickau to thank for bringing this matter to my attention. Without the three of you and the dog, this bridge would’ve quietly vanished into history. Now we know about this gem, and knowing is half the battle.

 

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Mystery Bridge 111: A Valley Bridge that used to serve a Major Highway

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Photographer Nicolas Beauchamp and other bridge enthusiasts need your help in solving this case. This towering viaduct, which features a deck plate girder bridge, supported by A-framed towers, was found recently by accident. Given its age and the number of years it has been sitting abandoned, the viaduct appears to be between 90 and 100 years old, and it features a pair of finial towers at the center of the bridge deck. Given the density of the forest, one needs to narrow down the location of the bridge to the western half of the US. As there is speculation that the bridge used to go along the Mother Highway US 66, this means that somewhere in Oklahoma, New Mexico or eastern California was where this bridge was located. It is possible that because of its narrowness, it may have been the first highway crossing before it was relocated on a different alignment, where the newer highway was wider and had two-lanes accommodating traffic. One cannot even rule out the possibility that prior to it becoming a highway crossing, it used to serve rail traffic, providing train service to southern California from an unknown destination in the East.

So let’s summarize what we know:

1. The bridge is a viaduct featuring a steel girder (three spans) supported by A-frame concrete towers spanning a deep valley

2. The viaduct is around a century old

3. The viaduct may have been a railroad crossing before becoming a highway one.

4. The bridge may have been part of a major highway before it was rendered functionally obsolete. Many claim that it was part of US Hwy. 66 but other highways may have played a role.

5. The bridge is located in southwestern US- if confirmed with the Route 66 theory, then it is located in Oklahoma, New Mexico or California. Arizona has mostly desert regions with little trees, making its location more unlikely.

 

What do we need to know?

1. Where exactly is the bridge located?

2. When was it exactly built and who was the bridge builder?

3. If it used to serve a railroad and/or main highway, which routes were they?

We have to keep in mind that despite state aid highways having existed since the turn of the century in general, the US highway system was introduced in 1926, the same year that US 66 was designated as a highway connecting Chicago with Los Angeles via St. Louis, Tulsa and Santa Fe.

What do you know about this bridge?  Provide your comments here as well as in the Chronicles’ social media pages. Whatever information is useful will be added here.

And as for the photo taken by Mr. Beauchamp, many thanks and the bridge does have a nice green background to it. 🙂

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 107: The Buckatunna Truss Bridge

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Historic Bridge Collapsed after over a half of century of abandonment

MOBILE, ALABAMA/ BUCKATUNNA, MISSISSIPPI-  A historic bridge that was a local piece of history in a small town in Mississippi is no more. The Buckatunna Truss Bridge, located over Buckatunna Creek on Millry Road collapsed last week on the 16th of January after having sat abandoned for over a half century. The collapse was a result of high water undermining the lally columns, one pair of which was leaning against the trees along the shoreline. Furthermore, the bridge had been without a decking system and lower chord for many years. This is vital to ensure the truss structure is intact and together. No one was around when the collapse happened.

The Buckatunna Truss Bridge was a three-panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings, supported by subdivided heel supports. The overhead strut bracings were beam-shaped. According to history papers, the bridge was built in 1905, although it is unknown who built the structure, let alone if there had been a structure that existed before the truss bridge. Records indicated that the bridge was replaced on a different alignment in 1957 and had sat abandoned in the decades prior to its downfall. Passers-by had stopped to photograph the bridge because of its natural surroundings, which was left untouched, according to newspaper sources.

Plans are to remove the collapsed span once the floodwaters recede, however, to provide a proper closure, we need to know more about the bridge in terms of its date of construction and its life in a rural Mississippi setting. If you know more about it, leave a comment in the Chronciles page and tell us about the bridge’s story from your perspective.  We’ll be happy to read more about it. A map is enclosed below to show its location.

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2018 Ammann Awards Results

Paper Mill Bowstring Arch Bridge in Newcastle, Delaware. Winner of the Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge and Bridge of the Year. Photo taken by Julie Bowers

Last Year the Awards will be given using the name Othmar H. Ammann. Next year it will use the name Bridgehunter’s Awards.

First podcast on the Award results with table results here.

Results of the Awards under Best Photo

ZWICKAU (SAXONY), GERMANY/ SCHWARZENBERG, GERMANY/ KANSAS CITY/ LAWRENCEBURG (INDIANA)/ NEWCASTLE (DELAWARE)/ SAN FRANCISCO-

This year’s results of the Ammann Awards is nothing like anyone has ever seen before. A record setting number of votes were casted in eight categories, and with that, a lot of suspense that is comparable to any bowl game in college football and waiting under a Christmas tree for Santa Claus to provide gifts. It was that intense. And with that, a lot of commentary that led to making some new changes in the award format and that of the Chronicles itself.

For the first time in the history of the Ammann Awards, there will be a podcast with commentary of the Awards in all but one of the categories. This can be found here but also via SoundCloud. You can subscribe to Soundcloud by scrolling down on the left column, clicking and signing up once you arrive there. Details on how podcasts will be used for the Chronicles will be presented in the next podcast, which will also be posted here.  The table with the results of the Ammann Awards are presented here but in the order of the podcast so that you can follow. As in last year, the table features the top six finishers with some honors mentioned, but color coded based on the medals received in the following order: gold, silver, bronze, turquoise, quartzite and iron ore.

And so without further ado, click here to access the podcast but keep this page open to follow. The results in Best Photo is yet to come here.

2018 Ammann Award Results:

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And lastly, the results of the Ammann Awards under the category Best Bridge Photo:

1st place:

Photo 5: Sigler Bridge in White County, IL by Melissa Brand-Welch

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2nd Place: 

Photo 13: Trolley Bridge in Waterloo, Iowa by Diane Ebert

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3rd Place:

Photo 10:  Manhattan Bridge in Riley County, Kansas by Nick Schmiedeleier

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4th Place:

Photo 3: Chesterfield-Battleboro Bridges by Dan Murphy

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5th Place:

Photo 11: Route 66 Gasconade Truss Bridge in Missouri by Dyuri Smith

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6th Place:

Photo 2: Tappan Zee Bridge in New York by Dan Murphy

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The full table with the results can be seen here.

As mentioned in the podcast, next year’s awards will be the same but under a new name: The Bridgehunter Awards. The name Ammann will be relegated to the Tour Guide Awards for US and international bridges; whereas the Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge will be renamed the Delony Award, after the late Eric Delony.  An additional category is being considered for a historic bridge threatened with demolition but has the potential to being saved and reused. The Author’s Choice Awards will remain the same as is.

While we’re talking about those awards, you can see the results and commentaries here.

To those who won in their respective categories, as well as those who finished in the top 6 or were honored, congratulations. You may now bring out the sect and champaign and celebrate. Prost! 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 106- A railroad bridge and a street bridge in the park.

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The 106th mystery bridge takes us back to western Saxony and in particular, the southern end of Zwickau, where at the junction of Fuchsgraben and Saarstrasse near the Glück-Auf Shopping Center, we have three bridges as part of the mix. Two of them are deck plate girder bridges (although one of them I was able to photograph during a bike tour back in September) that appear to have been dated back to the early 1920s, and it is unknown who built these structures. Each of them span Saarstrasse and have a length of 40 meters. One of the spans serves regional train service to Aue.

Even more interesting is a short, but rather beautiful concrete bridge located on the west end of the viaduct. It spans a creek that empties into the Zwickau Mulde at the Pöhlau Railroad Bridge and appears to be a box culvert. Yet the railings appear to have a Art Greco design, which is rather antique given its age. Bridges with Art Greco designs were common beginning in 1910 and while some served as railings for box culverts due to its short length, others functioned as a T-beam bridge, especially those with a length of more than 25 meters and whose railings are thick enough to support the roadway. Given its age, combined with its wear and tear, it is likely that the 10-meter long box culvert at Fuchsgraben is at least 85-90 years old. That structure has just been reincorporated into the city’s bike trail network, connecting Zwickau’s City Center and the suburbs of Planitz: Neu, Ober and Nieder. The city has plans to expand the network and make biking easier and safer for residents who live in these areas, connecting them with the existing main route along the Zwickau Mulde River.

 

If you know more about these three bridges, feel free to comment on them or provide some information via e-mail. The tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges will be updated to include this and a couple additional bridges found and documented, so any help would be much appreciated.

 

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Floating Bridge in China

Most recently, one of the followers on my Twitter page posted a gif-pic of this bridge. This is located in China, spanning a very deep gorge. Obviously the bridge is a pontoon otherwise it would not be spanning a river that forms this gorgeous gorge. But the way the car crosses creates a wavy scenery that can be experienced from each vantage point, even from inside the car. Enjoy this short clip and if you want to help, tell us about the bridge and where in China it is located. Surely there will be more bridge enthusiasts who will pay homage to this unique structure while visiting other interesting places in China, from the Great Wall to Shanghai, Hong Kong to the Himalayans.

 

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