Mystery Bridge Nr. 105: An Abandoned Wooden Stringer Span on Route 66

Route 66, the Mother Road that connected Chicago with Los Angeles, is one of the main features that makes America great in the eyes of the tourist for many reasons. From monuments to restaurants; people to bridges….

…..and in particular, abandoned bridges like this one.

This mystery bridge was discovered by Roamin Rich in 2014, spanning the San Jose Rio River near Grants, New Mexico. Records have it dated to 1926 as the construction date of this wooden stringer span. Yet as Rich mentioned on this video enclosed below, there is a lot to know about the bridge- in particular, who built it, how long did it serve traffic until it was bypassed by another bridge on a new alignment and how long has it heed abandoned. Have a look at the video and feel free to comment:

 

Good luck! 🙂

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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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Mystery Bridges Nr. 101: Die Geschwisterbrücken bei Schweizertal

The Bridge at Neuschweizerthal. By Aagnverglaser [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
BURGSTÄDT (GERMANY)- Located 10 river kilometers north of Chemnitz, one will find a pair of through truss bridges that had once served a rail line but will soon have a new purpose. Both span the River Chemnitz in the conglomerate community of Markersdorf-Taura but are very close together, connecting the district of Schweitzerthal-Amselgrund and Neuschweizerthal. Unique about these two bridges is that they look nearly identical in terms of its aesthetical appearance. They are both Warren through trusses, whose connections are welded and whose portal and strut bracings are the same. They feature Howe lattice, shaped in a trapezoidal fashion and supported by angled heel bracings (45°) that can be found at not only the diagonal end post (60°) but also at every single beam supported- both diagonal as well as vertical beams. This is really rare for a through truss bridge to have heel struts be connected to all the beams that form the panel.  The difference between the two is how they are constructed. The longer of the sister bridges has a straight portal approach and is 67 meters long. This is located next to the train station at Neuschweizerthal. The shorter of the two is located only 200 meters away around the curve, 100 meters away from the train station Amselgrund. That bridge has a 60° skew that was needed to support the curve. It is only seven meters shorter.  Both bridges were built around 1902 even though there is no record of the bridge builder, let alone the reason behind building the two crossings close together instead of leading the rail line along the river. Yet the reason for pinpointing the date to 1902 is the fact that these bridges were common during that time. In addition to that, it was built at the same time as the rail line connecting Chemnitz and Wechselburg. For a century, this line served freight service along the river because of the industries located nearby, especially in the industrial district in the north of Chemnitz.  Together with the Glauchau-Wurzen line, which it merged with at Wechselburg, the line was discontinued after 2002 due to the lack of profitablility combined with the Great Flood of 2002, which caused billions of Euros in damage to infrastructure and industry.

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The shorter bridge at Amselgrund. Photo taken in July 2018

In 2007, the Chemnitztal Cycling Association purchased the entire stretch to be converted into a rails-to-trails for cyclists and pedestrians and the line is being extended as of present. At the same time, a dandy horse-rail-line connecting Markersdorf-Taura and Schweizerthal went into service to provide a scenic tour for two kilometers. However, with the extension of the bike trail going through both communities, the days of the dandy horse may come to an end.

Currently, both bridges are being rehabilitated, refurbished and retrofitted for use of the bike trail. According to information by the Chemnitz Free Press, construction on the new stretch of bike trail between Claussnitz and Schweitzerthal started in April 2018, which includes these two bridges, plus another one south of Markersdorf-Taura. This six kilometer stretch is scheduled to be paved and open to traffic, pending on weather, by 2020 latest. As one can see in the photos here, plus in the BHC’s facebook page, work has progressed immensely in several segments, including the span at Schweizerthal. I was not able to get much of a photo of the bridge. However, I was lucky to get a few detailed shots of the shorter crossing and its skewed setting. As the decking had railroad track on it, there was no way to get a closer look at the beams to see if there were any inscriptions on there. But after the reconstruction is complete, maybe there is a chance to get a closer look at the bridge.

But then again, maybe some of the readers may have more information about these two sibling bridges, which will have a third life ahead of them. Do you have any information on the bridges’ history? Feel free to comment or send an e-mail. Any information may be of great help.

 

And for those who thought it was not allowed to walk on the grounds near the bridge, let me rest assure you no equipment or bridge parts were damaged during the photo session and it is only for the purpose of historic research for this blog. A book on the bridges in Saxony is being considered and perhaps you can be of great help there, just as a peace offering. Thank you. J

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 100: The Bridge at Fischweg in Chemnitz

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CHEMNITZ (GERMANY)- I’m going to be very honest for this mystery bridge, which is the 100th structure I’ve posted since launching the series in 2011. It was very, VERY difficult to decide which one to post next, for there was a large selection to choose from, ranging from an abandoned bridge along Route 66, a three-span through truss bridge in Oklahoma, a suspension bridge in India and this bridge. After some thorough consideration, I decided to go with the way that is the best in terms of my own merit as the structures have been mentioned by others in one way or another.

So here it comes: a through truss bridge that has been sitting on private land for a very long time, on the outskirts of a city that was for some time named after a Communist. Found by accident but not before almost getting my Volkswagen rammed into by a lorry behind me, who was cussing at me in Polish as he passed me by, after having parked my car off to the side. 😉

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OK, the Polish guy part was fake news, but looking at the rest of the picture, one can see that you don’t need to fact-check this beauty.  The bridge is located just off Highway 107, three kilometers north of the Motorway A4 and the Exit Chemnitz-Glösa. It sits on private land next to the restaurant and hotel Landgasthof Draisdorf, around the curve.  It is an eight-panel Pratt through truss bridge, built using welded connections- meaning the beams are held together by gusset plates and are not inserted into the plates, like we would see in other truss bridges. The end posts are typical for many European truss bridges built during its time: vertical instead of angled. The portal and strut bracings feature V-laced bracings with curved heel bracings. The middle strut heels appear to be subdivided.  The bridge can be seen from the highway- although it is not recommended to stop because the highway curves around the Landgasthof and one could risk such a rear- ender plus an explanation with the police to follow.  The bridge is about 5-6 meters tall, about 30-35 meters long and 3 meters wide, judging by my presence at the bridge and the photos I took of the bridge. While the bridge is one of five known in Chemnitz, this is the only through truss bridge within the city limits, counting the village of Draisdorf, where it sits.

The fun part comes with the history of the bridge. My first judgement of the bridge was that it was located over the River Chemnitz at Heinersdorfer Strasse and it was pulled offsite and to its current location after a new bridge was constructed 100 meters to the south. The truss bridge was replaced by a new bridge in 2005.  You can see the points mentioned on the map. However, research by the Saxony Ministry of Historic Monuments and Preservation (D: Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Sachsen) in Dresden indicated that this truss bridge was not originally located at Heinersdorfer Strasse but at Fischweg near the cemetary in Glösa, only 400 meters south of the motorway exit. The map indicates that a bridge does exist but in a form of a bike and pedestrian crossing for the street ends on the grounds of a factory nearby. The date of construction of the bridge is 1900 and is currently listed in the Preservation Handbook for the State of Saxony (Denkmalschutzliste).

This leads us to the following questions which your help would be much appreciated in contributing whatever information may be of use:

  1. Is the date 1900 correct? Sometimes the year is used because of a lack of clarity in terms of when exactly it was built and open to traffic.
  2. If the bridge was not originally located at Heinersdorfer Strasse, what did the previous structure look like? When was it built and was it built by the same bridge builder as this bridge?
  3. Independent of what was mentioned in nr. 2, who was the bridge builder for this bridge?
  4. When was the current structure at Heinersdorfer Strasse built and what happened to the old structure?
  5. What factors led to the replacement of this bridge and who led the efforts in saving it for reuse?

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It’s not every day that a person and/or party steps forward to purchase the bridge and keep it for reuse. The bridge is privately owned and judging by my observations, it is being used as a picnic area with a porch swing attached to the top strut bracing. For most historic bridges that are purchased by private groups-namely homeowners, they are normally used for picnic areas and other forms of recreation more than for pedestrian and bike crossings because of liability reasons. It is different in comparison with private parties in the form of associations, park and recreational groups and the community that have more resources (including financial) to make sure the crossing is safe for reuse. But nevertheless, this bridge is safe and will most likely be in the hands of the homeowner until the need to get rid of it is near. When that happens, it can be hoped that the bridge is put back over the Chemnitz as a bike crossing. With the Chemnitztal Bike Path being extended and paved to Wechselburg, it would not be a surprise if this bridge was called to duty again given its preservation status and the interest in keeping it for generations to come.

And this is what makes this unexpected stop the most memorable- finding out the unknown about a structure like this one, which is truly a hidden gem.

And as we are on the same page, the next mystery bridge will go further downstream where a pair of structures are being refitted for bike use. More on this one in the next article. In the meantime, enjoy the photos here as well as on BHC’s facebook page.  And as for the aforementioned bridges at the beginning of the page, they will come later.

 

Author’s Note: Chemnitz was once named Karl-Marx-Stadt when it was under the rule of the German Democratic Republic. It even had a head statue of Karl Marx that can still be seen today. From 1953 until 1990, it was known that way.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 98: A small mill bridge spanning two waterways

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The 98th Mystery Bridge takes us back to the state of Saxony and the Vogtland Region. Not far from the village of Mylau is a very unusual stone arch bridge, which spans the River Goltzsch approximately one kilometer north of the Motorway A 72. The bridge is unusual for two reasons. Number one is a curve of the roadway of up to 120 degrees. That means when crossing the bridge going south, the road turns almost a sharp right. The arches form a skew in which the larger of the two has a 30° parallel skew, where as the smaller arch forms a funnel-like skew where one side is larger than the smaller. While the total length of the bridge is no more than 30 meters (the width is only two meters), the second unusual feature of the bridge is that it crosses two different waterways. The larger arch crosses the river, whereas the smaller arch crosses a canal which also crosses the river, running parallel to the larger arch span.

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The canal has long since been unused, and nature has taken over with small trees and bushes are growing directly in the canal bed. As one can see in the pictures above, the canal seems to be much newer than the stone arch span. The stone arch bridge dates back to the early 1800s when a water mill, known as Schottenmühle existed. The mill was used to harness energy and provide water to residents downstream, namely in Mylau and Netschkau. Records point to the first mill being built in the 1500s, yet the mill next to the bridge is the replica of the one built in trhe 1850s, but was abandoned by 1895 and was burned to the ground 6 April, 1896. The building was never rebuilt until almost a century later and is now a museum.  That was all that was found regarding the mill and with it the bridge.

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But what else do we know about this bridge and the mill? When was the bridge built, let alone the canal? If you have that information, feel free to comment or contact the Chronicles and add your thoughts on it. The structure is part of the bike trail running along the River Goltzsch, connecting Greiz with Eger in the Czech Republic and includes the world famous Goltzschtal Viaduct so accessing it is easy. Finding out more on the history of this mill and bridge is the other half of the battle yet to be won.

So good luck! 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 96: The Milford Lake Kingpost Truss Bridge in Kansas

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Photo taken by Forrest Stewart

Our 96th mystery bridge takes us to the central part of the US; specifically to Wakefield, in Clay County, Kansas. The Milford Lake Truss Bridge is one of two bridges that used to be located along a path on the western side of the lake. The truss span is a Kingpost pony truss, which features cruciform outriggers on the outer edge on the verticle post. The truss connections are riveted, however, the trusses are supported by V-laced lally columns, entrenched into the stream bed. Its decking is held by concrete wingwalls. The bridge is between 45 and 50 feet long between abutments; between 30 and 40 if focusing on the trusses. Judging by the age of the trusses and its connections, the bridge must’ve been built between 1900 and 1915 as riveted connections were being introduced at that time to replace the pinned connections. Furthermore, many of these riveted trusses included cruciform outriggers, designed to keep the trusses vertical and attached to the lower chord. Many local bridge builders used kingposts for small stream crossings, including those in Kansas, where this bridge is located. They include the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works, Stupp Brothers (both of St. Louis), the Hewett families of bridge builders in Minneapolis (MN), RD Wheaton and Company in Chicago and Seevers Bridge Company in Oskaloosa (IA), just to name a few. This bridge was most likely built by a bridge contractor in Kansas or Missouri, given its approximate location near the border. But more information is needed to prove this.

As for Milford Lake itself, the lake was created by the US Corps. of Engineers in 1967, which included the damming of the Republican River. It was part of the project to control flooding and create recreational areas in and around Junction City. The lake has 15,700 acres of water and over 33,000 acres of land used for natural habitat. It is the largest lake in Kansas with a length of 20 miles and a width of five miles on average. When the lake was formed, this bridge was partially submerged along with a culvert, 200 feet away. Yet because of the drought, much of the lake has decreased in size and depth, thus revealing this beauty.

This presents a grand opportunity to save this bridge by restoring it, relocating it to a community that may need it and reuse it as a bike crossing.  Given its location right next to the water, leaving it as is may not be an option, for water levels may rise and the bridge may disappear- even for good. According to Forrest Stewart, who submitted this photo on Interesting Places in Kansas’ facebook site, and confirmed by many bridge enthusiasts, damage to the trusses has been reported which includes bends in the cruciform and bottom chords. Although it is not severe enough that the bridge is in immediate danger of collapse, some repairs are needed, nonetheless before it is repurposed.

To sum up: The bridge was rebuilt between 1900 and 1915 by a local bridge builder, but is in need of a new home before it is re-inundated again, possibly disappearing together. Can you help with the history and or the efforts? A map is enclosed to show its location. All you need to do is call for help.

So go help and good luck! 🙂

 

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