Mystery Bridge Nr. 133: A Small “Forgotten” Bridge in a Small Forgotten Village

P1060822

BHC Mystery Bridge

LAHR (BW), GERMANY- The next Mystery Bridge takes us to the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg and to the city of Lahr. The community of 44,000 inhabitants is located near the cities of Offenburg and Strassbourg along the River Rhine and is easily accessible by the motorway (A 5), train and boat.  The mystery bridge at hand can be found to the north of the city, near the town Friesenhaim and Heiligenzell, along the creek Leimbach.

Towards the playground in Heilizenzell on a small path running parallel to the main street one will cross the Leimbach. The crossing is full of bushels of reed and poison ivy on each side of the path. One will not notice the historic crossing unless you cut away at the vegetation and see the arch.  Yet one may perceive it as a modern-day culvert. Yet when looking at it more closely……

P1060817

……one will see the inscription on the arch and the stone spandrels, making this crossing definitely an arch bridge. Looking more closely, we have the inscriptions of I K 8 8 1 4- the first 8 is larger and resembles a letter S spelled backwards with an I down the middle.

This is our mystery bridge. Its design is just as unique as its history. Its history is linked to the history of Heiligzell and the disappearance of the town’s predecessor. At the site of the crossing was the village known as Leymbach. According to the history books, the village was first mentioned in the first Century, AD. It was large farm and trading post that was owned by the Romans during the time of the Empire. Evidence of that comes from a well that was built five meters deep. This was discovered in 1979 by gardener Klaus Schwendemenn and was restored by the neighboring community Friesenheim.

Friesenheim-Roemer2
The well and the remaining foundations from the Roman times. Photo taken by Andreas Loegler

The village was later mentioned by the Lahr registry books in 1356 but it was last mentioned in 1535. Afterwards, Leymbach disappeared from the map. Historians have speculated that the town’s demise had to do with pests, fire and warfare which led to the residents fleeing to safer places. But more research is needed to confirm. Leymbach had a district of Hovestadt, yet it was only mentioned once in the 1500s. What’s left of Leymbach are two farm field border markings with the names “Auf der Steinmättle” and “Hinterem Steinmättle”

The town of Heiligenzell was first mentioned in the 10th Century AD when the farm/ trading post was given to the Monestary by Emperor Heinrich II. It was christenen Heiligenzell by the 14th Century. It was an important trading post during the Middle Ages. It was destroyed during the Geroldsecker feud during the 15th Century, and it is possible that it was the same feud that devastated Leymbach. Heiligenzell was later rebuilt and it is possible that Leymbach folded into its neighboring post. A castle was built during the 1500s to protect the residents. Two churches were added- a monestary and later a Catholic Church in the late 1800s.  Heiligenzell had a coat of arms that resembled the number 8, which was the same coat of arms found on the keystone of the bridge.

Wappen_Heiligenzell
Coat of Arms of Heiligenzell

The coat of arms and the number is much larger than the other inscriptions, which means the bridge belonged to Heiligenzell. Interestingly enough are the other inscriptions. The first are the initials for the person who built the bridge, which was I. K. The second is the fact that the letter K has the same function as the number 1, according to the history books. Normally a Roman number 1 would have the same function as the letter I. Therefore we can conclude that the bridge was built in 1814 by a person, whose name starts with I for the first name and K for the last. Otherwise it would contradict the history books regarding the founding of Heiligenzell.

The Leimbach was rerouted to run along the path in 2014, and this was when the bridge was discovered. It has received lots of media attention because of its unique design and a history that has a place in the puzzle on the history of Heiligenzell, including its former neighboring village of Leymbach. It is a foregone conclusion that the bridge’s predcessor used to connect the two but we don’t know what it looked like  before this structure was built. We do know that person I.K. built the bridge but we don’t know who that person was and if he had built other arch bridges nearby.

Therefore the search for the history of the bridge and its connection with Heiligenzell’s own history is open to the forum. It is open to locals who have a lot of knowledge of the history of Lahr, its suburb of Friesenheim and Heiligenzell and the Black Forest region of Baden-Wurttemberg. It is also open to those who know a lot about Roman history and the role of the Romans in Baden-Wurttemberg. But it is also open to all who are interested in the research on the bridge, and everything else that goes along with that. The Chronicles did a podcast on this on June 20th. Now come the details and photos.

The rest falls to those who are interested. Good luck and let the author of the Chronicles know what you find. Thanks! 🙂

IMG_6052

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Ekehard Klem for the photos and the background information on the bridge and the surrounding area.

bhc george floyd

Mystery Bridge Nr. 132: The Motorway Bridge to Nowhere

Typical Reichsautobahn in the 1930s in Germany. Source: German Federal Archives (wiki)

 

 

 

The 130th Mystery Bridge takes us to the south of Germany to one of what Germans would call a “Soda-Brücke”. These are bridges that were built as part of the plan to construct a major road or highway only to have the project be abandoned with these structures considered in English to be “The Bridge to Nowhere.”  The State of Bavaria has dozens of Soda Bridges that exist as they were part of Adolf Hitler’s grand project to build and expand the German Autobahn (Motorway) system to be used for the war efforts. Known as the Reichsautobahn, most of the total original length of 3900 kilometers are being used today, which include the three most traveled Motorways: the A4 Cologne-Dresden-Görlitz, A9 Berlin-Nuremberg-Munich and the A7 Flensburg-Hamburg-Ulm-Füssen (Bavaria). At almost 1000 kilometers, the A 7 remains to be the longest in Germany.

This Soda Bridge is located along what was supposed to be the Reichsautobahn nr. 87.  This stretch of highway was constructed between 1938 and 1940, the same time as this bridge was built. This is located near Straubing in southeastern Bavaria and when it was built, it has a total span of 40 meters and a length of about 80 meters. Like most Autobahn-Bridges built during the Third Reich, the span was made of concrete, whereas the abutments and wingwalls were built using brick. Like with the rest of the stretch of Autobahn, it was never completed as the war halted the completion of the route and this bridge became expendable.  As a result, you see the bridge like it is in this film clip:

 

 

This was found by chance, which makes researching more fun to do.  🙂

After the war, talks of finishing the motorway were in motion until the 1960s when the plan was abandoned for good. Why?  Much of the stretch going towards the River Danube had an average grade of 5-6%, making it potentially dangerous for trucks to travel on the stretch.  Henceforth, much of this stretch was either abandoned or converted into local highway use- this bridge was one that belonged to the former. The motorway was finished but relocated 6-8 kilometers away from the original route and was renamed Motorway 3, which is being used today, connecting Deggendorf with Cologne via Würzburg and Frankfurt.  Another Motorway A 87 was in the planning but for the Stuttgart area. That plan was never realized.

Yet this still does not solve the mystery of how many other Soda Bridges that existed along the original Reichsautobahn 87, let alone how the route was followed exactly, and lastly, who was behind the design? This is where we open the page for discussion. Feel free to comment here or in the Chronicles’ facebook page or group page German History and Nostalgia.

 

bhc george floyd

 

Castlewood Bridge in a new home- On the Threshing Grounds

87010374_1601349716681226_5157822102597795840_n
Photo from City of Castlewood

BHC Mystery Bridge

Approximately two weeks ago, I did a write-up on the Castlewood Thacher Truss Bridge, which had once spanned the Big Sioux River just outside Castlewood in Hamlin County, South Dakota. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 but not before it was bypassed by a low-water crossing. On GoogleMaps, one can only see the lally columns and the wing-walls but no truss structure. My question was “Where’s the Bridge?”

Many people thought the bridge was long gone, however…….

88962406_225895888549780_1788928310567239680_n

The bridge is still alive and well- but in a new home! 🙂 ❤

88180763_137390980954863_6156529331813220352_n

Jennifer Heath made a stop at the Threshing Grounds located outside Twin Brooks in Grant County and found the Thacher structure in use. Thanks to Don Morrison, who added the coordinates in my article from 20 February, she took a brief stop at the bridge a couple days ago to cofirm the bridge’s existence.

88325772_1509059402589328_764291964353904640_n

According to the information posted on the sign, the bridge was re-erected at the site in 1998, which meant that it had been taken off its original piers at Castlewood prior to 1997 and moved to this site. The bridge still serves traffic and is one of key features of the Twin Brooks Threshing Show Grounds. Featuring historic buildings (relocated here), farm exhibitions and a flea market, the Grounds hosts the annual threshing show in August, featuring antique tractor pulls and other forms of entertainment. It’s unclear how long they’ve been hosting the event or what the motive behind purchasing this historic bridge was. However it is clear that this bridge is the second of three hybrid Thacher structures that was relocated to a historic town setting to be used for exhibits and entertainment. The Yellow Bank Church Bridge in Laq Qui Parle County, Minnesota made its home at the Little Log House Pioneer Village, south of Hastings in Dakota County, Minnesota, when it was relocated there in 1989 and serves as a replica of the city’s beloved Spiral Bridge. The Castlewood Bridge sits over the creek and on concrete shows; its decking appears to be concrete, which makes carrying tractors and trucks a possibility.

88964648_647237589375390_361745862478528512_n

While more information on the creation of the Grounds and the relocation of the bridge is needed (and will require a few e-mails and phone calls to find out -stay tuned), the bottom line is that the Castlewood Bridge has been found and is still serving traffic- 22 years after its relocation from its Big Sioux crossing. And it appears that with as much care as it has been taken, this bridge will remain a key ornament for the Grounds for many years and generations to come. For Twin Brooks, as well as Grant County and the state of South Dakota, it is a win-win situation, when someone preserves a key piece of history and uses it for a tourist attraction. 🙂

Which makes me wonder whether the Ellsworth Ranch Bridge in Emmet County, Iowa will be the next candidate to make such a move….. And if so, where to? 😉

88180763_137390980954863_6156529331813220352_n

Many thanks to Jennifer Heath for the wonderful photos of the bridge and to Don Morrison for providing the coordinates. You can find the new bridge via bridgehunter.com here.

BHC 10 years

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

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 84

84629184_2966341866729776_4588389372784541696_o

BHC Mystery Bridge

This week’s pic of the week is also the 127th mystery bridge, both of which keeps us in Dresden. I happened to pass through this skyway while taking a group of students to the Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche) and to a popular Italian restaurant nearby. It was one I founded by chance and like in last week’s pic, this one also is a relict from the Baroque period, which survived the second World War. The question is where exactly is this bridge located? It’s near the newly rebuilt church, which means there’s a choice between Schlossstrasse and Brühlergasse, both of which are near the Dresden Castle and Semper Opera, where the skyways had been built to connect them and the cathedral. However, I’m not quite sure if this is the place.

Can somebody help, who’s from Dresden? Also nice to know of its history, if there is some available.

BHC 10 years

Mystery Bridge Nr. 124: The Bedstead Truss Bridge in Beaver County, PA

82557607_2683798111657449_8968890676196409344_o

This first mystery bridge of 2020 presents us with a black and white photo of a bridge from a bygone era. Tammy Frank provided this to Workin Bridges and needs your help in finding some information on it. It’s a photo of a Lattice pony truss bridge, located in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Judging by the look of the car crossing it, it appears that the photo was taken between 1920 and 1925. The bridge itself has welded connections but it appears the truss style is bedstead Howe Lattice, one of the rarest truss designs built during that time because of the popularity of the other trusses (Pratt, Parker, Warren, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, etc.) Therefore that date of construction is around 1890-1910. The bridge is long gone, probably replaced 40-50 years ago.

The question is, what else do we know about the bridge? In particular, where in Beaver County, was this structure located?

Any information can be sent via mail but you can also post on the Workin Bridges website, where this pic can be found. Whatever is found, will be added to the bridge’s portfolio.

Thank you for your support and happy bridge and infohunting! 🙂

bhc 10th anniversary logo alt

2019 BHC Bridgehunter Awards- Final Results

harrisburg
Harrisburg Covered Bridge in South Carolina: Winner of the Jet Lowe Awards   Photo taken by Darlene Hunter

 

bhc newsflyer new

After revealing the author’s pics through the Author’s Choice Awards yesterday, here are the final results of the 2019 Bridgehunter Awards. I’m doing things a bit differently this year. The results will be posted including some highlights. Yet the details of this award and the Author’s Choice Awards will be posted as a podcast, to enable readers to get to the point in terms of results but also listen to the details. The podcast will appear in the next post.

Best Photo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Highlights: 

Top Four photos taken by two photographers.

New records set in this category including highest number of votes in one category.

Not one candidate had less than 200 votes

 

Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge International

BHA 19 Best Kept Ind Int

Highlights:

Brunel Swivel and Rosenstein also share the Author’s Choice Award title for best Bridge Find.

Top Six finishers either from Germany or the UK.

Blow-out finish for the Swivel.

 

Tour Guide International

BHA 19 Tour Guide International

Highlights:

Title stays in Germany but going west for the first time

Big day for the Bridges of Edersee in this and the category Mystery Bridge (finishing second)

 

Lifetime Achievement

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Highlights:

Tight race especially in the top three

Winner, who has been the webmaster of Bridgehunter.com, will be interviewed later in the year. Congratulations to James Baughn on his 20 years experience.

 

Bridge of the Year

BHA 19 Bridge of the Year

Highlights:

Two Iowa Bridges finish in the top 2 outdoing the international competition. This despite their uncertain futures

Tight finish between the second and fifth place finishers.

 

Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge US/Canada:

BHA 19 Best Kept Ind US

Highlights:

Top two finishers are scheduled to be renovated.

Bronze medalist’s future unclear

Royal Springs Bridge oldest in Kentucky.

 

Bridge Tour Guide USA

BHA 19 Bridge Tour Guide USA

Highlights:

Winner has several restored historic truss bridges including the lone remaining Stearns through truss span (Gilmore Bridge)

Book on the Bridges along Route 66 to be presented plus interview later in the Chronicles

Madison County includes the freshly rebuilt Cedar Covered Bridge plus five other original covered bridges.

 

Mystery Bridge

BHA 19 Mystery

Highlights:

Top eight finishers received more than 100 votes each. 7th place finisher (Rosenstein) received 120 votes. 8th place finisher (Wichert Viaduct) received 100 votes.

Tight finish among the top six finishers.

Third and fourth place finishers are no longer extant- Buckatunna collapsed in January ’19; Dale Bend was destroyed in an accident on January 30th, ’19

 

Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge

BHA 19 Delony Awards

Highlights:

Third Award in a row in this category for the crew of Julie Bowers, Nels Raynor and crew at Workin Bridges and BACH Steel.

Longfellow and Winona Bridges Awarded Author’s Choice for their work.

Second place finisher is first bridge in the world made of cast iron. Delicate restoration needed.

Several lead changes in this category.

 

Last but not least, the following announcements:

This year’s Bridgehunter Awards will be its 10th, which coincides with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ 10th anniversary. Therefore, entries are being taken now and until December 1st for the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards. They include two new categories which will be presented in detail in a later article. Details on how to enter is found here. 

The top four finishers in the category Best Bridge Photo will have their photos displayed on the Chronicles’ website and its facebook and twitter pages between the middle of January and the end of July this year. Details in the podcast.

The 2019 Bridgehunter Awards will include a tribute to a former bridge engineer from Pittsburgh, whose invention has made inspecting bridges and diagnosting deficiencies requiring repairs instead of replacement much more advanced. More on him after the podcast.

Congratulations to all the candidates on their bridge entries and voters like you for supporting them in the 2019 Awards. And a big honor to the top finishers in each category! You deserve it! 🙂

BHC 10th anniversary logo1

 

2019 Bridgehunter Awards Voting Ballot Part 1

The QEII Bridge at Dartford, east of London. It has extremely long approach ramps to get the roadway high enough to cross the River Thames while still leaving sufficient clearance for ships to pass underneath. This is the problem that a transporter bridge aims to solve. Photo by Nico Hogg [CC BY 2.0] via this flickr page

BHC FORUM

After processing the candidates and adding some information to some of them, the time has come to vote for our favorite candidates in nine categories for the 2019 Bridgehunter Awards, powered by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. As mentioned earlier in the year, the Ammann Awards were changed to this name to honor some of the pontists, whose category and prizes have been named in their honor. Nevertheless though, the format is the same as in the previous awards. There are two voting ballots- one here and one on the next page (which you can click here). With the exception of the category Best Photo, each candidate has a link which you can access so that you can look at them more closely in terms of photos and information.

For Best Photo, I’ve decided to do it differently. One simply looks at the photos and votes. The names of the top six (including the winner) will be announced.

Voting is unlimited due to the high number of candidates in each of the categories- both on the US level as well as on the international level- and because many of us have multiple preferences than just one. 😉

Without further ado, here’s part I of the voting ballot and have fun voting. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Part II is on the next page……. =>

 

 

Mystery Bridge Nr. 122: A Through Truss Bridge deep in the Erzgebirge

IMGP8998

Returning to the Erzgebirge we have a large crossing spanning the River Zwickau for a mystery bridge. Located near the village of Langenweissbach, this structure is a Warren through truss bridge with riveted connections, approximately 30-40 meters long and 4 meters wide. It carries Werkstrasse going through a series of buildings which appeared to have been either a former factory or a town before it was abandoned. The company that had existed closest to the bridge was Tarsan GmbH (Limited), but the firm closed down some years ago.

IMGP9011 (1)

Werkstrasse used to be a thoroughfare before the railroad crossing shut down. The street and its branch is now a dead end. Only one building next to the bridge is still occupied, which means the street is rarely used except for private purposes. Given the rust on the bottom chord and parts of the upper half of the superstructure, this bridge dates back to a time between 1910 and 1950, although given its remote location, it may have been spared the bombing. The structure is still used but with weight and height restrictions.

ZwSch

This leads to the question of the following:

  1. What’s the history behind the buildings along Werkstrasse: Was it a factory, a town or a combination of a few? Could it be a military camp of some kind?
  2. What’s the history behind the bridge? Was there a previous structure before this one?
  3. What’s the history behind the street the bridge crosses?

Any ideas, we’re all ears, regardless of language. So, “Hau rein!” 🙂

IMGP9002 (1)

bhc fast fact new

Langenweissbach is located between Zwickau and Aue-Schlema. First mentioned in the history books in the 12th century, the town merged with Weisbach and Grünau in 1996 and later became part of Langenbach. More on its history here.

IMGP9038 (1)

bhc-logo-newest1

 

Mystery Bridge Nr. 121: Lorenzo’s Bridge?

71335431_2693194920711140_1087399854361018368_o

This is also this week’s Pic of the Week

The second mystery bridge takes us back to our backyard not far from our headquarters in Glauchau (Saxony), Germany. Approximately a kilometer away on the southern outskirts of town lies this bridge. It’s a closed spandrel arch bridge, approximately 20 meters long and 10 meters wide, enough to carry two lanes of traffic and sidewalks. It is located over Red Creek (Rothenbach), a tributary that starts at Rumpwald Forest, located 4 kilometers away and empties into the River Zwickau Mulde near the Glauchau Reservoir on the north side. It carries Wernsdorfer Strasse, a road that exits Glauchau and goes south towards Wernsdorf and Schlunzig. It’s easy to find as the road makes a steep dip as it does a double-curve going south, and one will cross it right after going past Rothenbacher Strasse.

This arch bridge was found by chance during a fall walk a couple weeks ago and together with another crossing about 300 meters away, they are the last two of their kind along the creek. While there are many houses on the opposite side of the creek, all of the bridges connecting the houses and the main road have been replaced with culverts and modern crossings. Another bridge was condemned recently and will most likely be torn down next year.

Still, this bridge is very mysterious because of its location within a neighborhood full of houses, many of which are well over a century old but they retain their historic architectural character. This pic was taken with one of these houses in the background.  There is no known information as to when the structure was built. Yet with a white streak of concrete above the arches, it appears the structure was rehabilitated 10-20 years ago, albeit it is unknown when exactly.

While many cities in the former East Germany had tens of thousands of “Plattenbau” highrise buildings, built by the Communist government between the 1950s and 1980s, Glauchau is one of a few cities whose houses have been left intact and not fallen victim to modernisation. It’s especially noticeable in the southern half as well as in and around the city center and Castle Complex. With historic buildings come historic bridges that are left as is or restored to their original glory. This bridge is one of those that is still in service despite its rehabilitation project.

But still, what do we know about it? Any ideas?

 

Author’s note: Lorenzo’s Bridge is a play-on-words from the film “Lorenzo’s Oil” starring Nick Nolte. Yet this bridge is located 200 meters west of Lorenz’s Bike Shop and another 300 meters east of a used bike shop along Rothernbacher Strasse.

Check out the bridge tour of Glauchau is you haven’t done so yet. You will find this bridge and more here.

 

bhc-logo-newest1