Three Historic Bridges in Wisconsin Available for Reuse: Any Takers?

LONE ROCK, WISCONSIN- Three historic truss bridges in and around the Lone Rock area are being marketed off to those who are interested in purchasing a piece of history and repurposing it for recreational use.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is replacing three truss bridges in 2024, yet they would like to give the structures away with hopes their historical integrity are maintained under the care of the new owner(s). They are all located along Wisconsin State Highways 130 and 133, two of them span the Wisconsin River and feature multiple-span through truss spans, one of them is a pony truss span. They date back to the 1930s. All are within two miles (4km) of each other. The details are below:

Long Island/ Border Crossing:

Location: Wisconsin River at the junction WI Hwy. 130 & 133

Year of Construction: 1942

Bridge Type: Three-span polygonal Warren through truss with subdivided vertical beams, riveted connections and W-frame portal bracing

Dimensions: 682.4 feet long (212 feet per truss span); 24 feet wide

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Lone Rock Bridge:

Location: Small Branch Wisconsin River on WI Hwys. 130 & 133

Bridge type: Four-span Warren through truss with riveted connections, W-frame portal bracing and X-frame strut bracings.

Construction Date/ Builder: 1933 by the Clinton Bridge Company of Clinton, Iowa

Dimensions: 553.5 feet long (truss span 138 feet each); 20 feet wide

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Long Lake Bridge:

Location: Long Lake on WI Hwys. 130 & 133 at the entrance to Lone Rock

Bridge Type: Single-span Warren pony truss with riveted connections

Year Built: 1932 (possibly also by Clinton Bridge Company)

Dimensions: 83.7 feet (truss span: 80.1 feet) long, 20 feet wide

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According to a press release provided by WIDOT, recipients must agree to relocate the structure (or structures) to a suitable spot and assume all obligations and responsibilities for maintaining it. Funding is available for relocating the structure, yet the transfer of ownership will be made once the structures are dismantled and loaded onto the truck beds for transport to their new homes, at no additional cost. Further information on the bridges on the market can be found in the link by clicking here.

The company Michael Baker International is overseeing the project of replacing the three crossings and giving the historic structures away to the new owners. If you are interested in obtaining a package and providing proposals for relocating one or all of the crossings mentioned here, please contact Sue Barker via e-mail at: Susan.Barker@mbakerintl.com or via phone at 608-821-8712. She is your contact for additional questions and other items you may have about the bridge project. Deadline for obtaining the informational packages is October 31, 2021. Further information on the procedures to nominate parties willing to take the bridge(s) will be made available after the deadline.

Wisconsin has already had an attempt to relocate the historic Cobban Bridge in Chipewa County, only to be met with failure and the two-span Pennsylvania through truss spans being doomed to demolition. It’s scheduled to come down next year. It is hoped that something can be done with the Lone Rock crossings between now and 2024 in terms of preserving them for future use. All it takes is the will of the public and all parties involved to make it happen.

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All photos courtesy of the late JR Manning. He took the pics in 2012.

Eau Claire Viaduct Closed due to Urgent Structural Issues

Photo by John Marvig

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Crack in the Pier is the reason behind the closure with its future in doubt.

EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN- A beloved railroad viaduct spanning the Chippewa River has been closed due to advanced structural deterioration. Its future is in doubt as crews are looking into a pier that has deteriorated beyond repair. The Northwestern Viaduct spans the Chippewa River near the Big Pond site and city dam. It was built in 1880 by the Lassig Bridge and Iron Works Company of Chicago and the Leighton Bridge and Iron Works Company of Rochester, New York- the latter of which was responsible for the bridge’s signature Lattice deck truss design. The bridge has a total length of 890 feet, the largest span is 180 feet. The bridge is considered the highest in the state of Wisconsin, at 82 feet tall above river levels. The bridge used to be operated by Chicago and Northwestern Railroad until it was abandoned in 1991. Excel Energy purchased the bridge from Union Pacific in 2007 to save it from being demolished. In 2015 the bridge opened to pedestrians and cyclists.

Crews on Monday closed down the bridge as they discovered a major crack in one of the limestone piers that was also spalling, thus causing the bridge span to sag. In a statement provided by the City’s media relations:  

The High Bridge was initially closed to the public on Monday, June 21, in order to repair a section of railing that was damaged by fallen tree limbs. Meanwhile, a heave had been observed in the bridge deck caused by a crack in one of the piers that supports the bridge. This week an outside Engineer examined the structure and recommended further investigation and repair before re-opening to the public. Since that examination, additional changes in the condition of the bridge have occurred, making this a more urgent situation. Additional fencing and water barriers are being installed to keep boaters, pedestrians, and bicyclists away from the structure for their safety.

The bridge was last inspected in November of last year. City officials and engineers are looking into ways to either repair or replace limestone pier, while at the same time, work to preserve the bridge’s structural integrity. This includes a range of options from making minor repairs, adding additional bracing, encasing the pier or simply removing the affected spans and rebuilding the entire pier from scratch before putting the spans back on. The last option was practiced with the Red Jacket Trail Bridge south of Mankato, Minnesota in 2011 for the exact same reason as the situation being seen with this bridge.  When and how the repairs will be made, how long and the costs involved remain open at the time of this press release. The structure is considered a nationally significant monument not only because of its history but because it is the only bridge of its kind left in the country- a quintangular Lattice truss bridge.

Eau Claire is considered the city of bridges but ist main attraction is the one currently receiving (inter)national attention but for the wrong reasons. It is hoped that there is solution to this problem that will not alter the bridge’s integrity, but at the same time, make the crossing safer for people wishing to enjoy the view oft he city, ist bridges and the areas along the Chippewa.

The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest. Check out the tour guide in the Bridges of Eau Claire, which was created in 2012. Photos and places of recommendation courtesy of fellow pontist, John Marvig. Click here and enjoy the tour.

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BHC Newsflyer: 29 May, 2021

Pruitt Bridge in Newton Co., AR. Source: HABS/HAER/HALS

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To listen to the podcast, click onto the Anchor page here.

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Headlines:

Pruitt Bridge in Arkansas Coming Down

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ar/newton/pruitt/

Article: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/may/23/buffalo-river-span-among-last-of-kind/

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South Quay Road Bridge in Virginia Being Replaced

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/va/southampton/17755/

Article: https://www.virginiadot.org/projects/hamptonroads/south_quay_bridge.asp

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Europabrücke in Rendsburg to be Replaced

Click here to read.

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Arch Bridge in Corning, NY Turns 100

Article: https://www.weny.com/story/43962024/a-centennial-birthday-celebration-for-historic-centerway-bridge

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/ny/steuben/centerway-arch/

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Expressway Bridge in Arkansas Now on the NRHP

Article: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/may/27/2-jefferson-county-sites-put-on-historic-registry/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/ar/jefferson/bh62570/

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Vertical Lift Bridge in Plaue (MV) almost finished with Rehabilitation

Link with Video: https://www.ndr.de/fernsehen/sendungen/nordmagazin/Letzte-Reparaturarbeiten-an-der-Plauer-Hubbruecke,nordmagazin85032.html (!: News in German)

Bridge Info: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plauer_Hubbr%C3%BCcke (!: Info in German)

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Plus (click on the heading and it will take you directly to the site):

Online Forum on Lansing Bridge (via bridgehunter.com)

125th Anniversary of Bridge Disaster in Victoria, BC, Canada

150th Anniversary of the Demolition of the First Bridge in Brisbane, Australia

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Centerway Bridge in Corning, NY. Photo taken in 2016 by Dana and Kay Klein

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Rader Hochbrücke (aka Europabrücke) in Rendsburg to be replaced

Oblique view of Europebruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

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The days of the tallest and longest bridge in Schleswig-Holstein are about to be numbered. The Rader Hochbrücke is a multiple span cantilever deck plate girder viaduct that spans the Baltic-North Sea Canal, carrying the Motorway 7 between Flensburg and Kiel. It’s also known as the Europabrücke because the motorway, which is the longest in Germany, connects Denmark (and subsequentially, Scandanavia) with Austria (and other parts of southern and eastern Europe) and also is one of the most heavily-travelled bridges in the state. The 1491-meter long bridge is so heavily travelled that cracks, rust and other ailments are showing on the almost half-century old viaduct, which has a main span of 271 meters and a height of nearly 60 meters. The viaduct has only four lanes of traffic, which makes it functionally obsolete due to high traffic congestion on the bridge. Smoke and other ailments from the ships passing underneath have added to the misery to the bridge.

Therefore, planning is underway to replace the entire viaduct with a brand new one. Beginning in 2022, crews will construct one half of the bridge which will be used temporarily for motorway traffic upon ist completion. Once traffic is diverted onto that span, the old viaduct will be demolished and in its place, the second half of the new bridge will be built. When the new bridge is completed by 2027, the structure will carry six lanes of traffic in total- three in each direction.

Unique about the new bridge, as you will see in the illustration below, is that the piers will be V-shaped and the cantilever design will be similar to that of the 1972 structure. In other words, the newer bridge will be fancier than the structure at present. It’s a win-win situation for the region of Rendsburg, which prides itself of its beloved High Bridge and Rail Loop, for two reasons:

  1. There will be relief in terms of traffic in and around the city, reducing congestion and diverting unnecessary travel away from the city and
  2. The city will be greeted with a unique bridge that will be appealing to tourists and bridgehunters alike. It will be not only modern but also unique.

And with that, a film on this project, courtesy of DEGES:

TIP:

Even though the Motorway will remain open to traffic, construction will hinder traffic due to the machinery at the site. As a shortcut, you can take the Motorway 215 to Kiel, then follow Highway B76 to Schleswig via Eckernförde, crossing the Prince Heinrich Bridge that spans the Canal. Another alternative would feature taking the Motorway 23 along the North Sea coast from Hamburg. This changes to Highway B 5 after Heide. At Husum, follow Highway B 200 to Flensburg.

The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on this project.

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BHC Newsflyer: 20 March, 2021

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To listen to the podcast, click here for Anchor and here for WP.

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Headlines:

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Longest Causeway in Kenya to be replaced

Article: https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/63324-kenha-closes-section-historic-mombasa-bridge-after-emergency

Information on the Causeway: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makupa_Causeway

Information on the Mobasa Bridge on the Causeway: https://constructionreviewonline.com/news/kenya/kenha-to-construct-a-bridge-across-makupa-causeway-in-mombasa/

And: https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/60744-details-new-ksh82b-mombasa-gate-bridge-video

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Historic Batıayaz Bridge in Turkey Being Rehabilitated

Article: https://www.raillynews.com/2021/03/the-historical-batiayaz-bridge-is-being-repaired/

Information on the Bridge: https://www.flickr.com/photos/efkansinan/41715801790

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Utica Bridge in Illinois Imploded

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/il/lasalle/utica/

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Photo by Jann Mayer

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Bridge Street Bridge in California Restored and Reopened

Article: https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article249917298.html

Bridge Information: http://bridgehunter.com/ca/san-luis-obispo/49C0196/

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Award Given to Firm for Rehabbing Winnington Turn Bridge in the UK

Article: https://scottishconstructionnow.com/article/paisley-firm-wins-civil-engineering-award-for-english-bridge-restoration

Information on the bridge: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1391406

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Photo by James MacCray

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Historic Truss Bridge in Kentucky Moves to Park

Article: https://www.tristatehomepage.com/news/local-news/historic-bridge-moving-to-henderson-co-park/

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/ky/hancock/46C00028N/

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Arch of Chenab Railroad Bridge in Kashmir Completed

Article: https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/railways-connects-bottom-ends-of-main-arch-of-world-s-tallest-bridge-over-chenab-101615921804613.html

Film on the Project:

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Fire Destroys Iconic Covered Bridge in Kentucky

Photo taken by Melissa Jurgensen after its rehabilitation in 2017

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SPRINGFIELD, KENTUCKY (USA)- Local and state officials are looking for information that can lead to the arrest and conviction of one or more persons responsible for destroying an inconic historic bridge in Kentucky. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office as well as nearby fire departments were called to the scene of a fire at the Mt. Zion Covered Bridge at around 11:30pm Tuesday night. The bridge was built by Cornelius Barnes in 1865 but was bypassed by a new bridge in 1977 and had recently been fully restored in 2017. It has been listed as a National Register site since 1976. The 211-foot long covered bridge with a Burr truss design had spanned the Beech Fork River at Mt. Zion Road and was considered the longest remaining covered bridge in the state. It also goes along the names of Beech Fork CB or even the Morseville CB.

Source: Washington County Sheriff via facebook

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When officials arrived at the scene at 11:30pm, they saw the bridge fully engulfed in flames. It didn’t take long until the covered bridge collapsed into the river at around midnight. When the bridge was restored in 2017, flame retardant was applied to the trusses but not to the flooring itself. The bridge is considered a total loss– nothing more but a pile of rubble with only the stone pier standing. The bridge was one of only 13 covered bridges left in the state.

The fire is being investigated as arson and the case will be taken to the state fire marshal’s office. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is looking for any leads and witnesses- anything that will be useful for the case and can lead to the arrest and possible conviction of those involved in setting the bridge ablaze. Any information should be directed to Sheriff Jerry Pinkston at 859-336-5400.

It is unknown whether the covered bridge will be rebuilt but the Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on this tragic loss.

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Setting a property on fire, covered bridges included, with intent to destroy it and/or cause personal injury, constitutes a first degree felony by law and those found guilty of the crime could face at least 20 years in prison, plus fines in the thousands.  The longest prison sentence ever handed out was 90 years to a man who arsoned two covered bridges in Indiana, one of which was destroyed in 2002. The prison sentence took place in Parke County in 2018 and this was after the person received mental health treatment.

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BHC Newsflyer: 12 February, 2021

Sulphur Lake Bridge in Redwood Valley, MN- To be removed in the near future. Built in 1928 and bypassed in 1997. Photo taken in 2010

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To listen to the podcast, click here.

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Headlines in this Newflyer Podcast:

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May be an image of bridge and nature

Judge Votes for Replacement of Frank J. Wood Bridge- Preservation Group to Appeal

Article: https://www.centralmaine.com/2021/02/08/topsham-brunswick-bridge-group-to-appeal-federal-ruling/

Article on Bridges on Highway 1 Project: https://www.pressherald.com/2021/02/07/southern-midcoast-bridge-replacements-included-in-mdot-work-plan/

Please note the cost estimates of the four bridge project vary due to different information sources.

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Sulphur Lake Bridge in Redwood Valley to be Removed

Information on Project: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d8/projects/sulphurlake/index.html

Information on the Bridge Trio: http://loc.gov/pictures/item/mn0545/

!: Includes contact information.

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Historic Covered Bridge in Vermont Destroyed by Fire

Article: https://www.vnews.com/Vermont-town-hopes-to-replace-destroyed-covered-bridge-38774407

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/vt/orleans/101017000810171/

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Postcard of Plummer Creek Covered Bridge with the Burr Truss design. Source: Johnson Wholesale Co.

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Attempted Destruction of Covered Bridge in Indiana through Arson

Article (including contact information): https://www.wibc.com/news/local-indiana/greene-county-covered-bridge-closed-after-fire/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/in/greene/plummer-creek/

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Photo by Steve Conro in 2012

Covered Bridge Hit for 13th Time Since Rehabilitation in 2020- Calls for Removal

Article: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/ct-lns-long-grove-bridge-crash-st-0204-20210203-shhljplk65bp3l3p2hzllv7pkq-story.html

Editorial: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/opinion/ct-lns-selle-long-grove-bridge-st-0209-20210208-asinkmjsfffufosgmrzuvma5wa-story.html?fbclid=IwAR1p3FF-dRM-LuN1SJegOOhy-HLJ6y30GlTH_jh6B7CxzF4LSI8bOVKUMdU

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/il/lake/49715027150/

!: Questionnaire on the bridge’s future on BHC’s facebook page.

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Waco Suspension Bridge. Source: Library of Congress

Original Cables of Waco Suspension Bridge to be Removed

Article: https://wacotrib.com/news/local/cable-removal-begins-on-historic-waco-suspension-bridge/article_b5924a9c-6a5b-11eb-8337-63c716ce53f8.html

Bridge Info (including rehab project): http://bridgehunter.com/tx/mclennan/waco-suspension/

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Kern Bridge Stays Home in Mankato

Longest Bowstring Arch Bridge in the States Stays in Mankato, to be Re-erected between Sibley and Land of Memories Parks

MANKATO, MINNESOTA- What was built from home stays home. That is the slogan behind the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, a 189-foot long product of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, which was built over the LeSeuer River on a township road south of Mankato in 1873. Until last year, the bridge stood in its place until efforts were undertaken to dismantle and remove the structure because of a failing abutment.

Now, the bridge is staying put, but will be the centerpiece, crossing over the Blue Earth River connecting two of Mankato’s largest parks.

The 148-year-old historic iron structure will span the Blue Earth River between two of the city’s largest parks, providing a pedestrian and bike crossing that also will fill a gap in the local trail system, and create a vital link between the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail on Mankato’s northeast side and Minneopa State Park to the southwest. “From an engineering perspective, it’s an exciting project, but it’s also one that’s great for our community and the region on whole,” said Assistant City Engineer Michael McCarty in an interview with the Mankato Free Press. He was in charge of putting together the winning application in an eight-way competition for the one-of-a-kind bridge. Four finalists had submitted full applications to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for the structure. Aside from Mankato, the other three finalists came from Watonwan County, Fergus Falls and Sherburne County. “It was a close race. The applications were all really good,” said historian Katie Haun Schuring of MnDOT’s Cultural Resources Unit, one of the members of the steering committee of engineers and historians that ultimately decided Mankato’s plan was the best. “… All of the locations would have been good. I think Mankato’s just rose to the top after a lot of great discussion.”

The decision to keep the Kern Bridge home made a lot of sense as the last surviving bridge of its kind in Minnesota is also one of the Blue Earth County’s “Seven historical wonders” when it comes to architecture that had shaped the county in the past 150 years. Furthermore, the county is diverse in the number of different types of bridges that still exist and can be seen today. They include the Dodd Ford Bridge and, the Maple River Railroad Truss Bridge both near Amboy, as well as a Marsh arch bridge and the Red Jacket Trestle. Another truss bridge, the Hungry Hollow Bridge is sitting in storage and awaiting reuse elsewhere. When people think of Blue Earth County and bridges, the Kern Bridge would definitely go on top as it was the structure that spearheaded efforts by other engineers to leave their marks over rivers and ravines while expanding the network of roads and railroads that connected Mankato with Minneapolis and other points to the north and east.

Along with the wrought-iron bridge, now disassembled and stored in shipping containers, Mankato will be receiving federal funding that will cover 80% of the $1.8 million cost of reassembling it. According to the Free Press, numerous regulatory hurdles will need to be cleared because of the historic nature of the bridge, the need to build piers in the Blue Earth River, the existence of the flood-control system in the area, the design work on the bridge approaches, and the regulations related to federal funding. The Kern Bridge will be the main span over the river but will be flanked by steel gorders which will make the historic structure the centerpiece for the two parks. If all goes well, the bridge will be back in service by 2024 but as a pedestrian and bike crossing.

And while its 150th birthday celebration will most likely be in storage, the reestablishment and reopening of the longest bowstring arch bridge, combined with its reinstatement as a National Landmark, will serve as a much-deserved belated birthday gift in itself. Even the best things come if we wait long enough and work to make it happen. 🙂

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The Kern Bridge finished second in the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards in the category Bridge of the Year because of the efforts to save the structure from its potential collapse.

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The news came just as the Newsflyer podcast was released. To listen to the other news stories, click here.

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Koniska Bridge in McLeod County Coming Down

Photo courtesy of MnDOT

GLENCOE, MINNESOTA- When visiting McLeod County in 2011, rumors had it that the county had no more truss bridges. The last one had been taken down near Lester Prairie three years earlier. SInce my visit, two more truss bridge spans were discovered by local highway officials, including this one, the Koniska Bridge. The five-panel Pratt through truss bridge spans the South Branch Crow River and can be seen from the County Highway 11 bridge, a half mile away. Built in 1904 by William S. Hewett, one of the members of the Minneapolis School of Bridge Building, the bridge is 90 feet long, has A-frame portal bracings and is pin-connected. The bridge was once part of the village of Koniska, which had been abandoned before the bridge was replaced and left abandoned in the 1960s. Since then, it has sat quietly in the wilderness.

That is until now. Crews are planning to remove the bridge sometime in the fall or winter for safety reasons. The bridge’s decking is wooden but it’s rotting. The structure is rusting but there is no word on how bad. Bottom line is the avoidance of liability issues. It is unknown whether the bridge will be scrapped altogether or will be in storage for possible reuse. But as records indicate it was a Hewett truss, there is a chance to take the structure and relocate it for reuse. Furthermore, like another Hewett truss bridge in Mazeppa, it has the potential to be listed on the National Register.

If interested in the truss bridge, contact the McLeod County Highway Department in Glencoe. The contact details are here.

Historic Millbrook Bridge Demolished

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123-year old through truss bridge sent to the scrap yard.

Millbrook, Illinois- The bridge was the last of its kind in the county. It was a perfect fit as a hiking trail, a centerpiece for the village of Millbrook. Now the historic Millbrook Truss Bridge is no more.

Crews demolished the three-span through truss bridge on Monday, thus putting an end to all the talk of saving the structure. At the time of this post, crews are removing the truss parts and the stone piers that had held the structure in place for 123 years. The cost for the bridge removal is expected to be at $476,000 with the county and the forest preserve, where the bridge is located, expected to share the expense.

The Millbrook Bridge was built in 1897. One of the truss spans was replaced in 1910. It had served traffic until its closure to vehicles in 1984 and finally to pedestrians in 2015, following an inspection that deemed the bridge was unsafe for use. Talks of trying to save the bridge by handing over ownership and sharing the costs for rehabilitation failed to bear fruit due to liability concerns, something neither Kendall County, the forest preserve nor the Village of Millbrook were able to afford.

With the Millbrook Bridge gone, there are no more truss bridges in Kendall County and only a handful of historic bridges dating back to the 1920s remain in the county. Yet with the progress on its infrastructure with new roads and fewer railroads in operation, it is expected that the remaining historic bridges will be gone within a decade, thus making the county an HB-free state, one of an ongoing, increasing number of US counties that are following the trend. Sadly though, the new structures in place will be due for rehabilitation in 10-15 years, resulting in the question of whether this senseless progress of modernization was worth the price. It may be the case with the fall of the Millbrook Bridge in the short term. In the long term, one will be asking whether it was necessary.

To view the photos of the (demolition) of the Millbrook Bridge, click here to see the bridge before and after the demolition.