BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 133: Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Week tribute to James Baughn takes us out of Missouri and to neighboring Iowa. Located southeast of Mount Pleasant, the county seat of Henry County in the southeastern corner of the state is the Oakland Mills Truss Bridge. Spanning the Skunk River west of Franklin Avenue, the bridge was built in 1876 by the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company which was based in Leavenworth, Kansas. It’s one of a handful of combination spans left in the State of Iowa, featuring (from north to south) a Pratt half-hip, a wooden trestle, two Pratt through trusses and a four-panel Pratt pony. Sources indicated the trestle may have replaced a third Pratt through truss span but it hasn’t been confirmed in the bridge records. The entire truss system features pinned connections while the southern through truss span has ornamental portal bracings. The bridge was converted into a park in the 1970s and has been on the National Register of Historic Places for almost a half century.

The Missouri Valley was one of a few companies that lasted well into the modern era, having been formed in 1874. It was dissolved in 1975 after a fire destroyed the shop at its original home in Leavenworth. It was reorganized shortly afterwards but it left the bridge building business altogether. The Kansas State Historical Society did an extensive write-up on the company’s history, which you can view here. In the 101 years of business, the company constructed a wide variety of bridges, ranging from single and multiple span truss bridges to cantilever spans. It even constructed a concrete pony truss in New Mexico in 1915, one of two of its kind left in the US. 80% of all bridges built by Missouri Valley were towards the south central part of the country, concentrating on Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. Only two bridges in Iowa were reportedly built by this company, yet the Oakland Mills is the only one left in the state that’s still standing.

And it is also one of the most popular bridges to visit among bridge lovers, tourists and historians as one can make a picnic on the bridge and devote time to spending it on the bridge. Even at night, one is greeted with Christmas lighting as was my case when I visited the bridge in 2011 in the evening, on the eve of the Historic Bridge Weekend in St. Louis. But James’ pic was taken at the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa- two years later! In my opinion, the daytime shot was better than all the shots I took because of the lighting.

Still, who’s competing? 🙂 We both agree: The bridge is worth stopping for a visit, no matter for what purpose. And if properly and regularly maintained, the bridge will be around for generations to come. ❤ 🙂

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 130: A Tribute to James Baughn

Sometimes the best photographers usually follow the events that are happening by visiting the site on a regular basis and taking lots of pictures. For bridge photographers, this applies when there are projects like bridge restoration or in this case, bridge replacement.

In our next series paying tribute to James Baughn, we go back to the year 2003 and to this bridge, the Cape Girardeau Bridge. This bridge was the oldest of the Twenties Trio that were built within a year of each other along the Upper Mississippi River. In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge signed a bill, authorizing the bridge project at Cape Girardeau. The American Bridge Company of New York (superstructure) and U.G.I. Construction of Philadelphia were given the contract to build the bridge, which the project started in February 1927 and was completed in September 1928. Three months later, the Quincy Bridge followed and at the beginning of 1929, the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis. The bridge featured a series of six Pennsylvania through truss spans, followed by a continuous through truss span (671 feet), with a total length of 4471 feet.

In 2002, construction was let to build its replacement, the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, the current bridge that features a cable-stayed span with H-shaped towers. The original bridge was closed to traffic on 13 December, 2003, the same day the new bridge opened to traffic. Demolition of the old bridge commenced in June 2004 and lasted a half year. What’s left of the original structure is an arch and the first two spans on the Missouri side, which were repurposed as an observation deck.

James did a detailed series on the bridge before and after its replacement and including the demolition of the bridge. During that time, he collected a series of facts and history of the structure, which he added as the bridge was being replaced. You can find this in his bridgehunter.com website by clicking here. The details he did of the bridge in terms of photos as well as research, served as an inspiration for another person to do the same with his website, Nathan Holth, who launched historicbridges.org in 2003, the same year the truss bridge was replaced. You can access his website by clicking here.

If there was a lesson learned from this, it is this: Details are key, especially if you are looking for hard-core facts that are needed to complete the bridge’s story or if you want to contradict the facts given by a previous author. Bridgehunter.com is like wikipedia as it provides a database with photos, facts and stories about bridges like these with the goal of making the information available for those to use for their own purposes, be it for research for a school project or for finding information to nominate a structure for the National Register of Historic Places or even for personal reasons. When this bridge was being replaced, the website was in its infancy. Now looking back at James’ legacy and in particular, this bridge, the website has been serving its purpose well- a library with interesting facts for all to access.

And if there is a word of advice for those who are doing a project that features one or more bridges, check out bridgehunter.com first, followed by the others. There you will find at least something that will serve as your starting point and can build off from there. The website is like an encyclopedia, you will most likely find what you are looking for. 🙂

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 129: A Tribute to James Baughn

The next photo in the James Baughn series takes us to Wayne County and this bridge, the Wapello Bridge. The Pennsylvania through truss spans the St. Francis River on County Road 517 between the Riverside Campground and Shepards Fold Ministry, four miles southeast of Lake Wapello. The bridge was a product of Stupp Brothers Bridge and Iron Company in St. Louis and the Pennsylvania truss design and the A-frame portal bracings were very common features of the polygonal truss structures built by Stupp. Built in 1911, the 10-panel truss bridge had a total length of 242 feet, the main span had a length of 209 feet. The bridge was one of James’s favorite spots to photograph and you can find a gallery with his pictures of this bridge on the bridgehunter.com website. Sadly, the bridge was replaced in 2008.

Years later, I had an opportunity to interview an extended family member of the Stupp family about the company’s history. It will be posted in a later article. For now enjoy the photos of this unique bridge. ❤ 🙂

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 128: Tribute to James Baughn

As I mentioned in the last Pic of the Week entry for 2020, this year’s series pays tribute to the late James Baughn, who created bridgehunter.com, the largest bridge database in the US, and also won the Bridgehunter Awards for Lifetime Achievement for 2019. Every week, we will showcase his greatest bridge pics, most of whom stem from his website.

Our first bridge pic for 2021 takes us to Butler County and the Hargrove Bridge. This bridge spans Black River near the town of Broseley and features a combination of a swing bridge span, whose towers support two truss spans. These spans are the Miller-Borcherding trusses and as we will discuss this in a separate article, they feature a three panel pony truss, whose center panel has an A-shape frame and the outer panels have a subdivided triangular chord. The bridge was built by the Miller & Borcherding Bridge Builders in St. Louis in 1917, at the time when riveted trusses were considered the standard norm for truss bridge construction. The bridge was damaged by floods in 1992 but was restored to its former glory seven years later and has since been open to traffic, but with an 8-ton weight limit. More on this bridge can be found by clicking here.

This bridge was one of James’ first to appear on his website and one of his most frequented visited structures. It is one of those structures that one should visit when learning about the history of American architecture and infrastructure, especially as many bridge builders tried to fashion truss bridge designs of their own instead of building based on the standards provided by the state beginning in 1910- namely Warren, Pratt, Parker or Pennsylvania with riveted connections in a form of gusset plates. Their argument- less steel meaning less costs for manufacturing and assembling. When visiting the bridge, you will see how much less steel it was needed to create a unique structure.

And with that, we will move on with the next bridge James visited but not before we talk about the Miller-Borcherding truss type. And for that we will move right this way…….. => 🙂

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 124

Photo by James Baughn

After a tumultous week, learning about the sudden passing of fellow pontist, James Baughn and preparing for a nation-wide lockdown in Germany, scheduled for next week, we’re going to feature one of James’ greatest bridge photos. His favorite historic is the Appleton Bridge, a wrought iron bridge built in 1879 and located at the Cape Girardeau and Perry County border. Washed away by floodwaters in 1982, the bridge was rebuilt in 2005 and has since been a fixture to the historic town of Old Appleton. The bridge is decorated annually and James caught a night photo of the structure in 2012 when the entire structure was lit and a Christmas tree was on the decking. It was one of James’ favorite bridges and he talked a lot about that and other structures in and around the region where he lived. Information and history of the bridge can be found here.

To answer last week’s Pic of the Week Question of where this bridge is located, the one I photographed, this was a covered bridge located in the village of Cantrill in Van Buren County, Iowa. The village has two covered bridges located around the pond at the city park. This area is lit every year for the holiday occasion, including 2014, when my family and I visited the area, during our US visit to my parents and brother in Minnesota.

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Despite the tragedy this week, the ballots for the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards are finished and voting has taken place. Between now and January 22nd, you can vote for your favorite bridges in each of the four ballots, totalling nine categories.

There are four different ballots for you to vote.

Part one is Best Bridge Photo: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/06/2020-bridgehunter-awards-best-bridge-photo/

Part two: Bridge Tour Guide (US/International): https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/06/2020-bridgehunter-awards-part-2-tour-guide/

Part three: Mystery Bridge and Lifetime Achievement: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/2020-bridgehunter-awards-part-3-mystery-bridge-and-lifetime-achievement/

Part four: Best example of restored hisoric bridge, bridge of the year and best kept secret: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/09/2020-bridgehunter-awards-part-4-bridge-of-the-year-best-example-of-a-restored-historic-bridge-and-best-kept-secret-individual-bridge/

Each candidate has a link you can click on that features stories and photos of each bridge and each candidate. Due to circumstances that are unexpected (see Ballot Part 4) the voting has been extended to January 22nd and the winners to be announced on the 23rd.To honor James Baughn, there will be some changes to the upcoming Bridgehunter Awards for 2021. The announcement is expected in January. Already a fundraiser is being set up for a memorial fund honoring James; click here for details. Plans are to keep bridgehunter.com running but if you have any questions or to wish to help in any way, the contact details are in the link.

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 110

For the first time in three weeks we are presenting our Bridgehunter’s Chronicles‘ Pic of the Week, looking at photos of bridges taken by the author once a week.  The pics to come for the next month will look at the bridges in the region where the author took his vacation with his family- namely the Far North of Germany, known by locals as the Hohe Norden, where the German states of Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Schleswig-Holstein are located…….

…..and of course, the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, with a population of 1.9 million inhabitants. While the city has a lot to offer, such as the Elbphilharmonie, the Reeperbahn, the Green City of Wilhelmsburg and the harbor, it is home to over 2300 bridges of all kinds, some dating back to the days of Kersten Miles. Many bridges dating back a century ago survived the ariel bombings from World War II. Then there some dating to the days of modernization- bridges of sleek design but have become popular in many bridge books and among the locals……

….like the Köhlbrand Bridge.  With a height of nearly 54 meters and a total length of 3.4 kilometers, the cable-stayed suspension bridge is hard to miss when passing through the city both by boat as well as by car. It took approximately four years to build this gigantic structure, whose span is approximately 325 meters. It crosses the harbor, carrying a major road that leads to Hafen City in the center of the city, crossing four additional bridges, including the Freihafenbrücke, in the process.  One will start crossing the Köhlbrand after leaving the Motorway 7.  If you stay on the Motorway 7 going towards Flensburg, you will see the bridge on the right before entering the Elbtunnel.

And although you would most likely miss a photo of the bridge when traveling normal speeds on the Motorway 7, we were caught in a 25 kilometer traffic jam, crawling at no faster than 20 km/h  at times, which presented us with a possibility to capture multiple shots of the bridge from our location. With me at the wheel, my wife took a series of pictures of the bridge, including this black and white shot, showing an oblique view of the structure. Needless to say, this was a real steal, looking at the structure up close and personal, yet from a distance. We have a sample of more which you can find via facebook by clicking here below:

Sadly, the bridge’s days are soon to be numbered, A sharp increase in car and shipping traffic, combined with wear and tear have prompted officials from Hamburg and Berlin to plan for its replacement. Instead of a new bridge, a tunnel is expected to be built. To ensure federal funding is available, the major highway will be upgraded to a federal highway (Bundesstrasse). The plan is to have a new crossing in place by 2030. Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen, especially in light of the Corona Virus and impact on bridge building and the shipment of materials needed to build Köhlbrand’s replacement. It is unknown whether the current structure will remain in place, even though it is protected by Germany’s Cultural Heritage Laws (Denkmalschutz).  More will follow as the story unfolds. In the meantime, if you are stuck in traffic in Hamburg next time, take some time and pay homage to this unique structure, while she’s still sky-high and emitting its structural beauty throughout this Hanseatic City.

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 109: A Bridge that became a Posterboy for a Music Album

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This week’s BHC Pic of the Week ties in together with the next 10th anniversary campaign. This time, we look at bridges that were used as photos for music albums.

The origin takes us back to 2011. As part of the 2011 Historic Bridge Weekend, we toured the state of Missouri, going cross country from St. Louis to Kansas City before I continued my tour going north into Iowa. On the first day of the conference, we visited and photographed as many bridges along the Mississippi River and its new channel in St. Louis as we could. One of the stops was the New Canal Bridge, which carries Interstate 270 near Granite City. The twin cantilever truss spans were built in 1963 and had a total length of just under 2000 feet. This photo was taken from the abutment in the center oft he expressway with two portals sticking out in the foreground.  While the bridge was eventually replaced with a modern concrete structure in 2015, the photo became part of a music album that was released by local musician Mike Dean, a year later.

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And now, over to you. What other bridge became a posterboy of a music album? Feel free to tell us about it. A link or a photo of that album would be much appreciated. Feel free to post in the comment section below or in the Chronicles‘ on facebook or twitter.

 

You can also take part in the other 10th anniversary campaigns. Feel free to leave a story that has to do with the following themes:

Best Bridge Cup

First Historic Bridge you Photographed

Most Bizarre Bridgehunting Story

 

Click onto the links and add your stories there.

 

The Chronicles will be on semi-hiatus beginning August 7th as the author will go on a much-needed summer vacation for a couple weeks. It will return on August 28th and will continue to provide you with news stories on historic bridges both near home and far away. Don’t forget to submit your bridge candidates for the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards, entries will be taken between now and December 1st. Details here.

 

While we have a few loose ends this week, the author would like to wish you and yours a safe but enjoyable summer break. Beware of the Corona restrictions, wear mouth masks where necessary and practice social distancing, and more importantly, stay healthy. Enjoy your summer break wherever you are.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 108

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This week’s pic of the week takes us back to Saxony and to the city of Chemnitz. I haven’t done much bridge photography this year on the count of the Corona Virus and the subsequent lockdown we were all in. Since the beginning of May, we’ve been loosening up the restrictions and when I photographed this bridge recently, it was just after the state government allowed for festivals to take place. For many that had been cooped up in their homes, it was a relief to be out and about, even if it meant wearing  mouth masks in public to ensure nobody gets sick.

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The Medieval Festival took place at the Rabenstein Castle this past weekend; it was one of the first of such festivals to take place in public. The castle is located near another historic jewel, namely this viaduct.

The Rabenstein Viaduct was built in 1897 and it features a main span- a cantilever deck Warren truss with riveted connections, supported by two concrete arch approach spans. It was built to serve the local railroad line that connected Chemnitz Central Station with the town of Wüstenbrand. Trains used this line until it was discontinued by 1950. In the early 1980s, the East German government provided funding to repurpose the structure for pedestrian use, which it still does to this day. It’s a great place for hikers, as they can see the village of Rabenstein, with its historic houses below, as well as hills in the background, where Chemnitz is located.  The viaduct has been listed by the Saxony Ministry of Heritage and Historic Places (Denkmalschutz) for its unique design and its connection with the industrial and transportational history for the region of Chemnitz.  The viaduct is expected to be rehabilitated in the coming years to make the structure safer to use, yet the organization that owns the viaduct is collecting donations in order for the rehabilitation to happen.  Information on how to help can be found in the link below. There you can also read up on the history of the Wüstenbrand Railline.

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Link:

http://www.rabenstein-sa.de/sehenswertes/Rabensteiner_Viadukt/rabensteiner_viadukt.html

The viaduct is located about 400 meters from the Rabenstein Castle, yet finding it was a real difficulty because of the steep hills combined with thick forests and curvy hiking trails. Even vast portions of Rabenstein were lying on hills and the streets that connected the main highway with the castle and nearby campground made driving treacherous and hiking a challenge. Still no matter where you go, you will still reach the bridge regardless of which end you enter. When you are there, then it’s only five minutes tot he castle but not before climbing down to the main highway, which runs past the castle, first. You will see that with the pics that I present you of the bridge.  A real treat if you love the history of bridges and railroads, but also love the great outdoors.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 107

West Auburn Bridge

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The next Pic of the Week takes us to Fayette County and to this bridge. The West Auburn Bridge was built in 1881 by Horace E. Horton of Rochester, MN, who was the main bridge builder for the bluffs region in southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. The bridge spans the Little Turkey River near West Union and is one of eight Whipple through truss bridges that exist in Iowa. Unique are the portal bracings and the V-laced endposts which you can only see when pulling off of Nature Road onto a dead end road that branches off but ends at the entrance to the bridge (see webpage here)

The photo was taken from its replacement in August 2011 and provides a cross section of the first two panels, which details the trusses, the connections and the portal bracings. One can see that the truss connections are both pinned (mostly at the top chords) and the riveted (at the bottom chords). The diagonal beams passing through the two panels are characteristic of Whipple trusses built during the last two decades of the 19th Century. The replacement bridge was built in 1996 yet the bridge was left to stand in place because of its historical significance and its listing on the National Register.  It’s one of over a dozen truss bridges in Fayette County that has been decommissioned and left standing next to its replacement, thus making the county a real tourist attraction for those interested in finding historic truss bridges.

To see the rest of the bridges in place and plan for your next bridge safari accordingly, click here. 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 106

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This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to the German city of Cologne and the Hohenzollern Bridge. The bridge spans the River Rhine and has a beautiful backdrop with the Cathedral of Cologne (Kölner Dom) in the background. The bridge was built in 1911 by four different people who devised a concept for the bridge and carried out the project: Paul von Breitenbach, Rudolf Schmidt, Fritz Beermann and Friedrich Dirksen. It features three spans of steel through arches but in a way that there are three passages- one passage has one arch per span or three in total when crossing the river. In other words, a total of nine arch arches are featured in this collosal crossing. The bridge was destroyed during World War II but was rebuilt using the collapsed spans in 1946. It was later rehabilitated to accommodate rail traffic in 1986.  Today, it is the most heavily traveled bridge in Germany with as many as 1200 trains crossing the bridge daily, including regional and long distance (InterCity and ICE) but also international trains from neighboring France, the Netherlands and Belgium.  Unique about this bridge are the statues of famed persons on horseback, which you can find on each end of the bridge. Two of them originated from the Cathedral Bridge, which was the predecessor to the Hohenzollern Bridge.  All of them featured the Prussian Emperor named Friedrich.

Another feature worth noting are the love locks. Love locks are locks placed on the bridge’s railings by two people in love with each other. During my visit to the bridge in 2010, the entire railing where the pedestrian sidewalk was located was decorated with different colors of love locks. While they may symbolize love on the bridge, they can also cause damage to the bridge itself if the locks provide too much weight on the railings. While they may not be much of a problem at this bridge, other notable crossings, includng the bridges in Paris have had issues with this theme to a point where the locks had to be removed for the purpose of safety.  Some bridges do provide areas where to put love locks on, but off to the side and not directly on the structure itself.

My visit to Cologne was brief as I was facing a two-hour delay waiting for my connecting train to Frankfurt and to my eventual destination of home. Yet with the bridge located near the train station, it’s worth the wait just to steal a few shots before heading home. That was the beauty behind getting this pic. This location has been used hundreds of times, rain or shine. But no matter when, the scenery appears different everytime you get a picture of the bridge and the cathedral. This was taken before s storm came with high winds and dense rainfall- resulting in train services in North Rhine Westphalia to be shut down shortly after I took my train to Frankfurt. But nevertheless, even with overcast skies and windy conditions, the shot was worth it, just as much as the quick visit to the bridge while waiting for a couple hours. As a pontist, you can afford the visit while waiting. 🙂

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