BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 160: Tribute to James Baughn

Our first Pic of the Week article since August 9th and with that, one of the pictures that was taken by the late James Baughn. This pic of the week provides us with a Guessing Quiz for readers to take a look at and guess where this bridge is located.

As a hint, James Baughn took this photo in 2009 while in Pennsylvania. The bridge no longer exists as it was replaced three years later, yet it is a multiple-span through truss bridge built during the time when the use of steel was at its peak.

Do you know what it is? Provide us with an answer in the comment section below, as well as in the Chronicles’ facebook pages. The answer will come in the next week.

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Reminder: The Memorial Bridgehunting Tour has been extended to October 31st. In case you haven’t posted your favorite bridge photo honoring Mr. Baughn on the Chronicles’ facebook or Instagram pages, here’s how you can do that- Click here for details.

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Happy Bridgehunting, folks. ❤ 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 158: Tribute to James Baughn

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This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Kansas City and to this unique landmark, the ASB Bridge. While the city has many unique historic structures to choose from, this one stands out as being the bridge you must absolutely see when bridgehunting, period. The bridge was built in 1911 by a combination of Armour Packing CompanySwift & Company, and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. It’s a double-decker bridge featuring an upper deck used for highway traffic and a lower deck used for rail traffic. The most stunning is its vertical lift span of the lower deck, which lifts up towards the bottom of the upper deck. You can see how the span lifts in the video below:

This unique mechanism was part of the design introduced by engineer John Alexander Low Waddell in 1909 and is the only bridge of its kind that has it. While the upper deck has long since been removed with the replacement bridge having been built next to this span in 1986, the bridge is still being used for rail traffic. It is owned by BNSF Railways. The pic was taken during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2011 where James and I (as well as other pontists) saw the bridge. While we never saw the lift span in action, we were treated to a train crossing the span. Unlike our trains in Germany, American trains are usually 5-10 kilometers long, and one has to wait just as many minutes as with the train’s length because most trains run at a maximum speed of 60 mph (100 mph). It was nevertheless a treat to see the structure in its awe and beauty. While I took many pictures of the bridge, this one was taken by Mr. Baughn, who created a detailed database of the bridge on his website shortly after our conference. You can find it here. In 1996, the remaining part of the ASB was designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It is elgible for the National Register and it is hoped that this bridge will be added in the near future. With many bridges disappearing in the Kansas City area, this bridge deserves to be kept in its rightful place and deserves to be a tourist attraction.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 157 Tribute to James Baughn

Here’s a quiz for the forum: How many spans of a bridge have you tried to photograph into one picture? Panorama photos have their pros and cons, speaking from personal experience. One pro is if you find the right angle, spot and location, you may be able to get the whole length of the bridge. But this is granted that you have the right lighting and setting, let alone the safety precautions in case something goes wrong. The disadvantage is no matter how many spans you can get in one shot, something may go wrong in one way or another- either poor lighting, lack of focus, camera shaking, or in one case, if trying to get multiple shots into one panorama view, the photos may be shifted to a point where you may have a panorama shot that looks more like a Picasso or Dali instead of a real shot. This is the reason why panorama photos should be done if and only if you find the right location for it and the right photo program to doctor it up to make it more genuine and more like a profi.

And with that, we go to this bridge, the Cairo Railroad Bridge, which spans the Ohio River at the Illinois and Kentucky border. This bridge was built in 1952 and features a six-span polygonal through truss bridge with riveted connections. In the data provided by bridgehunter.com, the bridge features an A-frame portal bracing and was built on the piers of a series of Whipple through trusses, built by George S. Morrison and the crew at Union Bridge Company in Buffalo in 1889. The bridge was replaced span by span with the current trusses during the three-year replacement project by sliding the old span off, which was carried away to be cut up. The new span was slid on in its place. This process was later practiced with other multiple-span truss bridges, especially those that are at least a half mile long. The total length of the present-day Cairo Bridge is at least a mile long, yet when James Baughn photographed this structure in 2015, it showed all six truss spans in one frame. An amazing shot but one to envy especially those who have tried and failed to make a picture as perfect as this one. Now how did he get this shot?

Still no matter how this picture was taken, there is one word of advice to give to the photographers- the best ones always experiment and expect the unexpected. When the eye says take it, then you take the shot. Chances are greater that way than if you plan a shot and watch your plans be foiled by mother nature or other elements.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 156 Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Series dedicated to James Baughn takes us to Bowling Green, Kentucky and this span- one of the last of its kind in the United States. The Richardsville Bowstring Arch Bridge is a three-span arch bridge spanning the Barren River on Old Richardsville Road near the Historic Beechmont Farm near Bowling Green. The bridge is a through truss design with the upper chord featuring beams with heeled bracings. The arches are I-beam shaped. Connections are pinned. The bridge was built in 1889 by the King Bridge Company in Cleveland and has a total length of 442 feet, each span has a length of 138 feet.  The bridge has been on the National Register since 1980. As of today, the bridge is the last of its kind in the state of Kentucky and currently efforts are being carried out to preserve the bridge and the road it carries to ensure it is visited by future generations. It had been closed since last year but funding has been garnered so that work on restoring the bridge can start.  The photo taken by Mr. Baughn in 2015 was when the bridge was still open to traffic.  The question is when the bridge is restored, will it maintain its continued use as a vehicular crossing, or will it be repurposed for pedestrians?

The bridge has a haunted secret which you can see more of here:

This one we don’t have an answer to. Yet if you have any updates, please feel free to add them in the comment section. It would be much appreciated.  Happy bridgehunting, folks. Enjoy this video of the bridge and the old abandoned road:

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 155 Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week series paying tribute to James Baughn takes us to Beaver, in Caroll County, Arkansas and the Golden Gate Bridge. Many of us think of the Golden Gate Bridge as the big red suspension bridge, the symbol of San Francisco and the largest masterpiece designed and built by Joseph Strauss that took five years to be built before opening in 1937. No one has considered the fact that there is a mini-version located in Arkansas, spanning the White River at Table Rock Reservoir.

This bridge was built in 1949 by the Pioneer Construction Company of Malvern, which was one of Arkansas’ largest bridge builder during that time. Thomas Behrends was a project manager for this bridge. He had already established a reputation for the area, having oversawn a dozen bridges during the time this bridge was built. The Beaver Bridge was named after the nearby town that was named after its founder, Wilson Ashbury Beaver (1851-1915), who bought 348 acres of land in the area to create a small community. The 600 foot long bridge is one of the longest in the area. The bridge gets the nickname Golden Gate because of the color of paint. Literally, the steel towers (all laden with riveted lattice connections), the decking and even the cables are painted in gold. Therefore it is not named after a strait as is the case with the more popular and beloved monument of San Francisco, which was the backdrop for Starfleet in the Star Trek films and TV series.

Though the little Golden Gate Bridge in Arkansas was a focus of an incident on October 18, 2018, where two busses crossed the bridge, causing the decking to sag. Had the bridge given out, there would have been a catastrophe of monstrous proportions not only because the bus drivers disobeyed the weight limit sign but also there were dozens of tourists on the two busses.

Unfortunately, there was no information on the operator of the bus firm yet it shows that education is needed in terms of maths and laws. The bridge has a weight limit of 10 tons. Weight limits mean no vehicle exceeding the limit are allowed to cross. And lastly, to make sure it never happens, GPS and other maps should be made to ensure that something like this never happens. In practice however, we still keep seeing ignorance and lack of education ruling the roads. And while the Beaver Bridge was spared with only minor damages, ignorance and stupidity will reveal its ugly face at a cost of another bridge in the near future.

And while you can’t fix stupidity, you can cure it with hard labor behind bars and a year’s worth of money (or two) taken away by the state. Perhaps that is what we need to put an end to this madness, not just with bridges but with other aspects on the road.

Remember: laws save lives. Math matters. And common sense is the god of mankind.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 154 Tribute to James Baughn

With bridgehunting come one event that happens each year in the summertime. The Historic Bridge Weekend was introduced in 2009 through a coalition which featured Todd Wilson, Nathan Holth, Kitty Henderson and James Baughn, among others. The 3-4 day conference brought in many experts in bridge preservation and maintenance, as well as engineers, historians, and many interested bridge enthusiasts and locals with a passion for history.

The first two years of the conference took place in western Pennsylvania, which had one of the highest number of iroan and steel truss bridges in the country, yet it was the same state where the rate of replacing historic bridges was one of the highest in the US. Many of the bridges lost to modernization had ties to bridge building firms in the greater Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas. In fact most of the bridge building companies building bridges west of the Mississippi River prior to 1900 came from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and New York, with the likes of King, Groton, Nelson and Buchanan, Lassig and Wrought Iron among others stamping their labels on the portals and endposts, with some ornamental decoration that went along with it.

This picture was taken of the Quaker Bridge by James Baughn in 2010. It was my first year attending the conference and the very first time I met Mr. Baughn, with whom we worked together on his website bridgehunter.com, which is now owned by the Historic Bridge Foundaton. It was this bridge and the movement to save it that caused the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to turn the tide towards bridge replacement and decided that instead of tearing down history, one can save it, even if it meant relocating the structure for reuse, for the agency had been notorious for being too passive in its policies towards historic bridge preservation.

The Quaker Bridge was built in 1898 by the Cleveland Bridge Company with James R. Gemmill overseeing the project. The bridge is a Pratt through truss span with pinned connections, Town lattice portal bracings and finials on each corner. PennDOT had originally pushed for plans to tear down and replace the bridge as far back as 2004. Yet it took the efforts of Nathan Clark to purchase the bridge and persuade the agency to retract its plan and construct a bridge on a new alignment. The project was completed in 2006 and the truss bridge has remained in place ever since- still in pristine condition as shown in the picture taken over a decade ago but now part a hiking trail, although one can use the bridge for fishing and picnicking.

The Historic Bridge Weekend focused on efforts to preserve historic bridges and maintain them for future use, visiting historic bridges that are frequently visited, while some of them were the focus of preservation efforts. We included a lot of bridgehunting tours in addition to the talks that were given by many including myself. It drew hundreds of people to the event, many from the far outreaches of the country. After the first two events in Pennsylvania, we had our next one in Missouri in 2011, Indiana in 2012, Iowa in 2013 and Michigan in 2014 before it became an informal event afterwards where bridgeshunters gathered to just visit the bridges in the areas of interest. The event in Missouri (James’ home state) included tours of bridges in St. Louis and Kansas City with a big gathering to save the Riverside Bridge in Ozark, an event that reunited friends and made the preservation attempt at Riverside a smashing success. 🙂 The event in Iowa in 2013 was one I coordinated with an open-air speech on James Hippen’s legacy by his wife Elaine at a restaurant in Stone City, a large scale informal event at Sutliff Bridge and its nearby Bar and Grill and in Pella at the golf course with a chance to explore the bridges in the Bluffs region, Des Moines and Boone and along the Mississippi.

What we learned from these events was that there was a large interest in saving these historic bridges by the public, yet the problem is trying to convince government officials to cater to the demands of the public. In some cases, we were greeted with lip service, while behind-the-door deals were carried out to have it their way and not with the people. Sometimes, the media sometimes distorts the information on the bridge without thinking that the bridge has a unique value in terms of its history and its association with the community. Still, the word gets around faster with social media than what modernists and government officials championing bridge replacement try conveying, which led to the creation of this online column and its social media pages in 2010. In turn, we have over three dozen pages devoted to historic bridges and preservation around the world on facebook, twitter and even Instagram. Some focus on bridge photography, which is the most liked because they contain brief information on the structures’ history. Yet there are individual pages that focus on preserving a bridge which has gained thousands of supporters each bridge. Save the Riverside Bridge in Ozark had over 3000 supporters on its facebook page, for example. In any case, the Historic Bridge Weekend has produced a large interest in bridges around the world, and when word on a historic bridge being a target for replacement comes around, the interest in saving the structure will be there, each with ideas on how to save it and each one with ties to the bridge and the memories that go along with it.

The Historic Bridge Weekend brought back a lot of memories of friends and bridges, ideas and stories and with that, a circle of pontists that has gotten tenfold bigger since its inauguration. It is hoped that the tradition will continue in the US, Europe and beyond, so that more people can take interest in bridges, its design and especially ways to preserve them for generations to come. The event is not just for pontists but for everyone with an interest in bridges, their histories and how they are tied together with community.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 152 Tribute to James Baughn

After reading the answer to the Guessing Quiz from last week on the unusual truss bridge in Mississippi photographed by James Baughn, our next bridge in the Pic of the Week series paying tribute to Mr. Baughn takes us to Iowa and this bridge. The Black Bridge is a two-span truss bridge where the main span features a pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with X-laced portal bracings, and the approach span is a Warren pony truss with alternating verticals where each panel has an A-frame shape. The connections are riveted. The total length of the structure is 250 feet, the main span has a length of 168 feet.  Not much information is mentioned about the bridge except the fact that the structure was built in 1914, though it is likely that the spans were imported elsewhere because at that time, the pin-connected trusses were being phased out in favor of riveted connected trusses. It is likely that the through truss span is older than the date given, say between 1880 and 1895. The Warren span was probably built at this time, yet it may have been added when the bridge was rehabilitated in 1972. Evidence is needed to confirm one theory or another.

This portal view was photographed by Mr. Baughn in 2013, during his bridgehunting tour through Iowa. It was at that time there was the Historic Bridge Weekend which took place in the eastern half of Iowa plus Iowa and Boone. Apart from his home state of Missouri, Mr. Baughn’s favorite places to photograph also included Iowa and Kansas, where he spent a lot of time photographing the bridges there. Iowa was probably the second most popular destination with Kansas and Illinois on the state’s heels. One can see his photos in the bridgehunter.com website. While Iowa may be at the front in terms of deficient bridges, the number of historic bridges in the state still belongs to the top five of the highest number in the USA, together with Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Oregon.  While some key structures in the state, like the Wagon Wheel Bridge near Boone, Shaw Bridge in Anamosa, the I-74 Suspension Bridges in the Quad Cities or the three historic bridges in Winneshiek County (Henry, North Bear Creek and Gilliecie) are no longer extant, the state still has a wide gallery of bridges spread out throughout the state, including Tama County, which still has 15 truss bridges in the area.  

This bridge is located in Tama County spanning the Iowa River at 360th Street, two miles west of Chelsea at Duffus Landing. While the structure is closed to vehicular traffic, and has been since 2016, the bridge is still reachable and can be crossed by hikers and used as a fishing area. It is unlikely that it will be torn down because of its popularity in the area. Yet repairs may have to be made in the future to ensure that the structure can be used by all but cars.

In case you want to share more about this bridge, feel free to comment here or on the Chronicles‘ facebook page.  Happy bridgehunting, folks! 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 150 Tribute to James Baughn

The 150th Pic of the Week is a bit fitting given the fact that it falls into the series paying tribute to James Baughn, let alone the time where we start saying our good-byes in one way or another. James’ memorial service was this past Sunday at Burfordville Mill and Covered Bridge in Missouri, with up to 175 people in attendance- family, friends, colleagues in the field of historic preservation and pontists. And those who couldn’t make it for various reasons, we had our minds focused on him and what he did for the community as we shared some memories of the event. Already plans for memorial bridgehunting tours in person are being considered, whereas the Chronicles has one of its own in the social media spectrum. If you are interested, click here to learn how.

James provided us with some very unique angles in bridge photography and this one is no exception. It’s a portal view of a through truss bridge with a steep cliff as a backdrop. This serves as a reminder of the McCaffrey Bridge in Winneshiek County in northeastern Iowa, yet there are three distinct differences:

  1. The portals of this bridge are different in contrast to the aforementioned structure
  2. The truss design is also different.
  3. This bridge no longer exist, whereas the Iowa structure still stands.

Nevertheless, such locations were useful in a way that it served as a notice to slow down while driving across, otherwise, something like this happens. Yet with the advancement of sleekness and speed, many of these bridges have given way to newer, more modern and straighter structures, where they are supposed to be safer, yet they are anything but that because of they encourage drivers to race across the bridge and they are ill-effective against floods. Even a 20-year old piece of concrete slab can be wiped out by floodwaters within a matter of minutes!

So with that in mind, our Guessing Quiz question is: Where is this bridge located? Any ideas? Feel free to submit your answers here or on the Chronicles’ facebook pages.

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And by the way, to answer the Guessing Quiz Question to last week’s pic taken by James Baughn, the answer is Madison County Iowa, near the Roseman Bridge. Info on that bridge can be found here.

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No Comment Nr. 5

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

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This No Comment post takes us to Holy Island, Lindisfarne in England. Here in the video you can watch below, an Uber driver tried to cross a flooded causeway in an attempt to take his passenger to the mainland. As you can see later on, the driver was not paying attention to the high tide and was due for a surprise, when he learned he could not make it:

As a general rule, tides occur twice a day and the moment the lowest level is reached, one should return to shore post haste because of the quickest amount of time it takes for the water levels to return. If stranded in a high tide, one should get to the highest point and call for help.

This makes the author wonder whether and how long it took before the driver eventually got sacked…….

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Source: The Daily Mail and Viral Inc.

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 147: Tribute to James Baughn

As summer vacation is approaching, we would like to take you to a man-made lake and this unique duo crossing, located in Taney County, Missouri. The Shadow Rock Bridge spans Swan Creek at the site where US 160 once crossed near the town of Forsyth. The crossing features two different bridges, located next to each other but having different types and even heights. The lower bridge features an open-spandrel deck arch with concrete deck cantilever approach spans. That span was built in 1932 by M.E. Gillioz and replaced the first crossing, a two-span Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings. The higher bridge succeeded the arch span 20 years later. The two-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections and WV portal bracings was built by Porter and DeWitt in 1952. Both bridges are still being used to this day, with the arch bridge serving as direct access to Shadow Rock Park and statue. The truss spans carries through traffic but is in need of new paint and some rehab work, though the picture taken by Mr. Baughn doesn’t show the rust but the silver coloring.

Duo bridges of this kind are rare to find these as they are either being replaced with modern structures or removed in their entirety. This was noticeable with a bridge couple in Floyd County, Iowa at Nora Springs. We had a two-span arch bridge at First Street that was built in 1916 and a taller Viaduct at Congress Street built only 300 feet away in 1955. It was a pleasant site to see them side-by-side during my visit there in 1998. Sadly both are gone now- the viaduct was replaced in 2008, the arch bridge was removed in December last year. 

But aside from the Shadow Rock Bridges where two bridges are side-by-side and at least 65 years old, which other examples do you know? Feel free to comment. Who knows, it might give bridgehunters a chance to visit them this summer, especially as we’re slowly but surely returning to normal after a year in standstill because of the Corona epidemic and chaos caused by…… You know who I’m referring to, right? 😉

Happy Bridgehunting, folks! 🙂

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