OKEMOS, MICHIGAN- 2023 brings us the same scenario is in our last year- unpleasant surprises! And this is what our first Pic of the Week looks like as we pay tribute to the camelback concrete girder that used to span the Red Cedar River. This 90-foot bridge was built by the Wolverine Engineering Company in Mason, Michigan in 1924 and was located on Okemos Road. This bridge represented the classical camelback concrete girder bridge that had once populated the state but has, over time, been reduced to only a dozen . The Okemos Bridge was accompanied by a 1950s style steel beam bridge and had served northbound traffic. Sadly though, Nathn Holth (who photographed this bridge here) reported in December that this bridge is no more, as crews demolished the structure as part of a project to build a five-lane single structure. The 1950s bridge was removed last February. The new structure is expected to be open by this summer. Such a waste of achitectural work that was restored 20 years earlier and had a chance to become a monument. Now we have to pay our respects and move on to save what is left of our heritage elsewhere. Such a waste!
You still have 18 days to vote on your favorite bridges in 11 categtories for the 2022 Bridgehunter Awards. To access the ballot and vote, click here. Voting ends at 11:59pm Berlin Time, 4:59 pm Chicago time on January 21st.
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Paris. If you want to know more about bridges and architecture, Paris is the place to go. You are true pontist if you visit the city’s bridges along the River Seine and its canals as well as visit the cathedrals, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower. This picture, taken by Surya Abhishek Singaraju shows you the Eiffel Tower and its neighboring bridge, showing its true night colors. The Pont d’Iena was built in 1814 and features a five-span closed spandrel arch bridge located at the entrance to the tower. The idea of the bridge came from Emperor Napoleon I in 1808, who wanted a bridge to honor his conquest of Jena, Prussia (in present-day Germany) two years earlier. Construction started in that same year and it took six years to complete. The bridge has a total length of 155 meters (508 feet). The bridge was widened in 1937, right before the World Exposition.
Given its proximity, it is quite difficult to get a shot of both the bridge and the tower with all its accessories in one go, but as you can see in the picture, it is doable although it takes a lot of experimenting in order for it to work out perfectly. Pending on taste, my personal thought is that a night photo like this one is sexier than the one at daytime, unless you have some blue skies and clouds. But that is my personal point of view. How you can photograph the bridge and the tower depends on how you experiment with it. The best photos are the ones where you yourself find the best.
We haven’t posted a war time bridge in a while and this week’s Pic has a mixture of history combined with one of the most gorgeous bridge and sunset photos a person could ask for. When on Instagram, one should check out the Agaton Ari page as she specializes in sunset photos based in Poland, where she comes from.
This bridge caught my attention a few weeks back and at her blessing, it’s being featured here. It’s one of Poland’s most ornamental truss bridges when looking at the portal bracings and its finials of the riveted Howe through truss bridge. The bridge is located in Ploski spanning the Narew River and was placed here in 1953 to replace a previous structure that was built in 1915 but was destroyed in 1945 towards the end of World War II. Already facing the prospects of defeat in the hands of the marching Soviet troops from the east, the Nazi troops blew up every bridge in its path as they fled towards Berlin- a futile attempt as Nazi Germany was already encircled by the Allied Troops from the western flank (USA, Great Britain and France).
The interesting story behind this bridge was that consisted of one of the multiple spans of another bridge that had spanned the Vistula River in the Polish town of Fordon. That bridge in itself has its own history that was in connection with both the war and the bridge design. The bridge features two different bridge spans. The first features a series of Town Lattice truss spans supported by concrete fort-like towers. The trusses were designed by Swiss engineer Rudolf Schinz; the towers and portals were designed by Friedrich August Stüler. The structure was built in 1857 and is considered one of the oldest truss bridges of its kind ever built. A parallel crossing was designed in 1891 by Georg Christoph Mehrtens and Johann Schwedler with the portals built by Johann Eduard Jacobsthal. The bridge was destroyed twice during World War II: the first time in 1939 by the invading Nazi troops when they captured all of Poland and ignited the war, and the second time by the fleeing Nazi troops six years later. Both times they were rebuilt using temporary makeshift bridges though remains of both original bridges are still in use to this day. The bridge received a permanent span by 1956 with a multiple-span subdivided Warren through truss span but not before having dismantled some of the spans and relocating them.
And this is where the span at Ploski comes in. With the shortage of materials and manpower because of the effects of the war, the span is relocated to this site where it still serves traffic today. One will find this structure near a pair of churches located only a few hundred meters nearby. The bridge is listed as a historic monument on the national level with a few comments in a document about the bridge’s ornamental portal bracings:
“They are manifested in the structure of the bridge itself, the materials used to make the spans and the method of their construction. The re-use of the spans also illustrates the destruction of infrastructure affected by World War II. The rhythmic arrangement of trusses, decorative riveting and ornamentation of the balustrades also tell us about the rich artistic value”
The bridge is in a natural setting which warrants a visit and a few photos. The photo taken of the bridge in this feature was taken at sundown and features several colors that make it a unique photo and one that would receive some recognition on the state and international levels. This one is on the international level and all I can say here is “Wow, simply wow!!”
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to a familiar bridge but whose setting taken by the photographer raises some eyebrows among pontists and photographers, especially those who are experts in night-time photography. This photo, taken by Danny Crelling, features the twin spans of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, just after the sun left the horizon and dusk was settling in. Unique about the suspension bridges here is the lighting. The bridges are illuminated with yellow lighting that reflects off Pudget Sound, something we don’t see much of these days. The reason: The high-pressure sodium lighting is being phased out in favor of LED lighting and its neutral white color.
When we look at the history of lighting, we can see not only the development with the use of materials needed to illuminate the lighting, but also the color the lighting illuminates. Incandescent lighting had a light brown to beige color. Mercury Vapor had a emerald green to light blue color. Magnesium had a light pink color. But high pressure sodium had a color of yellow to orange illuminating on the streets. Invented in 1956, it was introduced on the streets in 1970 and by 1990, all the towns in America were illuminating in bright yellow. It had a warm appeal for some, but for others, especially if they are utilized in industrial settings, it had a dystopian appeal which reminds me of the film released in 2011 entitled In Time, with Justin Timberlake. A trailer can be found here and it is highly recommended.
This twin suspension span will have its sodium lighting replaced with LED in the near future, as they have several advantages. First and foremost, LEDs produces less energy than its predecessors. They are brighter thus providing more security for homes and businesses as well as safety for motorists. And lastly, the colors can be adjusted either for a special occasion or to please the residents who prefer to have a good night sleep with a low light setting.
Aside from the brightness issue, the colors can be depressing, even when some communities have adjusted the color to having a purple or dark yellow setting. And the new fixtures are not being accepted warmly by many who, like me, have taken a liking to the fixtures that were produced by GE, Nemo and Westinghouse and are sure that these LED lights could actually be fitted into these fixtures. A pair of videos will show you some examples.
Nevertheless, the photo of the bridge here represents a good example of how colorful our night settings have become- nothing all yellow and dystopian but one where we can see the many different lighting in action. Whether this will continue to be the case in 10 years’ time when the last of the sodium bulbs are phased out completely depends on how communities and highway agencies will operate the LEDs and whether the people will accept them. One variable that will remain constant though, the history and unique design of the suspension bridges, especially as they were built as successors to Galloping Gertie and were the focus of a documentary which came in second in last year’s Bridgehunter Awards in the category Bridge Media and Genre. For more on that, click here. Gertie’s successors, built in 1950 and 2007 respectively, continue to serve traffic to this day and like its history, these two bridges will be around for years to come.
The Flensburg Files has an English activity that ties in the history of street lighting and grammar. Enjoy the history and the exercises when you click here.
This week’s Pic of the Week provides us with a rare example of a historic bridge that is homemade- built by bridge companies that are local with a local engineer overseeing the design and construction. This bridge is located in Linn County, spanning the Iowa River. The Greencastle Avenue Bridge is located NW of Cedar Rapids in the Hawkeye Wildlife Area. It features a pin-connected Pratt pony truss span and a riveted Pratt through truss span with A-frame portals. Originally built as a three-span bridge in 1922, one of the spans was destroyed in the flooding in 1949 and was replaced with a temporary span in 1950. That span was then removed and filled in, reducing the crossing to only two spans. The bridge has been abandoned since 1992 though one can access the bridge by car from the north side but going down a steep hill. At the entrance to the bridge on the north side, it is all for pedestrians.
The bridge is unique as it was built and rebuilt by four different bridge builders, all of which were located in Iowa. Two of them came from the same county as where this bridge is located- Linn County. The pony truss span was built by the Iowa Bridge Company of Des Moines; the through truss span was a standardized bridge built by the Iowa State Highway Commission of Ames. For the reconstruction of the bridge after the flood of 1949, there were two local bridge engineers responsible: Ned L. Ashton of Iowa City and A.P. Munson of Marion. Ashton was well known for bridges during his time, for each of the Cedar River crossings in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City that exist today were either built by him or whose predecessor spans had been built by him but were replaced in the end. The crossing is the second one in its present location as a previous structure, a through truss span, was built by another Iowa bridge firm, J.E. Jayne and Sons, located in Iowa City. That bridge, known by locals as the Dupont Mill Bridge, was built in 1908 and replaced in 1922. All in all, there were five different bridge builders all in this location, three of which in Linn County! Amazing how such a bridge could have the markings left by locals.
The bridge is not on the National Register but should because of its history, including what was mentioned already. The structure is still in place but is in need of a full restoration in order for it to continue its life as a pedestrian crossing. Given its location and setting, it would be perfect except to say, one could make a picnic area out of it, with info boards on its history and that of the adjacent Dupont Mill. Whether it will happen depends on the interest and there seems to be a lot of interest in keeping the bridge and reusing it. The question is whether Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Linn County would agree. But given the county’s high number of historic bridges and the way they have been maintained, there is a chance that the officials will listen and make the proper maintenance of and repairs to ensure the bridge will continue its use for years to come.
Iowa is celebrating 175 years this year and if there is a piece of history that should be considered, it’s this bridge. While the state has seen the likes of King, Jensen, Thacher, Wickes, and Jayne in several of the bridges, there are some that deserve recognition for their work, like Ashton and Munson. And this bridge represents such a structural work that deserves attention from these people.
I was digging out some photos that the new owners of Niland’s Cafe in Colo, Iowa needed as they were preparing to reopen the restaurant and business after a three months absence when I came across this photo, taken in 2013. The photo was shot just after we were finished with the Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa and we decided to get a few shots of the bridges in and around Des Moines before visiting family in Minnesota. It’s a well-known bridge but its design makes it a very attractive place to visit, even at night when the LEDs are lit. I just had to make some changes to make it what it is here.
It’s the Madrid Railroad Viaduct. The bridge was built in 2010 using the piers of a previous railroad viaduct that used to be a deck plate girder made of steel and was used by the Milwaukee Railroad before it went bankrupt in 1980. Chicago and Northwestern then used the line until it was abandoned in 2002 and the bridge spans were removed. The line was then converted into a rails-to-trails and a new bridge with this unique desgn was put into place. You can see more photos and information on the structure by clicking here.
The bridge spans the Des Moines River between Madrid and Woodward, NW of Des Moines. If you are travelling through the area, I would recommend this stop for some photos and a break as there is a picnic area nearby. If there was ever a book on the Bridges of the Des Moines River in the future, this bridge would be in it, perhaps as a cover page. But it’s up to the author to decide. 🙂
Our next pic of the week features a huge eye watching you- the truest meaning of Big Brother. 😉 Marrius at Snap by Matt took this unique photo of the stone arch bridge, spanning one of the canals in the city park in the city of Riga, the capital of Latvia. Riga has a lot of unique bridges both spanning the River Daugava and crossing the canals that serve the city of 630,400 inhabitants. There are several tour guides to show you the bridges the city has to offer; one of which can be found here and also here.
This bridge, however, is unique because of its setting, combined with the perfect motif for photography at night, as you can see here. When visiting Riga, one should try this shot: a bridge with an exact mirror reflection on the water. Its blue lighting on the arch, combined with the arch itself- lighted in white LED- makes it look like an eye is arising out of the water. One film that has a similar feature to this one is a fantasy film entitled Krull, released in 1983 and marked the high point for American film actor Ken Marshall, who played the character Colwyn who, together with an army of bandits, sought to free his love, Lyssa, from the grapples of the Beast, who had kidnapped her during a raid at the beginning of the film and imprisoned her in the eye of the teleporting castle. The eye had a pupil that served as a gate but also as a screen that showed what was happening as the army marched towards the castle to rescue her. The blue presented was for the frame. While it received bad reviews at first, it has become a cult since then.
The bridge may not be as popular as the the ones along the Daugava, but it serves as a hidden gem for tourists and photographers alike. It should be added to the list of places to visit while in Riga. The city is famous for its wooden and art noveau architecture as well as its Medieval historic old town. But it has a lot of bridges that deserve a visit and a shot with the lens.
Apart from the Railroad Arch Bridge, this stone arch bridge, dating back to over a century ago, deserves a visit, too. 🙂 ❤
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to London and to one of the newest bridges spanning the River Thames. The Millenium Bridge is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames in London, linking Bankside with the City of London. It is owned and maintained by Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. Construction began in 1998, and it initially opened on 10 June 2000. Arup Engineering was the mastermind behind the design and Sir Robert McAlpine as well as Monberg and Thorsen were responsible for constructing the bridge. It had earned the nickname Wobbly Bridge because the bridge swayed in the wind, yet repair work in 2001-02 solved that problem. The bridge has a unique background with the St. Paul’s Cathedral located just 100 meters from the bridge in the City District, thus providing a great photo opportunity.
And this was the case, as amateur photographer Sam Webb captured this unusual shot of the bridge. This was taken at sundown but the river was doctored to make it look like the River Thames is covered in fog. London is known for its lousy weather with rain and fog and this shot makes it look like that London is living up to this stereotype. But admittedly, it’s one shot that deserves international recognition because it’s unique in itself- one that will surely win accolades if entered in photo contests. And if the photographer asked me if it’s worth it, my answer would be:
How many of you have visited a winter carnival? What were some of your impressions? At this time of year, we have winter carnevals, featuring ice sculptures, sculpting competitions, lots of entertainment, but most importantly, lots of ice architecture, including the ice palace. In the Twin Cities in Minnesota, we have winter carnevals every two years, pending on the weather. The biggest event is on the Minneapolis side at Lake Harriet, yet there are smaller winter events throughout the metropolitan area.
This includes Stillwater, where this photo was taken. The Stillwater Lift Bridge was built in 1931 by J.A.L. Waddell and John Lyle Harrington and features a ten-span through truss bridge, one of the spans is a vertical life, allowing ships along the St. Croix River to pass through. It had served traffic, highway 36 until 2017 when the highway was rerouted to the cable-stayed bridge to the south. Afterwards, the bridge underwent an extensive, three-year project to restore the bridge to its original glory and repurpose it as an interstate bike trail between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It reopened last year and is now a loop trail that connects this historic bridge with its successor.
A lot has changed with the lift bridge, as there are no more cars waiting at the bridge and much of the traffic is now to the south. At the same time, Stillwater has become a bigger tourist attraction with more pedestrians and cyclists who would like to store-shop along the historic river front, containing many buildings that are at least 150 years old. And for pontists and bridge-lovers, as well as photographers, like Josh Driver, it provides some extended time to photograph the bridge from whatever angle best suits the person. This was taken at the time of the Stillwater winter festival shortly after the snow storm, showing the newly restored historic bridge with its glamorous lighting and beautiful coat of forest green paint. A perfect example of why a person should visit Stillwater- shop for the day, but stay for the bridge. 🙂
The 167th Pic of the Week has a perfect fall setting that was photographed by James Baughn in 2017. The bridge in the foreground however, as easy as you can access it, may be in danger of collapse. This crossing is located across Blackwater River at McAllister Springs Access and features a Parker through truss span with Howe lattice portal bracings supported by curved heels. It’s near the village of Hustonia in Saline County, Missouri. The bridge has eight panels and has a length of between 160 and 190 feet. While there is no information on the date of construction, the pinned connections and the portals indicate a build date between 1890 and 1910.
At the time of the photo, the bridge was in a balancing act with the brick abutments cracking and spalling thanks to a tree that grew through it. Furthermore, the decking has rotted away to a point where the lower chords have been exposed. Some of lower beams have been shifted or are missing. Trees have landed on the bridge with branches found on the top chord and on the stringers. And lastly, the approach spans have disappeared with only V-laced columns dangling from the abutments. Another flood or two will seal the deal and put the bridge into the water. If that doesn’t happen, then most likely the bridge may collapse under its own weight. This happened with the Schell City Bridge in 2012 after years of abandonment, even though the decking was all but intact. Further photos taken this year shows a worsening state of the bridge. Click here to view.
The only way this bridge could be saved is if it is dismantled and restored in parts and built on new abutments as the old ones cannot be salvaged. Furthermore, it would have to be relocated to a better site where people can access the bridge. If and whether it is possible depends on the funding available but also the interest. Even if it was put into storage, it would be better than to just simply remove it.
The McAllister Truss Bridge is a bridge full of surprises, with history to be found on it and ways to preserve it. Yet it is a bridge in need of help and it hoped that someone will come to its rescue before Mother Nature finishes it with the next flood.