When we think of Norway, we think of large fjordes flanked by mountains, surrounded by wooden houses overlooking the seas. We think of long crossings that connect communities and attract tourists. We don’t think much about the country’s historic bridges as we are used to fancy but unique modern ones that cover the landscape.
That is unless you are Monika Pettersen, a photographer who finds some of the most unique and historic bridges in corners that are unknown to all but the locals. 🙂
This bridge caught the eyes of hundreds who have seen it on her Instagram page and is a best kept secret. The structure is a double-leaf bascule bridge spanning the river that also carries the name where the structure is located- Drammen. According to information I collected- it was built in 1867 based on the designs of Halvor Heyerdahl. It was 158 meters long and 2.9 meters wide. The spans were hoisted to allow for ships to pass. After World War II, local officials addressed the need for a taller structure to ship goods into and out of Drammen. Therefore a new bridge was built on alignment next to the drawbridge span and opened to traffic in 1967. Afterwards, this span was left in place and today, it serves as a pier and a monument, dedicated to its history and its association with the city.
This photo was taken at sundown and shows the reflections of the bridge, covered by collection of clouds. Its tranquil setting makes it a place where one could go for serenity. Normally, old bridges and natural settings make it a perfect place to listen to nothing but the nature. This one goes well beyond it as one can enjoy a little bit of history and awe at its structural appearance along the way. A perfect shot for a perfect bridge. ❤
Many thanks to Monika Pettersen for allowing me to use her picture. You can see more of her stunning photos by visiting her Instagram page (click here).
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 Company, Swift & 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.
This week’s Pic of the Week still has the Whipple as the motif but this time we go to the Historic Bridge Park in Michigan, where James Baughn photographed this bridge. It’s perhaps the centerpiece of installments for the park which has attracted tens of thousands on a yearly basis. The Charlotte Road Bridge was built by the Buckeye Bridge Works Company of Cleveland in 1886 with H.P. Hepburn presiding over the design and construction of the 173 foot long Whipple through truss structure, which featured pinned connections and two different Town Lattice portal bracings that sandwich the middle X-frame, as seen in the portal view taken by Baughn during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2014. The bridge was relocated to this spot in 2006 and has served as a pedestrian crossing spanning Bridge Park Road. You can see this and many other bridges in this tour guide Nathan Holth produced for his website (click here).
And with that come the answer to last week’s Guessing Quiz on Whipple trusses. Here, we wanted to know where this bridge is located, which was also photographed by James Baughn. As a hint, it’s one of only three that are left in Missouri. Any guesses?
It’s the BONANZA BRIDGE!
This Whipple through truss bridge features a similar design like the one in Michigan. Yet it is unknown who built it, though the build date is 1883. This bridge used to span Shoal Creek near the Bonanza Conservation Site in Caldwell County. The structure was in service until its replacement in 1994. Instead of tearing it down, the county moved the bridge offsite onto a field and has since been preserved. The 175 foot long span is elgible for the National Register of Historic Places and has a perfect natural backdrop for photos taken either from the car or up close by foot. You can see more photos and read up on other information by clicking here, courtesy of bridgehunter.com.
And now, before we announce the winners of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards, I have a few favorites that I hand-picked that deserve international recognition. 2020 was a year like no other. Apart from head-scratcher stories of bridges being torn down, we had an innummeral number of natural disasters that were impossible to follow, especially when it came to bridge casualties. We had some bonehead stories of people downing bridges with their weight that was 10 times as much as what the limit was and therefore they were given the Timmy for that (click on the link that will lead you to the picture and the reason behind it.) But despite this we also had a wide selection of success stories in connection with historic bridge preservation. This include two rare historic bridges that had long since disappeared but have now reappeared with bright futures ahead of them. It also include the in-kind reconstruction of historic bridges, yet most importantly, they also include historic bridges that were discovered and we had never heard of before- until last year.
And so with that in mind, I have some personal favorites that deserve international recognition- both in the US as well as international- awarded in six categories, beginning with the first one:
Best example of reused bridge:
The Castlewood Thacher Truss Bridge in South Dakota:
One of three hybrid Thacher through truss bridges left in the US, the bridge used to span the Big Sioux River near Castlewood until it disappeared from the radar after 1990. Many pontists, including myself, looked for it for three decades until my cousin, Jennifer Heath, found it at the Threshing Grounds in Twin Brooks. Apparently the product of the King Bridge Company, built in 1894, was relocated to this site in 1998 and restored for car use, in-kind. Still being used but we’re still scratching our heads as to how it managed to disappear from our radar for a very long time…..
Built in 1866, this bridge was unique for its arch design. It was destroyed by floods in 2015 but it took five years of painstaking efforts to put the bridge back together again, finding and matching each stone and reinforcing it with concrete to restore it like it was before the tragedy. Putting it back together again like a puzzle will definitely make for a puzzle game using this unique bridge as an example. Stay tuned.
While it has not been opened yet for the construction of the South Park Gardens is progressing, this four-span arch bridge connecting the Park with the Castle Complex was completely restored after 2.5 years of rebuilding the 17th Century structure which had been abandoned for four decades. Keeping the outer arches, the bridge was rebuilt using a skeletal structure that was later covered with concrete. The stones from the original bridge was used as a façade. When open to the public in the spring, one will see the bridge that looks like the original but has a function where people can cross it. And with the skeleton, it will be around for a very long time.
This one definitely deserves a whole box of tomatoes. Instead of rehabilitating the truss bridge and repurposing it for bike and public transportation use, designers unveiled a new bridge that tries to mimic the old span but is too futuristic. Watch the video and see for yourself. My take: Better to build a futuristic span, scrap the historic icon and get it over with.
Demolishing the Pilchowicki Bridge in Poland for a Motion Picture Film-
Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruz should both be ashamed of themselves. As part of a scene in the film, Mission Impossible, this historic bridge, spanning a lake, was supposed to be blown up, then rebuilt mimicking the original structure. The bridge had served a railroad and spans a lake. The plan was tabled after a huge international cry to save the structure. Nevertheless, the thwarted plan shows that America has long been famous for: Using historic places for their purpose then redo it without thinking about the historic value that was lost in the process.
A one of a kind Thacher pony truss, this bridge went from being a swing bridge crossing connecting East and West Lake Okoboji, to a Little Sioux River crossing that was eventually washed out by flooding in 2011, to the storage bin, and now, to its new home- Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji. The owner had one big heart to salvage it. Plus it was in pristine condition when it was relocated to its now fourth home. A real winner.
Dömitz Railroad Bridge between Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Pommerania in Germany-
World War II had a lasting after-effect on Germany’s infrastructure as hundreds of thousands of historic bridges were destroyed, either through bombs or through Hitler’s policies of destroying every single crossing to slow the advancement of the Allied Troops. Yet the Dömitz Railroad Bridge, spanning the River Elbe, represents a rare example of a bridge that survived not only the effects of WWII, but also the East-West division that followed, as the Mecklenburg side was completely removed to keep people from fleeing to Lower Saxony. All that remains are the structures on the Lower Saxony side- preserved as a monument symbolizing the two wars and the division that was lasting for almost a half century before 1990.
Forest Fires along the West Coast- 2020 was the year of disasters in a literal sense of the word. Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought the world to a near standstill, 2020 was the year where records were smashed for natural disasters, including hurricanes and in particular- forest fires. While 20% of the US battled one hurricane after another, 70% of the western half of the country, ranging from the West Coast all the way to Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas dealt with record-setting forest fires, caused by drought, record-setting heatwaves and high winds. Hardest hit area was in California, Washington and even Oregon. Covered bridges and other historic structures took a massive hit, though some survived the blazes miraculously. And even some that did survive, presented some frightening photo scenes that symbolizes the dire need to act on climate change and global warming before our Earth becomes the next Genesis in Star Trek.
Demolition of the Historic Millbrook Bridge in Illinois-
Inaction has consequences. Indifference has even more painful consequences. Instead of fixing a crumbling pier that could have left the 123-year old, three-span through truss bridge in tact, Kendall County and the Village of Millbrook saw dollar signs in their eyes and went ahead with demolishing the entire structure for $476,000, coming out of- you guessed it- our taxpayer money. Cheapest way but at our expense anyway- duh!
Planned Demolition of the Bridges of Westchester County, New York-
While Kendall County succeeded in senselessly tearing down the last truss bridge in the county, Westchester County is planning on tearing down its remaining through truss bridges, even though the contract has not been let out just yet. The bridges have been abandoned for quite some time but they are all in great shape and would make for pedestrian and bike crossings if money was spent to rehabilitate and repurpose them. Refer to the examples of the Calhoun and Saginaw County historic bridges in Michigan, as well as those restored in Winneshiek, Fayette, Madison, Johnson, Jones and Linn Counties in Iowa. Calling Julie Bowers and Nels Raynor!
Collapse of Westphalia Bridge due to overweight truck-
To the truck driver who drove a load over the bridge whose weight was four times the weight limit, let alone bring down the 128-year old product of the Kansas City Bridge Company: It’s Timmy time! “One, …. two,….. three! DUH!!!!” The incident happened on August 17th 2020 and the beauty of this is, upon suggesting headache bars for protecting the bridge, county engineers claimed they were a liability. LAME excuse!
Located near the Göhren Viaduct in the vicinity of Burgstädt and Mittweida, this open-spandrel stone arch bridge used to span the Zwickau Mulde and was a key accessory to the fourth tallest viaduct in Saxony. Yet it was not valuable enough to be demolished and replaced during the year. The 124-year old bridge was in good shape and had another 30 years of use left. This one has gotten heads scratching.
Collapse of Bridge in Nova Scotia due to overweight truck-
It is unknown which is more embarrassing: Driving a truck across a 60+ year old truss bridge that is scheduled to be torn down or doing the same and being filmed at the same time. In any case, the driver got the biggest embarrassment in addition to getting the Timmy in French: “Un,…. deux,…… toi! DUH!!!” The incident happened on July 8th.
Consisting of vine bridges dating back hundreds of years, this area has become a celebrity since its discovery early last year. People in different fields of work from engineers to natural scientists are working to figure out how these vined bridges were created and how they have maintained themselves without having been altered by mankind. This region is one of the World’s Top Wonders that should be visited, regardless whether you are a pontist or a natural scientist.
This structure deserves special recognition not only because it turned 125 years old in 2020. The bridge is the longest of its kind on the South American continent and it took eight years to build. There’s an interesting story behind this bridge that is worth the read…..
For bridge tours on the international front, I would recommend the bridges of Schwerin. It features seven iron bridges, three unique modern bridges, a wooden truss span, a former swing span and a multiple span arch bridge that is as old as the castle itself, Schwerin’s centerpiece and also home of the state parliament. This was a big steal for the author as the day trip was worth it.
Geoff Hobbs brought the bridge to the attention of the pontist community in July 2020, only to find that the bridge belonged to a mansion that has a unique history. As a bonus, the structure is still standing as with the now derelict mansion.
The Bridges of Jefferson Proving Grounds in Indiana-
The Proving Grounds used to be a military base that covered sections of four counties in Indiana. The place is loaded with history, as not only many buildings have remained largely in tact but also the Grounds’ dozen bridges or so. Satolli Glassmeyer provided us with a tour of the area and you can find it in this film.
Now that the favorites have been announced and awarded, it is now the voter’s turn to select their winners, featured in nine categories of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards. And for that, we will go right, this way…… =>
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. 🙂
This week’s Pic of the week takes us to Anamosa, Iowa and to one of the oldest bridges left in the state. The Anamosa Bridge was built in 1878 by the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works Company . It was replaced on a new alignment in 1929 but remained open to traffic until 1955. It would be one of the first historic bridges in the state to be converted into a pedestrian crossing, the project was finished in 1975. It was rehabbed once more in 2012 with new decking, replacing the ones damaged by flooding in 2008. The bridge can be seen from the Elm Street crossing as both span the Wapsipinicon River entering the the historic community of 5500 inhabitants, which has a historic state penitentiary on one end, a historic business district on another end and Wapsipinicon State Park on the opposite end of the two.
The bridge has a lot of angles where a person can take a lot of shots, whether it is at sundown, on a foggy night when the amber-blazing lights turn the city into a gold color, or this one, where a group of people were camping. This was taken in August 2011 during the time a full moon was coming out. It was a crystal clear night and a group decided to have a campfire next to the bridge. None of them minded as I was taking some shots with the Pentax. However, I did mind when the prints turned out darker than expected. Hence a photoshop program to lighten it up. Here’s your result.
Have you ever tried camping and/or fishing next to the bridge? If not, it’s one to mark on your bucket list, both as the camper/fisher, as well as the photographer. A good way to enjoy the summer, especially in these times.
This Pic of the Week is also the first in a series of educational series on the anatomy of bridge types. For each bridge, there will be some terminologies involving bridge parts where you have to find and identify them. These words you will find in a box below.
Our first bridge type for the matching activity: The Truss Bridge. Match the bridge terms with the ones you find in the picture above. Also find the parts that do NOT appear in this picture. Good luck!
As for the bridge photo, this was taken at the Henry Bridge in Winneshiek County, Iowa in 2009. The bridge spans the Upper Iowa River on Scenic River Road northwest of Decorah and represents an example of a truss bridge that was built by the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company. It was one of two primary bridge builders in Winneshiek County during the age of truss bridge building between 1870 and 1920. The 1911 structure has a total length of 121 feet, has an A-frame portal bracing and pinned connections. Closed since 2016, plans are in the making to either rehabilitate the bridge to reopen for light traffic or repurpose it for bike and pedestrian use. And it’s a practical and sensible idea too, for the high bluffs of the river present an excellent backdrop for the bridge and provides an exclusive photo opportunity, especially as there is parking nearby. In fact, from various angles, even from the bluffs, one can get a great photo opportunity of this unique historic bridge. My photo formed the basis of an educational exercise like this one, where people of all ages and with a keen interest on bridges and history can take part.
In connection with the BHC’s 10th anniversary, we’re conducting a campaign to promote historic bridges in terms of preservation, photography, stories and tourism. After the first campaign on the strangest encounter while bridgehunting, our next campaign deals with:
THE FIRST HISTORIC BRIDGE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED.
The question to the readers is: what was the first bridge you photographed and what was your first impression of the structure? The historic bridge must be older than 70 years and you must also describe it.
The first bridge I photographed was this one: The Petersburg Road Bridge in Jackson, Minnesota. The through truss span was built in 1907 and was torn down in 1995 after having been abandoned for 11 years. Although my first photo of the bridge came in 1990 with a camera taking 110-film, this photo was taken with a Kodak camera taking 35mm film in 1992, the time the bridge was fenced off because it was unsafe. The bridge used to be a gathering point for not only my family but for a neighborhood that was located along the West Fork Des Moines River before flooding in 1965 and 1969 forced them to move away. Many people jumped off the bridge and took a swim in the river. The bridge was a meeting point for fishing and grill fests; even so in 1987 when two boys wandered off and got lost for many hours before they were found. My grandma and many neighbors living nearby fought to keep the bridge open for pedestrians in 1985, which was successful. Yet the Great Flood of 1993 sealed its fate as a portion of the bridge collapsed. On February 1st, 1995, a day after I turned 18, the structure was removed. The area has been converted into a recreational area.
Now it’s your turn. What was your first bridge you photographed? Tell us your story and share your photo, either here or on the Chronicles’ facebook page here.
We are still accepting strange encounters while bridgehunting, the story behind it you will find here.