BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 54

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While we are still in Iowa, here’s another Pic of the Week. Yet this time, we travel to Fayette County in eastern Iowa and the town of Eldorado. Located between Calmar and West Union along the Turkey River, the village is tucked away in the hills of the Bluffs Region, which extends from southeastern Minnesota into the eastern part of Iowa, where all creeks and rivers empty into the Mississippi River. Eldorado has about 200 people and a few historic buildings, but one unique truss bridge. The Eldorado Truss Bridge is a Camelback through truss bridge with M-Frame portal bracings. It was built in 1899 by J.C. Ratcliff, a local bridge builder based in Waukon in Allamakee County and is the only known bridge built by the engineer to date. The 130-foot long bridge has been closed to traffic for a couple decades, yet still remains its historic integrity to date. It can still be accessed from the State Street side and if one is lucky, one can find some shells along the Turkey River, which was my case upon my visit in August 2011. Despite record rainfall in the spring, which caused massive flooding along the Missouri River, water levels receded to a point where one could walk along the river and get a few shots from the river bed, something that was done on a perfect afternoon, while traveling through Iowa.

As a bonus though, there is one bridge nearby, whose mystery has yet to be solved. More on that in the next article here. 🙂

 

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Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Last week in the Chronicles’ Instagram page, there were a pair of photos of the progress that is being made with the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a multiple-span arch bridge spanning the ravine at the castle complex south of Glauchau’s city center. As I’ve been reporting up until now, the original bridge dating to the 1700s is being rebuilt after having sat abandoned for over four decades and having been in danger of collapsing under its own weight. With spring in the air, I took an opportunity to get a closer look at the bridge, apart from my usual vantage points, which were from both ends of the bridge. With all the scaffolding that has “encased” the bridge, this was the closest way to find out how it has progressed since my “sniper” shot of the red arches taken in the fall on the eve of a concert at St. George’s Church.

Then:

Now:

And with that I found a couple observations worth noting:

  1. The bridge was being layered with slabs of concrete, bit by bit, filling in the arches and making its way up.
  2. There was a pile of stones that are on the eastern side of the bridge- assumedly salvaged from the old structure and waiting to be reused and
  3. More curiously, vertical posts were sticking out between the arches.

With number 3, I wanted to find out what they were used for, so I got ahold of the city and one of the engineers for an inquiry. This is what I received for an explanation per e-mail (after having it translated):

The load-bearing system of the bridge consists of transverse walls on the piers and self-supporting longitudinal walls, which are then veneered. The inside of the bridge is filled with lightweight porous concrete.

In simpler languages, the newly-rebuilt bridge will have a skeletal system featuring horizontal slabs supported by the vertical piers planted between the arches. All of them will be covered in layers of concrete and then masked to make it appear historic like its original form. Should this be the case, it would not be the “in-kind” restoration of an arch bridge, meaning building it beginning with the arch and then in layers, stone-by-stone and then filled in to make sure the structure is stabilized. Yet it would represent the modern form of restoring the bridge, as it has been seen with some of the bridges restored in Germany, including those in Thuringia, Berlin and Bavaria. That would still make the arch bridge historic but with “braces” to ensure it lasts longer and is able to withstand the increasing weight and number in traffic. With the Hirschgrundbrücke itself, when reopened, it will serve pedestrians, connecting the castle complex and the park across the ravine.

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The future of the original stones from the bridge is unknown.

While there is no concrete date as to when the project will be finished and when the grand “re-opening” will take place, there are some other curious facts that will be mentioned in a tour that is scheduled to take place this weekend. On May 11th at 10:15, 11:00 and 11:45 there will be a tour of the construction site with many questions and photo sessions available. This is all part of the informational Meeting at the Castle Complex that will include what has been completed and what will be the next phases in renovating the castle- namely the grounds and the park. All of which will start at 10 and be finished after 12:00. A link to the page can be found here.

In either case, more updates on the Hirschgrundbrücke will come in the Chronicles. Stay tuned. In case you haven’t taken a look at Glauchau’s Bridge tour guide, check out this and others by clicking here.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 47

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Our 46th pic of the week you will find on the Chronicles’s facebook page. With a setting like this on the eve of spring with leaves blossoming and all, this structure definitely deserves some attention, especially given the fact that it has come off a fresh rehabilitation.

The structure is located at Floßplatz and Heidelbach at the mill and dam, spanning the River Zschopau between Warmbad and Wolkenstein. It was built in 1828 using sandstone and other minerals and is a one-span arch bridge. Flood damage in 2013 forced its closure and it wasn’t until 2017 when the bridge was finally restored, but at a steep cost of 2.2 million Euros. The structure is open to traffic but only one lane and preferrably with anything OTHER than a car for one can make it on the other side but just barely.

Nevertheless, the bridge has several backdrops where one can photograph from different angles. I have a couple more to back this up. The bridge is a real diamond in the rough if you pass on by going from Chemnitz to the Czech border and beyond. One will need a good bike tour to catch this beauty in full. 🙂

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What to do with a HB: Rosenstein- Brücke in Oberplanitz (Zwickau)

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Also the 112th Mystery Bridge.

A while back I received a phone call from a local living in Zwickau (Saxony) via the Free Press, who, in response to a newspaper article about my bridgehunting exploits there and in Glauchau, wanted me to check out a cool bridge that was not on the tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges. It was around 200 years old and was located in the suburb of Oberplanitz, which is in the southwestern part of the city. This came shortly before I got sick with the flu that was making its rounds in the region, including the school where I teach English. I had to sit it out for a couple weeks before I could get better. As soon as I was fully healthy and “physically able to perform,” I decided to embark on a small trip to get there.

The day couldn’t have been much prettier. Sunny skies accompanied with a Super Full Moon in the evening made for a trip that was well worth it. Enter the local living in Zwickau who is a “historian” having lived in the area for decades, Dieter Hofmann, whom I met at his place and who led me to the “Steinbruch” region on the northern end of Oberplanitz. We use the German word “Steinbruch” to describe the word quarry. According to Hofmann the region where the stone arch bridge is located had at least six different quarries, where different types of minerals were dug up and transported to regions for use on different forms of architecture. Red rock came from the region and was used for the construction of the Göltzschtal Viaduct in the Vogtland region in western Saxony. That bridge, built in 1851 and carries the Nuremberg-Hof-Dresden Magistrate Rail Line, still holds the title of being the largest brick arch viaduct in the world with four stories of arches spanning the River Göltzsch between Reichenbach and Greiz (Thuringia).

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After touring the quarries, all of which have been discontinued since the Reunification of Germany, we came to the jewel in the forest- a stone arch bridge spanning small creek on the outer edge of Kreuzberg Forest. According to Google Maps, the bridge used to carry Eisensteinstrasse but, according to sources, has been closed to traffic for at least 30 years. According to Hofmann and another local whom we met along the way with his dog, the road which the bridge carried was a primary route for transporting the likes of iron ore, granite, quartzite, limestone and other minerals out of the quarries and to their destinations for processing and use. That was until the route was cut short with a present-day bypass connecting Werdau and Schneeberg and dissecting the western side of Zwickau.

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The bridge itself is definitely an old, but primitive structure. It consists of a one-span stone arch span spanning the Planitzbach, a creek that eventually runs towards the Zwickau Mulde. Just before flowing underneath the bridge, the creek merges with another one on the south side. Records indicated the structure’s existence between 1839 and 1840, but given the non-existence of concrete combined with how it was built, one must not rule out it being older- at least two centuries old to be exact. The bridge was put together using layers of flattened rock, which was topped with a keystone. Another layer of stone was added for the railway. The construction of the bridge mirrors those built during the Roman Empire, most of them were on a large scale, including aqueducts. Examples of these gigantic structures still exist today in Spain, France, Italy and parts of southern Germany- the nearest ones being in Heidelberg and Trier. The bridge is approximately 20 meters long and 3-4 meters wide, yet deterioration of the bridge due to erosion has taken a meter off its width over the years.

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The bridge is famous because of the stone used for it, known as Rosenstein. It’s a grayish-red rock which if in the water, it not only changes color to red, but the creation of creases in the rock caused by erosion and water creates a round form, resembling a rose. We fished out some examples that were lying in the Planitzbach, two of which I now have in possession and have demonstrated this magic to my wife and daughter. Several neighbors have used this stone for their landscaping purposed- including the gardens.

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The bridge has been closed to traffic for 30 years, with signs and bars blocking access. Despite this, people still cross at their own risk because they use the former Eisenstrasse as a hiking trail. Yet chances of restoring the bridge to its original form is slim due to years of erosion in the arches. The worst hit area is the eastern side, where waters have eaten away at the bridge. Should this progress in the next 10-20 years without any maintenance, the bridge may collapse. As mentioned earlier, northern side of the bridge at its keystone has seen the decking being eaten away due to erosion caused by wind and rain, plus weather extremities. And vegetation has taken over the bridge with a tree and many bushes growing near or on the bridge.

Still it’s never too late to rebuild and reuse the bridge. The Rosenstein Bridge has a similar resemblance to another stone arch bridge located nearby, the Eger Bridge near Reichenbach in the Vogtland. Currently, funding has been approved for restoring the crossing which has existed since the 1769 but has been closed to traffic for over 30 years, bypassed by a concrete crossing. The arch bridge has suffered a lot since its closure, having sustained extensive damage due to floods and weather extremities.

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For the Rosenstein Bridge, one will need to rebuild the bridge from scratch, using the same materials as when it was originally constructed. Yet in order for it to be sturdy, some sort of adhesive would be needed, which could affect the bridge’s historical significance. Currently, the bridge is only known to locals and there has been no word of whether the structure would be a cultural monument, which means it could be updated into the Cultural Heritage Books (Denkmalschutzbuch) for the State of Saxony. Still, as one can see with the failed attempt to stop the demolition of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke) near Aue (Saxony), just because a bridge is protected by the cultural heritage laws, does not mean that it cannot be torn down. That bridge was the very first structure in the state that was compromised by a replacement bridge through this concept, which puts many historic bridges and other structures on notice.

Yet in order to start the process of getting the bridge listed and saving it from the wrecking ball, we need more information on it. This will require some research at the local archives in Zwickau but also some help from additional people who may know about this bridge and can add to what I’ve collected so far. This is where you as the reader come in. Afterwards the state ministry of culture and heritage in Dresden will have to step in and do a study to determine the bridge’s historic significance. Once it’s listed, the bridge’s safe from demolition, and planning as well as fundraising can proceed to restore the structure, with proposals bouncing around on the local and state levels.

While it’s easy to do it in chronological order, there has been some consideration about removing the bridge and possibly replacing it. That means everything has to be done at once to ensure we can beat the clock. This was a painful lesson we learned the hard way with the Bockau Arch Bridge- we started late and were always behind the clock, for the state ministry of transport was three goals ahead in handball and we had no chance to even tie the game- meaning in this case, delay the demolition to allow Berlin and Dresden to have a look at the petition.

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So what do we know about this find? If you are a local, tell us. What can you do to help save and restore the bridge? If you have the expertise and the will, tell us. What can you do to get the public’s attention? Apart from social media, the newspaper and meeting with people, if you have some ideas on where to start, tell us. Thanks to Dieter and his friend with the dog, we know where the bridge is in, and we have a starting point on its history. It’s just a question of moving forward.

A link to the gallery of photos taken of the Rosenstein Brücke can be found here.

 

Author’s Note:

Apart from Dieter Hofmann, there’s David Hagebäumer from the Free Press newspaper in Zwickau to thank for bringing this matter to my attention. Without the three of you and the dog, this bridge would’ve quietly vanished into history. Now we know about this gem, and knowing is half the battle.

 

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The Bridges of Dresden Part 1- Introduction

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Bridge of Blue Miracle (Dt. Blaue Wunder Brücke) in Dresden, Germany. Photo taken in December 2011

The next tour guide is a three-part series on one city with several regions where historic and architecturally noteworthy bridges are worth a day’s visit or two. The city is one of Germany’s most prized crown jewels in terms of architecture and culture. It is the second largest city based on population but at the same time, it’s the state’s capital. It literally rose from the ashes of World War II as ariel bombings in 1945 almost completely wiped out the city and nearly its population. It took over a half a century to rebuild the city to its original glory, which includes the Church of our Lady, the Semper Opera and the Residential Palace, just to name a few. It can pride itself on the Christmas markets as it has one of the oldest in the world in the Striezelmarkt. As far as bridges are concerned, almost every type of bridge from every period exist in Dresden and the surrounding area. This includes bridges built in the Baroque period, the Industrial Age, between and after the two World Wars and after the Great Flood of 2002, where half the city plus the suburbs along key tributaries were underwater, the bridges either destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

The city is Dresden. Located in the eastern part of the German state of Saxony, the city with 551,000 inhabitants (with the suburbs including Radebeul, Freital, and Heidenau, it’s close to 750,000), is located on the River Elbe. Some smaller rivers flow into the Elbe in Dresden, one of the most important is the Weisseritz, which starts in the Döhlen Becken, a valley where several streams starting in the eastern Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) merge in Freital to become a main passage to the river. The city has a well-structured infrastructure, where one can bike, drive or ride the train, tram or bus through Dresden without having to worry about accidents and traffic jams. Bike trails run along the Elbe and Weisseritz but connects to several important places including the schools and universities. Train service features regional and long distance trains connecting the city with Prague, Berlin, Leipzig and Nuremberg. Two motorways (4, 17) bypass much of the city with major highways providing much of the service.

And the infrastructure is not complete with the bridges that cross the rivers and other ravines, something Dresden can pride itself on. With as many bridges as the city has, it is just as appropriate to divide this tour guide into three series minus the introduction. The first one will start in the mountains along the Red Weisseritz in Rabenau, much of which is along the Tourist Railline between Freital and Kipsdorf. This area has been rebuilt after the Great Flood in 2002, much of which mimicking its original form. Part 2 will look at the Freital area along the united Weisseritz, which will take us down to the city. One of the bridges has already been written and can be seen here. And part 3 will feature the bridges in Dresden City, much of which is located along the River Elbe, but we have some notable outliers. This includes some in the harbor area, a pair of bridges in Pirna, one in Radebeul and one in Meissen. A map of the bridges in Dresden can be found in each part to allow readers to find and visit them.

To give you an idea of the beauty of Dresden’s bridges, here’s a sample gallery to give you a starter:

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And now, onto Part 1.

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Book of the Month/ Tour Guide: The Bridges of Schwarzenberg (Saxony), Germany

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Author’s Note: For the first time in four years, a literary review is being introduced in the Chronicles. Previously, we had a Book of the Week that had existed from 2013-14, but due to time constraints, it was discontinued. This time we have the Book of the Month, where each bridge piece will be introduced for people to have a look at. You will find this and future pieces on the Chronicles. A page is being created where all the bridge literary pieces will be added, past and present.  So without further ado……

Book of the Month: January 2019

The first ever book of the month takes us to the German state of Saxony, and to the community of Schwarzenberg. Located 10 kilometers east of Aue, deep in the Ore Mountains, the community of 23,300 prides itself on its traditional culture and its history for several historic landmarks are located in the old town, which features a castle and church overlooking the deep valley where the rivers Schwarzwasser and Mittweida meet. The town was one of the key hubs for railroads that met from areas high in the mountains. Today only one line exists from Johanngeorgenstadt to Zwickau, passing through this community. And while the mining industry almost no longer exists, other industries have taken over, thus making the city rather attractive.

While many cities in Saxony, such as Dresden, Leipzig and Plauen have prided themselves on their historic bridges because of popularity, no one has ever thought about the fact that a community, such as Schwarzenberg, would have an interesting set of their own.

Enter the Senior Citizens Club Haus Schlossblick in Schwarzenberg and their prized work, Schwarzenberg’s Bridges. The booklet was released in December 2018, with many copies having been sold during the Christmas markets and beyond. Even though the target language in this 53-page booklet is German, the booklet is laden with pictures of Schwarzenberg’s 44 bridges- both past and present- combined with years of research and photo collections all put together and presented in a form of a tour guide. The photos with the bare essential information is enough for people to read up before finding the bridges, especially as they are listed in the order going downstream for every river mentioned, minus the railroad crossings.

The booklet is different to another bridge booklet written in 2014 on the city of Aue. (For more, please click here to view the tour guide). While current pics of the city’s bridges were included, there was mainly text on the history of each of the bridges in the city of 16,000, located at the confluence between the Zwickau Mulde and the Schwarzwasser, as well as along the Flyover, connecting the city with the Autobahn 72. More pics on the previous structures, plus a better selection of information would have perhaps helped.

Going back to the bridges in Schwarzenberg, there are some interesting facts that are presented in the book, some of which will get the reader to visit them while in Germany. Here are the top five:

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  1. The Steynerne Bridge (pictured above) is the oldest bridge stilll existing in Schwarzenberg. It is also the narrowest vehicular crossing in the Ore Mountains.
  2. The Topp-Müller-Arch Bridge was the oldest stone arch bridge ever built in Schwarzenberg, dating back to 1539.
  3. Two railroad bridges used to carry a railline through the steep hills underneath the old town. It was bypassed in 1952.
  4. The old railroad arch bridge east of the train station is one of the best examples of a restored historic bridge of its kind.
  5. Each bridge has a medaillon on the railing, signaling the build and replacement dates, plus some of the symbols of the city.

Interesting is the fact that the author included the Markersbach Viaduct in the booklet. While that bridge is only a few kilometers away, it was included in the Chronicles’ tour guide (shown here). Still, the authors believe that it belongs to the Schwarzenberg ensemble, which is considered far fetched but ok. Also included is the Hammerbrücke, a covered bridge located in Lauter, which is three kilometers away.

A map with the location of the bridges in Schwarzenberg can be found below. I did a bike tour in the region on three different occasions and have therefore included photos in all but a couple of the city’s bridges. The rest of the information is from the booklet.

The book on Schwarzenberg’s bridges, which can be bought at the tourist information center upon personal visit for only six Euros, does bring up a question with regards to writing a book on bridges in such a community. While the book with sufficient information and photos on the bridges, like in Schwarzenberg, would be appropriate especially for readers who just want to know a bit on the bridges, the question is whether this book would fit for another community.

Which town would benefit from such a “picture book” with sufficient information?

Feel free to make your top five cities you would like to see a bridge book written on, either by choosing from the Chronicles’ tour guide page or adding some of your own.

My top five cities that deserve such a bridge booklet include: Glauchau, Zwickau, Dresden, Minneapolis and Des Moines. What about yours? Add your thoughts in the comment section.

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2018 Ammann Awards Results

Paper Mill Bowstring Arch Bridge in Newcastle, Delaware. Winner of the Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge and Bridge of the Year. Photo taken by Julie Bowers

Last Year the Awards will be given using the name Othmar H. Ammann. Next year it will use the name Bridgehunter’s Awards.

First podcast on the Award results with table results here.

Results of the Awards under Best Photo

ZWICKAU (SAXONY), GERMANY/ SCHWARZENBERG, GERMANY/ KANSAS CITY/ LAWRENCEBURG (INDIANA)/ NEWCASTLE (DELAWARE)/ SAN FRANCISCO-

This year’s results of the Ammann Awards is nothing like anyone has ever seen before. A record setting number of votes were casted in eight categories, and with that, a lot of suspense that is comparable to any bowl game in college football and waiting under a Christmas tree for Santa Claus to provide gifts. It was that intense. And with that, a lot of commentary that led to making some new changes in the award format and that of the Chronicles itself.

For the first time in the history of the Ammann Awards, there will be a podcast with commentary of the Awards in all but one of the categories. This can be found here but also via SoundCloud. You can subscribe to Soundcloud by scrolling down on the left column, clicking and signing up once you arrive there. Details on how podcasts will be used for the Chronicles will be presented in the next podcast, which will also be posted here.  The table with the results of the Ammann Awards are presented here but in the order of the podcast so that you can follow. As in last year, the table features the top six finishers with some honors mentioned, but color coded based on the medals received in the following order: gold, silver, bronze, turquoise, quartzite and iron ore.

And so without further ado, click here to access the podcast but keep this page open to follow. The results in Best Photo is yet to come here.

2018 Ammann Award Results:

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And lastly, the results of the Ammann Awards under the category Best Bridge Photo:

1st place:

Photo 5: Sigler Bridge in White County, IL by Melissa Brand-Welch

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2nd Place: 

Photo 13: Trolley Bridge in Waterloo, Iowa by Diane Ebert

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3rd Place:

Photo 10:  Manhattan Bridge in Riley County, Kansas by Nick Schmiedeleier

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4th Place:

Photo 3: Chesterfield-Battleboro Bridges by Dan Murphy

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5th Place:

Photo 11: Route 66 Gasconade Truss Bridge in Missouri by Dyuri Smith

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6th Place:

Photo 2: Tappan Zee Bridge in New York by Dan Murphy

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The full table with the results can be seen here.

As mentioned in the podcast, next year’s awards will be the same but under a new name: The Bridgehunter Awards. The name Ammann will be relegated to the Tour Guide Awards for US and international bridges; whereas the Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge will be renamed the Delony Award, after the late Eric Delony.  An additional category is being considered for a historic bridge threatened with demolition but has the potential to being saved and reused. The Author’s Choice Awards will remain the same as is.

While we’re talking about those awards, you can see the results and commentaries here.

To those who won in their respective categories, as well as those who finished in the top 6 or were honored, congratulations. You may now bring out the sect and champaign and celebrate. Prost! 🙂

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