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

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

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

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

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

Kern Bridge Stays Home in Mankato

Longest Bowstring Arch Bridge in the States Stays in Mankato, to be Re-erected between Sibley and Land of Memories Parks

MANKATO, MINNESOTA- What was built from home stays home. That is the slogan behind the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, a 189-foot long product of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, which was built over the LeSeuer River on a township road south of Mankato in 1873. Until last year, the bridge stood in its place until efforts were undertaken to dismantle and remove the structure because of a failing abutment.

Now, the bridge is staying put, but will be the centerpiece, crossing over the Blue Earth River connecting two of Mankato’s largest parks.

The 148-year-old historic iron structure will span the Blue Earth River between two of the city’s largest parks, providing a pedestrian and bike crossing that also will fill a gap in the local trail system, and create a vital link between the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail on Mankato’s northeast side and Minneopa State Park to the southwest. “From an engineering perspective, it’s an exciting project, but it’s also one that’s great for our community and the region on whole,” said Assistant City Engineer Michael McCarty in an interview with the Mankato Free Press. He was in charge of putting together the winning application in an eight-way competition for the one-of-a-kind bridge. Four finalists had submitted full applications to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for the structure. Aside from Mankato, the other three finalists came from Watonwan County, Fergus Falls and Sherburne County. “It was a close race. The applications were all really good,” said historian Katie Haun Schuring of MnDOT’s Cultural Resources Unit, one of the members of the steering committee of engineers and historians that ultimately decided Mankato’s plan was the best. “… All of the locations would have been good. I think Mankato’s just rose to the top after a lot of great discussion.”

The decision to keep the Kern Bridge home made a lot of sense as the last surviving bridge of its kind in Minnesota is also one of the Blue Earth County’s “Seven historical wonders” when it comes to architecture that had shaped the county in the past 150 years. Furthermore, the county is diverse in the number of different types of bridges that still exist and can be seen today. They include the Dodd Ford Bridge and, the Maple River Railroad Truss Bridge both near Amboy, as well as a Marsh arch bridge and the Red Jacket Trestle. Another truss bridge, the Hungry Hollow Bridge is sitting in storage and awaiting reuse elsewhere. When people think of Blue Earth County and bridges, the Kern Bridge would definitely go on top as it was the structure that spearheaded efforts by other engineers to leave their marks over rivers and ravines while expanding the network of roads and railroads that connected Mankato with Minneapolis and other points to the north and east.

Along with the wrought-iron bridge, now disassembled and stored in shipping containers, Mankato will be receiving federal funding that will cover 80% of the $1.8 million cost of reassembling it. According to the Free Press, numerous regulatory hurdles will need to be cleared because of the historic nature of the bridge, the need to build piers in the Blue Earth River, the existence of the flood-control system in the area, the design work on the bridge approaches, and the regulations related to federal funding. The Kern Bridge will be the main span over the river but will be flanked by steel gorders which will make the historic structure the centerpiece for the two parks. If all goes well, the bridge will be back in service by 2024 but as a pedestrian and bike crossing.

And while its 150th birthday celebration will most likely be in storage, the reestablishment and reopening of the longest bowstring arch bridge, combined with its reinstatement as a National Landmark, will serve as a much-deserved belated birthday gift in itself. Even the best things come if we wait long enough and work to make it happen. 🙂

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The Kern Bridge finished second in the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards in the category Bridge of the Year because of the efforts to save the structure from its potential collapse.

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The news came just as the Newsflyer podcast was released. To listen to the other news stories, click here.

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HYB: Orient Bridge in Pickaway County, Ohio

One bridge that a person should visit while bridgehunting is this structure: The Orient Bridge. Located south of Harrisburg, this unique truss structure can be seen easily from Darby Creek Road where County Road 26 and Ohio State Highway 726 meet. The 225-foot long bridge features a Whipple through truss span with one of the most ornamental features of a portal bracing one will see while looking for bridges in Ohio. The portal bracing features from the top down, trapezoidal beam with four-leaf pedestals carved out, followed by a one-rhombus Lattice with ornaments at the Xes, and lastly a Town Lattice with heels. Builders plaque is on the top tier as well as finials that look like an ornamental bowl set with covers. Built in 1885 by the Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company, the Orient Bridge represents the most ornamental example of a bridge built by this bridge building company. Ironically, another bridge built by the same company, can be found in Paoli, Indiana. There, a female truck driver tried driving across the truss bridge causing it to collapse. Fortunately, the bridge has been restored to its original glory.

Here are some more bridge facts you will find in a video recently produced by History in Your Own Backyard.

Some other stories and facts you can find through bridgehunter.com and historicbridges.org. Just click on the highlighted words and you will be directed to the respective sites. Enjoy the info and hope you will take a chance to visit the bridge on your next road trip. 🙂

Happy Bridgehunting, folks! 🙂

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Photo courtesy of Satolli Glassmeyer.

Endangered TRUSS: The Jefferson Highway Bridge at Okay, Oklahoma

All photos courtesy of Mark W. Brown

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OKAY, OKLAHOMA- There are many historic structures that are endangered because of the need to have a concrete bridge to move traffic from point A to point B. There are some that have been sitting abandoned- many of which for too long and need the attention of the public to save it from its ultimate doom. When I think of the first endangered TRUSS candidate, the first bridge that comes to mind is this one: The Okay Truss Bridge. The bridge spans the old channel of the Verdigris River to the west of the town of Okay in Wagoner County. The structure was first discovered a decade ago and even though it has been abandoned for several decades, records have indicated that the structure was once part of the Jefferson Highway, the second oldest intercontinental highway that was built in 1915 and went from Winnepeg, Canada to New Orleans, cutting through parts of Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma in the process.

There is not much information on the bridge’s history except to say that given the materials needed to build the structure, let alone the features, the bridge must have been built between 1910 and 1915, as part of the project to extend the Jefferson Highway through the small community. The bridge features two Parker through truss main spans. Each span features a 3-rhombus Howe Lattice portal bracings with angled heels, latticed struts and V-laced vertical beams. There is also a Pratt pony truss span on each outer end of the bridge. The connections are pinned and the material: steel for the trusses and wood for the decking.

Westernmost pony truss approach span

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The bridge was later bypassed by another structure to the south, as part of the project to rechannel the Verdigris and the truss span has been sitting abandoned and in disarray ever since. The easternmost pony truss span collapsed many years ago and it would take a lot of climbing just to get onto the bridge itself.

The gravest problem though lies with the through truss spans because of a failing pier. It is unknown when and how this occurred, but the center pier is crumbling, causing the end post of the western through truss span to slip.

While the damage may be minimal when looking at it from a bird’s eye view, when on the bridge, it is far worse than it seems, as the crumbling pier, combined with the sagging of the endpost, is causing the western truss span to lean and twist on its side.

The twisted metal brought a reminder of one bridge that fell victim to flooding in 1990, which was the Rockport Bridge in Arkansas. Prior to its downfall, flooding in 1987 caused severe damage to the center piers causing the center span to tilt and twist. This is exactly what is happening to the Okay Truss Bridge, and if nothing is done with the truss span, the next flooding may be the bridge’s last.

What can be done to save the truss bridge? The easiest is to take the truss spans off the piers and dismantle them for storage. As it happened with the Bridgeport Bridge in Michigan, the twisted western Parker truss span could be straightened through welding, whereas the trusses in general would need to be sandblasted and repainted. The piers would need to be replaced and because the easternmost pony span is considered a total loss, a replacement span could take its place if one reerects the restored truss span and converts the area on the east end and the island between the old and new channels of the Verdigris into a park area. As this bridge is part of the original Jefferson Highway, research is needed on the structure’s history to nominate it to the National Register.

Oklahoma has seen a big drop in the number of truss bridges in the last two decades, yet efforts are being taken to save what is left of the bridges. There is little doubt that the Okay Truss Bridge can be saved if action is taken to salvage the trusses and rebuild the entire structure, while erecting a park to honor its history. It takes the will of not only the locals but also members of the Jefferson Highway Association to make it happen. Yet time is running out and we’re fighting windmills regarding even saving the truss structure before the next floodwaters. If there is a tiny sense of hope, removing and storing the trusses should be top priority. Afterwards, time and finances could be allotted to restore and rebuild the bridge to its former glory.

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Author’s Note: A big thanks to Mark W. Brown for allowing me to use his pictures for this article.

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2020 Author’s Choice Awards- Mr Smith takes his picks

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Pexels.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:

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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…..

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/castlewood-bridge-in-a-new-home-on-the-threshing-grounds/

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International:

Plaka Bridge in Greece:

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/02/19/plaka-bridge-in-greece-restored/

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Hirschgrundbrücke in Glauchau:

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/11/06/update-on-the-hirschgrundbrucke-in-glauchau-saxony/

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Worst example of reused bridge:

Northern Avenue Bridge in Boston

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.

Link: https://www.northernavebridgebos.com/about & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcWEvjdsAUQ

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International:

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.

Links: https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/07/24/concern-over-reports-that-historic-bridge-in-poland-will-be-blown-up-for-tom-cruise-film/ & https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/so-long-tom-historic-bridge-saved-from-tom-cruise-bomb-14980

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Salvageable Mentioned:

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Okoboji Truss Bridge at Parks Marina in Iowa-

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/the-okoboji-bridge-at-parks-marina/

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International:

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/domitz-railroad-bridge/

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Spectacular Bridge Disaster

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/12/great-western-fires-destroy-iconic-historic-bridges/  &  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/12/catastrophic-inferno-hits-western-united-states-photos-noble-reporters-worlds-iconic-news-media-site/  & https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/no-comment-nr-2-the-great-california-fire/

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Bonehead Story:

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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!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/historic-millbrook-bridge-demolished/

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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!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/10/the-bridges-of-westchester-county-new-york/

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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!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/08/18/truck-driver-narrowly-escapes-when-missouri-bridge-collapses-truckers-4-truckers/

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International:

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Waldcafé Bridge in Lunzenau, Saxony-

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/waldcafe-bridge-in-gohren-to-be-replaced/

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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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/historic-bridge-in-nova-scotia-collapses-because-of-truck-reminder-to-obey-weight-and-height-limits/

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Spectacular Bridge Find:

Root Bridges in Meghalaya State in India-

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.

Link:  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/living-root-bridges-in-the-tropical-forests-of-meghalaya-state-india/

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Puente de Occidente in Colombia-

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…..

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/04/15/1895-this-suspension-bridge-in-colombia-is-still-the-second-longest-span-of-its-kind-on-the-continent/

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The Bridges of Schwerin, Germany-

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/11/03/the-bridges-of-schwerin/

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USA:

Thomas Viaduct in Maryland-

Little is written about the multiple-span stone built in 1835, except that it’s still the oldest functioning viaduct of its kind in the US and one stemming from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad era.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/thomas-viaduct-in-maryland/

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The Bridge Daheim in New York-

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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/02/mystery-bridge-nr-132-the-bridge-daheim/

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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.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/23/the-bridges-of-jefferson-proving-grounds-in-indiana-hyb/

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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…… =>

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

bridge missouri

TYB PW

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

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

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

 

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

Best Bridge Cup

First Historic Bridge you Photographed

Most Bizarre Bridgehunting Story

 

Click onto the links and add your stories there.

 

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

 

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

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 108

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

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

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

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Link:

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

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

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The Bridges of Jefferson Proving Grounds in Indiana- HYB

Big Creek- D Road Bridge. Photo courtesy of SHAARD Database

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Army bases, or at least the remains of army bases, have become a ground for research for historic artefacts and to determine its history- both during ist time of operation as well as the time prior to their establishments. Both in Europe as well as in the United States, military bases were built at the expense of places of residence and/or natural or historic interest because they served as key logistical points  for either testing new weapons or transporting military equipment to defend the territories. This was especially the case during the Cold War, as the US established dozens of military bases in the western half of Germany, including the existing bases at Rammstein, Grafenwöhr and near Kaiserslautern. In addition, military bases existed in the US, where they were used for experimenting with new weapons and producing new defense mechanisms to fend off the enemy. In this case, it was the Communist Bloc with the Soviet Union leading the way.

The Jefferson Proving Ground was one of the military bases that played a key role in US history. In 1940, 56,000 acres of land was purchased by the army to establish a military base. Work began to establish the base but at the cost of residential housing and historic places that had existed. Opened in 1941, the Jefferson Proving Grounds covered much of southern Indiana in parts of Jefferson, Jennings and Ripley Counties. It was on the list of closures in 1989 as part of the plan to realign the military but was actually closed down in 1995. Since then, the place has been considered vacant except in some areas that are still run by the military. Some of the places on the former base have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Jefferson Proving Ground provides some interesting facts and some discoveries that make researching the former military base and its history attractive. In a documentary by Satolli Glassmeyer of History in Your Own Backyard, you will have an opportunity to see the historic places that have a key role in the history oft he military base. Some of the relicts and historic buildings survived the transformation of going from a small residential area, to a military base to now a „ghost town“.

Surprising about the Jefferson Proving Grounds are the numerous historic bridges that still exist on the former military base, as he will show you in this documentary below. Most of the structures are arch bridges made of stone, but there are quite of few truss bridges, including two overhead truss spans. To learn more about them, check on the links at the end of the article.  For now, enjoy the film.

 

Bridge Directory:

Jefferson Proving Ground: http://bridgehunter.com/scripts/search.cgi?query=jefferson+proving+grounds

Jefferson County: http://bridgehunter.com/in/jefferson/

Ripley County: http://bridgehunter.com/in/ripley/

Jennings County: http://bridgehunter.com/in/jennings/

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 106

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

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

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

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 105

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This week’s pic of the week puts bridges, summertime and swimming all into one. This pic was taken at the Sandcastle Waterpark, located along the Monongahela River in Homestead, one of the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Despite not being overly crowded on this summer day, there were enough people that took advantage and went down water slides, took dips in the pool and showered under the mushroom, like in this picture, taken in 2018.  The park was opened to the public in 1989, based on the concept developed by Harry Henninger, and it has been one of the top water attractions in the state ever since.  The railroad bridge serves as an excellent backdrop. The three-span Parker through truss bridge is known as the Hazelwood and is located next to another Pittsburgh landmark in the Glenwood Bridge. The railroad bridge was first built in 1884 but was later rebuilt, using the original bridge piers in 1912. The bridge has been in service ever since as the CSX Railroad uses this crossing.

While this summer is different because of the Corona Virus and the lockdowns that many regions are imposing, there is hope that when a vaccination is developed and people are required to take the shot that we will return to normal someday and see places like these full of people again. This would also require a change in attitude in the way we travel, let alone treat our places of natural and historic interest. Still, we have a long ways to go and many good people will be needed to make it happen.  We just don’t have it now, but change will come soon enough.

 

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