BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 57

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The 57th pic of the week takes us to the second to last bridge I photographed along the original Motorway A 72 between Chemnitz and Hof (the last one will come in the next pic). This one is located east of Plauen and has a unique history. The Pöhl Viaduct is a seven-span stone arch bridge that was built from 1937 until its completion in 1940. The 232-meter long viaduct once spanned the valley of the River Pöhl near the village that bore that name, as well as the neighboring villages of Altensalz and Neuensalz. What was once a viaduct spanning a valley became a viaduct spanning a lake, as the Pöhl Reservoir (in German: Talsperre Pöhl) was created in 1964. The project took seven years and included the relocation of residents from Pöhl, the dredging of the valley and lastly, the construction of the dam on the north side of the reservoir as well as two dams and locks at Alten- and Neuensalz.  This pic was taken from a boat, as we were on a boat tour along the Reservoir. The viaduct is difficult to photograph due to a lack of access from land. Therefore, it is recommended to spend 13 Euros and enjoy the boat tour that lasts an hour and gives you a brief look at what a person can find along the Reservoir. After all, one will never get an opportunity to photograph a bridge crossing emerald green water.

By the way, where did that emerald green water come from, anyway? 🙂

 

bhc fast fact new:  The Reservoir Pöhl can be accessed by exiting either Treuen or Plauen-Ost. The area provides great opportunities to go swimming, (sail-)boating or hiking. There are many campgrounds nearby where one can camp while enjoying the views.

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 116: A unique bridge in the mountains built by a well-known engineer?

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The next mystery bridge takes us further towards the Czech Republic, right into the town of Olbernhau. With a population of 11,000 inhabitants, the community is known as the City of Seven Valleys, because of the valley of the River Flöha and ist six other tributaries that meet there. Because of that, the community has many historic bridges that one needs plenty of time to visit, even though the length of the crossings are short enough to equal either one 50 foot pony truss span or one arch span of between 15 and 20 meters.

Nevertheless, our focus of this mystery bridge is the longest of the spans, a railroad bridge spanning the River Flöha on the far eastern edge of town, right at the Czech Border. Its exact location can be found in the map below. The bridge is easy to find for when heading east, you cross both the railroad tracks and the bridge before turning right. The railroad bridge is on the right-hand side.

The railroad bridge is one of the most unusual of truss bridges in Europe and beyond. The 68-meter long crossing features a skewed span, where the truss panels are placed parallel of each other along the tracks but in a slanted position at around 60°. That means the truss panel on the left side starts first and after 20 meters, the right one. While there are no portal bracings that support the two truss panelings, the horizontal strut bracings- five panels of them- hold the trusses together. The struts consist of the system of Pratt-heel bracings angled at 15° with the center portion being M-framed. The truss bridge itself is a camelback Lattice truss design with riveted connections, yet they are not the typical truss designs used for the bridges. These have stiffened connections similar to the designs patented by Claus Köpke, an engineer responsible for the construction of the Blaue Wunder Brücke, Marienbrücke and the Alberthafenbrücken all in Dresden as well as a railroad bridge in Riesa. Köpke started his career as a bridge engineer, building bridges from 1872 until his death in 1911. And while he left his mark in the greater Dresden area and parts of Thuringia, it is unknown whether he built many crossings in the Ore Mountains, let alone at this location.

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The bridge was built in 1895, according to historic records and is the longest of the bridges, not only in Olbernhau but also along the rail line and the River Flöha. The construction of the bridge was part of the extension of the rail line from Olbernhau to Neuhausen, running along the Czech border. The crossing is part of the rail line that connected Pockau-Lengenfeld and Neuhausen, where the line was completed at Olbernhau in 1873, and 12 years later, extended to Nauhausen. The line was shut down in 2001 due to structural issues along the tracks and other infrastructure, yet was reactivated in 2011 after years of campaigning on the part of the mayor of Olbernhau combined with renovating the line, its train stations, and the crossings along the River Flöha. Today, the Deutsche Bahn Regional Services operates the line as it terminates in Flöha.

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The bridge is listed as a German heritage site and has been since 1998, yet still its historical significance is unknown. Did Köpke oversee the construction of the bridge as part of the rail project? If not, was he responsible for the design and another bridge builder took to the task? If neither that nor that, who was the genius behind this design? This question remains open for both the readers and bridge fans, as well as the locals in and around Olbernhau. If you have any information on the bridge builder behind this bridge, please contact the Chronicles. Whatever information is useful will be added here and the Office of German Heritage (Büro für Denkmalschutz) will be able to add this to the file that exists to this day. Whatever you can find will be much useful for the region and its enriched historic heritage.

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In other words, your contribution will be of utmost use. Thank you for your support.

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Pic of the Week Nr. 55

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The next pair of pics will take us to the Oblernhau/Marienberg Region, deep in the heart of the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) in south central Saxony. As a general rule, if you can master the tough terrain of steep hills, going up and down like a roller coaster, very sharp curves- mostly combined with bumps and cracks, cobblestone roads that have the potential of being slick when wet and lastly, wild boar running in front of you like a school of raccoons, then you can manage anything. And even more so, some surprises may await you.

In this case, I found one by accident. It’s a multiple-span stone arch bridge that spans a bumpy and curvy cobblestone Highway B 171, a hilly and bumpy road, a deep gorge which also has a river running through. All of it is located in the town of Zölbitz in the district of Rittersberg. The bridge is very difficult to photograph, and because of many cars racing underneath- breaking the 50 km/h speed limit in the process- it is rather dangerous to photograph, no matter at which angle. This was my experience when I photographed this structure. Even with the tree obstructing the view, the bridge presents a nice green and hilly backdrop that is typical for the Ore Mountains. The locals call the bridge Kniebreche not only because of the name of the road, but also because of the way the road is shaped like a bending knee. If one adds the driving portion to the mix, then the trip is definitely a knee-breaker if one is too careless driving in the mountains.

While the bridge looks rather abandoned because of many cracks and plus its dark brown color and vegetable overgrowth on the decking, the Kniebreche Bridge is indeed still in use. The 145-year old structure, measured at a length of 63.4 meters, is still part of the rail line that connects Marienberg with Flöha. In the past it had stretched to Reitzenhain at the Czech border. Yet as of today, the line ends in Marienberg, and the rest has been abandoned with the rails removed and plans of converting the former rail route into a biking and hiking trail with the goal of connecting the latter with the Kammweg Trail, an international route that connects Germany with points in the Czech Republic, Poland and elsewhere. That route runs through Blankenhain, where the Selbitz Bridge is located and the two suspension bridges are scheduled to be built.

Back to the railroad’s history, the line was built between 1872 and 1875. The Chemnitz- Chomotau Railroad Company was in charge of the project but contracted out to a company in Berlin.  Given the narrow valleys along the Black and Red Pockau Rivers, bridges, viaducts and dams were built to accommodate two tracks but only one of them was used. The Kniebreche Viaduct was one of them. The line was the most difficult to build, not only because of the steep narrow valleys but also because of the financing. The financial crisis of 1873 forced the contractor in Berlin to liquidate, and the railroad company itself, which did the planning and layout of the railline, to finish the job.

The Kniebreche Viaduct is located in that area where two-track bridges were built even though the purpose was for having a one-track line. It’s location against the steep cliffs of the valley represent a classic example of the struggles the railroad company had in constructing the line. Given as many curves as the highway has, it is not a surprise that the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) have been using the “red worms” for regional service and leaving the long-distance trains, such as the ICE-trains off the tracks. These types of trains are better off for the long-distance routes, especially between Dresden and the cities of Chemnitz, Erfurt, Leipzig and Prague, for the landscape is flatter and the two-track lines more manageable.

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Call to Action to Save the Route 66 Gasconade Bridge

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Photo courtesy of James Baughn

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HAZELGREEN, MISSOURI- The days of the Gasconade River Bridge, which used to carry US Hwy. 66 near Hezelgreen may be numbered as it faces demolition scheduled for Spring of 2020 unless a new owner can be found.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) has placed the 95-year old bridge under a 30-day public review and comment period which is halfway through its time and is scheduled to be completed by July 5th.  The historic bridge was built in 1924 by MODOT and consists of (from west to east) one 8-panel Warren pony truss with alternating verticals, two 8-panel Parker through trusses and one 6-panel Pratt through truss, all totaling a length of 526 feet. The structure is elgible for the National Register of Historic Places because of its design that was in connection with the standardized bridge movement that started in 1910. It is also in connection with Route 66 and its history, as the Highway, connecting Chicago with Los Angeles via Tulsa and Santa Fe was in operation from 1926 until the last segment of the highway was decommissioned in 1979. Interstate 40 had suplanted the stretch of highway where the bridge is located a years earlier.

Currently, the bridge is closed to traffic and a replacement bridge is being built alongside the historic structure, which will carry a frontage road running alongside the interstate once it’s completed next year. The Gasconade Bridge used to carry that road before its closure in 2015.

Attempts to find an owner for the new bridge and restore the structure to its original glory have not been successful due to differences in planning and realization combined with lack of funding for purchase and restoration. Yet the Gasconade Bridge Facebook (click here) has garnered support from over 1200 Followers and many more who are not on the social media scene. There have been rallies and fundraisers lately and a page where you can donate to save the bridge (click here).

Still the clock is ticking and with the resources and options running out, “only a public outcry expressing significant concern and a desire to save the bridge from demolition might help,” according to a statement on the Gasconade Facebook Page. If you would like to help in convincing government officials to save the bridge, here are the contact details you Need to know before you address your support for the bridge:

E-Mail: STIPcomments@modot.mo.gov

Phone: 1-888-275-6636

Mail: Transportation Planning, Program Comments, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO. 65102.

Identify the Gasconade River Bridge in Laclede County, MO. Give them your name and where you live and most importantly, why this bridge is important and is worth saving. It must be personal; all letters copied and pasted will not be acceptable.

To provide you with an incentive to convince MODOT, here’s an interview I did with Rich Dinkela about the bridge a few years ago. Click here to view.  A pair of YouTube videos of the bridge can be found below:

If you have any suggestions to help save the bridge or are interested in buying it, please contact the Group on their Facebook page. A link to their website you will find here.

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 115: A box culvert with a very unique design

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ELDORADO, IOWA- Approximately 300 feet west of the Eldorado Truss Bridge, one will find a unique diamond in the rough. Located along the north bank of the Turkey River, the first impression that I had during my visit to the bridge in 2011 (see my previous post) was that there may have been a previous crossing- like most of the bridges in Iowa- whether it was a bowstring arch bridge, a truss bridge built of iron or even a covered bridge. One of these three would have clearly fit the description given the need to cross the river from one bluff to another. However, looking at it more closely, especially at the wingwalls and abutments, it is clearly a concrete beam bridge. Unique is the art deco design on the beam span, which is almost a giveaway as to determining what bridge it is. The beam span has two rectangular shapes with a diamond shape in the middle. Most beam bridges and culverts used geometric shapes on their concrete railings when they were introduced for use beginning in 1910, which puts this structure’s build date right into the area of the first two decades of the 20th century. Spanning a creek that empties right into the river, the span is between 15 and 30 feet, which is typical for a box culvert or short-span beam bridge.

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The road that the bridge used to carry seems to have gone along the Turkey River and its north shore, having crossed the river twice- one near the site of Orange Ave. Bridge and one at the crossing at Great River Road. Both of them are two miles apart. While the stretch west of the Eldorado Truss Bridge remains in use as 292nd Street it dead ends at a farmstead before the Turkey River crossing. Only a small stretch east of the bridge exists and while much of it has been removed for farmland, one can trace it to the cylinder piers (or lally columns) of the former crossing that is next to Great River Road. A map on the Eldorado Truss Bridge page can help you trace ist origins (click here).

This leads to the following question to be cleared up:

  1. When exactly was the bridge built and by whom?
  2. When was the street, now known as 292nd Street, built and where did it lead to?
  3. What do we know about the former crossings at Great River Road and Orange Avenue, where the former road crossed before joining other streets? We do know with the lally columns at the Great River crossing it was a through truss bridge but what type is unknown…
  4. When was the street and the bridge abandoned?

 

Any photos, stories and history behind this unique bridge and road would be much appreciated. There are three ways to do it: by e-mail, using the contact info here. By posting in the comment section. And by posting in one of the facebook pages:

Abandoned Iowa Images

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles (group/webpage)

Save the Green Bridge (now known as Historic Bridges of Iowa)

 

NOTE: For the third page, the platform has changed after a successful campaign to save the truss bridge spanning the Raccoon River. The page now focuses on historic bridges in Iowa, which includes truss and bowstring arch bridges as well as others. Click onto the link and like to follow. Despite facebook’s insistence on keeping the old name, it will eventually change to reflect on the focus on historic bridges in the state.

All photos taken in 2011.

 

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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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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 53

This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to 2011 and the state of Iowa. This time to Spencer, where one of two Pennsylvania through trusses still exist. The Dump Road Bridge (also known as Old Rusty) spans the Little Sioux River at 18th Avenue west of the city. Built by the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company in 1901, Old Rusty was brought here in 1915 after having served Main Street crossing the same river along with another through truss span for 14 years. That crossing was replaced with a multiple-span arch bridge which was replaced by the current structure in 2008. Old Rusty still serves traffic but as a light-weight three ton crossing. Fitting to its location as very few cars cross the bridge. However, due to its age, one has to start considering its prospects as a bike/pedestrian crossing in the long-run.