BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 62

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This week’s Pic of the Week keeps us in the Vogtland region. This time, though, we are back in Saxony and at this bridge, the Pirk Viaduct at Motorway 72. The Viaduct features 12 arches with an average height of 60 meters (180 feet) above the ground. With a total length of ca. 505 meters (1400 feet), the viaduct is the second longest structure on the original route, whose construction started in 1935 but was interrupted because of World War II in 1940.

The Pirk Viaduct also got the dubious award as being the only viaduct that took over a half century to build. Construction on the bridge started in 1937 but was interrupted in 1940. By that time, only the arches and pylons had been built and the spandrels and decking needed to be built. The bridge remained a symbol of the division between East and West Germany in the Vogtland Region for the Motorway 72 sackgassed at Plauen on the east end and the border near Koditz in Bavaria on the west end. The use of East German patrolmen was not needed because the barrier was already there with the bridge. Interesting was the fact the Motorway on the west end was numbered Motorway 772 prior to 1989. On the east end, the motorway became the “Death shot,” because of its narrow lanes. 55 people died using the route.

Still, the Motorway 72 maintained its strategic importance between Bavaria and Saxony at the time of the Revolution and henceforth, the Pirk Viaduct was placed in the top five of projects to be completed immediately. Josef Scheider of the Bavarian Ministry of Building and Infrastructure’s Bridge and Tunnel Division, spearheaded the efforts to finish building the viaduct, despite the exorbitant costs involved. This included inspecting the bridge for its structural stability in the 50 years absence, creating the concrete spandrels that were closed and lastly building the lane in two parts to toal the width of 29.5 meters. Nevertheless, construction started in 1991 with the northbound half of the viaduct being opened to traffic on 2 October, 1992. The rest of the bridge was completed and opened on 3 September, 1993. Counting the delays, it took 56 years to complete the viaduct, which is one of the longest on record.

Still, the bridge is worth a photo opportunity as it spans the River White Elster, the Plauen-Cheb Railline and a pair of streets. The best photo of the bridge is on the south end near the Pirkmühle near the village of Türbel. This is where I took the panorama shot in 2018. On the same side one can find the monument of Hr. Scheider at the junction of Hofer Strasse and the road going to Pirkmühle. On the opposite side of the bridge, one can dine at a small snack shop bearing the structure’s name.

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The masterminds behind the original construction of the viaduct included chief engineer Walter Kinze (who later became Professor at the Technical University in Dresden), as well as three well-known Building firms of Philipp Holzmann, Grün & Bilfinger and Wayss & Freytag. As many as 450 People worked to build the Bridge before the war put the Project on hold. The Dyckerhoff & Widmann. Company finished the Bridge in 1991-93. For more Information on the Bridge, click here.

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The Chronicles now has a tour guide series on the bridges in the Bayerische Vogtland Region, which includes the bridges of Hof as well as well-known structures along the Saale and Elster at the borders of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia. To view the bridges in the guide series, click here and then scroll down. It can be found under the subcategory Bavaria.

 

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The Bridges of Hof (Saale)

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Luftsteg at Hof Central Railway Station. Photo taken in 2017

Hof, in the far northeastern corner of Bavaria, is one of the most historically strategic cities in modern German history. The city, with a population of over 48,000 inhabitants, is located at two Dreiecken, with a history that dates back to the Cold War. To the southeast, there’s the Bayerische Dreieck near the town of Prex, where Bavaria, Saxony and the Czech Republic meet. To the northeast, there’s the Dreiländereck near Mödlareuth, where Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia meet. Until 1990, Hof was an isthmus surrounded by the Iron Curtain and with that, the German Democratic Republic (or East Germany), with the borders barb-wired, walled and patrolled by soldiers to ensure that no escaped to the west. Hof was in the line of a possible invasion by Warsaw Pact Forces as they would’ve marched into West Germany via Fulda Gap, had the conflict reached the point where the first missiles had fired.

In 1989, when East Germans fled to the west via Prague in what was Czechoslovakia, Hof was the meeting point where trains loaded with refugees passed through before heading to West Germany. Gutenfürst, located 10 kilometers to the northeast, was its main transit station into Saxony. When the Wall fell on 9 November, 1989, tens of thousands passed through Hof to get their Welcome Money (Begrüßungsgeld) and buy western goods for the first time ever. Traffic jams of up to 50 kilometers at the Rudolphstein Viaduct were common until the Koditz Viaduct and the Motorway 72 opened to traffic for the first time in almost three decades.

Since the Fall of the Wall and its subsequent Reunification, Hof has transformed itself. It used to be a Cold War modern city with Americans stationed there. Businesses catered to the needs of the soldiers and those who successfully escaped. Nowadays, they have gone out of business, but life goes on in the now quiet small city which is situated between the Vogtland, the Fichtel Mountains and the Franconian Forest. It’s the third largest city in the regional district of Upper Franconia Franconia behind Bayreuth and Bamberg and like the two, it houses not only its own city government but also that of its district. Hof belongs to the Beer Mile where one can try over a thousand different sorts of beer in places like Bayreuth, Kulmbach and Bamberg. Hof is famous for its Schlappenbier, one of the strongest beers ever brewed. And while the Galleria Kaufhof has shut down since 2018, the historic city center, with classical houses lining up along the streets leading to the St. Michaeliskirche, is still bustling with activities with weekly markets and especially its Christmas Market (for more on that, click here.) The city is home to the University of Sciences, where over 5,600 students attend for classes.

While they play a very small role during the Cold War and thereafter, the bridges of Hof have undergone a transition of their own, just like with some of the architecture in the city. No longer known for their modern Cold War architecture, many structures have been replaced with post-Cold War modern architectures, where slabs of concrete built in the 50s and 60s are being replaced with fancier designs made of steel, wood or even a combination of the two plus concrete decking. This includes the likes of the Theresiensteg near the City Park and the Luftsteg at the railway station. Only a few historic structures remain in Hof, whether they are the truss bridges near Filzwerk, or the arch bridges at Obere Steinbrücke or the railway viaduct at Unterkotzau, the oldest bridge still standing. And while most of these structures can be found along the railway and the River Saale, each one has a history of its own that have yet to be discovered. Although the city has its own website and a page devoted on bridges, there is only information on the bridge projects that are either planned or completed, but next to none on the structure’s history in comparison with the one we know about; some of which are located at the former East-West German border.

Henceforth, a tour guide has been created with the focus on the bridges of Hof. Based on the author’s visit this year, they will feature pictures of every bridge photographed in Hof with the information that is known about the bridge, with some gaps that need to be filled with regards to the bridges’ history. They include the structures along the River Saale from Oberkotzau to Unterkotzau, as well as those along the railline, including one at the railway station. Click onto the pictures and if you know of the history of one or more bridges, contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact information by clicking here. The information will then be added in the tour guide that is powered by GoogleMaps. Old photos of the bridges (including the spans that are long since been replaced or removed) are more than welcome.

Hof has a wide selection of bridges in terms of style, materials and different eras. The question is what were the stories behind them? What were they like before World War II? This is where the podium is now open.

Click onto the tour guide, click onto the bridges marked and Good Luck! 🙂

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BHC Newsflyer: 19 August 2019

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Available on podcast by clicking here.

 

 

Headlines and additional information:

Flehe Bridge. Photo by Wiegels via wikiCommons

40-year old cable-stayed suspension bridge in Dusseldorf under the knife for five years.

Information on the bridge

Interview with Norbert Cleve (In German)

Rudolf-Wissell-Viaduct. Photo taken by Angela Monika Arnold for wikiCommons

The Spaghetti Interchange at Dreieck Funkturm and the Rudolf-Wissell-Viaduct in Berlin to be rebuilt- Commuters planning for the Worst

News article on the project

Information on the replacement viaduct

 

Wieck Drawbridge. Photo taken by Laplaender for wikiCommons

Sailboat rams historic Wieck Drawbridge in Greifswald, forcing it to close.

Article on the accident

Information on the bridge

 

New Love Lock railings for historic bridge in Herford in Westphalia

Article on the Harta Bridge in Herford

Bridge Tour Guide

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Photo taken by Raymond Klein

 

Historic Truss Bridge with an unusual skew to be rehabilitated in Pennsylvania

Information on the Bridge and project

 

The Upper Hurricane Road Bridge in Alabama Relocated and being Rehabbed

Information on the Bridge with photos

Information on the relocation of the Bridge

Information on the Sharon Johnston Park

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Skyview of the Cherry Lane Bridge. Photo taken by Dan Lahie for bridgehunter.com

Two bridges in Idaho to be replaced.

Information on the Cherry Lane Truss Bridge in Nez Perce County

Information on the Fun Farm Truss Bridge and Sale of structure in Fremont County

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The search for Information on the Viaduct in Mittweida, Germany and the Inventor of his truss design, Ernest M. Wichert

Mystery Bridge Article on the Viaduct

Biography on Ernest Wichert to date

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Plus: Information on the Iron and Steel Preservation Conference in October in Michigan

 

Click on the links highlighted in blue to read more in addition to listening to the Podcast. 🙂

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 117: The Bridges of Atlantis

The Asel Bridge. Photo taken by Hubert Beberich via wikiCommons

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The next Mystery Bridge article is in connection with the last Newsflyer article published last week on Lake Eder (in German: Edersee) and how the receding water levels are revealing relicts of the past, including a pair of bridges. To give you a brief summary of its location, Edersee is located in the district of Waldeck-Frankenberg in the northern part of Hesse, between the cities of Kassel and Warburg (Westphalia) in central Germany. One needs two hours from Frankfurt/Main in order to reach the lake. Edersee is an artificial lake that was built on orders of Emperor (Kaiser) Wilhelm II beginning in 1911. The dam and reservoir, located near Hemfurth was completed in 1914, but not before three villages were emptied of their inhabitants and later inundated. One of the villages is Asel, where the village’s lone surviving structure still stands.

The Asel Bridge is known by many as the Bridge to Atlantis at Asel (in German: Aselerbrücke). The bridge used to cross the river Eder when it was built in 1890. It is a four-span stone arch bridge, whose builder is unknown. It used to connect Asel with Vöhl before it was inundated with the creation of the reservoir. Over time, the bridge could be seen when water levels were low during the warm months from April to August. However, in the past decade, the levels have been decreasing to a point where the bridge can be seen in its glory year round. Furthermore, access to the bridge is possible on both ends and people can see relicts from the village before its relocation up the hill. The bridge, which has seen increasing numbers of visitors annually, is a living example of the village that had to move aside in the name of progress, having survived the test of time for more than a century.

Yet another crossing, located towards the dam between Scheid and Bringhausen, was not that lucky and only remains of the structure can be seen at low water point. The Eder Bridge at Bringhausen was built in 1893, made of wood, but it is unknown what type of bridge it was before its destruction- whether it was a covered bridge, truss bridge or a beam bridge. We also don’t know who built the bridge and at what cost. What we do know is when Scheid was relocated and the village was destroyed, so was the bridge itself. Today, what is left are the approach spans- made of stone- and the piers that used to support the wooden bridge- made of stone and concrete.

And finally, the third structural ruins that is closest to the dam is the Werbebrücke. This was located in the village of Berich, which is two Kilometers southwest of Waldeck Castle on the North end. Berich was the original site of the dam, water mill and mine that were constructed in the 1750s. The 75-meter long, five-span, stone arch bridge, with concrete keystone arch supports followed in 1899, even though we don’t know who was behind the work. We do know that the bridge was inundated along with the rest of Berich when the Reservoir was created. It was only  until 2010, when water levels started its constant drop, that scuba divers found the bridge remains and some relicts from the old village. Since then, one can see the relicts from shore, including the outer two of the five arches of the bridge.

Not much information on the three structures exists for they were either hidden somewhere or were lost in time due to the relocation and inundation to form the reservoir. As the dam at Hemfurth was one of four dams that were damaged extensively during the bombing raids of 1943, it is possible that fire and floods may have taken the rest of the documents. The dams were rebuilt after the end of World War II, using the Nazi prisoners of war as labor, as American forces rebuilt the area they occupied. Aside from their completion in 1947-49, they have been rehabilitated five times ever since.

Still the information presented on the three bridges at Asel, Berich and Scheid should be the starting point for research. What else do we know about the three bridges, aside from what was mentioned here? If you have some useful information to share, feel free to comment- either by e-mail or in the comment section below. To understand more about the Edersee, there are some useful links to help you. The facts can be found via wiki (here), but there is a website that has all the information on places of interests and activities for you to try (click here). There, you can keep an eye on water levels and plan for your next outing. A documentary on the history of Edersee via HNA can be accessed here.

 

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The infamous Edersee bombing raid happened on 17 May, 1943, when the British Squadron Nr. 617 under the Command of Guy Gibson, used the roll-and-rotating bombs dropped at the reservoir to bomb the dams. Holes were created causing damage to the dams and massive flooding that reached depths of up to eight meters. As many as 749 people perished and hundreds of homes and factories were destroyed in the attacks. The Americans took over the region, together with Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg and started a rebuilding plan, using prisoners of war plus troops who remained in Germany. While the area was rebuilt in five years’ time, the process of rebuilding Germany to its pre-war state took three decades to complete due to complications from the Cold War with the Soviets, who occupied the northeastern part of Germany (today: Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and “East” Berlin). This is despite the Britons and French occupying the rest of what became later known as West Germany.

Prior to the destruction of Berich, a new village was established in 1912, approximately 15 kilometers away. Neu-Berich is located near the border to North Rhine-Westphalia west of Landau. For more on its history (and to buy the book), click here.

 

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Newsflyer: 5 August, 2019

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Champ Clark Bridge before its replacement bridge was built. Photo taken by Steve Conro in 2012.

 

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To listen to the podcast in detail, please click here.

Articles in connection with the headlines:

Pont des Trous in Tournais. Photo taken by Jean-Pol Grandmond (wikiCommons)

Historic Bridge in Tournai (Belgium) Dating back to the 13th Century Removed

News article on the Bridge removal

Information on the City of Tournai

Flooding Destroys Historic Bridge in Yorkshire (UK), threatens Cycling World Cup

News article on the flooding

Information on the Cycling World Cup.

Anderson Bridge in Singapore: One of three bridges gazetted as national Monuments. Photo by Kensang via wikiCommons

Three historic bridges and an open park in Singapore to be declared national Monuments

News article via Strait Times

Details on the three bridges via Strait Times

Tour Guide on the Bridges of Singapore (now a candidate for the 2019 Bridgehunter  Awards in Tour Guide International).

New Harmony Bridge in Indiana Gets a New Owner: Rehabilitation and Reopening Planned

Article on the Harmony Way Bridge Act

Information on the Harmony Way Bridge via bridgehunter.com

 

Champ Clark Bridge’s replacement span open; old Bridge coming down

Information on the Bridge and replacement project

Karnin Lift Bridge as of today. Photo by Kläuser via wikiCommons

The Reactivation of the railroad line to Usedom Island (Germany) and the Karnin Lift Bridge Close to Reality

Article on the Reactivation Project

Information on the Karnin Lift Bridge

The Bridge of Asel when water levels of Lake Eder are at its lowest. Photo taken in 2017 by Hubert Beberich via wikiCommons Levels have reached even lower since this photo was taken.

Low Waters make for Discovery of Atlantis in a Lake in Hesse

Article via FFH Frankfurt

Information on Findings via Lake Eder website

 

The Future of the Meadowbrook Park Truss Bridge after the Fire of 2017:

Article (poll included)

Information on the bridge

Feel free to comment in the Comment section below

 

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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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