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.
This week’s Pic of the week takes us to Anamosa, Iowa and to one of the oldest bridges left in the state. The Anamosa Bridge was built in 1878 by the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works Company . It was replaced on a new alignment in 1929 but remained open to traffic until 1955. It would be one of the first historic bridges in the state to be converted into a pedestrian crossing, the project was finished in 1975. It was rehabbed once more in 2012 with new decking, replacing the ones damaged by flooding in 2008. The bridge can be seen from the Elm Street crossing as both span the Wapsipinicon River entering the the historic community of 5500 inhabitants, which has a historic state penitentiary on one end, a historic business district on another end and Wapsipinicon State Park on the opposite end of the two.
The bridge has a lot of angles where a person can take a lot of shots, whether it is at sundown, on a foggy night when the amber-blazing lights turn the city into a gold color, or this one, where a group of people were camping. This was taken in August 2011 during the time a full moon was coming out. It was a crystal clear night and a group decided to have a campfire next to the bridge. None of them minded as I was taking some shots with the Pentax. However, I did mind when the prints turned out darker than expected. Hence a photoshop program to lighten it up. Here’s your result.
Have you ever tried camping and/or fishing next to the bridge? If not, it’s one to mark on your bucket list, both as the camper/fisher, as well as the photographer. A good way to enjoy the summer, especially in these times.
LAHR (BW), GERMANY- The next Mystery Bridge takes us to the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg and to the city of Lahr. The community of 44,000 inhabitants is located near the cities of Offenburg and Strassbourg along the River Rhine and is easily accessible by the motorway (A 5), train and boat. The mystery bridge at hand can be found to the north of the city, near the town Friesenhaim and Heiligenzell, along the creek Leimbach.
Towards the playground in Heilizenzell on a small path running parallel to the main street one will cross the Leimbach. The crossing is full of bushels of reed and poison ivy on each side of the path. One will not notice the historic crossing unless you cut away at the vegetation and see the arch. Yet one may perceive it as a modern-day culvert. Yet when looking at it more closely……
……one will see the inscription on the arch and the stone spandrels, making this crossing definitely an arch bridge. Looking more closely, we have the inscriptions of I K 8 8 1 4- the first 8 is larger and resembles a letter S spelled backwards with an I down the middle.
This is our mystery bridge. Its design is just as unique as its history. Its history is linked to the history of Heiligzell and the disappearance of the town’s predecessor. At the site of the crossing was the village known as Leymbach. According to the history books, the village was first mentioned in the first Century, AD. It was large farm and trading post that was owned by the Romans during the time of the Empire. Evidence of that comes from a well that was built five meters deep. This was discovered in 1979 by gardener Klaus Schwendemenn and was restored by the neighboring community Friesenheim.
The village was later mentioned by the Lahr registry books in 1356 but it was last mentioned in 1535. Afterwards, Leymbach disappeared from the map. Historians have speculated that the town’s demise had to do with pests, fire and warfare which led to the residents fleeing to safer places. But more research is needed to confirm. Leymbach had a district of Hovestadt, yet it was only mentioned once in the 1500s. What’s left of Leymbach are two farm field border markings with the names “Auf der Steinmättle” and “Hinterem Steinmättle”
The town of Heiligenzell was first mentioned in the 10th Century AD when the farm/ trading post was given to the Monestary by Emperor Heinrich II. It was christenen Heiligenzell by the 14th Century. It was an important trading post during the Middle Ages. It was destroyed during the Geroldsecker feud during the 15th Century, and it is possible that it was the same feud that devastated Leymbach. Heiligenzell was later rebuilt and it is possible that Leymbach folded into its neighboring post. A castle was built during the 1500s to protect the residents. Two churches were added- a monestary and later a Catholic Church in the late 1800s. Heiligenzell had a coat of arms that resembled the number 8, which was the same coat of arms found on the keystone of the bridge.
The coat of arms and the number is much larger than the other inscriptions, which means the bridge belonged to Heiligenzell. Interestingly enough are the other inscriptions. The first are the initials for the person who built the bridge, which was I. K. The second is the fact that the letter K has the same function as the number 1, according to the history books. Normally a Roman number 1 would have the same function as the letter I. Therefore we can conclude that the bridge was built in 1814 by a person, whose name starts with I for the first name and K for the last. Otherwise it would contradict the history books regarding the founding of Heiligenzell.
The Leimbach was rerouted to run along the path in 2014, and this was when the bridge was discovered. It has received lots of media attention because of its unique design and a history that has a place in the puzzle on the history of Heiligenzell, including its former neighboring village of Leymbach. It is a foregone conclusion that the bridge’s predcessor used to connect the two but we don’t know what it looked like before this structure was built. We do know that person I.K. built the bridge but we don’t know who that person was and if he had built other arch bridges nearby.
Therefore the search for the history of the bridge and its connection with Heiligenzell’s own history is open to the forum. It is open to locals who have a lot of knowledge of the history of Lahr, its suburb of Friesenheim and Heiligenzell and the Black Forest region of Baden-Wurttemberg. It is also open to those who know a lot about Roman history and the role of the Romans in Baden-Wurttemberg. But it is also open to all who are interested in the research on the bridge, and everything else that goes along with that. The Chronicles did a podcast on this on June 20th. Now come the details and photos.
The rest falls to those who are interested. Good luck and let the author of the Chronicles know what you find. Thanks! 🙂
Author’s Note: Special thanks to Ekehard Klem for the photos and the background information on the bridge and the surrounding area.
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us on a road trip to rural Iowa and to this bridge- out in the middle of nowhere. 😉 The Durrow Road Bridge spans Blue Creek in Linn County. The bridge can be seen from I-380 right before exiting at Urbana. It’s about 10 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids. It’s a Parker through truss bridge, built in the 1920s using standardized truss designs and measures that were introduced by the Iowa State Highway Commission (now Iowa DOT). It was relocated to this spot at the T-intersection with Blue Creek Road in 1949 and has been serving farm traffic ever since. It has been well-kept with new paint and consistent maintenance.
This photo was taken during one of two visits in 2011, together with my bridgehunting colleague Quinn Phelan, who has lived in the area for many years and knows most of the bridges both in Linn County as well as in many parts of east central Iowa. Like it is today here in Saxony and parts of the Midwestern US, it was taken on a beautiful blue sunny day with a slight breeze and lots of greenery in the area.
The Durrow Road Bridge is a structure that exemplifies a bridge that was common in rural Iowa and a great photo opp for not only the pontists and photographers, but for people who appreciate what this bridge has to offer.
Our 102nd Pic of the Week tells a story of how a bridge became a tunnel and how no one but the biker could tell of the change. This bridge-converted-to-tunnel is located in Jena, in the eastern German state of Thuringia and spans Ammerbach Creek, which runs through the southern suburbs of Ammerbach and Winzerla before it empties into the River Saale near the Ernst-Abbe-Sportsstadium. It was constructed during the same time as the railroad that connected Weimar with Gera with a regional hub station at Jena-Göschwitz- namely 1876. The stone arch span is no longer than 20 meters and has a height of six meters.
So how was the bridge „converted“ into a tunnel?
This was in connection with the reconstruction of the rail line between Weimar and Jena-Göschwitz and it had to do with a nearby bridge that was built in 1935, spanning Kahlaische Strasse, which was a combination of car and tram services. Because of structural instability due to age and the low clearance on the street, workers built a new bridge off site that was a meter higher and twice as long as the main span of 30 meters over the street. This does not include a tunnel on the west side of the street. The entire structure was then torn down, and the new span slid into place.
At the same time, this short-span crossing in the picture was rehabilitated and an additional one meter of railroad bedding was added in order to smooth the grading between the two bridges. A double-concrete railing was added on each side to allow for electrical wires to run through the top railing and to capture the falling rocks by the bottom railing.
This whole conversion and nearby bridge replacement happened from the fall of 2016 until the middle part of 2017 and resulted in detours of all kinds, from rail traffic all the way to the bike trail, which the now-converted tunnel crosses. Living in Winzerla for 15 out of the 20 years I spent in Jena, one can find the detours rather annoying unless you know some short cuts and detours to the city center by car or bike. But this was one that was part of the mega-project on several routes through Jena that brought 70% of the city’s total traffic to a standstill and increased the blood pressure of every driver and biker by an average of 45%! It was a bit over the top and still to this day, management could have been better.
In either case, with the water under the bridge, one can still enjoy this scenic view of the tunnel, now covered with vegetation after a a couple years of bare concrete and rock. Like the bridge, this tunnel comes up fast when you bike between the city center and the south of Jena, and one cannot see it right away- unless you make a stop, like I did with my family. This photo was taken last year, in 2019. And the weather was perfect for the pose. The original arch is still there, covered by bushes and trees. However, it is obvious that the structure has been converted into a tunnel. 😉 Nevertheless, one can enjoy the scenery with just the trains passing by. A real treat when you bike through Jena and along the River Saale. 🙂
The Holzlandbahn provides direct connection between Dresden and Düsseldorf via Chemnitz, Glauchau, Gera, Jena, Erfurt and Kassel. While regional trains run on this route mostly, plans are in the making to electrify the railline completely so that InterCity trains can use them by 2030. More information on the line’s history can be found here.
New York City and its boroughs are well known for their iconic crossings which have stood the test of time. When people think of the largest city in the US, the first bridges to come to mind are the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges along the East River, the Triborough Bridges and the structures built by Othmar H. Ammann, including the Bronx White Stone, Bayonne, George Washington and the Verrazano Narrows, the last of which is still the longest suspension bridge in the US.
Yet going north away from New York is Westchester County. If there is one county that has a wide array of historic bridges spanning different bodies of water in the state, Westchester would be in the top five in the state. It’s well known for two of the crossings over the Hudson River- the Bear Mountain Bridge and the Mario Cuomo Bridge (which replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017). Little do people realize is that the county has several bodies of water where one can find many historic and unique crossings scattered all over the place. For starters, northeast of the Cuomo Bridge is Rockefellar State Park, where as many as six stone arch bridges spanning the Pocantico River can be found within a five mile radius of each other. There’s also the Croton River, a major source of water for the New York City area. There one can find a large batch of bridges along the river, including those along the New Croton Reservoir, like the AM Vets Memorial Bridge, Gate House Bridge and North COuntry Trailway. Also included in the mix are Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road Bridge at Muscoot Reservoir, which also belong to the Croton River crossings. Four historic bridges including Deans Bridge in Croton Falls round off the tour along the Croton River before the river crosses into Putnam County. As many as a dozen historic arch bridges built in the 1930s spanning historic parkways and four historic bridges along Annsville Creek round off the tour of Westchester County’s finest bridges, that feature as many as seven different bridge types and a span of over a century and a half of bridge building that started in the 1870s.
Sadly though, the number of historic bridges in Westchester County is dwindling. Many bridges that have been out of service for at least 20 years are scheduled to be removed. Three of them- Deans Bridge, Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road- are scheduled to be torn down by sometime in the next year. Each crossing has some unique characteristics and historic value that justify not only their listing on the National Register but also rehabilitation and reuse for recreational purposes. Goldens Bridge has a Whipple through truss design with Phoenix columns. Deans and Plum Brook have unique portal bracings that are rare to find in the state, let alone the US.
Yet the bridges in Westchester County are very popular among locals and one of them even produced a gallery of paintings of these unique structures. That with some facts fan be found in the Gallery of Paintings of Westchester County’s Bridges, available via link. A whole list of crossings, both past and present, can be found in the bridgehunter.com website- the link is found as well.
It is unknown whether these galleries will help preserve these structures, but by looking at them, it will bring attention to the readers who may want to visit them in the future. May through a visit and a tour will the interest in saving them for future use increase substantially, even in these hard times like we’re having at present.
So have a look at two sets of galleries and enjoy! 🙂
The next Pic of the Week takes us to Saxony and to the town of Lauter-Bernsbach, located between Aue and Schwarzenberg in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). The town has two covered bridges spanning the River Schwarzwasser. This is one of them. It’s a covered bridge that accompanies a mill, which has long since been abandoned. It’s located near the train station Lauter and can be seen from the highway bridge that carries Bernsbacher Strasse. The bridge appears to have been dated back to about a century ago. Judging by its abandonment, it appears to have been closed off for at least a couple decades. Still, with some extensive work, the crossing would be a great asset for pedestrians and cyclists, who wish to use this crossing instead of the highway bridge, from which this photo was taken in September 2018.
SCHLUNZIG/ MOSEL/GLAUCHAU (SAXONY)- When driving on Highway B 93 between Glauchau and Zwickau, one will see its H-shaped towers. When biking along the Mulde Bike Trail, one will be amazed at the red, white and blue colors the bridge has to offer, its sleek, cable-stayed design and how it is well-integrated into the landscape. A platform offers a splendid view of the River Zwickau Mulde. A picnic by the bridge in the field, wonderful. A photographer’s dream. For a bridgehunter, another of many suspension bridges to see along the river and to write about. For the town of Schlunzig, an icon that replaced a communist era structure that was bland, worn out and no longer able to carry today’s traffic. For commuters looking for a short cut to the VW company in Mosel, they got their route back.
Since last Friday, the Schlunzig CSB has opened to all traffic. At the cost of 7.5 million Euros, the town of Schlunzig got more than what it bargained for, when it replaced the 60+ year old bridge with the structure that appeals to all commuters and tourists. That structure, which was torn down when the realignment project started in March of this year, had sustained extensive damage due to the 2013 floods, making rehabiltation unrealistic. It took over three years to complete the bridge, part of it had to do with the delay in the shipment of cables but also with the winter weather in 2017-18. Covid-19 helped make up for lost time due to next to no traffic plus safety precautions needed to ensure the workers were not infected. In the end, we have a four-lane bridge. Of which we have two for cars which can now cross at 50 km/h (before the old structure was torn down, it was only 30). The outer lanes are for bikes on the south side, and pedestrians on the north side. As a bonus, the bridge is lit up at night. One photographer had some evidence in his photos submitted to Glauchau-City’s facebook site:
While the grand opening only had a handful of people due to Covid-19 and the social distancing guidelines, for district administrator, Christoph Scheurer, this is his third bridge over the Zwickau Mulde that he opened to traffic in his nearly 30 years working for the District Zwickau. For him, this is the most beautiful of the bridges, according to a statement in the Free Press.
Having traveled there with my family for Children’s Day, I have to agree. I’ve seen virtually every bridge, including the suspension bridges along the Zwickau Mulde in the four years of bridgehunting in this area. While many cable-stayed bridges are considered hideous by many in the pontist community, I find this bridge is one of the fanciest of the modern bridges I’ve seen in Germany to date. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to have a design that will conform to the landscape and city scape. Concrete beam bridges don’t have that taste, which was one of the factors that led to this design being chosen. The bridge will be competition with the likes of the Lunzenau Pedestrian Bridge, as well as bridges in Wolkenburg, Wechselberg and Rochsburg in terms of their design and tourist appeal. But it will also serve as a complement to the structures that have existed along the Mulde for at least a half century, including the Paradiesbrücke and Röhrensteg in Zwickau, the Göhren Viaduct, and the Grimma Suspension Bridge, just to name a few. With a wide variety of structures spanning over three centuries, the bridges along the Zwickau Mulde is becoming a major attraction for bridgehunters, cyclists, tourists and passersby alike. One day a book will have to be made on them and their history. Chances are more than likely it will be a smash hit, especially if written in German and English. 😉
And after designing some bridges for T-shirts, this bridge will be the next one to add and some ideas for it I have. Stay tuned. 🙂
This week’s pic of the week takes us back to 2011 and to Minnesota. This shot was taken of the Long Meadow Bridge from the observation deck of Mound Springs Park and the Minnesota River Wildlife Refuge on the northern banks of Long Meadow Lake, all located in Bloomington, located south of Minneapolis and St. Paul, known as the Twin Cities. It was a crystal clear afternoon and I was able to get four of the five Parker through truss spans. Little did I realize is that an airline jet flew low enough over the bridge that it was caught on the camera. It was on its way to land at the Twin Cities Airport. Timing was of the essence, coincidence was gold in this case. This bridge photo was once the header for the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles on its Areavoices website when it was in operation. The Areavoices site was shut down in April 2018.
Since the photo was taken, the Long Meadow Bridge was rehabilitated and restored to its former glory. It was reopened to traffic in 2016 after two years of restoration and is now integrated into the network of bike trails that runs along the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers and in the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. Access to the bridge can be found through Cedar Park, on the same side as the wildlife refuge and Mound Springs Park. One has to follow Old Cedar Avenue all the way towards the park. That used to be a key highway before the expressway made it obsolete in 1977. One can see photos of the bridge before and after the restoration as well as additional information on the bridge’s history can be found here.
Located in the southern part of the district of Stendal, the city of Tangermünde is located on the River Elbe in the northern part of the German state of Saxony Anhalt. The city has over 10,400 inhabitants and is famous for its historic architecture dating back to the Medieval period. It’s one of only a handful of walled cities left in Germany that is in tact and one can find many historic places within the walls of the city, such as the towers, St. Stephan’s Church, Elbe Gate, and the historic city hall. The hanseatic city survived almost unscathed during World War II, for only a few trussed houses (Fachwerkhäuser) were destroyed.
Yet one of the city’s prized historic works, the Elbe River Crossing, was destroyed, leaving a scar on the city.
The Tangermünde Bridge was built in 1933, after taking two years of construction. The 833-meter long bridge features a steel through arch main span (at 115 meters) with a height of 15 meters and a vertical clearance of 9 meters. There were a total of 24 spans featuring many forms of steel girders, through and pony alike. The bridge remained in service for only 12 years. On 12 April, 1945, in an attempt to hinder the advancing American army, Nazi soldiers blew up the crossing while retreating towards Berlin. Nevertheless, to avoid being sent to Soviet camps, sections of the 9th and 12th Wehrmacht armies (Germany) surrendered to the Americans. They had used the destroyed spans to help residents fleeing the advancing Soviet army. A temporary crossing was constructed afterwards.
Here are some videos of the Tangermünde Crossing after it was destroyed by explosives. This was filmed after the Nazis surrendered to American troops. The gravity of the destruction of the bridge was huge and was a symbol of the destruction that would be bestowed upon in all of Germany.
The Tangermünde Crossing was rebuilt by the Soviets and the East Germans after Tangermünde became part of East Germany in 1950. They recycled the bridge parts and rebuilt a multiple-span crossing that featured as a main span a curved Pratt through truss with welded connections. Ist portal was I-beam with 45° angle heels. The remaining spans featured Bailey trusses, both pony as well as through truss. A tunnel view oft he Bailey through truss can be found in a blog which you can read here.
The structure lasted through the Fall of the Wall before it was replaced with the current structure, a steel through arch that mimicks that of the 1933 span. The bridge itself is almost twice as long as the original span, having a total length of nearly 1.5 km. It was built nearly two kilometers to the north of the old span, which remained in use until it was closed to all traffic in 2001 when the new bridge opened to traffic. The old structure was removed two years later. At the same time, the main highway, B-188, was rerouted, thus bypassing much of the city and having only local traffic going through town.
Today, the Tangermünde Crossing still serves local traffic. Its design has fit into the rest of the city’s historic landscape, much of which has been restored since 1990. Yet as we celebrate the end of World War II, many people remember how their prized work was destroyed towards the end of the war in a cowardly attempt to prevent the inevitable. And because the city was for the most part spared, Tangermünde has continued to become a tourist attraction. People can go back to the Medieval times and enjoy the architecture, before heading to the River Elbe to see the structural beauty. Despite being one of the youngest crossings along the Elbe, it is one with a story to tell to children and grandchildren alike.