BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 143: Tribute to James Baughn

The 143rd Pic of the Week takes us to Burlington, Iowa, and to this bridge, the Cascade. If there is one bridge a person should see in order to appreciate its structural beauty, fitting in a natural setting, it’s this structure. The bridge features a Baltimore deck truss and two Pratt deck trusses, all of the connections are pinned. The Baltimore span is the only known truss of its kind in Iowa, yet its construction and uniqueness has earned it national recognition in the form of the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built in 1896 by the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works Company, using Carnegie Steel as its provider for steel bridge parts. The design cam efrom the engineering office of Boynton & Warriner in Cedar Rapids. The bridge is suspended more than 60 feet from the ground, with supports from both sides of the gulch which the structure spans. A rather unique piece of artwork for a bridge lover and historian.

The bridge was one of the stops we made during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2013 and this pic came from James’ bridge library. Yet its days may be numbered for the structure has been closed since 2008, to pedestrians since 2019. Residents living on the south side of the city have been battling to at least reopen the bridge for bikes and pedestrians, even if it means making the necessary repairs to do that. Yet the Burlington City Council has been unwilling to make even the modest repairs because of the lack of funding. Its cash-strapped mentality has resulted in much of its historic architecture either disappearing with the wrecking ball or simply sitting there until one incident that brings up the liability issue comes about and it eventually becomes a pile brick and steel. Its abandoned houses and buildings are matched with those in Glauchau, where BHC is headquartered, except Glauchau’s issue are owners buying historic buildings and simply leaving them sit without doing anything with them.

The winds of change are coming to Burlington, though. Already plans to replace the Cascade Bridge is going into motion, though when this will happen remains unclear, due to the question of funding, combined with the bridge’s status and the opposition to demolishing the rare structure to begin with. I’ve been doing some research and interviewing some people involved with the project and an Endangered TRUSS article is in the making.

Stay tuned for more details…..

Mystery Bridge Nr. 26: Unusual Truss Bridge in Iowa

Portal and overhead view. Photos taken by John Marvig

Have you come across an unusual bridge while travelling or bridgehunting? If so, what did the bridge look like, and did you do some research to determine what bridge type it was? Many engineers came up with rather unusual bridge designs during the age of industrialization between 1850 and 1920 which were experimented on roads and railroads. While most of them were used rarely and have long since been extinct, like the Kellogg truss bridge which was used on the Philips Mill Bridge in Floyd County, Iowa, there are some unusual bridge types that were used and whose examples still exist today, like this bridge.

The Muchakinock Creek Bridge, located in Mahaska County, Iowa between Oskaloosa and Eddyville, carries the Union Pacific line on a single track and is one of a handful of through truss bridges whose design is rather unique for a short-span crossing. Built in 1901 by the Phoenix Iron Works Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, the bridge features a V-shaped truss design that is subdivided diagonally and for the center panels, horizontally. It is classified as a Warren through truss, though when looking at it closely, it could be perceived as a Pratt through truss with subdivided connections. Even weirder is the upper chord of the through truss span, where instead of featuring sway bracings resembling a Howe truss design, it features bracings resembling the subdivided kingpost truss bridge, similar to the one located at Schonemann Park south of Luverne, Minnesota.  A diagram produced by John Marvig shows the unusual configuration:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of the four known bridges that are built using this unusual truss configuration are located along this line. The other two are located over Miller Creek in Monroe County along an abandoned railroad. It is obvious that this truss type was used for short crossings as each bridge averaged four panels and 110 feet in length. But it is unknown not only how many were built between 1890 and 1920 and how many more exist beyond the ones found in Iowa so far.

Example of a bridge of a similar design that existed near Manly in Worth County, Iowa. Photo courtesy of John Marvig

The fabricator, Phoenix Iron Works was famous for its unusual bridge designs, as it constructed the longest viaduct in the world using another unusual truss type, the Fink truss, over Lyon Brook in Chenango County, New York, in 1869. The 830 foot long bridge survived only 25 years and was known infamously for deaths and other haunted stories that occurred there. It was also famous for truss bridges built using the Phoenix column, end posts were built using octagonal sides, as shown in this picture. This contributed to the company producing a spin-off in the Phoenix Bridge Company, which existed from 1883 until 1962 and was responsible for building many key bridges, including the Manhattan Bridge in New York City and the Walnut Street Bridge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Iron Works has ceased production in Phoenixville since 1984 but the facilities are being transformed into other uses including designating some as historic sites.

For many reasons, the Chronicles needs your help. If you know of any bridges that feature similar designs like the ones found in Iowa as well as the dates of construction, etc., please send a line and provide the information. These unusual bridge types are important parts of the history of America’s infrastructure and many of them have a chance to become a historical landmark, as well as a key component to bike trails that will be developed over the next few years, including the crossings along Miller Creek in Monroe County.  Send your info and comments to flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com or drop them off in the Comment section as well as on facebook. History is important and many of these artefacts deserved to be recognized for their unusual designs and the builders who developed them in the first place. That is what the Chronicles is there- research, preserve and teach to future generations about bridges and their role in architectural and transportation history.

Newsflyer 8 July, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas historic bridge estranged by county officials, Fitch receives new bridge, Viaduct in Indiana demolished, Vertical Bridge on US 1 to come down soon

There is a small informal trend that was started on the Bridgehunter.com website a couple years ago, where a historic bridge that was replaced or torn down would receive the Little Brown Barf Bag because of the senseless excuses for tearing them down to begin with. It is unknown how often the LBBB has been used this year (or who has used them), and most importantly whether the supplier has any left in stock, but the regular customers may have to find an alternative if there’s none left, especially as we have some bridges in this Newsflyer that are target for the wrecking ball. One of them has a new bridge in place, and while bridge fans have been finding the next available restrooms, others are shaking their heads and asking “Why this bridge? It’s really ugly!”  Here are the bridges making the Newsflyer:

Stranger Creek Bridge demolished despite its pristine condition.

Located southeast of Tonganoxie in Leavenworth County, this elegant Pratt through truss bridge with M-frame portal bracings is one of the tallest bridges in the county and one that can be seen along the Kansas Turnpike (I-70). That will no longer be the case by the middle of this week, as crews are working to demolish the bridge as it is rendered useless because of another crossing on Metro Avenue, located north of the bridge. No replacement is being planned for this structure. The bridge was closed to traffic in April even though when looking at the photos here, the structure seems to be in great condition. Why Leavenworth County spent $150,000 to remove this bridge is beyond the logic of many who think that money would best be spent for other projects or at least converting this bridge into a recreational area with the county conservation board owning it. However, given the plan by the county to replace as many as 20 bridges in the next few years, this estranged behavior towards historic bridges makes sense. Word of advice to those travelling through the county, take a half day to visit the remaining bridges, including those along Stranger Creek where this bridge used to be located, for they will be gone soon.

Fitch receives new bridge, much to the dismay of many

“You guys can have your bridge!” as many have said about this bridge near Lowell, Massachusetts. As reported a few months ago, Fitch’s Bridge was removed after being abandoned for over 40 years, leaving the bridge to decay with nature. Without looking at options for rehabilitating the bridge, the city and park district opted to remove and dismantle the bridge with the usage of cranes and welders and replace it with a half-pony/half deck truss bridge that is of Pratt design. Have a look at the photos here and judge it for yourself. The choice is questionable to many who believe a replica of the 1899 bridge would have been the more logical choice, but if the majority favor a mail-order welded truss bridge, then what can a man do but shake his head and ask why…

Viaduct in Indiana removed

Located north of Owasco over Wildcat Creek in Caroll County, the Owasco Viaduct, built in 1893 and served the Chicago-Indianapolis line until its abandonment in 1992, was one of the longest bridges in the state as well as along the line, with a total span of 1278 feet. Yet flooding in 2004 caused one of the piers to shift more than 10 feet over, making the deck plate girder trestle look like the letter ‘S’ instead of being a straight-line bridge. Many people were fearing that the viaduct would not last long afterwards. It stood for nine years until more recently when the demolition crew finally took the bridge down for safety purposes. Says Tony Dillion, who is one of the experts on Indiana’s historic bridges, “Surprised it stood as long as it did.” More on this bridge can be found here.

Three Maine Bridges to be replaced or removed.

This state used to have a large number of historic bridges, just as many as New Hampshire and Vermont, Maine that is. Now the state has joined the race with its western neighbor and Pennsylvania to see how many historic bridges can be demolished to cut costs, for two of its bridges will be replaced and another one, a double decker bridge will have its bottom deck removed. With the Waldo-Hancock and Memorial Bridges gone, the state is on track to being the state with the worst track record regarding historic bridge preservation, with the exception of New Hampshire. Here are the bridges highlighted below:

Sarah Mildred Long Bridge:

Located over the Piscataqua River on US Hwy. 1 in Portsmouth, the vertical lift bridge was one of two located in the region before the Memorial Bridge was torn down, yet it featured a deck truss with a highway span on top and the railroad span at the bottom of the truss. Yet, despite being built in 1940, both Maine and New Hampshire are competing for a grant to proceed with the demolition and replacement of this unique truss bridge. How unique is it? Its lower deck can be slid inwards to allow ships to pass through in addition to the 227 foot long vertical lift span (the bridge has a total length of 2800 feet). Yet as this bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, even if the two states obtain the TIGER Grant, construction would have to wait until the environmental and cultural impact surveys are carried out. A long battle is in the making to save this bridge under the war cry “Remember the Memorial!” More information can be found here.

Cassidy Point Bridge to become a railroad grade

While this bridge is 43 feet long and carries Danforth Street in Portland, it spans a railroad and owners of the line want the bridge removed. Not to worry. MaineDOT can help you, but it will come at the dismay of car drivers who will have to wait for long 3-mile long trains carrying double-decker coaches and wagons for many minutes. That is the general plan at the moment as the railroad plans to increase traffic on its line through Portland and the bridge to them is a burden to their plan. It is unknown when the project will start but word has it that it will begin soon. More information here.

Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge in Brunswick

Spanning the Androscoggin River in Brunswick, this two-span Baltimore through truss bridge, built in 1909, carrys rail traffic through the city on the top deck, but local traffic on the bottom deck, which is supported by a set of Warren trusses with pin-connections. Going by the name Free Black Bridge, the Pennsylvania Bridge Company structure made the news as Maine DOT, in cooperation with the bridge’s owner, Maine Central Railroad, plans to remove the road deck while leaving the rail truss in use. It is not surprising of the action, for despite the road deck seeing 6-7 cars a day, MaineDOT does not want to have another liability in their hands, which justifies this action.

Free Black Bridge in Brunswick, Maine. Photo taken by HABS-HAER

Registration for Historic Bridge Weekend due 15 July

For those wanting to register for the evening dinners and Kate Shelley tour portions of the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend in eastern Iowa, you have another week until registration comes to a close. You can register for the HB Weekend via facebook or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles as flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. You can also contact him if you want to join the bridgehunting tour only or if you have any questions pertaining to the HB Weekend between now and 31st July.