Happy Birthday to Mouse TV (Sendung mit der Maus) in Germany

Statue of the Orange Mouse- The Star of the Show that is 50 years old. Source: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons

COLOGNE, GERMANY- March 7, 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the German-speaking children’s show „Die Sendung mit der Maus“ (in English: Mouse TV), which is officially presented as „Lach- und Sachgeschichte“ (in English: Stories for Laughing and Learning). On this day in 1971, the first episode of the Mouse was introduced on public TV through the West-German channel WDR, located in the city of Cologne.

Featuring the Orange Mouse, the TV show runs along the same pattern as our American counterpart, Sesame Street, which debuted two years earlier. Unlike the Muppet characters, like Big Bird, Kermit, Elmo, the Count and the Cookie Monster, who take up most oft he show’s time through conversation and lessons, the Mouse features only three characters- the Mouse himself, the Blue Elephant and the Yellow Duck, yet the show features various cartoon clips from other shows but half the time is spent showing the viewers how things are built and how certain devices work- in live time. Like in Sesame Street, the Mouse is televised in many languages and can be seen even on American TV.

The Mouse has garnered dozens of awards, some of which have gone to two of the moderators who have been with the mouse for as long as the show: Armin Maiwald and Christoph Bienmann. While we’re talking about how things are being built in live time, I stumbled across some films that featured the bridge, while I was finding some older series to be presented in another commentary in my other column, the Flensburg Files. Some were quite funny and even if they are over 30 years old, some people will get a laugh out of them. Yet there are some that educational and quite useful for everyone to watch. We’re going to show the Chronicles‘ greatest bridge hits that were presented by the Mouse over the years. While the target language is German, the videos presented here speak more volumes than what is spoken in any language. 🙂

In the first video shown above, there are the many attempts of Christoph trying to cross the river All of the attempts were worth the laughs. Yet given the fact he was an exchange student in the United States prior to joining the Mouse in 1972, he added some American flair to the film, which was released in 1982.

The next bridge video was the first to show the actual bridge building process. This two-part series, released in 1994 takes you through a step-by-step process from planning to the actual building of the viaduct that now spans a road, river and railroad tracks.

Then there’s the bridge replacement aspect with a focus on replacing the motorway bridge in Leverkusen. Started in 2014, the series is ongoing and there will be much more to come as the project progresses, for the bridge replacement is expected to take a decade to complete.

And lastly, we have the newest among the bunch, the slide-in replacement of a railroad bridge near Cologne and the process that took a full weekend to complete, yet the filming was enough for one episode.

Especially in the past decade, the videos on building bridges have become more popular for people of all ages for much of the infrastructure is getting older and becoming unable to handle today’s traffic in terms of volume and weight. Nevertheless, they are interesting to watch as each structure is inspected and when it is concluded that replacement is inevitable, the planning, design and construction is carried out.

Even if one is not interested in bridges, the Mouse presents virtually every aspect of manufacturing or making the basics for every day life with the purpose of making it entertaining but most importantly, educational.  I started watching the Mouse when my daughter was born in 2008 and since then, it has become a cornerstone to our Sunday ritual: Mouse TV with pancakes for breakfast, all on the sofa in the living room, something that many of us in Germany enjoy doing on a Sunday morning when the show is televised on TV, either on ARD or KIKA.

And therefore, the bridge community and this columnist of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to wish the Mouse a happy golden birthday and many thanks to Armin, Christoph and crew many thanks for making the show a „bridge building“ experience for all ages, especially those who wish to become engineers in the future.

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag/ Happy Birthday!

Borders to Bridges: The Answers to the Guessing Quiz

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And now, after having looked and guessed at the bridges, here are the answers to the Guessing Quiz on whether the following bridges were part of the borders or not.  🙂 

Please note that information on the correct answers pertaining to the “border” bridges can be found in the links highlighted. Some of these bridges were documented by the Chronicles earlier in the year.

GUESSING QUIZ: THE BRIDGES ALONG THE BORDER

When the border and the Berlin Wall went up, many of the bridges that made up the border between the Federal Republic of Germany (West) and the German Democratic Republic (East) were closed down or even removed. Only a handful of crossings remained open but under stringent control by the East German border guards, to ensure that no one left the country who was not supposed to.

The question is: Which bridges were affected?  Look at the pictures below, determine if they were borders or not by marking Yes or No, and state your reason why by identifying where they are located. Borders meant that the bridges were either shut down to all passage or were under strict control by the East German army. The 16 German states are listed below to help you.  Good luck! 🙂

1.

Photo: R. Kirchner for wikiCommons

   /      N

Where? This bridge spans the River Elbe near the village of Dömritz at the Lower Saxony- Mecklenburg/Pommeranian border. This used to be a railroad crossing, the longest of its kind over the River Elbe. 

 

2.

glienicker 2

Y      /       N

Where? This is located at the border between Berlin and Brandenburg near the town of Potsdam. The Glienicke Bridge was once known as the Bridge of Spies because of the spy exchanges that happened between 1961 and 1989. 

 

3.

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Y    /       N   

Where? This is located in Jena in Thuringia- The Alte Burgauer Brücke spanning the River Saale

 

4.

o-burg

Y        /          

Where? This bridge is located in Oranienburg (Brandenburg)- The Queen Luisa Bridge. 

 

5.

Photo by Torsten Bätge for wikiCommons

Y         /            N

Where? This bridge spans the River Elbe in Lauenburg (Schleswig-Holstein), located 3 km west of the three-state corner where S-H, Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Pommerania are located. It connects Lower Saxony with S-H. 

 

6.

bornholm str. br

Y            /                  N

Where? This is the Bösebrücke at Bornholmerstrasse in Berlin. It used to span the railway and Berlin Wall between Prenzlauer Berg and Gesundbrünnen

 

7.

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Y       /          N

Where? This is the Rudolphstein Viaduct spanning the River Saale at Motorway 9 at the Thuringian-Bavarian border. It was rebuilt in 1966 and was a border crossing until 1990. 

 

8.

IMGP8692

Y           /            N   

Where? This is the Eider Bridge in Friedrichstadt in Schleswig-Holstein, the oldest of the tied arch bridges that later replaced many Elbe River crossings, many in the former East Germany. 

 

9.

Photo by Störfix for WikiCommons

       /            N

Where? This is located in Vacha, at the Hesse-Thuringia border. The 13-span stone arch bridge was indeed guarded by border patrolmen until 1989. 

 

10.

Y        /         N

Where? This is the Hörschel Viaduct, spanning the River Werra at the Thuringia-Hesse border. It carries the Motorway 4. 

 

11.

DSCF8658

Y         /           N

Where? This is the Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.

12.

71240654_2689168554447110_8234287724815712256_o

Y         /           N  

Where? This is the Harburg Bridge, spanning the River Elbe in Hamburg. 

 

13.

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Y         /           N  

Where? This viaduct is located in Grobau (Saxony), approximately 3 kilometers from the border train station Gutenfürst and another three from the Saxony-Bavarian border. 

 

14.

IMG_20190506_165214196_HDR

Y         /           N  

Where? This one is near Koditz, near Hof. It spans the River Saale but west of the Saxony-Bavarian border. 

 

15.

selbitz 3

        /           N

Where? This is the Selbitz Bridge, at the Bavarian-Thuringian border near Bad Blankenstein

 

16.

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        /           N

Where? This is the Sparnberg Bridge, spanning the River Saale 3km west of Rudolphstein Viaduct at Sparnberg (Thuringia)

 

17.

59655835_2414395578591077_246195518340857856_o

Y         /          

Where? This is the Harra Bridge spanning the Saale near Bad Lobenstein (Thuringia). The bridge is 13 kilometers from the Thuringian-Bavarian border.

 

18.

31934788_1874852035878770_8085130455587749888_o

        /           N

Where? This is the former Avus Bridge at Checkpoint Bravo near Zehlendorf (Potsdam). It still spans the Teltow Canal at the former East-West border (now Berlin-Brandenburg) 

 

19.

ZwSch

Y         /           N

Where?  This bridge is located near Legenfeld in Saxony, spanning the River Zwickau Mulde. 

 

20.

IMG_20190506_175912431_HDR

Y         /           N

Where? This is the Hirschberg Bridge spanning the River Saale between the Thuringian town and Untertiefengrün (Bavaria)

 

German States:

Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia

 

Answers will come on November 9th, the same day as the Fall of the Wall.  🙂

Check out the Flensburg Files and follow the updates pertaining to the 30th anniversary celebrations. There are lots of articles that have been written on this topic, including former border crossings and videos, just to name a few. As a hint, some of the answers to this quiz lie both there as well as here.

 

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Borders to Bridges: A Guessing Quiz on the Bridges of the former East-West German Border

Co-produced with sister column: flefi deutschland logo

BHC FORUM

1989 marks the year of the Fall of the Wall. 30 years ago on November 9th, the East German government opened the borders that had separated East and West Germany for 21 years. This resulted in the Fall of the Wall and as a consequence, the Reunification of Germany, which happened on 3 October, 1990.

 

GUESSING QUIZ: THE BRIDGES ALONG THE BORDER

When the border and the Berlin Wall went up, many of the bridges that made up the border between the Federal Republic of Germany (West) and the German Democratic Republic (East) were closed down or even removed. Only a handful of crossings remained open but under stringent control by the East German border guards, to ensure that no one left the country who was not supposed to.

The question is: Which bridges were affected?  Look at the pictures below, determine if they were borders or not by marking Yes or No, and state your reason why by identifying where they are located. Borders meant that the bridges were either shut down to all passage or were under strict control by the East German army. The 16 German states are listed below to help you.  Good luck! 🙂

1.

Photo: R. Kirchner for wikiCommons

Y    /      N                                       Where? ____________________________________________________

 

2.

glienicker 2

Y      /       N                                  Where? _____________________________________________________

 

3.

61277351_2446054655425169_9220180807434371072_o

Y    /       N                                             Where? ________________________________________________

 

4.

o-burg

Y        /           N                                  Where? _________________________________________________

 

5.

Photo by Torsten Bätge for wikiCommons

Y         /            N                                                            Where? __________________________________

 

6.

bornholm str. br

Y            /                  N                                                 Where? ___________________________________

 

7.

60348074_2428639390500029_8081718061121404928_o

Y       /          N                                            Where? _____________________________________________

 

8.

IMGP8692

Y           /            N                                Where? ________________________________________________

 

9.

Photo by Störfix for WikiCommons

Y        /            N                                  Where?__________________________________________________

 

10.

Y        /         N                                                   Where? _________________________________________

 

11.

DSCF8658

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

12.

71240654_2689168554447110_8234287724815712256_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

13.

67123024_2551689028195064_8252882931752632320_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

14.

IMG_20190506_165214196_HDR

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

15.

selbitz 3

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

16.

60831355_2487501947935430_5515844232725659648_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

17.

59655835_2414395578591077_246195518340857856_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

18.

31934788_1874852035878770_8085130455587749888_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

19.

ZwSch

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

20.

IMG_20190506_175912431_HDR

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

German States:

Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia

 

The answers to the quiz are HERE.

 

Check out the Flensburg Files and follow the updates pertaining to the 30th anniversary celebrations. There are lots of articles that have been written on this topic, including former border crossings and videos, just to name a few. As a hint, some of the answers to this quiz lie both there as well as here. You will find them all here.

 

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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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Historic Bridges along the Des Moines River- book project

Murray Bridge spanning the Des Moines River in Humboldt County. Built in 1905 by A.H. Austin. Photo taken in September 2010

Growing up in Jackson County, Minnesota, I was acquainted with historic bridges that had once crossed the Des Moines River, remembering the thousands times I had crossed the Petersburg Rd. Bridge, located just north of my grandma’s place when I visited her, or paying homage to those in the northern part of the county. They were unique because of their individual character and history. They were also part of our past, which the future generations have little to no knowledge about.

Despite almost all of them disappearing to progress, I wrote a book about Jackson County’s historic bridges in 2007 and again in 2012, featuring the bridges along the Des Moines River, where over a dozen bridges had once crossed the major river, now there are only 9 left in use.  Realizing the popularity of the books on “disappearing” historic bridges on book shelves in the libraries and book stores, it is time to take this subject to the next level- which is scrolling down the Des Moines River, digging up interesting bridge facts for readers to look at.

Petersburg Road Bridge in Jackson, Minnesota. Built in 1907, the bridge was torn down in 1995. Photo taken in 1992.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m looking for any information and old photos of bridges (as well as photos of old bridges before they disappeared) along the Des Moines River for use in a book bearing the above-mentioned title.

One has to keep in mind that the Des Moines River started in two different places. The west branch starts at Lake Shetek in Murray County and snakes its way through Cottonwood and Jackson Counties before making a straight shot going southeast. The east branch starts in Jackson County east of Alpha, and after meandering through Martin, Emmet and Kossuth Counties, joins the west branch south of Humboldt before slicing Iowa in half, passing through Des Moines, Red Rock Lake, and Ottumwa before emptying into the Mississippi River south of Keokuk. The total length of the river is 525 miles (845 km). Like the border it temporarily forms between Iowa and Missouri before its confluence at Keokuk, the river in Iowa also represents the border between the bridges builders from the east coast that built various iron bridges in the eastern half of the state and the bridges built by those who were based in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and all points to the west. Examples of bridges built by both sides of the spectrum are found in some history books, and some can be visited today by tourists and passers-by alike. This includes the Kilbourn, Bentonsport, Eveland, Bellefont and Horn’s Ferry Bridges, as well as bridges in Des Moines, Ottumwa, and Fort Dodge. Also a bonus is the number of railroad trestles that were built along the river, one of which was named after Kate Shelly, the girl who informed the station tenant of the bridge being washed out in a storm and stopped an incoming passenger train before it fell into the river.

Kilen Woods State Park Bridge in Jackson County, Minnesota. Built in 1913, replaced in 2004. Photo taken in 1994

If you have any information, stories and photos that you care to share in the book project, please contact me via e-mail at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. For photos, please let me know the source so that it is cited in the book accordingly. Some mystery bridge articles in connection with some bridges along the river will be posted in the Chronicles and will be listed in the page entitled Forums and Inquiries under the title: Mystery Bridges. If you have any questions about the project or have anything that will contribute to the project, let me know and I’ll be happy to take them on. The Chronicles will keep you up to date as to how the book project is going and when it will be completed and ready for publishing. It is hoped that it will be finished in 2-3 years but it depends on the information found and how book will be created.

There is the Mississippi River bridge book set. Two other river books are in the works by a couple other pontists. Many cities have their own books on the history of bridges. It is hoped that the Des Moines River bridge book will be another one for readers to look at and cherish for years to come.

 

German Heritage Day at the Bridges

Carl-Alexander-Brücke in Dornburg, one of many bridges featured in this year’s Tag des offenen Denkmals. Photo taken in August

Tag des offenen Denkmals to take place on 14 September.

Every year in September, Germany hosts the “Tag des offenen Denkmals,” an all-day event taking place on a Sunday, where millions of visitors spend the day touring churches, museums, places of historic and natural interest and even city parks, whose history dates back hundreds of years. The visitors can also enjoy the historic bridges while they are at it. While the number of historic bridges at this open house is limited, tourists can take in a guided tour of the structures, learning about their history and in one case, how the bridges function as caterer of all forms of traffic that carries people and goods from point A to point B. In the case of one historic bridge that has been abandoned for many years, the heritage days can serve as a platform for a campaign to restore and reuse it for other purposes.

As many as a dozen of Germany’s bridges are listed as having tour guides and other events taking place this Sunday. The Chronicles has a list of a few of them people can expect to see during this 18th annual event. For instance:

Liesenbrücke in Berlin: This two-span railroad bridge passes over the roundabout, where four streets and three cemetaries meet in the Berlin suburb of Gesundbrunnen. Built in the 19th century and surviving World War II and the Cold War, the truss design of this bridge is similar to the Railroad Bridge spanning the Danube at Linz, Austria- a curved Whipple with riveted connections. Once serving a rail line connecting Berlin and Stettin in Poland and later, light rail (German: S-Bahn), the bridge has been abandoned since 1990, but preservationists and those associated with the bridge are fighting to see the bridge reused for bike traffic. A presentation on the bridge will take place at 4:00pm on the Tag des offenen Denkmals with some information available on how to support the efforts in saving the structure. More information online by clicking here.

Drususbrücke at Bingen (Rhein): Touted as the oldest stone arch bridge remaining along the Rhine corridor between Frankfurt and Cologne, this 11th century stone arch bridge is located over the Nahe just before its confluence with the Rhine River. It was named after Drusus, the Roman who led his troops to the region at the time of Roman expansion and may have been the person engineering the first crossing near Bingen. The stone arch bridge has survived several wars, having been restored three times- the last time in 1952. One can see the bridge during the Tag des offenen Denkmals between 10am and 4pm, obtaining information about the bridge’s history on site. Yet do not forget to stay in the evening for some night photos. More information here.

Tauberrettersheim: Located northwest of Rothenburg ob der Tauber along the Tauber River in Bavaria, the stone arch bridge was the work of Balthasar Naumann, built in 1733 and featuring five arches. The bridge was rebuilt in 1947 and still serves its function like it did in the past- the gateway to the town famous for its Barocke architecture and arts and crafts. The bridge is part of the festival where several stands featuring locally handmade goods on this day. More information can be found here.

Autobahnmeisterei and Bridge at Erkner: Located along the Berliner Ring (Motorway Rte. 10) in Erkner, southeast of Berlin, the Meisterei features a mechanic shop for automobiles, an administration office responsible for the upkeep of the motorway and a silo with a gallery of photos, artefacts and other information pertaining to the Autobahn system in Berlin and Germany. Also featured is the remains of the deck girder bridge that had once carried Motorway Rte. 10 and was built in 1942, the same time as the Meisterei. Upon its replacement in 1996, a section was placed on the lawn of the Meisterei as a monument, and together with the building complex itself, has been restored for the public to see. More information on the open house and its history can be found here.

Carl-Alexander-Bridge in Dornburg: Spanning the Saale River near Dornburg, 10 kilometers north of Jena in eastern Thuringia, the three-span riveted Parker through truss bridge was built in 1892 to replace a 14th century covered bridge destroyed in the flooding. Since 2000, the bridge has been reduced to just bike and pedestrian traffic, but is structurally in dire straits. Since 2006, the preservation organization has been raising funds to refit the bridge to make it safer and more family friendly. The festivities on the Tag des offenen Denkmals will rake in more visitors and funding possibilities in hopes that enough money is raised in order to start with the rehabilitation work next year. More on the events on this day, which features breakfast and jazz music, a presentation and tour of the bridge and a tour of the Dornburg castle can be found here.  As Jena will be featured in the Chronicles’ bridge tour, more on this bridge will come soon.

Rendsburg High Bridge: Spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal, the 1913 bridge complex features a north loop approach span and the main span- a cantilever Warren through truss rail span carrying rail service between Flensburg and Hamburg and underneath, a transporter span carrying vehicles and people across the canal. The masterpiece of Friedrich Voss has been considered a national landmark since 1988 and a guided tour will be provided to talk more about the bridge. Two tours will take place in the afternoon at the bridge terasse on the Rendsburg side of the crossing. More information available here.

Oschütztal Viaduct in Weida: Built in 1884, the Town lattice deck truss viaduct has a length of 185 meters and is 28 meters high above the ground. The landmark of Weida, which can be seen from the east entrance of the city as well as from the train station 1 km to the west, was the work of Claus Köpcke and Hans Manfred Krüger, who later built the Blue Wonder Bridge in Dresden. The bridge served rail traffic in eastern and southern Thuringia, connecting Weida with Gera in the north, Saalfeld in the southwest and Plauen to the southeast. It was closed to traffic in 1984 and has been sitting unused ever since. The organization is looking at renovating the bridge for reuse either as a tourist railroad attraction or for bike and pedestrian use. In connection with its 130th birthday, a guided tour and other festivities are being planned for that day. More details here. The Chronicles will feature more information on the plans for this bridge when they come.

If you want more information on other places you can see while travelling through Germany this weekend, please check out the link, where all the places of interest are having their open houses. There, you will find all the information you need on the events taking place and when. The link is right here.

This year’s event has more bridges than in year’s past, and this in its 18th year. This leads to the question of other bridges that should have open houses on this day so that tourists can visit them. If you know of one or more particular bridges that should be considered for future Tag des offenen Denkmals, place your comments here as well as in the Chronicles’ facebook page and your reasons why.

Bridge Photos on Sale

Browns Creek Bridge near Stillwater, Minnesota. Winner of this year’s Best Kept Secret Award for the US. Photo taken and submitted by David Parker of David Parker Photography.

Interested in picking up a good photo? Perhaps one of a historic or modern bridge as a gift or an addition to one of the rooms in the house?  If interested, one of the fellow pontists and professional photographer is selling them this weekend.

David Parker, who owns Parker Photography based in Stillwater, Minnesota, is hosting a garage sale this Saturday, June 7th from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at his studio, located at 1149 Bergmann Drive in Stillwater. There, you will have an opportunity to purchase one of his works, as well as order any unprinted photos that are not in stock. Some of the photos on the selling block include landscapes, historic buildings and  bridges in parts of Minnesota (including the Twin Cities), including this one, the Browns Creek Bridge, which received the 2012 Othmar H. Ammann Award for Best Kept Secret.

Refreshments will be provided. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Mr. Parker using the following contact details here. Hope to see you there and best of luck finding the best photo. 🙂

 

How to teach Infrastructural History in School

Waddell Truss Bridge at Volga State Preserve. Photo taken in August 2011

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Joint Article with Sister Column:

 In connection with Files’ series on In School in Germany. More on the series can be found here.

History- a subject that goes beyond borders and looks at things that we never knew about, getting us to think about them, putting them in the context of our own lives and the environment we are living in. It goes beyond the borders of geography and how the countries were developed. It goes beyond arena of sports events and looks at the development of each kind and how the men and women contributed to it. It digs deeper into how the country was mapped out in terms of landscape, networks of infrastructure and the social aspects which led to revolution and redesign by reformists and those who wanted to make their place better than before.  In other words, one has to dig deeper to find the truth and challenge what had been written in the past but was now rebuked because of new evidence.

In school, especially on the secondary level, history is a must, and it is important that students know about the history of their country and the rest of the world for two reasons:

1. To help them become acquainted with their own region and country and discover who they are and where they came from and

2. To encourage them to find out more about themselves and where they live, by looking and exploiting the aspects that are seldom mentioned.

As there are certain requirements written by law and because of certain time constraints, only a peck of the history that exists is even taught in the schools, and when it is taught, it is with the traditional social form of teaching: the book and frontal teaching (German: Frontal Unterricht). It is not surprising that the interest in history among youngsters up to 18 is near the bottom of the food chain, in both countries- more so in the US than in Germany because of the strive of educators to have the students achieve high results in the international tests for math, reading and sciences. But as we see in the PISA studies, and which will be discussed in the Files’ article about Frontal Teaching, sometimes student involvement and allowing them to discover something new can encourage a positive education result, even better than the recent studies.

But even with these constraints, the teacher can make some space for some new things that cannot be found in books themselves- at least not yet, that is. And when students are encouraged to do some work on their own, whether it is analysing a text and writing a review about it or presenting about it, then they will benefit from it in a way that they can add the knowledge to what was taught in the past and have fun doing it. This is where the topic of Industrialization and Infrastructure enters the picture.

During my internship at a Gymnasium (EN: High School) in Germany, I had an opportunity to dig deeper into the history of the development of Germany in the 1800s by looking at aspects like the creation of democracy, Otto von Bismarck’s creation of the German state in 1871 and how Germany became a super power and remained so until the end of World War I. At the present time the students are talking about Germany, Europe and the age of industrialization between 1871 and 1914, where several aspects, such as imperialism, socialism, worker’s union and environment are being introduced. Even the expansion of the transportation infrastructure and the landscape made of steel will be mentioned. Believe it or not, this is the topic the author of the Chronicles and Files is about to do.

Talking about the infrastructure and comparing it between Germany and the US does produce their similarities in terms of inventions and the development of materials for the construction of buildings, railroads and bridges, yet how does a teacher present these aspects to the students without boring them.  Let’s look at the topic of bridges, for example. There are two different arguments for and against presenting this topic. The contra part would be the simple fact that a bridge is a bridge, crossing a ravine connecting point A and point B. If it fails or is too old, then it is replaced. The pro part to this topic feature the arguments about unique bridge designs, bridge builders that were common, including those who immigrated to the States from Germany, like Ralph Mojeski, Lawrence Johnson, Albert Fink, and Gustav Lindenthal, to name a few. Then there is the switch from iron to steel mainly because of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and lastly the consolidation of 28 bridge builders into the American Bridge Company in 1901 and its competition from other bridge builders in the west, as well as outside the country.

Nathan Holth once presented this topic as a whole during his time as a student teacher (his PPT presentation can be seen here). Some of the unique features, include the builder’s plaque, portal bracing of the truss bridge and ornamental features can enable historians to determine how the development of bridges came about in the US between 1871 and 1914. As I will be the second pontist to present this in a couple weeks time, the topic will be on a wider scale as Germany and US have some similarities with regard to bridge construction. The difference is with regards to the fact that the German concentration seems to be more on canals and railways than with highways, like in the US. Also the full establishment of steel companies, like Thuyssen-Krupp before 1871 enabled Germany to expand the steel-building landscape, constructing bridges and high-rise buildings in large cities, like Berlin and Hamburg, in addition to its fleet of ships.

The question is if one wants to present bridge building in connection with the industrialization- be it in the US, Germany, Europe or when comparing between two countries, what aspects are important and should be presented to the students, keeping in mind that the topic is industrialization, and the time frame is betweenthe 1870s and 1914, the time of World War I?  Which aspects should the students research on in their own spare time? And lastly how should it be taught in high school in comparison to college?

Put your comments here or on the Files’ or Chronicles’ facebook pages as to how you would approach an exotic topic like this, while keeping the topic of Industrialization in mind.  I created a pocket guide to industrial history which includes bridge building as one of the aspects. You can click here to read about it.

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The Bridges of Lübeck, Germany: Preview

Photo taken in October 2013

 

Marzipan, architecture, labskaus, and the Baltic Sea. Those are the characteristics of the city of Lübeck, located on the Trave River west of the border to Mecklenburg-Pommerania in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany. With a population of 220,000 inhabitants, the second largest city in the state (and sixth largest in northern Germany behind Hamburg, Bremen, Hanover, Kiel, and Brunswick) prides itself on its architecture, as the Altstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the key ports to the Baltic Sea, which is 10 km to the north.  Even the historic bridges in the city is a must-see if you are a pontist or have an interest in the city’s bridges.

I had a chance to tour the bridges in Lübeck most recently, as part of a short hiatus to see what the city has to offer. This included a tour of the ones in Altstadt by boat and learning about the history of each one. Before digging in on the tour, there are five questions to test your knowledge on the city let alone encourage you to do some research on them. The answers will be provided in the next article dealing with this particular topic.

So let’s start off with the Five Fragen for the Forum, shall we?

  1. Look at the picture of the statue. This was one of eight statues that can be found on which bridge? (Can you name the statue in addition to that?)
  2.  How many movable bridges exist in Lübeck? (Can you name them?)
  3. One of the movable bridges is a bascule bridge. What is it and what types exist? What bridge type is this one?
  4. The last crossing along the Trave before emptying into the Baltic Sea is located where?
  5. Which bridge is the oldest extant bridge in Lübeck?

And a pair of non-bridge bonus questions for you to ponder:

6. How do you make marzipan? What candy company makes this candy?

7. What is labskaus?

You can leave your comments here or on any of the social network pages bearing the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. The answers will come in the next week or so to allow you some time to guess or research and share your answers online.  Sister column The Flensburg Files will feature a few articles on this city from a couple perspectives worth noting which will also be posted on the Chronicles’ facebook and twitter pages.

But in the meantime, as there are a couple lose ends to cover beforehand, happy guessing! 🙂

ASCE Bridge Photo Viewers’ Choice Award 2013

Photographers on the Old US 66 Bridge over the Mississippi River East Chanel east of St. Louis. Photo taken by James Baughn in August 2011

With a number of bridge photographers increasing in vast numbers, surely there would be a bridge photo contest to encourage them to submit the best ones for a grand prize right?

In the eyes of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the answer is yes. For the first time ever, the ASCE opened the bridge photo contest in March of this year with 13 winners announced in July (see link here) and 20 finalists selected for the Viewer’s Choice Award, which is taking place between now and the end of this month.

If you are interested, you can click here, and view the photos for the Viewer’s Choice to determine who should win the award. Winners will be announced on 1 October, some of them will have their bridge photos featured on the 2014 ASCE Calendar. 12 of the bridges are located in the US and five are in Europe. Join in on the voting and the Chronicles will inform you of the winner via Newsflyer as soon as it is announced.

Note: If you missed out on the photo contest, not a problem. The Chronicles will soon open up the Ammann Awards for the third time this year. More information to come in October, as the Awards nomination will start a bit earlier this year.