Mystery Bridge Nr. 152: The Jay Bridge in Maine- The Oldest Cable-Stayed Bridge Ever Built?

This next mystery bridge article presents a riddle to be solved. It has to do with the suspension bridge versus the cable-stayed bridge. Before we start with this article, a question for the forum:

Which bridge type came first- the cable-stayed or the suspension bridge?

 Both types first appeared in the 15th century, but the oldest suspension bridge in the world to exist can be found in Tweed in Scotland with the Union Chain Bridge, built 201 years ago. In the US, it’s the Cincinnati-Covington Ohio River Bridge, which was built in 1869 by John Roebling, 14 years before his masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.  And while the first oldest cable-stayed bridge going by modern standards was built in 1817 in the UK, the oldest existing bridge in the world can be found in Texas, with the Bluff Dale Bridge, built in 1890.

This leads to the question of when the first cable-stayed bridge was built in the United States. We know that the first suspension bridge in the country was built in 1855 at Niagara Falls– built by the same engineer, Roebling. However this post card of a bridge in Maine may not only be the first cable-stayed bridge in the States, but the first bridge on the North American continent, whose roadway was supported by cables hung on towers.

The information dates the Jay Bridge back to 1835. The bridge spanned West Channel Androscoggin River and featured three towers supporting cable-stays that may have been built out of concrete or wood. Looking at the pic more closely and how the roadway was warped, the best bet was that it was a wooden structure. Supporting the deck were pony arches that were attached to the towers. This bridge had served traffic until it was replaced in 1914 by the Pine Island Arch Bridge, a two-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge that was built by the Cry Brothers. That bridge is still in use. There used to be three bridges connecting the shores on both side of the river with the island. Today, only the Pine Arch Bridge remains, whereas a modern bridge bypasses the island as it crosses the river into the town of Jay.

If the records are proven correct, then the Jay Bridge was the oldest bridge of its kind built in the US. It could be possible that the bridge was built later and the markings were written in by accident. This has to do with the fact that cable-stayed bridges were once built using chain and wire. Concrete was not considered the norm for materials used for bridge construction. Wood was plentiful, yet for someone to design a bridge like that would require an artist who focused on the bridge’s aethetics. The oldest wooden arch bridge known to exist is the Wan’an Bridge in China, built 1000 years ago, yet the arches are more trapezoidal than curved. The technology needed to build arches out of wood came much later in the late 19th Century.

This leads to the question of the validity of the claims that the Jay Bridge was indeed built in 1835. If the information is correct, then who was responsible for designing such a bridge and what materials were used for the bridge construction?

That plus the first question can be discussed in the Comment section below…….

Happy Bridgehunting, Folks! 🙂


Schlunzig CSB Opens To Traffic

Photos taken in June 2020

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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. 🙂

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New Goethals Bridge Going Up; Old Goethals Bridge Coming Down

Source: By The original uploader was Decumanus at English Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
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NEW YORK CITY-  Since 2014, the bridge landscape has been changing in front of our eyes, especially with regards to the metropolitan’s freeways. Once laden with suspension bridges, such as the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Verrazano Narrows, as well as cantilever truss bridges, such as the Queensboro and Commodore Perry, and arch bridges, such as the Bayonne and Triborough Bridges, a new type of bridge is painting the landscape: the cable-stayed suspension bridge. Three bridges of this kind are taking shape, replacing their predecessors, made of steel but at an average age of 75 years, have reached their end of their useful lives and therefore, will be retired and taken down. Already the Kosciuszko Bridge, spanning Newtown Creek betwee Brooklyn and Queens has opened to traffic, replacing a through truss bridge that had previously occupied its place for almost 80 years. The truss bridge is scheduled to be lowered to the creek and dismantled this summer.  The twin tower spans of the Tappan Zee Bridge are taking shape. The 62-year old cantilever through truss structure is scheduled to be demolished this fall in place of the westbound bridge, with the spans to be finished by 2019.


The same applies to this bridge, the Goethals Bridge, spanning the Arthur Kill at the New York/ New Jersey border.


Built by J.A. L. Waddell, who had already made a name for himself with his patented subdivided kingpost through truss bridge and building major structures in cities, like Kansas City, Chicago and New York, the 1928 structure feature a cantilever Warren through truss bridge, with riveted connections and an X-frame portal bracing. The span is 768 feet long, but combining the deck truss approach spans, the total length is 7110 feet. However, at a deck width of 62 feet,  the bridge was too narrow to accomodate through traffic, especially as it had carried Interstate 278 traffic since 1961. Despite integrating it into the freeway system, highway officials concluded that because of countless bottleneck traffic, combined with the age of the structure, the Goethals Bridge could no longer accomodate the increasing traffic and therefore needed to be replaced.


Construction started on the twin-towered cable-stayed suspension bridge in 2014 and since this past Friday, the eastbound span has opened to traffic. Currently, four lanes of traffic- two in each direction- are using that bridge while the westbound span is being built. When completed next year, a total of eight lanes will be using the duo-span, thus making the connection between New Jersey and Staten Island more efficient and stress free, especially when people need to commute to New York everyday and spend a weekend at Long Island.


And as for the Goethals Bridge, it will become a faded memory by the time the duo-spans open, being placed in the history books as the bridge that was a pioneer of commuter traffic that serves the metropolitan area but has now deserved a grand retirement after almost 90 years in service.


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Demolition crews are working to remove the old structure even as this article is being posted through a series of controlled implosions and dismantling the cantilever span into chunks, to be shipped to the recycling center for reuse. The project is scheduled to be finished by latest, 2019, which includes removing the old span and accomodating bike and pedestrian traffic- a luxury that was not available with the old bridge.

If you want to see what both bridges look like, have a look at the videos below. The first one is of the original Goethals Bridge before construction began. The second is of the newly opened eastbound bridge.



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Newsflyer 10 September 2013 Part 1

Bunker Mill Bridge southeast of Kalona, Iowa- victim of arson that occurred on 11 August, 2013 and whose future is in doubt. Photo taken in August 2011

Historic bridge burned with scrappers drooling for money. Another set of historic bridges  destined for scrap metal. Historic icon receives a new icon. A replica of a lost bridge to be built. A pair of historic bridges to be focus of restoration campaign.

While away on hiatus for three weeks, which included the four-day long Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa, a lot of events unfolded which involved historic bridges. This include a tragedy involving a historic bridge in Iowa whose future is now in doubt. Keeping all this in mind, the Chronicles will feature a summary of the events that are non-related to the Historic Bridge Weekend with the author’s feedback on each of the themes. Links are provided in the text, as usual.

North trestle span in the foreground with the truss span in the background. Photo taken in August 2011

Bunker Mill Bridge burns. Future in doubt.

Spanning the English River southeast of Kalona, this bridge is unique in terms of its appearance. It was built in 1887 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio and featured a six-panel iron Pratt through truss bridge with Town Lattice portal bracing with a span of 120 feet long. With the north trestle span being 170 feet long- enough to fit another through truss span- the total length of the bridge is 290 feet. In 1913, the Iowa Bridge Company reinforced the bridge which included the addition of M-frame portal bracing. Closed since 2003, plans were in the making to convert this bridge into a bike trail connecting Richmond and Kalona in Washington County. Sadly, the bridge, which was visited during the Historic Bridge Weekend, was burned on the morning of 12 August, destroying the entire bridge deck. The truss span is still in tact but it is unknown how much damage was done to the superstructure. At the present time, work is being undertaken to determine whether the bridge can be salvaged and relocated. At the same time however, sources have informed the Chronicles and the pontist community that the scrappers are making a bid to obtain the bridge for scrap metal. Police and fire officials are determining the cause of the fire, which is suspected to be caused by arson. The Chronicles has a separate article on this bridge based on the author’s visit to the bridge which will be posted after an interview with organizers trying to save the bridge is done.

Rulo Bridge in Nebraska. Photo taken in August 2011

Two Missouri River Bridges to be demolished. Two to be replaced soon.

If the rate continues its course, there will no longer be any pre-1960 bridges along the Missouri River by the year 2030. Two continuous truss bridges built in 1938 have been replaced and are closed to traffic, despite the 2-year delay because of the Great Flood of 2011 which turned the Missouri River into the Red Sea for 3/4 of the year. Already one of the bridges, the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge in Fort Atchinson, Kansas, built at the time of the disappearance of the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean, is scheduled to come down beginning 23 September after the tied arch bridge was opened to traffic. The demolition is scheduled to take two months to complete. The Rulo Bridge, which carries US Highway 159 through the Nebraska town of Rulo was rerouted to the new bridge and is now closed awaiting demolition. This may happen at the earliest in the fall but most likely in 2014. The Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth, a two-span tied arch bridge most likely to follow as Missouri and Kansas DOTs are planning on its replacement which will happen in a few years. And finally, a pair of duo continuous Warren truss bridges, the Fairfax Bridge (built in 1935 by the Kansas City Bridge Company) and the Platte Purchase Bridge (built in 1957) in Kansas City are planned to be replaced beginning in 2015. The reason for replacing the US Highway 69 crossing was because of its narrowness.  To know more about the Missouri River Bridges, it will be mentioned in detail in a presentation provided by James Baughn during the Missouri Preservation Conference, which takes place 18-20 September in Booneville. More information can be found here.

Another slab bridge collapses- this time in Illinois

Engineers and politicians are running out of bridge types to condemn in favor of modern bridges. Reason: another concrete bridge has collapsed after a truck rolled across it! This happened near Woodlawn, Illinois on 6 September. Woodlawn is near Mt. Vernon in Jefferson County. The bridge is over 200 feet long and was built in 1977. Fortunately, nobody was hurt when it happened for the structure collapsed right after the truck went across it. Investigators are trying to determine whether the weight of the loaded truck was too much and if a weight limit should have been imposed. This is the second post 1970 bridge that collapsed this year (a 1987 bridge in Missouri collapsed this past July) and has raised questions of whether weight limits should be imposed on all bridges and highways to ensure their prolongitivity and driver safety. But despite the “less is more” mentality that is becoming the norm in society, it will most likely take a few more collapses of modern slab before it get through the heads of the engineers and government agencies that are responsibility for the infrastructure in the US.

Bay Bridge Replacement opens to traffic.

When the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge first opened to traffic in 1936, the eight mile long bridge spanning San Francisco Bay was the longest in the world, with two sets of suspension bridges connecting Yerba Buena Island with San Francisco and a cantilever truss bridge and beam bridge between that island and Oakland. Since 3 September, the Oakland portion of the bridge has been replaced with a cable-stayed suspension bridge and closed to all traffic while cars are travelling on the new span. For those who are not familiar with this portion of the bridge, it was that particular bridge which partially collapsed during the Earthquake of 1989, the one that killed over 300 people, caused the double-decker Nemitz Freeway in Oakland to collapse and brought the World Series at Candlestick Park to a halt. A person videotaped the bridge and a car falling into the collapsed portion of the bridge. A link can be found here.  The bridge collapse prompted notions to replace that portion of the Bay Bridge and bring the suspension bridge portion up to earthquake proof standards, together with the Golden Gate Bridge. 24 years later, they got their wish with a cable-stayed suspension bridge made using steel made in China. This is still sparking a debate on whether Chinese steel has as high quality as American steel, especially as several flaws were discovered while building the Oakland portion of the bridge, which included broken bolts and anchors holding the stayed cables. Despite the bridge being a remarkable landmark that will surely be documented in 50 year’s time, especially with the statue found at the island, it is questionable of whether $4 billion was necessary to build the bridge or if it would have made sense to rehabilitate the cantilever bridge. This includes the cost and time it will be needed to demolish that bridge, which will commence sometime next year.

With all the bad news involving bridges in the US, there are some drives to save historic bridges with one being replicated after a 70 year absence. More in part 2 of the Chronicles’ Newsflyer.


Waldo Hancock Suspension Bridge coming down- but how?

Waldo Hancock Bridge in Maine. Photo courtesy of HABS-HAER















It had served US 1 for 71 years and has been standing for a total of 82 years. Now, a piece of Maine’s history is coming down. The Waldo-Hancock Bridge, spanning the Penobscot River at the Waldo- Hancock County border was one of two bridges built by the American Bridge Company and designed by David Steinman. Built in 1931 over a year before Franklin Roosevelt dethroned Herbert Hoover in the Presidential Elections and introduced the New Deal to fight the Great Depression, the bridge was characteristic for its towers, its Vierendeel truss work used for its roadway and its stiffening wire cables that were used to support the roadway. The Dear Isle Bridge, also in Hancock County, and the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan are two other known examples of bridges built by Steinman. Nathan Holth wrote a detailed description of the suspension bridge, which can be seen here.

Maine DOT had originally planned to rehabilitate the suspension bridge in 2001, only to retract the plan when inspection revealed many cables and trusses rusting and corroding to a point of where the bridge was beyond repair. Therefore, in 2007, a cable-stayed suspension bridge was built alongside the Waldo-Hancock span, which featured an observation deck on the west tower of the span. While the state had planned to rehabilitate the old suspension bridge, it decided to demolish the structure last Fall. At the time of this posting, demolition is commencing, but in an unusual fashion.

As we have seen with many bridges, demolition contractors have used explosives to bring them down, and the time it took to remove the debris was in a span of between 2 days and 2 months, pending on the size and the boat traffic. This was the case with the Ft. Steuben Bridge over the Ohio River, when it was imploded in February of last year.  In other cases, the spans are cut up in pieces, brought down to the barges and hauled away to land, where they are cut up to pieces and hauled away. This happened to the Red Bridge near Dubuque in July of last year.

Given the environmental circumstances and its proximity of the cable-stayed bridge, there is another method that the contractors have taken and has been approved by Maine DOT. Can you take a guess as to how the Waldo-Hancock Suspension Bridge is being taken down?

Put your guesses down in the Comment section and the answer will be revealed next week at this time. Good luck. 🙂


Fort Steuben Bridge Comes Down- Bridge Parts Saved


Photos taken in August 2010


Here are some good news and some bad news for the bridgehunter community and those who are familiar with local history.  We will start out with some bad news. On Monday at 7:15am local time, the Fort Steuben Bridge was dropped into the Ohio River by a series of explosives.  As can be seen in a video provided by a local TV station out of Wheeling, the implosion was controlled and started with the roadway and trusses, which was then followed by the cables and finally, the towers, which were decapitated and fell into the far ends of the Ohio River.

Links on the demolition:

The bridge, located approximately 70 kilometers west of Pittsburgh and 35 kilometers north of Wheeling, West Virginia, was one of the last suspension bridges of its kind in the USA.  Built in 1923 by the Dravo Contracting Company of Pittsburgh, the bridge features a series of eyebar suspension cables, anchored at the piers located on both sides of the river, whose suspender (secondary vertical) cable supported the roadway that was reinforced with Warren pony trusses. Despite the extra support of the pony trusses, the tension on the cables (caused by the roadway) is far greater than with today’s suspension bridges because of the dead weight of the roadway. There are a handful of these bridges left in the country, a couple of which can be found nearby along the Ohio River with the Market Street Bridge in nearby Steubenville and the Newell Bridge, located 100 kilometers south of Youngstown, Ohio.

The Fort Steuben Bridge was closed in 2008, 18 years after the opening of the New Steubenville Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge which has come under scrutiny recently because of weakening cables and other problems identified in an inspection report conducted by the Departments of Transportation (DOT) in West Virginia and Ohio.  Attempts to save the bridge to be reused as a bike trail that would have connected Washington, DC and Indianapolis was quashed by officials of the Ohio DOT, who wanted to keep cyclists and pedestrians off the newly constructed Ohio Hwy. 7 expressway running along the west side of the river. The strive to demolish the suspension bridge persisted despite opposition from locals and preservationists wanting the bridge saved and reused for recreational purposes. Finally on Monday 20 February, 2012, officials from both states got their wish as a piece of history that tied Weirton and Steubenville together came crashing down without any remorse. In one of the videos of the demolition, one of the Ohio DOT officials stated “When ODOT’s not out plowing snow or repairing the roads we also enjoy blowing up old bridges.” Already the remark has drawn fire from critics like Nathan Holth, who compared destroying historic bridges in Ohio and surrounding states to bridges being destroyed by bombs in Europe during World War II. Needless to say, the demolition has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many with fond memories of the bridge which will linger for a long time, even after the next four historic bridges along the Ohio River are destroyed in favor of progress.

New Steubenville Bridge, the suspension bridge’s successor

The fortunate part about the Fort Steuben Bridge is at least a tiny portion of the bridge has been saved as memorabilia to be used as an education incentive to encourage students to learn how to preserve artifacts made of steel. During the visit with Holth and Luke Gordon in August 2010, I had an opportunity to examine the bridge further to see what (if anything) can be done to preserve the bridge. There were many sections in the truss superstructure that had rusted away to a point where one could punch a hole in the structure without breaking his knuckles and obtain a piece of history.  A piece rusted steel shown here in the picture below shows how neglected the bridge was prior to its closure in 2008.

Piece of history in one’s hand


If bridges like the Fort Steuben were maintained and painted regularly, like it is the case with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, there would have been a chance that the new bridge would not have been built, wasting hundreds of dollars of the taxpayers’ money. Proper maintenance and rehabilitation would have cost a tenth of the amount needed to demolish and replace the bridge.  Instead the DOTs decided to neglect that notion and moved in the name of progress, regardless of the opposition. There still would have been ways to save the structure had all parties involved decided to undertake this venture, which would have consisted of sandblasting the trusses and painted them, as it happened with the Market Street Bridge, which is open to traffic.

Still the need to exert power by using dynamite on the part of the DOTs was and is still strong. If statements like the one by the Ohio DOT persist, what would their reactions be like when a modern bridge, like the New Steubenville Bridge is slated for demolition? Would they take the same pleasure of demolishing a modern bridge as they would with a pre-1950 bridge?  Perhaps not, but when the public finds out, changes in the way bridges are maintained will come forcing the state agencies to veer away from the ideal bridge- a 100 year old bridge that requires no maintenance- and embrace in bridge maintenance which may be expensive in the short term but cost effective in the long term. This applies to historic bridges, many of which are still in good shape and can last another 100 years if cared for properly.

While the Fort Steuben Bridge may be gone, its legacy will continue as the strive to save what is left of American History will continue with a goal of jumping ahead of progress and bringing it to a halt. This is the only way to force state agencies to look at alternatives to demolition and encourage people to learn about historic bridges and their ties to the development of the US regarding its industrialization, societal issues and the cultural perspective. While it may be interesting to read about them in books, as it will have to be the case with the Fort Steuben Bridge being gone, it is even more interesting to visit and cross the bridges, like the ones at Steubenville and Newell to learn more about the history from a close-up view. It is much better than having to collect pieces of history from a bridge that was demolished to keep in the bridge collection. That is what I’m doing with mine as it is sitting on my desk waiting to be reused for my next class.

Photos of the Ft. Steuben Bridge can be seen here.

News Flyer: 

1. Another preservationist and columnist, Kaitlin O’shea of Preservation in Pink (based in Vermont), recently wrote a column on how to photograph a historic bridge. This is a small guide for people interested in visiting and photographing these pieces of artwork that are dwindling in numbers. To access the article, please click on this link below:

Sabo Bridge at night. Photo taken in August 2010

2. Cable-stayed bridges are becoming more and more scrutinized because of supporting cables that are either wearing out more quickly than expected or in one case some that have snapped. The New Steubenville Bridge recently received bad reviews based on an inspection conducted by the two aforementioned DOTs, while a near disaster was averted on the Martin Olav Sabo Pedestrian Bridge south of Minneapolis, as two pairs of cables snapped, causing the Hiawatha rail line to suspend service and Hiawatha Avenue, a main artery connecting the largest city in Minnesota and Bloomington to be restricted. Reinforcements are being added to the bridge and an inspection is being conducted to determine the cause of the damage.



BUGA- The German Garden and Horticulture Show 2011: Koblenz and the city’s bridges

(Continued from an article written by its sister column the Flensburg Files. Link: )

Bird's eye view of the Mosel River crossings in Koblenz beginning with the Balduin Bridge in the foreground. Taken from the Ehrenbreitstein Castle

While most of the city’s bridges along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers are somewhat modern with a few of them being partially renovated, each bridge does have its set of history- one dealing with World War II and the other being individual because of its own design and history and appearance before the war.  Over two thirds of the city was destroyed during World War II- half by the Nazis trying to blow-up bridges in their path to avert pursuit from the Allies and the other half by the Allies in a successful attempt to bring the regime of Adolf Hitler to an end and with it the war itself. Yet tragedy did provide a blueprint for the city to rebuild the majority of these structures from scratch and repair those heavily damaged by the bombings.  The bridges along the Rhein and Mosel may not have the character as the ones that existed prior to the war, but they still present historians and bridge enthusiasts with an opportunity to learn about their history and the connection with Koblenz’s past. Therefore the top five pics have been chosen for tourists to visit next time the opportunity is ripe to visit the region. While the majority of them can be found in Koblenz, one in particular can be found 10 km away in Neuwied but can be seen from a distance from the Ehrenbreitstein Castle. And yes, a pair of honorably mentioned bridges will be mentioned here.

Balduin Bridge- This stone arch bridge, built in 1343, is the oldest bridge built in the city and one of the oldest bridges spanning the Mosel River, let alone one of the oldest of its type built in Germany. The bridge was constructed during the time of the rule of the Emperor of Trier but has experienced at least five changes in power as well as damage as a result of war. This included the destruction of half of the structure’s 14 arches during World War II. That section- from the north shore to the island was replaced with a beam span as part of the plan to channel the Mosel to allow shipping traffic to Trier in 1952. Nevertheless, the southern half of the bridge- which was rehabilitated in the 1970s to resemble its appearance in the 1300s, is part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage site consisting of places along the Upper Rhein and Mosel Rivers. The current structure is 246 meters long and about 25 meters wide.


North span of the Mosel RR Bridge

Mosel River Railroad Crossing at Koblenz North- At a total of 270 meters long, this bridge is the second oldest structure in Koblenz, spanning the Mosel River and located next to the Balduin Bridge. Built in 1858, the bridge originally consisted of six arches spanning the northern half of the river and an iron cantilever bridge on the southern end. Unfortunately that half was obliterated in 1945 and was replaced with a steel beam span in 1975 after having a temporary structure built to serve traffic. The structure now serves InterCity traffic between Cologne and Mainz via Bingen.


Overview of the bridge

Pfaffendorf Bridge- Built in 1864 and rebuilt in 1953 after being destroyed in the war, this bridge is the oldest structure over the Rhein in Koblenz. It was originally a three span iron deck arch bridge with two towers on each end of the river, each serving as an entrance to the two towns. There was also a memorial on the bridge dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm I, which was later added to one of the towers of the bridge. That remains in its place today. The structure used to serve rail traffic until it was converted into a vehicular bridge in 1933, leaving the Horchheim Bridge (located 2.3 km to the south) to handle railroad traffic. Today, a three span deck girder beam takes its place, built using the piers and the tower remains from its predecessor.

Built using the abutment and piers from the bridge destroyed in World War II

The bridge has a total length of 311.3 meters (main span is 104.6 meters) and carries Hwy. B 42 into Koblenz from the Pfaffendorf Tunnel, which opened in 1993. Plans are in the making to reconstruct the bridge beginning in 2012 due to structural concerns. It will last 3-4 years and cost up to 20 million Euros.


Approach arches of the Horchheim Bridge Note: the deck girder span on the far left is one of the main spans replacing the one destroyed in World War II

Horchheim Bridge- At a span of 312 meters long and 12.4 meters wide, this railroad bridge was built under the direction of Karl Heinrich Gispert Gilhausen in 1879 and consisted of a half pony-half deck iron arch bridge, built in three spans, with approaches consisting of four spans of concrete deck arches each. The contraption of the main spans resembled the span found at the Levensau Bridge, spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal west of Kiel in Schleswig-Holstein. As part of the plan to use this bridge exclusively for rail traffic and the Pfaffendorf Bridge for vehicular traffic, the bridge was widened in 1933 so that there were two lanes of rail traffic instead of one. Sadly the main spans became a pile of rubble and twisted metal in 1945 and a temporary bridge was erected two years later to help resume rail traffic, but only one lane. This bridge was replaced with a permanent structure in 1961, consisting of a steel deck girder bridge built on the piers of the 1879 span. The bridge has two lanes of rail traffic and a sidewalk for people to walk across the Rhine. It was reconstructed after structural concerns in 2009 and now is incorporated into the city’s bike trail system. As for the approach spans- the deck arches, they are still up and in service and can be seen directly from the boat going down the river.

Reference to the Levensau Bridge near Kiel:


Gülsbrücke- Located at the westernmost end of Koblenz, this railroad bridge is a distant cousin of the Horchheim Bridge in terms of its type, a three-span iron arch bridge over the Mosel River that was built a year before the other bridge. Both bridges serve a stretch of railroad that started in Berlin and ended in Metz (France), stopping at Magdeburg and going through parts of northern Thuringia and Hesse. While sections of it have been abandoned, this stretch is still in operation as rail service stops at various places along the Mosel, providing tourists with some awesome views of the river valley and the villages located at the water. The bridge was reconstructed to better serve traffic in 1925, but sustained significant damage during the war that warranted repairs in 1947 and later renovations in 2000. While I did not have a chance to visit the bridge for time reasons, a link to this bridge is enclosed here:




Neuwied Bridge from Ehrenbreitstein Castle.

Neuwied Bridge: Located just 10 km northwest of Koblenz, this bridge may be a typical cable-stayed suspension bridge with a length of 485 meters (the spans are 235.2, 38.4 and 212 meters respectively). But what makes this 1978 structure special are the following: 1. The tower has an A-shaped pylon that  does NOT support the roadway. Turned sideways, the 46 cables suspended from the tower support it. This was the poster boy for another cable-stayed bridge built in a similar fashion over the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois in 1993. That span has an I-shaped pylon and replaced a multiple-span truss bridge built in the 1920s. The Neuwied Bridge replaced a truss bridge built as a temporary crossing in 1951 and was demolished once the structure is open.  Another reason for adding this bridge here is the fact that the A-shaped tower is really tall- 91.8 meters tall to be exact. The bridge is tall enough that one can see it from the Ehrenbreitstein Castle on the hill. Given its proximity to Koblenz and its unique features, the Neuwied Bridge deserves to be honorably mentioned.

Münzplatz Skyway Bridge:  Located at the northwest end of the historically renowned Münzplatz overlooking the Mosel, this unique bridge features three stories of apartments spanning a narrow street and a mural which can be found on the outer end at the entrance. While it is unknown when the original bridge was built, it appears that it was a duplicate of a bridge that was destroyed in the war.

 Mosel Freeway Pedestrian Bridge: This structure was built in 2004 to span the main highway and interchange and features a unique cable-stayed designed. In the middle there is a tower which supports four spans in each direction. This is a rather interesting design, but one whose examples can be seen elsewhere.

The Seilbahn from Deutsche Eck

But probably the most elegant of the crossings can be found with the cable car (German: Seilbahn) between the Deutsche Eck and Ehrenbreitstein Castle. Constructed for the BUGA, the cable car crossing not only provides the tourist with direct access to the castle on the hill from the old town, but it gives them a spectacular view of the city of  Koblenz, the Rhein and Mosel Rivers and all the places in between. It takes approximately 5-10 minutes to go in one direction and is expensive to go there, yet the money paid for the trip is well worth it.