Valley View Trail Bridge to be Relocated

Portal view of the bridge. Photo taken by Mitch Nicholson of Abandoned Iowa
Portal view of the bridge. Photo taken by Mitch Nicholson of Abandoned Iowa

Bridge to become part of a city bike trail. Potential for other steel truss bridges to follow suit?

WINTERSET, IOWA- The Bridges of Madison County: Home of its covered bridges, one of a handful counties in the United States that has at least a half dozen of them. Built between 1867 and 1885, there were once 19 of these wooden housed structures spanning the North, Middle and South Rivers as well as numerous streams. Today only six of them remain, all of which are considered nationally significant, and each one has its own park and rest area to allow people to enjoy the bridge and the natural surroundings.

Madison County also has numerous truss bridges made of steel, and one of them is about to become part of a bike trail. The Valley View Trail Bridge, located four miles west of I-35 and two miles southwest of Bevington,has been closed since 2008 and has sustained significant damage to the approaches thanks to flooding that occurred in 2008, 2011 and 2013. The banks of one of the approach spans was washed away to a point where it resembled a diving board. Yet the 120-foot long bridge, constructed in 1911 by the Iowa Bridge Company and features a pinned connected Pratt through truss span with M-frame portal bracings and V-laced overhead strut bracings is seen by many locals as a rarity nowadays. Therefore the county is expanding its historic bridge heritage by including this bridge as part of a recreational complex. The plan is to place the bridge over a spillway being constructed at Cedar Lake in Winterset, which it will serve as a bike trail surrounding the lake. While costs are being calculated even as this gets posted, the county has already received funding from Iowa Dept. of Transportation (DOT) which will cover the cost for relocating the bridge.

Close-up of the approach span resembling a diving board. Photo by Mitch Nicholson
Close-up of the approach span resembling a diving board. Photo by Mitch Nicholson

The reuse of the Valley View Trail Bridge for recreational purposes has started a question about the possible use of other steel truss bridges in the county. There are as many steel truss bridges in the county as they are the covered bridges when their numbers reached its peak with 19 in 1920. Some of them have already been decommissioned and taken off the road system, yet there are some others that are approaching the end of their service, despite most of them being built during the Depression era.  The relocation and reuse of the Valley View Bridge may serve as an incentive for the county to consider reusing these bridges and bring their histories to the forefront, making the county not only the place of covered bridges, but also the place of bridges built of steel with the help of bridge builders, steel welders and railroaders responsible for molding the bridge parts in the mills, transporting them by rail and erecting them on site. With the number of truss bridges becoming a rarity, the county might have to consider this option once the Valley View Bridge is relocated and reopened for cyclists and pedestrians.

There are seven bridges worth considering for reuse apart from the successful plan involving the Valley View Bridge. These bridges are as follows:

Hatley Bridge:

Located over North Fork Clanton Creek a mile south of Limestone Rd. between US Hwy. 169 and Clark-Tower Road, this bridge is one of the shortest of the through truss bridges in Madison County, as well as Iowa. The 80-foot long Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings was built in 1909 by local bridge builder SG Hunter Iron Works Company of Atlantic, Iowa, the bridge is perhaps the last example of its kind. Yet since its abandonment in the late 1980s, the bridge has become derelict. Relocation is possible, yet it would require dismantling the structure and doing some major sandblasting before reerecting it at its new home.

Huston Bridge over Clancy Creek. Photo taken by Mitch Nicholson
Huston Bridge over Clancy Creek. Photo taken by Mitch Nicholson

Huston Bridge:

Located over Clanton Creek at 282nd Trail, this bridge is a classic example of a series of truss bridges built by the King Bridge Company because of its portal bracings, as well as the inscriptions on the diagonal and vertical beams and the builder’s plaque. The bridge was relocated to this spot in 1952 and has been here ever since. The bridge has seen its better days as the decking has been removed to keep everyone off the bridge. Yet the bridge appears stable enough to be relocated without disassembly.

Fox Trail Bridge. Photo taken by James Baughn in 2013

Fox Trail Bridge

Located over Middle River at Fox Trail (CSAH G-47), five miles southwest of Winterset, this 157-foot long riveted Camelback through truss with West Virginia portal bracings represents a great example of a truss bridge built using Iowa state highway standards introduced in 1914. The bridge was built by another Iowa firm, the A. Olson Construction Company based in Waterloo. Two dates of construction make this bridge a controversial topic: 1935 according to the National Transportation Records and 1951 according to records by Iowa DOT. The hunch is that this bridge was built in 1935 somewhere else and was relocated here in 1951. Still in use, this bridge has potential to become a National Register landmark in the next 15 years because of its unique design that is becoming rare to find.

St. Charles Bridge. Photo taken by the author in 2007

St. Charles/ North River Trail Bridge

Located three miles north of Winterset and one mile east of US Hwy. 169 over the North River at North River Trail, this 122-foot long riveted Pratt through truss bridge features an M-frame portal bracing similar to many structures built by a bridge company Wickes Engineering from Des Moines. Yet this structure was built in 1932 by Ben Cole and Son, located in Ames, just 25 miles north of the state capital along Interstate 35. The question is whether Ben Cole did business with Wickes prior to 1932. This will require some research to find out. Yet the Wickes style of bridge is becoming rare today, for despite having an average of three of these bridges in each county, the numbers have dwindled down to just above 10% remaining in Iowa. The bridge is still in use but has some potential of being reused once its time as a full-service bridge runs out. The bridge is located six miles west of another covered bridge, the McBride Bridge, which was destroyed by arson in 1983. The instigator, who confessed to the act as response to losing his true love, eventually did social work to make up for the incident- working as a bridge inspector at a county highway department!

Clanton Creek Bridge at Bevington Park Rd. Photo taken by the author in 2007

Bevington Park Road Bridges

Located along Bevington Park Road between Bevington and St. Charles, this stretch of highway features two nearly identical trusses, located only three miles apart. Both feature riveted Pratt through trusses with M-frame portals. Both were built in 1932 by Ben Cole. Both have similar lengths of the main spans- ca. 125 feet. And both have the same color of a rustic brown. The only difference: One is located over the Middle River just outside Bevington and south of Iowa Hwy. 92;  the other is over Clanton Creek, two miles north of St. Charles. They’re still open to traffic but once their service ends, they are potential candidates for reuse as they exemplify as early modern truss bridges built during the Depression era, using Iowa State Highway standards, which were later used in bridge building, especially during this difficult era.

 

Mystery Bridge next to Holliwell Covered Bridge. Photo taken by James Baughn in 2013

Mystery Bridge at Holliwell Covered Bridge

There are as many pony truss bridges in Madison County as they are through truss bridges. This bridge is located just east of the Holliwell Covered Bridge, southeast of Winterset. Given the eyebar connections as seen in the photos taken by James Baughn, this bridge may be one of the oldest in Madison County, let alone in western Iowa. Yet as written as a mystery bridge in the Chronicles in 2011, there is a lot to learn about this bridge (see article here).  As there are three pony truss bridges already preserved as bike trails in Madison County, like the Cunningham, Miller and Morgan Bridges, this bridge would be a perfect candidate for trail use, regardless of whether it is in place at the Holliwell Covered Bridge (which would make much sense given the bridge’s value and location from Winterset), or if it was relocated to Winterset, as was the case with the Morgan and Miller Bridges. In either case, the bridge serves as a historical compliment to an even more popular Holliwell Bridge.

If these examples are not enough for people to take action and make the county an even bigger and more popular tourist attraction, then they should visit the county. After visiting historic Winterset, the John Wayne Birth Place and Museum and the six covered bridges, plus the site of the former McBride Covered Bridge, they should click on the links to the above-mentioned bridges, plan a trip to these structures, armed with a camera and some paper and have a look at them. Then start a movement to save the remaining truss bridges and repurpose them for recreational purposes. While covered bridges are one of the key symbols of American heritage, bridges like the ones mentioned here are just as valuable because of their contribution to the development of the US as a whole, and in this case, Madison County on the local level. The Valley View Trail Bridge project is just the beginning of a potentially bigger project to preserve what is left of these truss bridges. And if the county and state work together with private groups and those interested in these artefacts, then there will be another reason to visit Madison County in the coming summer months. Furthermore, Iowa just might have another completed preservation project on its long and storied resumé of preserved bridges, whose movement started with James Hippen in the 1970s and has been very successful since then.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the Valley View Bridge project as well as any other developments involving the historic truss bridges in Madison County. The author would like to thank Mitch Nicholson of Abandoned Iowa and James Baughn of bridgehunter.com for allowing use of the photos. All information are courtesy of IowaDOT, whose director, Matt Donovan is to thank for his help.

bhc new logo jpeg

Sartell Bridge spared demolition

Photo of one of the three Camelback through truss spans.

SARTELL, MINNESOTA- At about this time last year, the future of the Sartell Bridge, a 1914 three-span Camelback through truss bridge that was built by the Minneapolis Steel and Machinery Company was up in the air, as a huge fire destroyed a vast portion of the 100-year-old Verso Paper Company in May 2012, prompting the immediate and permanent closure of the company, putting over 250 workers on the unemployment line. The Sartell plant was sold to the conglomerate AIM Development Inc. for $12 million, with its plan to optimize the facility.

Since September 2013, the old Verso facility is being demolished, bit by bit, as part of AIM’s plan to redevelop the area for reuse. The plan was approved by the city council, and called for the complete demolition of the facility, with the exception of the dam, the old hydroelectric power plant and a pair of buildings that belonged to Verso prior to the fire.

And as for the bridge?  Well, according to the city’s development coordinator in correspondance with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, the creme-colored vintage bridge spanning the Mississippi River at the paper site will be spared, as it is not part of the demolition plans.  Is this good news? Yes and no. The bridge is one of the main points of interest that is beloved by the Sartellians and historians alike. Yet as the bridge is currently not listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as confirmed by the State Historic Preservation Office in St. Paul, it does put the sturcture in a vulnerable position, for most non-listed bridges are more likely to meet the wrecking ball than those that are either listed or elgible for listing.

But it does not mean automatically that the bridge will eventually be demolished, for the redevelopment plan that is being put together by the City and AIM may also include reutilizing the bridge. Since its closure in 1984 because the current structure, located 700 feet downstream, is serving traffic, the bridge has been used to transport utility lines across the Mississippi, even though at one time it was open to pedestrians. It is possible with Verso becoming history by October, that the plan to reopen the old bridge to pedestrians will be brought to the table for approval. If this is the case, then people will not have to worry about security personnel keeping them off the bridge, as was the reason for the structure being restricted to utility use only in the early 1990s. Instead, a safer but key access between the old Verso site and Watab Creek Park through a historic crossing known to Sartell for 100 years will be open to all to use for all time to come.

Sartell Bridge with the Verso Paper Company in the background. At this time next year, this bridge will be the last one standing. Photo taken in December 2010

More on the Sartell Bridge’s dire state can be found here with some questions to ponder.

Newbern Bridge in Indiana to be relocated

Photo taken by Tony Dillon

 

$1.4 million project aimed to convert obsolete historic bridge into a bike trail

Even though it is not as serious as last year, there are many historic bridges in the US that are up for grabs this year, for they are either functionally obsolete (meaning they cannot handle today’s traffic) or sitting abandoned and posing a safety hazard because of the lack of maintenance. Some of these bridges will be profiled in the Chronicles in the coming weeks.

The Newbern Bridge in Bartholemew County, Indiana is one of those candidates, yet its future is about to be brighter. Located over Clifty Creek at North Newbern Road, ca. 10 miles east of Columbus, the 155-foot long Camelback through truss bridge, built in 1910 by the Vicennes Bridge Company, a local bridge builder, had been the subject of concern in the last few months because of a reduced weight limit, which forced many school busses and snow plows to turn around at the bridge’s entrance. The latest news story from the Columbus Republic from a week ago, had the bridge in the visier of the county for demolition. 

It appears that the demolition plans will not happen after all.

The Indiana Dept. of Transportation, according to latest reports by the Republic, has agreed to allocate $584,000 to the project, which will relocate the bridge to Columbus, to be inserted over Haw Creek south of Eastbrook Plaza on the People Trail. The total cost for the project is $1.42 million, with 80% of the cost coming from financial support from the state. Construction is expected to begin later this year. Once the truss bridge is moved, a new bridge is expected to take its place. More information can be found here.

Bartholemew County has lost half of its bridges over the last 20 years- a stark contrast to the majority of counties in Indiana that have restored and reused many bridges similar to Newbern. Many of them disappeared this past decade alone, including the infamous demolition of a through truss bridge at Mill Race Park in Columbus, which had been relocated from its original crossing at White Creek and placed on concrete piers as an exhibit. City officials ordered the bridge removed to make way for a cultural center in 2010.  Yet there seems to be a change of heart as some of the bridges, like the Galbraith Crossing, deemed unfit for traffic use, were repaired and reopened to accomodate vehicular traffic. That plus the high number of abandoned bridges make the county ripe for reusing them for recreational purposes, revitalizing some of the areas of the county that are in need.

The Newbern Bridge will be one of the first bridges in the county to be restored and reused for a bike trail. Yet as the decision will be well-received by many in the county, it will not be the last bridge that is restored and reused. With as many historic bridges as the county still has, it is highly likely that the next bridge ready to be taken off the highway system will join the Newbern Bridge on one of the county’s bike trails. This will fall into Indiana’s traditional role as the savior of historic bridges and its preservation policy.

The Chronicles will follow the developments and keep you informed on the latest.

Dodd Ford to receive a makeover

Dodd Ford Bridge spanning the Blue Earth River near Amboy, Minnesota. Photo taken by the author in September 2010

Truss bridge to be placed onto concrete stringer with the decking encased. Work scheduled to begin in Summer 2014

It is a beautiful piece of artwork when crossing the Blue Earth River, as seen in the video produced five years ago. It was built by a bridge engineer who immigrated to the United States from Germany and later went into politics. Despite being closed to traffic for five years and being threatened with demolition, it is a local landmark that is nationally significant with a unique appearance.

The Dodd Ford Bridge is now getting the rehabilitation it deserves. Residents living in and around Amboy, located south of Mankato in Blue Earth County, Minnesota have found a way to save the bridge by getting the support needed from the county as well as agencies on the state and national levels, with two goals in mind: saving the bridge and reopening it to traffic again. Both of them will be realized later on this year.

Workers will place the truss superstructure onto a modern concrete stringer bridge, encasing the lower chord with new decking, and adding new ornamental railings in the process. New paint and other repairs will be in the mix as well. The cost for the whole project: $1.3 million, $130,000 of which had already been allotted by the county for the project with the rest being provided by grants and other financial resources. Construction on this bridge is set to begin this summer, and while it is unknown how long the project will last, once the bridge is reopen to traffic, farmers and tourists alike will at last have the opportunity to cross the structure again. The 150-foot long bridge had been closed to heavy vehicles for over two decades and to all but pedestrian traffic since 2009. Upon inspection by both official contractors as well as private sources, the truss bridge itself was in pristine condition, leading to the question of “…why it was closed to begin with,” according to one source.

The Dodd Ford Bridge was built as a Camelback through truss bridge in 1901 by Lawrence H. Johnson, a bridge engineer who had once presided over the operations of Hennepin Bridge Company but built this structure as an independent contractor. Born in northern Germany (with sources pointing to Flensburg in Schleswig-Holstein) in 1862, Johnson emigrated to the US in 1875 and eventually to Minnesota in 1884, when he started his bridge-building business. He served in the Minnesota legislature, representing the Republican party and Hennepin County from 1901 to 1910, during which he was also president of the Hennepin Bridge Company in Minneapolis.  He died in 1947 but it is unknown where he was interred.  Johnson built numerous bridges in Minnesota, both as an independent contractor as well as during his days as president at Hennepin, but the Dodd Ford Bridge, as well as the Old Barn Resort Bridge near Preston in Fillmore County are the only two structure left with his name on there (surprisingly enough, the latter has been closed to traffic since 2010 and is also the subject of efforts to reopen it to traffic again).

If the bridge becomes encased with concrete decking, it will not be the first one that will receive this treatment. Several Minnesota truss bridges have received similar treatments and are still in operation. Most notable ones include the Merriam Street and Washington Avenue Bridges both in Minneapolis. The former consists of one of the spans of the original Broadway Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River that was relocated to its present site east of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in 1987, spanning the mighty river’s small channel. The latter spans the railroad tracks in downtown and was encased in 2001, with the trusses widened to accommodate traffic. While questions have been raised regarding the historic integrity of the bridge being compromised through this type of rehabilitation, many people have embraced this claiming it’s “…better that than to have no historic truss bridge at all.”

Compromise or not, the Dodd Ford Bridge is about to receive new life again, thanks to the efforts undertaken to save this bridge from becoming scrap metal. With 50% of the number of historic bridges gone across the country and Blue Earth County only having a handful left, including the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, people are taking a stand to preserve what is left of infrastructural history in America. The Dodd Ford Bridge not only represents that, but also a bridge that was built by an immigrant from a country that produced many bridge engineers of their time to build great infrastructures. And like Germany, the US and with regards to the Dodd Ford Bridge, the locals are fighting to save the unique few that are left for the next generations to enjoy.

Author’s Note: More information is needed about Lawrence H. Johnson’s life as a bridge builder and politician, as well as a confirmation of where he was born and where his tomb is located. If you have any information, please send it to the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. Information will be added once it’s received.

Click onto the links to learn more about the bridge and Lawrence Johnson, including the photos taken by the author during his visit in 2010 as well as Nathan Holth during his visit last year.

The Bridges of Des Moines Part III: The (lost) Truss Bridges

18th Street Bridge over the Raccoon River (now extant). Photo courtesy of IaDOT Archives

There are more bridge types that make Des Moines one of the most populous bridges in the Midwest. As we will see in this part, truss bridges were just as popular of a bridge design as the arch bridges that were built by James Marsh and company. As many as 30 truss bridges were reported to had been built during the time span between 1870 and 1930 along the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers as well as other tributaries, including those mentioned in the first two parts of the series. The majority of them featured two or more spans. And while more than half of them were Pratt designs, there were many exceptions to the rule. Already mentioned in part II there was the Post through truss design that had existed at Court Avenue before its replacement in 1917. But like this bridge, the majority of the structures lack the information regarding its history, including the date of construction and the bridge builder. This was in part because of the fact that they were gone prior to the urban renewal period in the 1960s and after 1993.  This is not good for many of these structures, like the 18th Avenue Bridge featured some decorative designs on the portal bracings, which were common during the period of bridge construction prior to 1920, when bridge builders could afford to leave their marks with ornaments and builders plaques. After 1920, with the standardization of truss bridges and the letter-shaped portal bracings (A, M and X-frames), these were seldomly used and can rarely be found today when travelling on Iowa’s highways.

Today, eight bridges are known to exist in Des Moines that have a truss design, at least two thirds of the number that had existed prior to 1970. This does not include the CGW Railroad Bridge, which was demolished in its entirety last month. While some of the structures have already been mentioned earlier, the tour of Des Moines’ truss bridges will feature the ones not mentioned. Each one will feature a location, when they were built (and replaced), what they looked like and if there is no concrete information on the bridge builder, some assumptions will be made. As they will mentioned in the Iowa Truss Bridge Book project that is being compiled by the author, any information on the bridges will be useful.

Without further ado, here are the bridges worth mentioning on the tour:

UP (Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific) Railroad Bridge at Hartford Avenue. Photo taken by John Marvig in 2012

Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Bridge at Hartford Avenue:  This bridge can be seen from Hartford Avenue on the southeast end of Des Moines. The three-span subdivided Warren through truss bridge with X-frame portal bracings is the fourth bridge to be located at this crossing, for the earliest crossing was dated 1871. It was rebuilt in 1890 and again in 1915 with a four-span through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings and pinned connections. While it can be assumed that the reconstruction in 1890 and 1915 may have to do with either flooding that damaged the spans or the increase in rail traffic, the current span was built in 1920 by the American Bridge Company and it most probably had to do with the destruction of the 1915 bridge, albeit more research and information is needed to confirm that claim. The bridge is 469 feet long and is owned by Union Pacific Railroad. However, it was part of the Rock Island Railroad with had a line connecting Indianola and Kansas City to the south, going through Des Moines enroute north to Albert Lea and Minneapolis. When the railroad company was liquidated in 1981, the line was acquired by Chicago and Northwestern, which in turn was bought by Union Pacific in 1995. 20 trains a day use this bridge.

18th Street Bridge: As seen in the picture at the very top of the article, this bridge crossed the Raccoon River at what is now Fleur Drive, southeast of the Central Academy. Before its demolition in 1936, the bridge featured four Camelback truss spans and was one of the most ornate bridges in Des Moines, let alone along the Des Moines River. More information is needed as to when the bridge was built (and by who) and why it was demolished. It is known that today’s Fleur Drive Bridge serves four-lane traffic and serves as a key link to Martin Luther King Drive and all points south of downtown Des Moines.

Inter-Rail Bridge Photo taken by John Marvig in 2012

Inter-Urban Trail Bridge:     Built in 1902, this bridge spans the Des Moines River south of the Euclid Avenue Bridge. The structure features four spans of Pratt with pinned connections, yet three of the spans feature lattice portal bracings with curved heel bracings, while the fourth and easternmost span features V-laced portal bracings with a 45° angle heel bracing- quite possibly a span that was either brought in or built on-site to replace an earlier span destroyed. This bridge used to serve the Inter-Urban Rail Line, one of eight in Iowa accomodated commuters through the 1950s. This route connected Des Moines with Colfax in Poweshiek County, a length of 23 miles. Service continued until 1949, when the freight railroads took over and people resorted to the car or bus. 33 years later, the railroad line and bridge was abandoned, but the City bought both of them to be converted into a bike trail, which was opened in 1998. With the exception of the replacement of the approach spans in 2012, the bridge today retains its integrity and still serves bike traffic, while providing access to the Neal Smith Bike Trail, which combs the Des Moines River.

Commerce Bridge: Spanning the Raccoon River, this bridge featured four truss spans which included three Camelbacks with Howe Lattice portal bracings with subdivided heels and a Pratt through truss with M-frame portal bracings. The latter was built at a later time, whereas the three Camelbacks were reportedly to had been built by the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company, one of many Iowa bridge builders that existed during the period between 1890 and 1930. It is unknown when they were built, let alone rebuilt, but records had it that the bridge was destroyed during the Flood of 1965. The bridge was later removed, and Commerce Street was rerouted to run along the Raccoon. All that remains are the abutments and the rapids where the bridge once stood. They can be seen as 105th Street southwest curves to the south.

Iowa Interstate Railroad Bridge. Photo taken in August 2013

Iowa Interstate Railroad Bridge:   Spanning the Des Moines River south of the Red Bridge and once part of the Rock Island Railroad, the Iowa Interstate Railroad Bridge was built in 1901 by the American Bridge Company and featured eight spans of pony girders totalling 625 feet. While it used to be a double-tracked bridge, the eastbound track was abandoned and fenced off in the 1980s and today, only one track is used. It replaced a four-span lattice through truss bridge, which had served one-lane of rail traffic and was built 30 years earlier. The future of this bridge is in doubt due to its sparse use, combined with the city’s plans to raise the dikes. Already the Red Bridge was raised four feet and the CGW Railroad Bridge were removed as part of the city flood planning. It would not be surprising that the bridge’s owner, Iowa Interstate Railroad would abandon the bridge altogether, making it the target for scrap metal. But it is unknown if and when that would happen.

SW 63rd Street Bridge: Located over the Raccoon River between Brown’s Woods and Water Works Parks on 63rd Street in West Des Moines, this three-span truss bridge featured two pin-connected Pratt through truss bridges with portal bracings similar to the 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge, located downstream. It is possible that either George E. King or Clinton Bridge and Iron Works (because of the plaque on the portal bracing) had built the original span. Its northernmost span featured a Pratt through truss bridge with riveted connections and A-frame portal bracing. That bridge was most likely brought in to replace one of the original spans that was destroyed either through flooding or an accident. Little information was gathered about the bridge prior to its demolition and replacement in 1964, due to lack of interest in the history of the structure. Had the historic preservation movement started 10-15 years earlier, it would most likely have been one of the first bridges eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The National Historic Preservation Law was passed in 1966, one year after the replacement of this bridge was open to traffic.

Waterworks Park Bridge. Photo taken by John Marvig in August 2013

Waterworks Park Bridge:    Built in 1922, this Raccoon River crossing is one of the key attractions of Waterworks Park on the south end of Des Moines, as well as the city’s bike trail network. The crossing is 320 feet long and features two 98 foot riveted Pratt pony trusses that used to carry vehicular traffic until its closure in the 1990s. In 1999, the City converted the crossing into a bike trail bridge and has remained in that fashion ever since.

SW Ninth Street Bridge: This Raccoon River crossing is perhaps one of two bridges on this tour that has the least amount of information on its history, despite the fact that it was replaced with the current bridge in 1967. The structure featured three spans of pin-connected Pratt through trusses with Howe lattice portal bracings. Yet that is about it as far as further information is concerned…..

Old Highway 46 Bridge:    This is the second of the two bridges that is missing information (including dimensions) and even more detailed photos than what is shown in the link. No information was found in the historic bridge survey conducted in the early 1990s.  Located southeast of Des Moines, this multiple-span polygonal through truss bridge was built in 1938 and was removed 60 years later when the Hwy. 65 freeway opened. Other than that, there was no information as to whether a previous structure had existed before that, let alone who the bridge builder was that built the 1938 structure. It is known though that the removal of the bridge came despite protests from farmers, who wanted the bridge open so that they can haul farm equipment across it. Yet because the valley where the bridge was located was flood prone, safety precautions were taken and the bridge was removed. Today, portions of the highway exist on its original path from Avon to the river and from there to Des Moines, terminating at Hwy. 163.  Interestingly enough, a railroad bridge located adjacent to the bridge was removed in 1968 after the railroad decided to reroute the line through Indianola enroute to Knoxville. A section of the railroad line exists but makes a dead-end at the power plant located on the north side of the river.

Two Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad Bridges: Located south of the Iowa Interstate Railroad Bridge over the Des Moines River, the crossings featured two four-span through truss bridges. The northern crossing was a quadrangular through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings. The southern crossing featured Warren through trusses with A-frame portal bracings. Both of them disappeared before 1970.

Ashworth Park Truss Bridge:  This is one of three bridges that straddle Walnut Creek carrying Iowa Interstate Railroad through Des Moines (the other two are Pratt pony trusses). The 1897 Warren through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings and riveted connections used to serve dual track rail traffic until the 1990s when it was reduced to only one track. The bridge still serves traffic and can be seen up close from the bike trail while passing through Waterworks Park.

This sums up the tour through Des Moines. The truss bridge portion of the tour is rather the most interesting, but the most challenging if one wants to find information and photos of the structure. As some of the structures will be included in the Iowa Truss Bridge Book project, if you have any information that is useful for the project, or for other people who are interested in bridges in general, you can leave a comment here, or you can contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.  Aside from that, it is hoped that people will have an opportunity to visit the bridges while in Des Moines and listen (or read) the stories involved with each of them, for the bridges span a total of 160 years and three periods, both in terms of materials (wood-iron/steel- concrete) as well as the period of bridge building (trusses-arch-modern bridges). Through the interest in history, you are doing more than just collect stories, you are sharing them with others as well, for there is no such thing as no interest in history. Without history, we are ignorant and a group of people with no identity, no pride and no soul. We take pride in history to ensure we know who we are and bridges are an integral part of our history.

 

Author’s Note: More info can be obtained by clicking on the links marked in the heading and text. Special thanks to John Marvig for photographing the bridges and allowing usage in this article.

 

Mystery Bridge Nr. 28: Unusual Swing Bridge in Virginia

Photo submitted by Nathan Holth. Source: History of Nansemond County

Swing bridges have become a rare commodity on our roads today. Built using a center pier designed to turn the span at a 90° angle, most of them were built using mostly Howe, Lattice, Baltimore or even Warren trusses. There are many examples of such bridges that used to exist but have long become a distant memory, like the Hojack Swing Bridge in Rochester, New York, The Willis Avenue Bridge in New York City, The Inver Grove Heights Swing Bridge south of Bloomington and the Burlington Railroad Bridge. The engineers who built these bridges during the heyday of industrialization (1870- 1920) went out of their way to make the swing bridges not only functional for horse and buggy to use and to allow ships to pass, but also appealing to tourists and later historians and preservationists.

This bridge in the city-state of Suffolk, Virginia is another example of an appealing swing bridge that has long since been demolished. Judging by the picture submitted by Nathan Holth, this bridge appears to have been built of iron and has one of two designs: 1. A pair of kingpost truss spans supported by a central panel consisting of two pairs of vertical towers with light weight diagonal beams holding the trusses made of heavier iron together or 2. a Camelback truss bridge whose center panel is thinner and lighter than the two outer panels. In either case, the bridge was a hand-powered swing bridge, used to allow boats to pass. It is similar to another photo that was submitted by the same person but located at Reed’s Ferry in Virginia.

Photo submitted by Nathan Holth

The problem with both bridges is threefold. First of all, while the designs are similar to each other, it is unknown who designed and built the bridges, let alone when they were constructed, except to say that for the last question, it appears that the period between 1875 and 1895 would best fit for iron was used often for bridge construction before it was supplanted by steel after 1890.

Also unknown is the location of the swing bridge, for in the top picture, it was claimed that it was located in Everet’s, whereas in the bottom photo, it was located at Reed’s Ferry. It should be confirmed that Everet’s was located in Nansemond County, which was subsequentially absorbed into the city-state of Suffolk in 1974. While Suffolk has a total population of 1.7 million inhabitants as of present (including 87,000 in the city itself), its land size is the largest in the United States and is larger than the German states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen, as well as the Vatican City and Monaco combined! Given the village’s absorption, it is unknown whereabouts it was located when it existed prior to the 1970s.

Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that many streams in the city-state were dammed and henceforth, lakes were created as a result. While the Nansemond River flows through Suffolk, as many as five lakes and reservoirs were created, which meant that bridges like this one were either removed before the projects commenced, or were inundated and the bridge parts have long since rusted away. In either case, there are many questions that need to be resolved for this unique bridge, namely:

1. When did Everet’s and Reed’s Ferry exist?

2. When were the bridges in their respective communities were built and who built them?  When were they removed?

3. When was the Nansemond River dammed and the lakes created?

All information on the two bridges should be directed in the Comments section of James Baughn’s Bridgehunter.com website by clicking on the name Everet’s Bridge. You can also add any information on Reed’s Ferry Bridge in the Comment section if you have any that will be helpful.

 

Fast Fact:

The Nansemond County portion of the city-state of Suffolk has a unique history of its own, as it was named after Nansemond, a native American tribe who lived along the river at the time of the arrival of the English colonists in Jamestown in 1607. Under the name of New Norfolk County, it became one of the oldest counties in the US, having been established in 1636. After being divided into Upper and Lower Norfolk in 1637, the Upper portion became Nansemond County in 1646 with the county seat later being Suffolk (it was established in 1742 and was a county seat eight years later). It remained a county seat until Suffolk and Nansemond became a city-states in 1972. Interesting note was the fact that Suffolk had been an independent city from 1910 up to then. Subsequentially Nansemond became part of the city-state Suffolk two years later. A city-state in this case means that even though it is part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is an independent city, having its own government and laws as well as responsibilities for its infrastructure, education system, and the like. Virginia still supports Suffolk with funding, but has little influence on the activities of the city-state, making it similar to the aforementioned city-states, as well as the Spanish state of Catalonia, which is much larger than Suffolk.

 

 

Newsflyer 24 May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Major Truss Bridge Collapses in Washington, another Ohio River Truss Bridge Doomed, another Iowa Truss Bridge’s future in Limbo, Hope for Minnesota Bridge?

On the eve the upcoming SIA Conference in Minneapolis/ St. Paul this weekend, one would think that the tornado that wiped Moore, Oklahoma off the map (and with that, half of the Newcastle Bridge) would be the top theme to talk about, as people are cleaning up and questions remain on how to rebuild the infrastructure that is a twisted mess.

However, some other news has popped up in the past couple days have for some reason taken over the limelight, as some major historic bridges have been in the news- one of them in Washington state has rekindled the debate on the usage of truss bridges as means of crossing ravines from point A to point B.  Here is the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ second Newsflyer in three days’ time:

 

Major Interstate Highway Bridge Collapses in Washington

Located between Mt. Vernon and Burlington over the Skagit River, the 1,120 foot long bridge featured a Warren through truss (with subdivided beams) with West Virginia portal and strut bracings and riveted connections. The 1955 structure was supposed to be sound, as it carried Interstate 5, a major route running along the West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. However, last night at 7:15pm local time, the northernmost span of the truss bridge collapsed while commuters were making their way home from work. Numerous cars were in the water, and there is no word on the official number of casualties as of present. The collapse has taken many people including transportation officials by surprise, as the most recent National Bridge Inventory Report gave this bridge a structural rating of 57.4, which is above average. The bridge was considered structurally obsolete but not deficient, meaning it was capable of carrying massive amounts of traffic. Yet this may have to be double-checked, as officials are trying to determine the cause of this tragedy. There is speculation that an oversized truck stuck in the portal entrance of the bridge may have caused the mishap. But evidence and eyewitnesses have to be found in order to prove this claim. I-5 has been rerouted to neighboring Riverside Drive, which runs through Mt. Vernon and Burlington, respectively, and will remain that way until further notice. The collapse will also rekindle the debate among engineers and preservationist alike of whether truss bridges are the right bridge type for roadways to begin with; this after many preservation successes, combined with the construction of bridge replicas, like at Sutliff and Motor Mill Bridges in Iowa, defying the critics of this type in response to another earlier disaster in Minneapolis in 2007. The Seattle PI has pictures and information on the Skagit River Disaster, which can be seen here.

 

Trestle Bridge in Texas Burns and Collapses

If the term “NO WAY!” is applicable to another bridge disaster, it would be this bridge. Spanning the Colorado River a mile north of US 190 and east of San Saba in central Texas, the 1910 bridge featured a 300 foot long wooden trestle and a through truss main span. While the bridge was still in use by trains to carry agricultural goods and oil products, the railroad company owning this bridge will have to either spend money on a new bridge or find alternatives, as fire broke out on the wooden trestle spans on Monday. In a spectacular video taken by fire and transportation officials, seen here, the entire burning structure collapsed like a domino. In the video, one person reacted to the collapse in three words: “There she goes!” Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the fire and destruction.

 

Cairo Bridge. Photo taken by James Baughn

Ohio River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois to be Replaced

The Cairo Bridge, spanning the Ohio River carrying US Hwys. 51 and 60 between Cairo, IL and Wickliffe, KY, is one of the most popular structures along the Ohio River and one of the best examples of bridges designed by Ralph Modjeski of Modjeski and Masters (with the help of the Mt. Vernon Bridge Company). In fact, the 1938 structure opened to traffic two years before the Austrian engineer’s death in Los Angeles. It is one of the key landmarks of the city of Cairo, especially because of its four tall towers that can be seen for 20 miles. Now, the City of Cairo will have to look at a new structure that will stand in its place. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has already started the Environmental Impact Survey to determine the impact on the surroundings when the cantilever truss bridge is dismantled and replaced in favor of a new modernized structure, whose bridge type to be used is left open. This will result in the Section 106 Policy to kick in, even though transportation officials have ignored the alternatives thusfar, and the recent disaster in Washington will support the KYTC’s claim that the bridge’s days over the Ohio River will soon be numbered. Photos of the bridge can be found here, as with the history of Modjeski and Masters, which includes a biography of Modjeski himself, who also built the Quebec Bridge in 1919, still the longest cantilever truss bridge in the world.

Overview of the Cascade Bridge. Photo taken by Quinn Phelan

To Replace or Not to Replace: The Cascade Bridge Story

One of the hair-raising stories we will be watching this year is the fate of the 1896 Baltimore deck truss bridge, spanning Cascade Ravine at Dankward Memorial Park in Burlington, Iowa.  The City wants to demolish the bridge because it is a liability. Engineering surveys conducted by Shuck-Britson and Klingner and Associates recommended replacement as the most feasible alternative. Yet both surveys have been attacked because they were not sufficient. This includes the usage of photos only by Shuck-Britson instead of doing on-site research, which state and federal agencies consider not sufficient. The majority of the citizens in Burlington do not want the bridge replaced because of its historic significance combined with safety issues a new bridge would have. And now Iowa DOT is coordinating a public survey to determine who is in favor of replacing the bridge in comparison to who is on favor of remodeling the bridge for reuse. Here are the factors that are important to note:

a. The cost for total replacement ranges from $3.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson) to $6 million (according to Klingner). The cost for rehabilitating the bridge: between $2 million (according to Workin Bridges based in Grinnell) and $8.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson).

b. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the environmental and mitigation surveys need to be carried out before making a decision on the future of the bridge. In addition, it is part of the Great River Road, meaning it is one of the key tourist attractions along the Mississippi River.

c. The bridge, built by a local engineering firm based in Cedar Rapids with help of the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Company, was closed to traffic in 2008 due to structural concerns on the 464 foot long structure- namely deterioration of the concrete abutments and rust on the bridge joints.

d. Most importantly, the City Council is dependent on a referendum that would introduce a franchise fee, to help pay for the Cascade Bridge Project. Without the fee (which appears to be dead on arrival), the project would be one of the first to be on the chopping block because of lack of funding.

Nevertheless, the future of this rare structure remains in limbo and it is a matter of time before a decision will have to be made. One fact is certain, the bridge will be visited by many enthusiasts during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August. Perhaps this might bring this matter to one’s attention on a larger scale.  Please see the link with a copy of the article photographed by Julie Bowers upon request to read the details.

Overview of the bridge with a airline jet approaching the runway of the nearby Twin Cities International Airport. Photo taken in August 2011

Rehabilitate or Replace? The Cedar Avenue Bridge Story

Another piece of good news, pending on one looks at it, comes from the City of Bloomington, Minnesota, which is trying to rid itself of an important historic landmark, considered a liability in their eyes.  As part of the $1.5 billion plan to expand the Mall of America, the state tax committee on Wednesday granted $259 million to be granted to the City of Bloomington, which owns the venue. $9 million will go directly to the Cedar Avenue Bridge Project. Yet the city has to approve the plan before receiving the money. While the Chronicles has an article coming on this story, a brief summary: The bridge was built in 1920 and features five spans of riveted Parker through trusses, crossing Long Meadow Lake. Together with a swing bridge over the Minnesota River, it used to carry Minnesota Hwy. 77 until an arch bridge built east of the span was built in 1978. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1996 and has been fenced off since 2002.  Discussion has been brewing whether to restore the entire structure and reopen it to regular traffic, or tear it down and replace it with a new structure. As the bridge sits in the National Wildlife Refuge and is listed on the National Regsiter of Historic Places, federal officials want the bridge restored. The majority of the City Council favor a brand new bridge. And like the Cascade Bridge, figures for replacing vs. restoring the bridge have been flying around, with no idea of which option or how the bridge will be restored.  Thanks to $9 million on funding available, discussion will be intense and the Chronicles will follow the story as it unfolds. In the meantime, have a look at the photos here to determine what to do with the bridge.

Mystery Bridge Nr. 24: The Red Rock Bridges

Red Rock Bridge
One of the Red Rock Bridges (now gone) Source: http://bridgehunter.com/photos/24/95/249507-L.jpg

Our 24th Mystery Bridge profile (as I counted the unusual bridge type in a salty German city as nr. 23) features not only one bridge, but as many as five, all going back to Marion County, Iowa, which houses another landmark we’ll get to in a short bit. And all of this happened by chance, thanks to a local librarian who responded to an inquiry about this bridge:

The structure featured two-spans of an identical design: Camelback Pennsylvania petit with pinned connections and Howe lattice portal bracings, located NW of the Horn’s Ferry Bridge. This bridge used to serve traffic connecting two villages along the Des Moines River: Red Rock and Runnells- that was until they were both inudated by the Red Rock Dam and through the creation of the Reservoir, a project that was completed in 1969 after nine excrutiating years of construction. How excrutiating was it?

Swan RRB
Swan Railroad Bridge, built in 1968. Now owned by BNSF. Photo taken in August 2011

The project required the relocation of hundreds of miles worth of highways and roadways, 80 miles of rail lines, plus uncountable amount of miles of utility and telephone lines. And it also required the construction of three vehicular crossings and a new railroad bridge: Hwy. 14 over the reservoir near Cordova Park, still holding the title as the longest and tallest bridge built in Iowa, but was built replacing an earlier bridge built in the early 1940s. Alongside that bridge was the Swan Railroad Bridge, a three-span Warren through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings that is owned by BNSF Railways, built parallel to the Hwy. 316 Bridge built at the same time. And lastly, there is the Hwy. T-15 crossing above the Red Rock Dam, connecting Knoxville with Pella, which has been the lone link since the closing of the Horn’s Ferry Bridge in 1982. However, a half dozen communities were either partially relocated or completely innundated along the way, including Red Rock, Runnels, Whitebreast, Cordova and parts of Swan. And with that, went the bridges along the way. But why?

One has to look at the motive behind the construction of the Red Rock Dam and Reservoir, for the Des Moines River prior to 1960 was a wild river that flooded frequently. Six different major floods had occurred along the river, including the ones in 1851, 1859, 1903, 1944, 1947, and 1954. The last four floods wreaked havoc on the bridges that existed, including the Horn’s Ferry Bridge (the first bridge built over the river), this crossing (whose construction date goes back to either 1897 or 1899), the Rosseau Bridge (built in 1908), the Bennington Bridge, and the Hwy. 14 bridge (built in the early 1940s). After the floods of 1944 and 47, plans were underway to control the flow of the Des Moines River, which included the Red Rock Project, but to the dismay of residents who used these crossings frequently because of their convenience from point A to point B. Many residents wanted the bridges affected by the project- namely the Red Rock, Rosseau and Bennington Bridges opened to traffic despite sustaining substantial damage because of flooding. For the Red Rock Bridge, the north span was destroyed in the 1944 flood. The Rosseau Bridge sustained heavy damage to the approach spans despite having them rebuilt on two separate occasions. Other smaller river crossings that were affected by the flooding were also in the way of the project and needed to be dismantled.

Sadly these bridges were eventually removed as the project went forward, while some crossings affected by the project became low-water crossings, meaning they did not become part of the Red Rock Reservoir per se, but as the streams flowing into the lake become flooded, the road and bridge were simply impassable. The questions involving the bridges lost to the Red Rock Reservoir and Dam were what they looked like and when were they built. This applies to the Red Rock Bridge, whose construction date is either 1897 or 1899. Therefore, here are some questions to solve this mystery:

Which bridges in the Red Rock Lake region were built in 1897, 1899, 1908 and 1912, and where were they located?

What are some facts involving the crossings at Cordova, Swan (Hwy. 14), Red Rock, Rosseau and Bennington? This includes the railroad crossing, which was also relocated?

What about the other bridges that did not cross the Des Moines River but were affected by the project?

What did the Red Rock Lake Bridges look like before they were lost to flooding and the Red Rock Dam and Reservoir Project? Any photos to support it?

Were any of the bridges in the Red Rock Region relocated at the time of the project?

Any information about these bridges and the facts about the villages inundated by Red Rock Lake can be submitted via e-mail. Yet, you can also provide some information in person at the Historic Bridge Weekend, which takes place August 9-12, which includes a meeting at the Red Rock Information Center at 2:30pm on August 11. A bridge tour and dinner at Bos Landen Golf Course will follow.

 

Photo courtesy of Luke Harden from the historic collections

 Update on Horn’s Ferry Bridge Mystery:

It appears that the story of the Horn’s Ferry Bridge, the first bridge to cross the Des Moines River in Marion County may be solved after all. According to information from the local library in Pella, the eastern two spans of the bridge (as seen in the picture above) were lost to an ice jam in 1929, cutting off the link between Pella and Knoxville. A contract was let out to Wickes Construction of Des Moines to construct the replacement spans, and reinforce the remaining seven spans including the Camelback through truss main span. These two 1929 spans still remain today, serving as the primary observation point overlooking Ivan’s Campground. The question remains of whether the two eastern spans wiped out in 1929 were original spans or if they were built after 1881. The hunch is that they may have been replaced after the 1903 floods, but more evidence is needed to support this argument.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Newsflyer: 15 May 2013

Wagon Wheel Bridge in Boone. Photo taken in September 2010 when the bridge was closed to all traffic. Recently it was rehabilitated and reopened to pedestrians only.

 

So far this year, it has been Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde when it comes to historic bridges being preserved in comparison to those that are on the way to the scrap heap. For the latter in this Newsflyer, it has more to do with stupidity than with natural disasters and structural deficiencies that are justified in their replacement. Yet there are some bright stories with regards to bridges being rehabilitated and reopened. Here are some of the headlines:
 

Bascule Bridge in Michigan Damaged by Drunken Bridge Operator.

Spanning the Rouge River in Detroit, the Jefferson Avenue Bridge features a double-leaf bascule design, whose truss type is similar to the ones found in Chicago, like the Clark Street Bridge. Unfortunately, the future of this bridge, built in 1922 by a Chicago bridge builder is everything but certain for it sustained extensive damage to the bridge deck. More peculiar is the fact that the damage was caused by the bridge operator who closed the bascule bridge as a barge was about to cross underneath it. The operator was taken into custody on suspicion that he was operating while intoxicated. The bridge is now closed and is in an open position to allow for marine traffic to pass underneath it. It will remain closed until further notice while inspectors will look to see whether the bridge can be repaired or if replacement is necessary. More information on the bridge disaster can be found here, along with information on this bridge. This is the second bridge to fall victim to carelessness this past weekend, for another bridge located in Iowa is on its way to the dumpster after a tree landed on it. The Chronicles has an article that you can see here.

 

Photo taken by James Baughn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quincy Memorial Bridge to be demolished and replaced?

“The bridge is more than 80 years old and has been on a priority list for replacement,” stated Roger Driskell, Deputy Director at the Illinois Department of Transportation.  It is ironic to say something about a bridge that has spanned the Mississippi River for over 80 years and appears to be in tip top shape, given its recent rehabilitation. But that is not enough for the Illinois DOT to proceed with plans to demolish the 1930 Warren through truss bridge built by a company based in New York. So far, $1 billion has been put aside for the planning and it is expected that an additional $3 billion will be needed to actually do the work, which is scheduled to begin in 2018. Since 1986 the bridge has served eastbound traffic of US Hwy. 24, while the Bayview Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge carries westbound traffic. However, a long fight to save the Quincy Memorial Bridge is in the making, for the historic bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means before construction begins on the bridge, Section 106 will be required, meaning alternatives to demolition will be brought onto the table and locals associated with the bridge will fight to ensure the bridge remains standing in use for another 80 years. The Chronicles will be keeping you informed on the latest in that story.

 

Worley Bridge Being Altered?

Located over the San Gabriel River west of Rockdale  in Milam County, Texas, this 1911 Pratt through truss bridge, eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was closed to traffic and was to be rehabilitated this summer. Yet, unlike some of the bridges that were rehabilitated using hot rivets, as was done with another county truss bridge the Sugarloaf Mountain Camelback Truss Bridge, Worley will be rehabilitated using field rivets and gusset plates. The difference can be seen in the pictures by clicking on the links above. How this will alter the truss bridge remains unclear, but it is expected that the project will take three years to complete, for the bridge will be taken apart, renovated in parts and built on new abutments to be reopened to traffic. More information and comments on the renovation plans can be found here.

 

The spans with the railroad viaduct in the background

Boone Bridge now open to pedestrians- part of Kate Shelley Tour on 12 August

There is some good news for another Iowa historic bridge that will be part of the tour during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August: The Wagon Wheel, the longest surviving pre-1920 vehicular truss bridge along the Des Moines River west of Boone is now open to pedestrians. Built in 1909 by the Iowa Bridge Company, the five-span through truss bridge, featuring one Pennsylvania, three tall Pratt and one smaller Pratt, sustained extensive damage during the 2008 Floods, as the east approach span was partially washed out.  Debate on the future of the bridge lingered on for the next two and a half years until a decision was made to convert the bridge into a pedestrian crossing.  Thanks to the opening of the bridge for pedestrian use, people can now walk across the bridge and see the Kate Shelley Viaducts again, without having to take several rather painful detours.

The Wagon Wheel and Kate Shelley Viaducts, together with the Madrid and Bass Creek Viaducts will be part of the 2-3 hour tour fn the bridges of Boone County and the life of Kate Shelley on the last day of the Historic Bridge Weekend, August 12, beginning at 10:00am. The venue will be the Boone County Historical Center in Boone (info on location here.) and after touring the exhibits devoted to Kate Shelley, a trip to the railroad and bridge remains at Moingona and the bridges will follow. If interested in participating in the Kate Shelley and Bridge Tours on 12 August, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles before 15 July, using the contact details provided here.

Mystery Bridge update: The Horn’s Ferry Bridge and others

Photo courtesy of Luke Harden from the historic collections

Also: Another potential Mystery Bridge in Marion County gone by floods.

With plans wrapped up for the Historic Bridge Weekend and the events to take place in Marion County, combined with the plan to pay a loving ode to another historic bridge in Germany, a couple people brought the Horn’s Ferry Bridge up to my attention. Fellow pontist Luke Harden found an old postcard of the bridge when the entire structure was open to traffic. However, have a look at the photo above with the photos below. What differences can you see there?

Horn’s Ferry Bridge in the 1980s when it was open to bikes and pedestrians. Photo courtesy of Larry Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The difference on the through truss span is obvious: the first photo showed a pin-connected truss bridge with M-frame portal bracings. The second and third photos showed the same bridge but with riveted connections. Yet even more obvious was with the northernmost span, the pony truss. There, the top photo showed a Pratt or Howe pony truss span with pinned connections whereas the second photo showed a riveted Warren pony truss bridge.

211655-L
Oblique view of the spans after being converted to observation deck. Photo taken in August 2011

Looking at the facts so far, the present northernmost spans were erected in 1929 by Wickes Construction Company of Des Moines. The extension of the bridge was necessary for flooding was undermining the northern abutment causing the potential for the Camelback through truss span to collapse. Yet this concern was raised as far back as 1915 by the county, which had advocated two additional spans to alleviate the problem. The river was channeled but reports indicated that the two additional spans were added in 1929. The question is:

Did the older spans exist before 1915 or between 1915 and 1929? By answering this question, we will have a better idea when the present spans, now serving as an observation deck were built. If the spans existed in 1929, the next question is:

When were the present spans built if the older spans were built in 1929? This is important because it would undermine the argument that standardized truss bridges were introduced in 1913, which phased out pin-connected truss bridges in favor of riveted truss bridges.

Any information? Please send it to Jason Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com and the information will be revealed then.

Sadly, one of Marion County’s bridges disappeared as it was wiped away. Why?

Mystery Bridge over White Breast Creek gone due to flooding.

Located over White Breast Creek at 92nd Avenue, the bridge’s aesthetical features made it a treat to see, as seen in a pic taken by a person travelling by bike. Records show that the bridge was located here in 1947 and was built ca. 1899. Yet more information is needed to determine where the bridge originated from and who built it.  Sadly, according to locals, floodwaters took the structure out last week. More on the bridge will come, but if you have any information on this bridge, you know where to find the source for information. 😉

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