Borders to Bridges: The Answers to the Guessing Quiz

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

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

GUESSING QUIZ: THE BRIDGES ALONG THE BORDER

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

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

1.

Photo: R. Kirchner for wikiCommons

   /      N

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

 

2.

glienicker 2

Y      /       N

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

 

3.

61277351_2446054655425169_9220180807434371072_o

Y    /       N   

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

 

4.

o-burg

Y        /          

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

 

5.

Photo by Torsten Bätge for wikiCommons

Y         /            N

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

 

6.

bornholm str. br

Y            /                  N

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

 

7.

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Y       /          N

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

 

8.

IMGP8692

Y           /            N   

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

 

9.

Photo by Störfix for WikiCommons

       /            N

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

 

10.

Y        /         N

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

 

11.

DSCF8658

Y         /           N

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

12.

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Y         /           N  

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

 

13.

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Y         /           N  

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

 

14.

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Y         /           N  

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

 

15.

selbitz 3

        /           N

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

 

16.

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        /           N

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

 

17.

59655835_2414395578591077_246195518340857856_o

Y         /          

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

 

18.

31934788_1874852035878770_8085130455587749888_o

        /           N

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

 

19.

ZwSch

Y         /           N

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

 

20.

IMG_20190506_175912431_HDR

Y         /           N

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

 

German States:

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

GUESSING QUIZ: THE BRIDGES ALONG THE BORDER

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

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

1.

Photo: R. Kirchner for wikiCommons

Y    /      N                                       Where? ____________________________________________________

 

2.

glienicker 2

Y      /       N                                  Where? _____________________________________________________

 

3.

61277351_2446054655425169_9220180807434371072_o

Y    /       N                                             Where? ________________________________________________

 

4.

o-burg

Y        /           N                                  Where? _________________________________________________

 

5.

Photo by Torsten Bätge for wikiCommons

Y         /            N                                                            Where? __________________________________

 

6.

bornholm str. br

Y            /                  N                                                 Where? ___________________________________

 

7.

60348074_2428639390500029_8081718061121404928_o

Y       /          N                                            Where? _____________________________________________

 

8.

IMGP8692

Y           /            N                                Where? ________________________________________________

 

9.

Photo by Störfix for WikiCommons

Y        /            N                                  Where?__________________________________________________

 

10.

Y        /         N                                                   Where? _________________________________________

 

11.

DSCF8658

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

12.

71240654_2689168554447110_8234287724815712256_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

13.

67123024_2551689028195064_8252882931752632320_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

14.

IMG_20190506_165214196_HDR

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

15.

selbitz 3

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

16.

60831355_2487501947935430_5515844232725659648_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

17.

59655835_2414395578591077_246195518340857856_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

18.

31934788_1874852035878770_8085130455587749888_o

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

19.

ZwSch

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

20.

IMG_20190506_175912431_HDR

Y         /           N                                                        Where? _____________________________________

 

German States:

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

 

The answers to the quiz are HERE.

 

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

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 62

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This week’s Pic of the Week keeps us in the Vogtland region. This time, though, we are back in Saxony and at this bridge, the Pirk Viaduct at Motorway 72. The Viaduct features 12 arches with an average height of 60 meters (180 feet) above the ground. With a total length of ca. 505 meters (1400 feet), the viaduct is the second longest structure on the original route, whose construction started in 1935 but was interrupted because of World War II in 1940.

The Pirk Viaduct also got the dubious award as being the only viaduct that took over a half century to build. Construction on the bridge started in 1937 but was interrupted in 1940. By that time, only the arches and pylons had been built and the spandrels and decking needed to be built. The bridge remained a symbol of the division between East and West Germany in the Vogtland Region for the Motorway 72 sackgassed at Plauen on the east end and the border near Koditz in Bavaria on the west end. The use of East German patrolmen was not needed because the barrier was already there with the bridge. Interesting was the fact the Motorway on the west end was numbered Motorway 772 prior to 1989. On the east end, the motorway became the “Death shot,” because of its narrow lanes. 55 people died using the route.

Still, the Motorway 72 maintained its strategic importance between Bavaria and Saxony at the time of the Revolution and henceforth, the Pirk Viaduct was placed in the top five of projects to be completed immediately. Josef Scheider of the Bavarian Ministry of Building and Infrastructure’s Bridge and Tunnel Division, spearheaded the efforts to finish building the viaduct, despite the exorbitant costs involved. This included inspecting the bridge for its structural stability in the 50 years absence, creating the concrete spandrels that were closed and lastly building the lane in two parts to toal the width of 29.5 meters. Nevertheless, construction started in 1991 with the northbound half of the viaduct being opened to traffic on 2 October, 1992. The rest of the bridge was completed and opened on 3 September, 1993. Counting the delays, it took 56 years to complete the viaduct, which is one of the longest on record.

Still, the bridge is worth a photo opportunity as it spans the River White Elster, the Plauen-Cheb Railline and a pair of streets. The best photo of the bridge is on the south end near the Pirkmühle near the village of Türbel. This is where I took the panorama shot in 2018. On the same side one can find the monument of Hr. Scheider at the junction of Hofer Strasse and the road going to Pirkmühle. On the opposite side of the bridge, one can dine at a small snack shop bearing the structure’s name.

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The masterminds behind the original construction of the viaduct included chief engineer Walter Kinze (who later became Professor at the Technical University in Dresden), as well as three well-known Building firms of Philipp Holzmann, Grün & Bilfinger and Wayss & Freytag. As many as 450 People worked to build the Bridge before the war put the Project on hold. The Dyckerhoff & Widmann. Company finished the Bridge in 1991-93. For more Information on the Bridge, click here.

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The Chronicles now has a tour guide series on the bridges in the Bayerische Vogtland Region, which includes the bridges of Hof as well as well-known structures along the Saale and Elster at the borders of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia. To view the bridges in the guide series, click here and then scroll down. It can be found under the subcategory Bavaria.

 

What to do with a HB: The Case of the “Marode” Selbitz Bridge at Blankenstein

Selbitz 4 head

As the state of Bavaria is striving for the world record with the construction of the longest pedestrian suspension bridge over the Selbitz Valley near the Thuringian-Bavarian border, one wonders if the project is too ambitious, given the fact that we have too many “marode” bridges in the region. Apart from the problems with the Sparnberg Bridge near the Motorway Crossing at Rudolphstein, we have another crossing that needs attention very badly. And for a good reason too: the bridge is located right at the junction of seven different hiking trails going in each direction!

selbitz 7
Source: brueckenweb.de

The Selbitz Bridge is located in the small town of Blankenstein, located on the Thuringian side of the former East-West German border. The bridge spans the river Selbitz and is the last crossing before it empties into the River Saale. For four kilometers between the confluence with the Saale and the junction with Muschwitz Creek, the Selbitz separates the two states  and had once been a military border that kept Blankenstein behind the Iron Curtain and people from fleeing over the river.  In fact, only a kilometer northeast of the confluence between the Selbitz and the Saale, there was a site of an attempted escape to the western half of Germany, which occurred on 6 January, 1989, nine months before the Fall of the Wall. There, three men and a lady tried escaping over the wall erected on the Thuringian side during the night. After going over the first wall and approaching the second inside the “Death Zone,” they were spotted by East German and Russian guards who shot at them. Eventually, one of the men succeeded in swimming across the icy cold Saale into Bavaria; the other three were arrested.  Blankenstein was one of the key escape routes used by many wanting to try and escape to the West until the borders were opened on 9 November, 1989. Some succeeded by breaking through the barriers. Others were arrested and imprisoned. One fatality was recorded in 1964.

selbitz 5

After the Fall of the Wall came the demolition of the borders that had separated the two Germanys for 28 years. And with that, the construction of several bridges over the rivers and streams that had been fenced off. The Selbitz Bridge was one of the bridges that was built crossing the former border. Originally a Waddell through truss bridge, the 29-meter long wooden crossing was completed in 1991. With that came an opportunity to reunite Thuringia and Bavaria by foot, providing hikers with an opportunity to explore the Thuringian Forest, the Fichtel Mountains and the Schiefgebirge using seven hiking trails- six here plus another one in the making that runs along the former border that had separated Germany prior to November 1989.  After the construction of the bridge, two monuments, built on each side of the Selbitz, as well as parking areas and a combination tourist information and first aid station were built, where the six current (and one planned) routes meet. The bridge practically served as the key meeting point between two points of junction, one for each state.

selbitz 1
The Bavarian monument where seven hiking trails meet, containing information, photos and maps of each trail. This was constructed a couple years ago and can be found off the county road opposite the river from Blankenstein.

Despite the bridge connecting the two states, problems arose in 2015 with the truss structure itself. Due to a combination of weather extremities, wear and tear and the damages caused by the two floods that ravaged Germany- 2002 and 2013, the Selbitz Bridge was considered structurally unsound, getting a grade of 3.4 out of 5 during an annual inspection in 2016. Bridges with a grade of 3 or worse are required to be rehabilitated to make it safer or be completely replaced.  The end result was an unusual move designed to keep the structure’s integrity but also give the bridge a new look. Hence the gabled tower and the top half of the Waddell truss were taken down, new bracings were added in its place, thus creating a Parker through truss design that is supported with X-framed portal bracings.  Furthermore, the decking was supported with leaning beams with x-bracings, anchored into the abutment, as seen in the picture below:

selbitz 3

Inspite this, this may not be enough to save the bridge, for a lot of wood rot and cracks are appearing in the lower half of the trusses. Most glaring are the end posts, one of which looks so shredded that it could potentially cause the bridge to collapse under ist weight or even flip over into the water. The least it could happen is that the trusses would tilt, putting more tension on the wooden truss parts. While some work has been done on the bridge already, with the truss conversion, it only represents a dressing to the problems the bridge has and the inevitable that the City of Blankenstein as well as the states of Thurngia and Bavaria will have to face- namely that the bridge will need to be replaced. Whether there is funding available remains unclear, especially in light of the recent approval of the construction of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in the world at Lohbachtal and Höllental at the cost of 23 Million Euros.

selbitz 6

While this controversial project remains ambitious and will surely bring in hundreds of thousands of tourists to the region, one wonders if this project is being carried out at the expense of several bridges in the region that are in dire need of attention. And the numbers are growing as more people come to the region for vacationing. By making the necessary repairs to the crossings, like in Sparnberg and here in Blankenstein, it will do more than provide safety for drivers, cyclists and hikers.

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A Map of the Bridges at the Thuringian-Bavarian border can be found here. The Selbitz Bridge is on the far left.

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 50

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Co-written with sister column FF new logo

Our 50th Pic of the Week keeps us at the former West and East German border (now Thuringia-Bavaria) but takes us to what was one of the most important crossings during the Cold War.

The Rudolphstein Viaduct, known since 2006 at The Bridge of German Unification, spans the River Saale between the towns of Rudolphstein on the Bavarian side and Hirschberg on the Thuringian side. Another town that is even closer to the bridge is Sparnberg, which is only a kilometer away. The 255 meter long bridge carries the Autobahn 9, which connects Berlin with Munich, passing through Leipzig/Halle, Hof, Nuremberg and Augsburg. The bridge was the work of Fritz Limpert and Paul Bonatz, built in 1936 as part of the project to build the Autobahn that still connects the two major cities. It featured two identical bridges with eight arches made of granite stone, with a height of 35 meters and a width for each bridge of 22 meters. It was one of the first crossings and served as a polster boy for Adolf Hitler’s Autobahn construction project which expanded until 1942 and included dozens of bridges similar to this crossing. Another bridge nearby, the Koditz Viaduct in Hof, was built in 1940 as part of the Autobahn project connecting Hof with Chemnitz.

The bridge was severely damaged before the end of World War II with one of the arches having been detonated by Nazi soldiers in a desperate attempt to slow the advancement of American troops from the south and the Soviets from the east. The bridge sat idle for 21 years until 1966, when an agreement between both East and West Germany allowed for the bridge to be repaired and reopened to traffic. It served as a border control crossing until the Fall of the Wall in 1989. Seven years later, an extension was built which serves northbound traffic to Berlin. The original spans serve southbound traffic.

A lot of the relicts from this viaduct and nearby can still be found today. This includes a path where the Soviets and East German police patrolled the Thuringian side to ensure that no one attempted to cross the border over to Bavarian side. This includes a unique pic which can be found here. South of the bridge is a former Bavarian crossing point, which is now a rest area with convenience store, restaurant and souvenir shop. And then we have this pic:

 

This was found on the north end of the bridge. The question here is what was this part of the bridge used for? We do know that parking at this bridge has been banned since 1989, but what was this place used for prior to that? This question goes to any historian, local, traveler or the like that is willing to answer this .

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 29

 

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To kick off the Holiday Season, this pic of the week takes us to Chemnitz and to this bridge. Even though this Waddel through truss bridge with tubular and wire connections, which spans the River Chemnitz on the south end of the City, the snow can turn a modern bridge into a Beauty, which was the case here. These photos were taken on 17 January 2017, where over a foot of snow fell in Saxony, thus creating Winter Wonderland and some adventures Biking through the deep snow. Nevertheless, these shots are worth being printed on a Christmas Card, don’t you think? 🙂

Happy First Advent! 😀

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East German Era Bridge to be torn down after fire

apfelsinebr. flöha

1980s era bridge to be torn down because of fire damage despite having been rehabilitated. Fire under investigation.

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FLÖHA (SAXONY), GERMANY- Approximately 13 kilometers east of Chemnitz in the district of Mittelsachsen is the town of Flöha. With a population of 10,130 inhabitants, the city is located at the junction of the River Zschopau and the River Flöha and is loaded with dozens of historic bridges within the radius of 5 kilometers. This includes the Hetzdorf Viaduct, which is to the south and east of the city and used to carry the Dresden-Zwickau-Hof-Nuremberg Magistral Railroad.

One of the bridges that used to serve Flöha was the Apfelsinebrücke. Literally translated as the Orange Bridge because of its original color, the bridge was built in 1983, spanning the River Zschopau at Baumwolle Park and having served pedestrians for three decades. The bridge was recently rehabilitated at the cost of 223,000 Euros (ca. $260,000) as it was one of the last structures to have been damaged by floodwaters in 2013.

Sadly though, the steel deck plate girder is coming down- victim of a fire, which has caused anger among the city council members in Flöha and has gotten police and criminal investigators involved as to finding out what happened to the bridge. According to information by the Chemnitz Free Press and supported by German public channel MDR,  the fire broke out on the bridge on Friday at around 3:00pm, sending smoke up to 500 meters high, making it visible to as far west as Chemnitz. Because of its thickness and wind, residents were ordered to keep all windows and forms of ventilation closed until the fire was under control. Fire crews from Flöha and nearby Falkenau battled the blaze for over an hour, which caused telephone lines to go dead as well as power outage to houses nearby due to wiring going across the bridge. When the fire was finally put out, the spans had partially collapsed. “The fire has bent the steel to a point that the bridge cannot be saved,” says  Volker Holuscha , the mayor of Flöha during an interview with the Free Press. Given the extensive damage of the fire, especially because of high temperature caused by the flame, the incident is being investigated. In the meantime, the city is seeking a plan to replace the structure as soon as possible and will be removing the bridge once the investigation is finished. The fire spells a tragic end to a structure that was loved by many locals in Flöha, especially as the city had spent money to keep it in place for generations to come. Now the fire has burned the project up in smoke. It can only be hoped that a newer bridge that will come will be sturdier and better secured to ensure such a fire will never happen again……

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 81: The Bridge to an Elevator

elevbridge3

During my tour of Chemnitz in western Saxony a few days ago, I happened to come across this rather unusual crossing. Spanning the Kappelbach Creek approximately 150 meters west of the River Chemnitz and the Pfortensteg in the city of Chemnitz, this crossing is located at a park where the bike path runs parallel to the river through the city with 240,000 inhabitants. By first glance, my impression was that it was a typical concrete beam bridge built in the East German era like many other bridges that had been destroyed in World War II. However, when crossing it, one can see an unusual building-like structure that seems to be walled into a high cliff. Looking at the cliff more closely, it extends approximately 500 meters from the Bierbrücke near the district of Kassberg to the north, towards the intersection where Highways 95 and 173 meet to the southwest. Of which, approximately 150 meters seemed to be walled with bricks and concrete, making it appear that Chemnitz once had an underground passage that started at the park and networked its way to the castle. It is known that there were underground passageways at the Kassberg and Bier Bridges- one of which served as a passage for prisoners, another for transporting beer to the walls of the city, where the multi-story houses are located today.

Yet when looking at the bridge and this structure, this definitely was the work of an East German engineer, who like many others wanted to paint Chemnitz with a communst face, which was the reason why the city was called Karl-Marz-Stadt from 1953 to 1990. The building presented some skeletal features that are geometric with rectangular shapes- each row with a different pattern. While this skeletal structure now houses pipelines providing warm water to the city center, one has to wonder what original purpose this skeletal structure had. Because the height of the cliff from the ground to the top is between 20 and 30 meters- about the length of the crossing itself- and its approximate location to some key judicial areas, such as the district and labor courts, it is possible that at one time it served as a large elevator providing people and bikes with a lift to see the judge. That would put the construction date to the 1960s when electric elevators were becoming useful for high-rise buildings and the government district of Karl-Marx-Stadt was functioning like a state, extending its reach of jurisidiction to as far west as Jena and Gera, as far south as the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) and Vogtland, as far east as Freiberg and as far north as Riesa. Most of the judicial district may have been located at the top of the hill at the site of today’s district courts, which had been a traditional location because of the nearby castle. After the Fall of the Wall in 1989 and the subsequential Reunification a year later, that elevator no longer served as that function and was therefore converted to its present form. But more evidence is needed to prove this.

As for other functions, the building or a prison complex are concerned, given the lack of space it had between the outlet and the walled cliffs it is anchored into, that would be impossible because of the need to add 3-4 stories with shafts with handles for people to climb up or down.

But could this building actually had housed this elevator at that time or was it really meant for a pipeline cover? We know that it is as old as the structure that is now a pedestrian bridge- 50+ years old and still functioning like other GDR buildings at that time. But was this building an elevator or a skeletal unit?

Looking forward to your thoughts on this……

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Check out Mystery Bridge Nr. 80 by clicking here.

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 78: Turner Truss Bridge in Chemnitz, Germany

 

IMGP3881

In 1920, an American engineer, Claude Allen Porter Turner (CAP) designed two different bridge designs that were supposed to simplify the way bridges are constructed. The first was the Turner Flat Slab, a design where the decking portion of the concrete slab was strengthened, thus eliminating the need of extra piers and it would encourage the spans to be longer than usual. The second is a modified version of the Warren truss, where additional lateral beams are constructed midway through the A-portion of the truss, thus creating an A-frame for each panel. Both of these concepts were practiced on the Liberty Memorial Bridge in Bismarck, North Dakota. Constructed in 1922, the bridge featured three Turner through truss spans of 476 feet each, plus the Turner flat slab approach spans totalling 1105 feet- 625 for the west spans and 480 for the east side. It was the only known work for the engineer, whose career started at Gillette-Herzog Manufacturing in Minneapolis in 1900 but then started his own business after declining an offer to relocate to Chicago. The product of the American Bridge and  Foundation Bridge Companies remained in service until its replacement in 2008. It was believed to have been the only one of its kind built…..

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…..that is until this recently discovery in Chemnitz, Germany!

Located just two kilometers south of Chemnitz Central Railway Station along the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate at Bernhardstrasse, this pony truss span resembles the same Turner design as the Liberty, but with two unique differences: 1. The truss span is pony and 2. The endposts are vertical. Like the Liberty, the connections are riveted, even in the A-frames of the Warren. Yet some unique features of the truss include the curled cap at the top of the endpost. The end post itself has an I-shape. It is unknown what the length of the bridge is, but it is estimated to be between 60 and 70 meters long. The width is 10 meters between the trusses, the sidewalks on the outer edge is 2-3 meters, thus totaling the width of 16 meters. As the East German government built or imported truss bridges during its 40 years existence, whose designs were mainly Warren (and many modified versions of it) and had not much design to it, it is likely that this bridge was constructed during the 1920s, maybe the 1930s, and survived the bombings of Chemnitz during World War II. 90% of the city center was destroyed by 1945 and 70% of the houses and buildings, dating back to the 1800s were either in shambles or badly damaged. This bridge may have survived the bombing unscathed. Yet the lack of scars from the war might lead to a dispute over the bridge. It may have been rebuilt using replacement parts, but most likely in the late 1940s to encourage passage over the magistrate. If that was the case, then the bridge was built before the Soviets gained full control of its militarized zone, which became the German Democratic Republic (a.k.a. East Germany), while Chemnitz was renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt, a name that remained on the maps until German Reunification in 1990.

With this in mind, let’s look at the following questions to be solved regarding this bridge:

  1. When was this bridge built?
  2. Who designed the structure? Did this engineer use the Turner design or was it just simple coincidence?
  3. Lastly, if this bridge is considered a Turner truss, are there other designs of its caliber that exist? If so, where?

What do you know of this bridge, let alone the Turner truss? Share your thoughts either on facebook page or by using this contact form.  A tour guide on the bridges in Chemnitz is in the making and if there is enough information, this bridge will be added. Let’s see if we can solve this mystery surrounding this bridge, shall we?

Best of luck and looking forward to the findings. 🙂

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Paradiesbrücke in Zwickau. Photos taken in September 2016

 

Under a pile of rubble, there is always a jewel, no matter who or what it is or where it came from. Located 16 kilometers south of Glauchau, along the Mulde River, the city of Zwickau may look like an ordinary community, whose architecture mostly comes from the Cold War. This includes high-rise buildings, mining facilities, old factories and even bridges built using scarce materials possible but only lasting 40 years. In fact, a newspaper report from a local newspaper in Chemnitz revealed as many as 37 bridges in the district of 480,000 inhabitants (of which the city itself has 104,000 residents) that are in dire need of repair or replacement. Most of them had exceeded their expected lifespan by 20 years and are hanging by a thread because of imposed weight limits designed to keep trucks, tractors and busses off of them.

But underneath the doom and gloom of a bygone era, there are some jewels to find. Zwickau prides itself on the automobile industry, where the beloved Trabant automobile was built- now the company belongs to Volkswagen. Audi was founded in this community in 1904. The world’s first known and popular automobile racing union was created five years later.  It also has an international school (Saxony International in Reinsdorf) and a college of science and technology (Westsächsisch Hochschule), making the city a multicultural university town. It has a bridge building firm that has existed since 1854 and still has its base in the city.

And when there is a bridge builder in the community, there will always be bridges, especially given its proximity to the river!

The town was first mentioned in 1118 when the Slavs settled there, yet a half dozen bridges, mostly covered wooden ones were built to connect it with other villages by the 1500s. By the late 1800s, more than 40 bridges crossed the Mulde or surrounded the old town center. Today, if one subtracts the crossings carrying pipelines, only a quarter of the bridges exist in Zwickau, all are along the Mulde. And of these 10 known crossings, counting the Zellstoff Bridge, four of them are over 70 years old. Two of them however have received national accolades because of their unusual designs. They include the Paradiesbrücke- the only known bridge in Germany and the western hemisphere that has the cantilever pony truss design- and the 500-year old Röhrensteg- the only known covered bridge with multiple designs and functions, plus the oldest in Saxony. Both of these centerpieces will be profiled together with nine other structures that will include a couple near Wilkau-Hasslau(to the south) and a couple near Schlunzig (to the north). All of them were built before 1990, but they will present not only the historical aspects of the bridges, but also address the issues involving their ability to carry traffic. A gallery of pictures are enclosed for each bridge I stopped at during the tour in September.

Picking up where I left off in Glauchau, we’ll start the tour going upriver and through the prized automobile and infrastructural community, starting off with our first bridge:

 

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Present-day Schlunzig Bridge with its replacement to the right. Photo taken in May 2018

Schlunzig Bridge:

Built in 1954 replacing a wooden bridge destroyed in a flood, the Schlunzig Bridge may be a typical bland concrete beam bridge with little or no value, even if the structure is equipped with the ever so quickly disappearing set of street lighting from the bygone era. Yet its significance resembles two sides of a coin. On the one side, it is a typical East German Bridge, constructed using scarce materials that were prescribed by the Communist government- similar to the Wave at Wernersdorf (for more, see the tour guide on Glauchau’s bridges). Even the lighting originated from that era, which was considered too industrial for the region that is mostly oriented towards agriculture and nature. On the flip side, the bridge is a poster boy for the structural woes the region (and much of Germany) has been dealing with: a run-down structure that is unable to withstand increasing traffic or even weather extremities. The good news though is the district of Zwickau has approved the design and financial support for a new bridge. When the 50 meter long, Mulde crossing is replaced in 2018-19, in its place will be a more attractive bridge type that will awe even the bikers using the bridge to continue on the Mulde Bike Trail: the cable-stayed span! It will be interesting to see what it will look like when the bridge is back in service by the end of 2019.

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Schneppendorf Bridge:

Three kilometers to the south, near Crossen, we have this bridge. The Schneppendorf Bridge features a three-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge with a total length of 80 meters. Like the Schlunzig Bridge, this one stems from the East German days with typical lighting and railing. It also fits the stereotype of bridges that despite being between 65 and 90 years old (as I estimated its age during my visit), it is in need of repairs because of wear and tear, combined with structural neglect. The bridge has weight restrictions, still it serves as a backdrop to the scenery one can enjoy at a park and rest area located just to the south of the structure. As a bonus, especially for photographers, the bridge and another one just 100 meters to the north- a through truss bridge carrying pipelines across the river- both have a nice background with wooded hills and old-fashioned houses. That bridge had a 45° skewed portal bracing, similar to the next bridge located to the south of the arch bridge. Sadly though, this bridge was removed in 2017 after it was revealed that the structure was rendered useless and a hazard for boaters along the Mulde.

Fast Fact: The bridge was in fact built in 1959 replacing an earlier span that had been built 21 years earlier but was destroyed in the war. Ironically, the 1938 span replaced an iron truss span that was built in 1878, replacing a wooden covered bridge from 1547. No pictures, postcards and drawings exist at this time, but if you have any that you wish to add please contact the Chronicles.

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Zellstoff Bridge:

Entering Zwickau’s city limits, we have the Zellstoff Bridge on the left. Spanning the Mulde River, this bridge features one of the most unusual through truss spans in the region. It’s span consists of a Warren through truss with riveted connections. The portal bracings are skewed at a 45° angle and feature a V-laced form (outer portal) and an I-beam form with heel bracings (inner portal). The struts and vertical beams are both V-laced, as well with the diagonal beams being H-framed. The approach spans feature five spans of a concrete cantilever design. A gallery above will give you a description of what the bridge looks like. Also interesting is a narrow chimney at the left side of the west portal. This may be part of a mechanism that harnessed or even supported electricity, especially as many electrical lines went over this bridge. The bridge served a rail line connecting an automobile factory and possibly an area where mining had existed and therefore, played a key role in Zwickau’s industrial history. But more research on the mining area in Zwickau and in particular, the mini-chimney is needed to help uncover the secrets to the bridge and its surrounding area. The bridge was abandoned after 1990 and there was a plan to remove the structure shortly afterwards. However, thanks to opposition to the plan by residents and preservationists, the decision was scrapped in 2007, and today, the bridge serves as a bike trail between the city and the area where mining had existed. The overgrowth has dominated the bridge and the trail going east, but people can still use them to see what the mining area had looked like before the Fall of the Wall. Despite its age, many people still love this bridge, especially as I met some people while filming it, who all said this one word: “Historique.” That I’m not in a position to disagree with you on. The interest in the Zellstoff Bridge contributed to the City of Zwickau’s successful project in renewing the bridge flooring in early 2018. Since that time, more and more people are using the bridge and even getting some good shots with the camera. A blessing for bridge preservationists, historians and locals alike. 🙂

Here’s a Youtube video on this bridge:

 

Note: If you know more about this bridge in terms of its history and historic significance to the region, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles. The information will be added to the tour guide.

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Pölbitz Bridge:

The first vehicular crossing over the Zwickau Mulde when entering Zwickau is located in the northernmost suburb, Pölbitz. Located at Pölbitzer Strasse, west of B-93, this bridge connects Pölbitz with Eckersbach and provides direct access to the nearest town of Crimmitschau. While records indicated the first wooden bridge having been built 1511, the bridge was replaced with a four-span concrete Luten arch bridge in 1914, all with closed spandrels. The bridge withstood years of abuse as a result of flooding, war and lastly, neglect because of the lack of resources and know-how during the Communist era. The straw that broke the camel’s back came with the Great Flood of 2002, which caused extensive damage to the bridge, especially the arches. The city council reacted with a plan to replace the entire structure with a concrete cantilever span, similar to the picture above. The bridge was replaced in 2005-06 with the current structure, which includes some finials and a memorial on the east end of the bridge. A video showing the events involving the Pölbitz Bridge before and after the replacement can be seen below. It includes interviews with those involved in the replacement project and commentary from the anchor, a local who obviously forgot about the arch bridge except for its destitute state.

 

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Eckersbach Bridge:

Spanning the Zwickau Mulde at Kolpingstrasse and highway B-175 , this three-span structure features a concrete deck cantilever design. The bridge is one of the heavily travelled bridges in Zwickau for the crossing provides traffic in and around Zwickau as well as points to the west and north. The current structure was built in 1955 replacing a wooden combination trestle and Queenpost through truss structure that was built in 1898 under the name Socialist Bridge. The bridge was replaced with the current structure in 1955 but not before the floods a year earlier caused significant damage to the new bridge under construction as well as the truss bridge itself.  Between 1898 and 1990, when the name was changed to Echersbach Bridge, the bridge was named with a socialist flair which started with that before changing to the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Bridge.  Given its age and its wear and tear because of weather extremities and congestion, the bridge has seen better days, and it appears that in the coming years with the increase in traffic, replacement may have to be considered.

Only 150 meters north of the bridge is a pipeline bridge, built using steel plate girders. Built in the 1980s, the bridge carried hot water to Zwickau from sources to the east of the city. Abandoned for a decade, the bridge was removed in 2017 not only for liability reasons, but the residents nearby did not want to see an eyesore obstructing the view of the Mulde River valley.

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Maritius Bridge:

The Maritius Bridge is the first of two Mulde River bridges in Zwickau that carry the major highway B93 going south. The steel structure features two bridges: One built in 1992 to accomodate street car service going south and a parallel one built in 1994 to accomodate vehicular traffic. Both structures replaced the Bierbrücke that was built where the present-day Maritius Brewery is located. The structure was first mentioned in 1859 and was built of wood, even though it is unclear whether it was a covered bridge or another truss structure. Furthermore, we don’t know how long the bridge had existed at that time.  After having been destroyed by ice and flooding multiple times, an iron structure was built in 1861. According to some of the postcards, the bridge featured a Town Lattice truss bridge and had three spans. Due to structural concerns, the bridge was closed in the 1970s. It was rehabilitated in 1975 to accomodate pedestrians and cyclists by replacing the truss spans with steel beam and was raised a meter to allow for free flowing waters of the Zwickau Mulde. Inspite of this, the partial permanent closure of the Bierbrücke resulted in a complicated detour through other parts of Zwickau where massive traffic had not been seen on residential streets.  

Because of lack of funding due to the economic conditions in East Germany during that time, reconstruction was only possible after the two Germanys were reunited. Come 1992, the first of two bridges were built to provide street car service to Eckersbach from the city center. By that time, the old Bierbrücke had vanished into history. Two lears later, as part of the B-93 expressway project, the second bridge was built for traffic. Today’s Maritius Bridge is the gateway to Zwickau from neighboring Glauchau and points to the north along the expressway connecting the city with Leipzig.

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Paradise Bridge (Paradiesbrücke):

Germany was once known as a place filled with ornamental bridges built using unusual designs. Despite 90% of them being destroyed during the Third Reich and through the bombings in World War II, there are still some diamonds in the field that if found are worth researching and given its rightful honor. The Paradise Bridge, located at Nicolai and Reinsdorfer Strassen near the Nicolaischule and Eberts Palace is one of those bridges that deserves international accolades, as well as its neighbor upstream, the Röhrensteg.  Having been considered a cultural heritage site (Kultutdenkmal) by both the East German government and later by the State of Saxony since 1980, here are some interesting facts worth noting about this bridge:

1. The bridge was the first one of its kind that features a cantilever pony truss design. Furthermore, it was the only known cantilever truss bridge whose trusses are supported by only one tower. Before the completion of the new Küblers Bridge in Lunzenau, located 45 kilometers downstream, in 2017, none of the bridges known in the western hemisphere had had that unique design.

2. The bridge was built in 1900 by a bridge-building firm Beuchelt & Company in Grünberg in Schlesia (now part of Poland), replacing a covered bridge, which was one of over 30 that were built in Zwickau. The predecessor was built in 1694 by Johann Georg Findeisen from Schellenberg at a cost of 200 Taler. The covered bridge was one of the fanciest of the dozen built in Zwickau and it had come in response to multiple previous crossings that had been built but had survived briefly as they had been destroyed by ice jams, flooding and war. The Findeisen span had been in service for 306 years before it was decomissioned and dismantled in favor of the cantilever truss bridge.

3. The structure itself is 120 meters long, its tower is in the middle of the Mulde River. The width is 15 meters, counting the trusses. Since 1979 and inspite the restoration work in 2003, the bridge has been serving cyclist and pedestrian traffic, carrying a bike trail connecting Zwickau’s City Centre with Reinsdorf, located four kilometers to the east.

Its replacement structure is found 200 meters west of the bridge at Dr. Friedrichs Ring (Hwy. 173). That bridge, known as the Adolf Hennecke Bridge and later from 1990 onwards as the Glück-Auf-Brücke, was built in 1979 and connects Zwickau with Chemnitz to the southeast. That bridge is three times as long and twice as wide as the Paradiesbrücke, spanning the river, Highway B-93, the Mulde Bike Trail and Reinsdorfer Strasse.

4. When the bridge was renovated in 2003, the towers were crowned with finials resembling the Matthäus Kirche (St. Matthew’s Church) which was located 400 meters east of the entrance. Additional decorations on the trusses and ornamental lamps were also added making the bridge more attractive to tourists and passers-by.

5. The bridge is located near the site where a former mine and bridge building company used to be located. A memorial site with a miner resting with a beer in the hand can be seen 100 meters northeast of the city side of the entrance. It is also located near the Ebert Palace, whose finial towers can be seen above the trees at the bridge’s east entrance.

6. The bridge was the platform for several historical events affecting Zwickau and beyond. For instance, the name Paradies stammed from Martin Luther’s visit in Zwickau, where he crossed the bridge in rage after a row with the priests before entering a nearby house and declared: “Thank God I found this house. Here is my paradise.” The first was an open-air festival in 1847, featuring a concert by musicians Robert Schumann and his wife, Clara. For two weeks after the end of World War II, the bridge served as a temporary border crossing for American and Soviet troops. That ended in July 1945. And in 1956, a film production in Zwickau included a couple scenes on the bridge. The restoration of the bridge in 2002/03 came after floodwaters almost knocked the bridge off its piers. And most recently, an open-air cafe used to be on the bridge, which happened in 2017.

Any more reasons for listing this bridge on the UNESCO site in comparison with the nays? Check out this youtube video on this bridge:

 

 

 

 

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Pöhlau Railroad Bridge:

Located near the site of the International Trabant Museum, this bridge appears to be one of the newer truss bridges built no earlier than 25 years ago. While its light brown color makes it look rusty in appearance, its “molded” connections is typical for today’s truss bridges. The Warren through truss bridge with beam portals and Lattice truss overhead bracings used to serve a rail line connecting Pöhlau and Zwickau Central Station. The bridge and the line are now abandoned. Given its age and modern appearance, chances are this bridge will be reused at some point- either as a crossing for cyclists in its place, a street car crossing going south or a railroad crossing at a new location. Time will tell what the City of Zwickau will do with this structure.

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Röhrensteg:

Like the Paradiesbrücke, the Röhrensteg (translated as the Bridge of Pipes) is another key attraction for Zwickau which should receive international recognition for its design and function. The bridge’s history dates back over 500 years to 1535, when the bridge was first built. At that time, the people in Zwickau needed water for their personal and commercial use. Because the water of the Mulde was dirty and not drinkable, the only source of clean drinking water to be found was at a pond near Reinsdorf- three kilometers away from the bridge. Henceforth, workers created man-powered pumping stations and pipelines made of hard wood from oak trees. The trees were cut down, and after stripping the bark and outer layers, a hole with a diameter of 30 centemeters was dug out by hand, but not before having cut the wood into sections and then connecting them once the hole was “drilled.” The wooden pipeline then transported water down the hill and across this bridge before being distributed throughout the city. A section of this wooden pipeline can still be seen on the bridge, where the overhead beams are still supporting it, providing proof that this practice once existed. A total of at least 17 wooden pipelines had been built for the city of Zwickau to provide drinking water for the community, four fountains where the wooden pipes were connected dating back to the 1700s have been preserved as exhibits at the city center to show this unique engineering feat. This pipeline system was later replaced with more modern systems in the early 20th century, but the bridge itself has withstood the test of time and mother nature. Despite having had substantial damage during the flood of 1790, the Röhrensteg was rebuilt and has retained its original form ever since. The bridge has survived numerous floods and other natural disasters, even after new pier casings were installed in 1940 as part of the project to dredge the Mulde River.

In terms of its structure, the Röhrensteg is the only truss bridge (wooden or metal) to have two different designs and two different portals. The bridge features a three-span Queenpost truss design on the western side and a subdivided Warren truss on the eastern side. A-frame portal bracing is found on the city side, X-frame lattice with heel bracings on the Reinsdorf side. Endposts with 45° angles can be found at each portal; together with the wooden siding lining up between the bridge and the abutment, this makes the Röhrensteg one of the most unusual covered bridges to have ever been built. Roofing is of hip style with an angle of 45°, which is similar to the covered bridges found in Switzerland. The bridge serves a bike trail connecting Zwickau’s southern part and Reinsdorf via Oberhohnsdorf, serving as a spur to the Mulde Bike trail that careens along the river.

Despite its unusual design and multi-functionality, the bridge is showing its age, and therefore needed to be rehabilitated. This work was completed during three quarters of 2018, having been reopened to traffic in January 2019. Details can be found here. Prior to the rehabilitation,  new approach spans on the Reinsdorf side and the pier casing had been built,  no extensive work has been done on the bridge prior to its extensive work. More on the work can be found here.

A youtube video on the Röhrensteg takes you across the bridge and to the pipes found in the superstructure itself. Check it out:

 

 

 

Röhrensteg after its reopening in 2019:

 
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Schedewitz Bridges (New Schedewitz Bridge and Bockwaer Brücke):

Located in the suburb bearing the bridge’s name, the next two bridges are located only 200 meters from each other, each spanning the Mulde. The older bridge is a two-span Warren deck truss without verticals but with stone arch approach spans. Built in 1890, this bridge used to connect the suburbs of Schedewitz and Bockwa, hence it was known by locals as the Bockwaer Brücke. Its predecessors consisted of a multiple-span stone arch bridge that was built in 1842. The northern two spans of this bridge were preserved and used as approach spans for the Warren truss spans. Yet the first crossing was a covered bridge, which was built in 1661. The bridge used to serve a key route along the Silver Road, connecting Zwickau with Schneeberg via Wiesenburg. Much of that route has been taken over by the federal highway B-93.  Furthermore, the bridge used to have a streetcar route and a two-lane vehicular crossing.

Because of flood damage in 1954, contract was let to the local bridge building firm VEB Brückenbauwerk Zwickau in 1956 to build its replacement span, located 200 meters downstream at the site where the crossing exists today.  The new span features a three-span concrete cantilever span, with a length of 70 meters, accommodating four-lanes of traffic plus sidewalks. Construction lasted two years due to difficulties digging through the steep cliffs, requiring the use of explosives before the cliffs were dug out. The road was then laid out, which included a side road that would connect with the main route from the old Bockwaer Brücke before continuing onto Schneeberg. . This was useful for the highway was later extended to the south enroute to Reinsdorf, the motorway exit Zwickau-Ost and later Hartenstein.  The new bridge has been serving traffic for over 60 years but age and wear and tear may warrant a much-needed rehabilitation in the future.

As for the Bockwaer Brücke, once the new Schedewitz Bridge was opened to traffic in 1958, work commenced to remove the street car tracks, plus halve the roadway to a point where only bikes and pedestrians could use the old bridge. The bridge was then raised 2 meters to avoid damming the river in the event of flooding. Today, the bridge still serves cyclists and pedestrians but work may be needed to make the structure more functionable. Already the Zwickau City Council rejected a proposal to rehabilitate the bridge in 2017, which raises questions on the bridge’s future. Will there be enough locals willing to convince the city council to reconsider, or will indifference and a strive for modernization doom the old structure, whose history is worth preserving, especially as it is part of the history of Zwickau and the Silver Road?

 

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Cainsdorf Bridge:

Another important crossing to mention is the Cainsdorf Bridge. While little has been written about its history, the 1929 two-span steel deck plate girder span crosses the Zwickau Mulde at the railroad station along the Zwickau-Aue-Johanngeorgenstadt line. The bridge connects Cainsdorf and areas to the west and the eastern edge of Zwickau between Oberhohndorf and the city of Wilkau-Hasslau and provides the lone access to the Planitz district, which includes a restored castle and church, where the present-day Clara Wieck Gymnasium is located.  Sadly, the bridge’s condition has deteriorated to a point where only a three-ton limit has been enforced for all vehicles except the city’s bus line. The good news is the bridge is expecting a replacement bridge, to be built on a new alignment connecting both areas, but towards the Oberhohndorf district, thus cutting down the time needed to get to one’s destination in either way. Construction is expected to start in 2019 and finish by 2021. Afterwards, the historic bridge will undergo a thorough rehabilitation that will prolong its life but also allow for only cyclists and pedestrians to cross. This will be a big advantage especially those wishing to catch the train from the train station next to the bridge. A win-win situation that many locals with ties to the bridge will benefit from. 

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Wilkau-Hasslau Pedestrian Bridge: 

Five kilometers further upstream and biking past the Cainsdorf Bridge is the pedestrian bridge at Wiklau-Hasslau, the southernmost suburb of Zwickau. There, one will find a rather unique pedestrian bridge. Built in 2004, the bridge features a pen-like tower, with cables supporting the roadway and the tower itself. The roadway has a curve, allowing cyclist from the east side and Schneeberg to enter as a ramp, as it curves to the right towards the west end. The 145 meter long pedestrian bridge crosses the Mulde River and a pair of railroad tracks that provide train service between Zwickau and Aue to the south. The valley’s hilly and wooded scenery is what the Wilkau-Hasslau Pedestrian Bridge has to offer- along with a short break at a modernized city center, which has a weekly market- before biking on to some more bridges. The tower has a height of 32.2 meters, making it the tallest bridge in Zwickau. Yet to the south of the bridge is an even taller bridge carrying the Motorway A 72. Built in 1995, that bridge spans the deepest of the Mulde River valley in Zwickau, but is the second longest bridges along the stretch between Hof (Bavaria) and Chemnitz.

 

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Kirchberg (Mulde) Bridge:

To the north of the pedestrian bridge is the Kirchberg Bridge,  perhaps the longest of the “at-level” river crossings over the Zwickau Mulde in the greater Zwickau area. When looking at the bridge from the pedestrian bridge, one could guess that the stone arch bridge, built using sandstone, had three arches. Yet when walking along the streets of Wilkau-Hasslau to get a better, closer look at the bridge, one can see the number of spans being more than double. In fact, eight spans glide over the river and the flood bed with a total length of between 300 and 400 meters. Records reveal that the Luten arch structure was built in 1867 but it appears to have been widened in the early 1990s to better accomodate traffic between the joint community (which was established in 1934) and Kirchberg, located five kilometers to the southwest. This bridge has shown its age as cracks are appearing in the stone arches. Despite emergency repairs in 2018, a full-blown rehabilitation project to prolong the crossing will most likely occur sometime in 2020. When this happens, most likely the West German style flourescent lighting will disappear in favor of fancier, ornamental lanterns with LED-lighting, which will present a more appropriate flavor for Wilkau-Hasslau.

 

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Motorway 72 Viaduct

The tallest and longest of Zwickau’s bridges is not located in Zwickau directly, but in neighboring city Wilkau-Hasslau on the south end. The motorway viaduct was originally built in 1937-39 as part of the construction of the motorway connecting Hof with Chemnitz. Ironically, the entire stretch of the highway was not finished until 1993 due to delays caused by World War II and the division of Germany that followed. This stretch was the last built prior to the start of the war and would be used heavily after the war ended. The motorway viaduct continued service until 1995, when it was replaced with a new steel girder viaduct span, built on the piers of the original bridge. The total length is 670 meters with a height of 50 meters, making it one of the longest along the original stretch. It can be seen when entering Wilkau-Hasslau from the northern side.

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Marienthal Viaduct

Approximately 350 meters north of the Central Railway Station is the Marienthal Viaduct- the only bridge in this tour guide that does not span the Zwickau Mulde. Spanning a small but deep creek as well as Werdauer Strasse, the eight-span stone arch bridge is the longest in Zwickau, with a total length of 94 meters. With a height of 14 meters above the ground, it is also the highest. If counting the Motorway 72 Viaduct in Wilkau-Hasslau, it is the second longest in this tour guide. The viaduct is the shortest of the noted viaducts along the Nuremberg-Hof-Dresden Magistrate with the next ones in both directions being at least twice as long. The bridge was built in 1869 as the railroad was being built for Zwickau from the east. It was built using red brick, sandstone and porphyr. The bridge still sees use on a daily basis for as many as 10 trains cross this bridge per hour; most of them passenger train services connecting Zwickau with Glauchau, Chemnitz and Dresden. Albeit a regional service route, it is expected that this route will be connected to the long-distance train in the future, for the Bahn plans to electrify the line south of Hof and in the end have InterCity trains going from Dresden to Munich.

A map of the bridges in Zwickau is enclosed in case you would like to visit the bridges yourself. Some of the bridges are mystery bridges where an article has been written on each one and can be found in the Chronicles. Others feature just a pic of the bridge indicating its existence but has no information on it to date.

If you have any more information on Zwickau’s bridges that need to be added, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact form below. All information will be added to this guide.

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