BHC Newsflyer: 24 April 2020

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Kraemerbruecke in Erfurt at Christmas time. Photo taken in December 2010

Corona Special: The Cancellation of Bridge Festivals

In both the USA as well as Germany and other European countries, communities in the summer time host bridge festivals (in German: Brückenfest), where markets and festivities take place at their beloved historic bridge. This usually takes place on a weekend and attracts thousands of visitors from all corners of the world. Because of the pandemic CoVid-19, these events are either cancelled or are about to be cancelled or postponed because of the high risk of spreading the virus. And if the Oktoberfest in Munich gets cancelled for the first time since 1949, no bridge festival is safe. Hence the information in this week’s podcast, including links.

This week’s podcast: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-Corona-Special-24-April-2020-ed6gkf

 

And the headlines:

Krämerbrücke Festival in Erfurt Cancelled/ Erfurt mourns loss of longest tenant on the bridge:

Links: https://www.thueringer-allgemeine.de/regionen/erfurt/wuerdevoller-abschied-id228913845.html

https://www.otz.de/service/live-blog-coronavirus-fruehere-ladenoeffnung-in-thueringen-elf-zalando-mitarbeiter-in-erfurt-infiziert-id228803581.html

https://www.thueringer-allgemeine.de/regionen/erfurt/wuerdevoller-abschied-id228913845.html

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2266348657007500&id=1508477809461259

 

Horde Bridge Fest in Dortmund Cancelled:

Info: https://hoerder-stadtteilagentur.de/bruckenfest_hor-de_international/

Article: https://www.ruhrnachrichten.de/dortmund/hoerder-brueckenfest-wird-wegen-corona-verschoben-1505428.html

 

Nuremberg Bridge Fest at Theodor-Heuss-Brücke expected to be cancelled

Information on Bridge Fest: https://www.nuernberg.de/internet/stadtportal/brueckenfestival.html

Cancellation of events in Bavaria: https://www.antenne.de/nachrichten/bayern/corona-diese-grossveranstaltungen-in-bayern-wurden-bereits-abgesagt

Cencellation of Oktoberfest 2020 in Munich: https://flensburgerfiles.wordpress.com/2020/04/21/munich-oktoberfest-cancelled/

 

Brückefest in Heidelberg postponed until next year.

Karl Theodore Bridge- https://www.heidelberg.de/hd/HD/Besuchen/alte+bruecke+und+brueckentor.html

City Festivals- https://www.altheidelberg.org/veranstaltungen

 

Covered Bridge Festival in Elizabethon, Tennessee Called Off

Article: https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Fairs-Festivals/2020/04/15/Carter-man-charged-in-murder-of-his-mother-arrested-at-Atlanta-Airport-86.html

Bridge Info: https://bridgehunter.com/tn/carter/bh36947/

County Bridge Tour:  https://bridgehunter.com/tn/carter/

 

Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana Will Not Happen

Article: https://www.katc.com/news/coronavirus/breaux-bridge-crawfish-festival-postponed

Event Info: http://bbcrawfest.com/about/

 

Note: Further cancellations of bridge festivals are likely as the virus progresses and planners remain concern about the safety of their bridges, communities and the people who visit them in large masses. The Chronicles will continue to provide you with updates through the Newsflyer podcast as they come.

To follow up more on the Corona Virus, go to the sister website, The Flensburg Files (click here.) There, you can read up on all the stories involving CoVid-19, including events being cancelled in Germany (and Europe) and people over there who are dealing with the virus and the restriction of movements.

 

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Newsflyer: 16 September 2019

Quebec City Bridge. Photo by Martin St-Amant [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D
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To listen to the Podcast, please click here: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-16-September–2019-e5fdn3

 

The Headines for this week (Details available per link):

Lawsuit against the State of Maine for its handling of a key historic bridge

Information on the Frank J. Wood Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/me/cumberland/2016/

Information on the Lawsuit: https://www.paintsquare.com/news/?fuseaction=view&id=21566

Interview with the Chronicles:

https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/locals-fight-to-preserve-the-frank-j-wood-bridge-in-maine/

 

Historic Bridge in Erfurt, Germany relocated to its third home for rehabilitation. Fourth home being sought.

Article: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/riethbrucke-in-erfurt-dismantled/

 

Fire destroys historic bridge over the Colorado River at Parker, Arizona.

Info on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/ca/san-bernardino/540999/

Article: https://www.rtands.com/railroad-news/fire-destroys-genesee-wyoming-rail-bridge-across-colorado-river/

 

Historic Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge in Fredricton, New Brunswick getting new decking:

Article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/bill-thorpe-walking-bridge-construction-1.5284866

 

Canadian Government to reclaim the Quebec Bridge from Canadian National Railroad in an attempt to restore it

Information on Quebec Bridge: https://historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=quebec/quebec/

Article: https://www.bridgeweb.com/Canadian-government-takes-action-to-restore-Quebec-Bridge/5065

 

Historic bridge in Sweden to be replaced.

Article: https://www.bridgeweb.com/Replacement-of-Swedens-Stor-Bridge-begins/5071

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 64

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As we say good-bye to one of Erfurt’s prized treasures, I would like to show you an earlier pic of the Riethbrücke in Erfurt, when there were no barriers restricting its crossing. This pic was taken in 2004, when I was a Master’s student at the University of Jena, which is east of the capital of Thuringia. Studying political science, I would spend a day at the library at the University of Erfurt as it had a wider selection of books available to my liking (as a note: I my primary focus was on domestic policies- especially pertaining to public health). On the way to the University Library, I would stop at this bridge for some  pictures, especially as the Gera Bike Trail was the only safest way to my destination from the Central Railway Station.  The pic was taken with a Konica-Minolta mirror-reflex, 35mm camera with film; something that was still in before digital cameras would take over completely.  The markings of film-camera pics is noticable in this picture, taken during the early afternoon.

Even though I graduated in 2007, I returned to Erfurt in 2010 to teach at the University of Applied Sciences for two years. I would regularly pass this bridge while commuting to work from my home in Gispersleben (to the north). They had already placed the barriers on the bridge and been planning to replace the structure then. That the bridge lasted as longer as it did had nothing to do with the other crossings that needed to be replaced prior to that, but more with what to do with a bridge that has had a history of serving Erfurt for over a century and henceforth having been listed as a technical historical site by the State of Thuringia. It was one of us; one of the two dozen historic bridges that makes Erfurt a great place for bridgehunters, photographers and historians alike.

With the bridge now at the Highway Depot awaiting a much-needed makeover, the question is where the bridge’s new home will be. That will take some time to determine ist destiny.

For more on the bridge’s move, click here to read the article.

 

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Riethbrücke in Erfurt Dismantled

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130-year old historic bridge relocated to highway depot. Relocation to new place to be determined.

ERFURT (GERMANY)- The days of one historic bridge have been numbered- at least at its now former location. The question is where to find a new home for it. The Riethbrücke used to span the River Gera at Riethstrasse, near the sports complex in the northern suburb of Rieth. Built in 1890, the curved Parker pony truss span was first placed over the Flutgraben Diversion Canal just south of Erfurt Central Station before it was relocated to its present site in 1912. For 107 years, it had served car and bike traffic with no problems.

Sadly though, the bridge is no more at this location. As recently as today, crews transported the truss structure to its new home, which is the highway depot near Bindersleben, west of Erfurt. Crew had cut the 25 meter (75 foot) long and six meter (18 foot) wide bridge into two parts the day before, so that it can be transported easily along the main highways leading to its destination. The bridge had to make way for a new steel structure, whose features will be similar to the truss span. That bridge will be opened in time for the German Garden and Horticulture Show (Bundesgartenschau) in 2021. The old truss bridge had become functionally obsolete as weight, width and height restrictions were imposed on the structure for close to a decade.

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The bridge is still protected by the heritage laws in Thuringia and crews are currently figuring out where to relocate the bridge and how to repurpose it for recreational use. It is clear that the bridge will need to be completely rehabilitated due to years of rust and wear, especially on the lower chord. The bridge had not seen any major rehabilitation jobs done during its time at its first two locations. As it will be at the highway depot, crews will have a chance to examine the bridge to determine what needs to be done to improve it. At the same time, the search for a new home will commence so that the bridge can be reinstalled and reused again.

The question is where to find its next home, which will be its fourth (counting its stay at the depot), so that it can live on for another century?

A video of the move can be seen via link below.

Video:

https://www.otz.de/video/erfurter-riethbruecke-zieht-um-id227055379.html

 

 

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The Gera Bike Trail, which used to form an intersection with the Riethbrücke- forcing people to walk their bikes across the street, will run under the new bridge when it is built. The bike trail starts at Schmücke near Ilmenau and after passing through Erfurt, joins the Unstrut Bike Trail at Gebesee, a length of 75 kilometers.

This is the fourth bridge built in Erfurt since 2018. Three more structures are replacing old and obsolete ones, all of them in the north of Erfurt: one at Strasse der Nationen spanning the highway (in construction- overpass to be torn down in 2020), one at Gispersleben (through arch bridge completed in June 2019), and one at Warschauer Strasse near the Riethbrücke (span to be replaced in 2020).

History of the Riethbrücke can be found in the Tour Guide on the Bridges of Erfurt, under the part on the city’s outer skirts. Click here to view and enjoy the other five parts of the tour. Please note that updates will be made on the city’s bridges in the future.

 

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Till Eulenspiegel on the Krämerbrücke in Erfurt

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ERFURT, GERMANY-  In Germany, we have quite a few satire magazines that poke fun at politics and social issues affecting Germany today. The Eulenspiegel is one of those satire magazines that is also one of the most popular a person can find at the book store. It was founded in 1954 and was the only known satire magazine in the former German Democratic Republic until German Reunification in 1990. Based in Berlin, the magazine still exists in its original form today (see link) but its origin goes back many centuries.

To the 15th Century and in the form of Till Eulenspiegel, that is. 🙂

The story of Till Eulenspiegel was first published as a chapbook in 1515 and is still considered a typical Middle German Folklore by many Germanists and historians today. The character Eulenspiegel:  “is native of Brunswick whose picaresque career takes him to many places throughout the Holy Roman Empire. He plays practical jokes on his contemporaries, especially scatological in nature, exposing vices at every turn. His life is set in the first half of the 14th century, and the final chapters of the chapbook describe his death from the plague of 1350. His name translates to “owl mirror”, and the frontispiece of the 1515 chapbook, as well as his alleged tombstone in Mölln, Schleswig-Holstein, display the name in rebus writing, by an owl and a hand mirror.” Many artefacts honoring Eulenspiegel can be found today. Museums in Mölln (Schleswig-Holstein), Schöppenstedt, Presseck-Waffenhammer, and Damme (Belgium) are devoted to the works of Till Eulenspiegel, where as monuments honoring him can be found in Bernburg (Saale), Einbeck (Lower Saxony), Knetlingen, Calbe (Saale), Magdeburg,

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….and Erfurt, the site of this year’s Krämerbrücke Festival.

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As many as 130,000 tourist visited the bridge this past weekend and were taken aback by the thousands of shoes and quotes that covered the oldest bridge in the city and one of the oldest housed bridges of its kind in the world. The answer stems from Eulenspiegel’s folklore, which went along these lines:

One day in a small village, Till Eulenspiegel asked for 199 people to come follow him to the river. He announced that he was going to present a circus act and  asked them to take off their left shoe and give it to him. He tied the shoe strings together and after placing them in a bag, he got onto a line he had tied to both sides of the river and balanced across it, before stopping halfway. He then took out the shoes and threw them down into the crowd, where they searched frantically for their left shoe. He was later pursued by the townspeople only to end in vain as he was hiding inside his mother’s house.

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While the theme of shoes and Posters with commentaries by the most unpopular leaders, including Donald Trump, became the theme for this year’s Bridge Festival in Erfurt, it actually honored Eulenspiegel and his folklore in different ways. Firstly, volunteers donated their left shoe days before the three-day event so that they can hang them onto strings that went across from side to side (and from house to house) on the Bridge. Secondly, when the festival ended, the shoes were taken down but not before having small gifts inside for the owners to receive upon getting their shoes back. It was a creative way to honor Eulenspiegel with his “prank-style” decorations on the Bridge, making the visitors guess at the origins of the left shoe. 🙂

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The Festival was bigger than in years past with over 190 booths offering arts and crafts as well as different Kinds of Food and beverage s that were typical of the region. Yet the Festival is typically musical as it had a combination of Medieval music and jazz that one could see in each of the seven market squares in Erfurt’s City Center and the Bridge itself.

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Despite having mostly sunny skies, the Festival was shadowed by Germany’s loss to Mexico in the first round of the World Cup in Russia. While there was public viewing throughout much of the Festival, the mood was somewhat somber when Yogi’s 11 lost by a score of 1-0, ist first loss in the first round of the World Cup since 1982. The Coach Joachim (Yogi) Loewe is currently retooling the Team for ist upcoming match with Sweden in hopes that the defending World Champions of 2014 will be able to win the last two games and move on, defending their title against possible Teams that have been upending traditional Teams lately.

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Will they succeed or will Yogi look for a new Job as a Coach, we will stay tuned and see. 🙂

In the meantime, enjoy the photos of the Festival both here as well as on the Chronicles’ Instagram page, not to mentioned the rest of the World Cup. 🙂  Information on the history of the Krämerbrücke can be found here as the Chronicles did a coverage on Erfurt’s bridges in 2012 and included this bridge as a separate part.

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2017 Ammann Award Results: Part 1

Rock Island Rail-to-Trail Bridge in Little Rock, AR at night. Photo taken by Chauncy Neuman, winner of this year’s Best Photo Award

New Olympic-Style Medal System to the Top Six Finishers

Record Number of Voter Participation

SCHNEEBERG (SAXONY), GERMANY- 2018 is here, and with it, the revealing of the winners of the 2017 Othmar H. Ammann Awards. This year’s awards ceremony is far different than in years’ past. For instance, instead of announcing the winners in nummerical order from top to bottom, the top six winners receive a medal in a combination of Olympics and Ore Mountain form. That means the top three finishers receive the typical Olympic medals, whereas 4th to 6th place finishers receive medals typical of the Ore Mountain region in Saxony in eastern Germany, the new home for this column (specifically, in Schneeberg). That means tourquoise, copper and iron ore to those respective finishers. To view the total number of candidates please click here for details, including how they finished.

This year’s awards set some impressive records that can only be bested by more participation and more awareness of the historic bridges that we have left in general. For instance, we had records smashed for the highest number of voter turnout in each of the nine categories. Furthermore, there were at least seven lead changes in each category, which was also a first. In four of the categories, there were lead changes with at least four of the candidates. In another category, each of the candidates took a shot at first place and stayed at the top for at least a week before it was dethroned in favor of another one. In summary, no leader was safe regardless of margin that was built with its second place competitor. 🙂

And with that we will take a look at the winners of the 2017 Ammann Awards, divided up into two parts so that the readers are not overwhelmed with the content. The winners of the 2017 Author’s Choice, where the author himself picks his favorites, will follow. But for now, let’s see what the voters have chosen for bridge favorites beginning with…..

 

BEST PHOTO:

This year’s Best Photo Category brought in not only double the number of candidates as last year (12 entries) but also double as many candidates that vied for first place as last year- there was a battle among three candidates for the top spot for the 2016 Awards. All six candidates finished in the top six with Chauncy Neumann bringing home the gold for his night photo of the Rock Island Railroad Bridge in Little Rock, AR., a fine example of a rail-to-trail crossing that still has its use in its second life today. His photo can be seen in the Chronicles’ facebook page as well as an avatar for the Chronicles’ twitter page. The silver medal went to Esko Räntilla for his stone arch bridge, built in the 1700s spanning a small creek in Finnland. That photo can be seen in the Chronicles’ wordpress page. Third place finisher receiving the bronze was Kevin Skow for his shot of the pony truss bridge Mill Creek in Kansas. His photo can be seen on the Chronicles’ twitter page. All of them will remain to be seen until mid-July before they become part of the header rotating page for the Chronicles’ wordpress page. The rest of the results:

Draschwitz Bridge north of Zeitz in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt: Winner of the Best Kept Secret International Award

BEST KEPT SECRET INDIVIDUAL BRIDGE:

This category is divided up into American and International Bridges and focuses on historic and unique bridges that receive little to no attention compared to other historic bridges, like the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges in the States. In the international part of the category, we had 14 entries from three continents with four vying for the top spot. In the end, the winner of award goes to a small village north of Zeitz in Germany and this unusual bridge, the Draschwitz Truss Bridge over the White Elster River. This bridge is unique because of its v-laced top chord. The story behind it can be found here. Silver goes to the suspension bridge at Betsiboka in Madagascar, whereas Bronze goes to another unique arch bridge in Greece nominated by Inge Kanakaris-Wirtl, the Plakidas Bridge. The rest of the top six include:

Sarto Bridge in Louisiana. Photo taken by Cliff Darby

In the States, we had ten entries, featuring bridges from all over the country. This included a “dead bridge”- one that has been extant for many years, yet one decided to nominate it post humously. As in the international portion, four of the ten vied for the top spot, but in the end, the Sarto Bridge, spanning the Bayou des Glaises at Big BendAvoyelles Parish, Louisiana came out the winner by a slim margin, outlasting the Johnson Bridge in Stillwater County (Montana) by five votes. That “dead bridge” mentioned earlier, was Sugar Island Bridge in Kankakee Illinois, came in third with 88 votes- a bronze medal well earned a century after it was converted into a pile of scrap metal. The bridge was destroyed by a tornado in 1916 and was replaced afterwards.  The rest of the top six include:

Geneva Creek Bridge in Muscatine, Iowa. Winner of the Mystery Bridge Award. Photo taken by Luke Harden

 

MYSTERY BRIDGE:

Twelve bridges were entered in this category, of which three came from the States and the rest from Germany. Still, the winners of both the international and American competition were clearly decisive with the American bridge winning the all around by a wide margin. That was with the Geneva Creek Bridge in Muscatine, Iowa, a Bedstead Howe pony truss that features two spans and was relocated at an unknown time. Information on that is enclosed here. The ancient arch bridge in Erfurt won the international division but came in second in the all around. That bridge spans a small waterfall that empties into the Diversion Channel on the south end of the city in Thuringia. It may be the oldest extant structure in the city’s history. For more, click here. Not far behind was another competitor from the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, a thatched-roof covered truss bridge in St. Peter-Ording, whose unique story can be found here. The rest of the standings include:

The rest of the winners can be found in Part 2. Click here to get there. 🙂

Ancient Arch Bridge at Pförtchen Bridge in Erfurt. Winner of the Ammann Awards for Mystery Bridge International

 

 

 

Mystery Bridge Nr. 84: An Ancient Bridge over a Small Waterfall

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ERFURT, GERMANY- This Mystery Bridge article takes us back to my old battleground for bridges and teaching English: the city of Erfurt in the German state of Thuringia. As mentioned in the tour guide series five years ago, the capital has a population of 240,000 inhabitants and has over 240 bridges spanning the River Gera, the Diversion Canal Flutgraben, as well as several creeks and highways. This includes over two dozen arch bridges in the city center as well as along the Flutgraben.

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Pförtchenbrücke spanning the Flutgraben at Pförtchenstrasse southwest of Erfurt Central Station Photo taken in July 2017

And while the authors have done research on the bridges in Erfurt for two books, the latest was released in 2012, they probably have seen this bridge many times, but have crossed this bridge without noticing it just as many times as well……

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Beautiful waterfall on the southeast end of Pförtchen Bridge as the creek empties into the Flutgraben. However, when climbing up the rocks and going underneath the bridge that serves a bike path, I found another bridge, or something looking like a bridge…….

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Judging by the features of the arch strutcure, this may be the oldest infrastructure that existed in the city of Erfurt, as the bridge is made of stone, but the keystone features resemble a monster spewing out water as it flows into the mouth of the canal:

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Judging by the length of the bridge, it is no longer than 10 meters and is no more than 1.5 meters above the water.  No plaLittle is know about this bridge except for the fact that the area used to be part of the Steigerwald Forest before it was occupied with houses in the 1860s. In fact, the Pförtchen Bridge itself was once a wooden bridge built in 1875 and having served horse and buggy as a gateway to the walled city. The bridge was then replaced by the current structure in 1897 when the canal was built and the older structure was removed. It is possible that this bridge was a key crossing going to the forest, but when the first bridge was constructed, it was filled in, converting it to a pipeline which still serves the waterway. This is most likely the case as there is no known data that can prove that the pipeline was made with stone arches, unless there was a canal serving residents in the southern part of Erfurt. But even then, it would have to have been made with brick or concrete, or even lead.

But never say never, when it comes to civil engineering. When engineers have a creative idea and/or will, they will carry it out, for the purpose of experiment, aesthetics and especially, functionality. 🙂

And so, it’s your turn. What do you think and/or know about this bridge? Is this an original crossing or a pipeline? How old do you think this bridge is?  Your help with comments and information would be of great help. You can provide your thoughts and comments here or via e-mail.

 

While you are at it, check out the updated version of Erfurt’s Bridge Tour Part 1, which features bridges in the outskirts. This includes maps and additional information as well as additional information via Instagram. Click here to view. Part 2 of the city center’s bridges will follow in the fall.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 84: An Ancient Bridge Over a Small Waterfall

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ERFURT, GERMANY- This Mystery Bridge article takes us back to my old battleground for bridges and teaching English: the city of Erfurt in the German state of Thuringia. As mentioned in the tour guide series five years ago, the capital has a population of 240,000 inhabitants and has over 240 bridges spanning the River Gera, the Diversion Canal Flutgraben, as well as several creeks and highways. This includes over two dozen arch bridges in the city center as well as along the Flutgraben.

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Pförtchenbrücke spanning the Flutgraben at Pförtchenstrasse southwest of Erfurt Central Station Photo taken in July 2017

And while the authors have done research on the bridges in Erfurt for two books, the latest was released in 2012, they probably have seen this bridge many times, but have crossed this bridge without noticing it just as many times as well……

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Beautiful waterfall on the southeast end of Pförtchen Bridge as the creek empties into the Flutgraben. However, when climbing up the rocks and going underneath the bridge that serves a bike path, I found another bridge, or something looking like a bridge…….

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Judging by the features of the arch strutcure, this may be the oldest infrastructure that existed in the city of Erfurt, as the bridge is made of stone, but the keystone features resemble a monster spewing out water as it flows into the mouth of the canal:

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Judging by the length of the bridge, it is no longer than 10 meters and is no more than 1.5 meters above the water.  No plaLittle is know about this bridge except for the fact that the area used to be part of the Steigerwald Forest before it was occupied with houses in the 1860s. In fact, the Pförtchen Bridge itself was once a wooden bridge built in 1875 and having served horse and buggy as a gateway to the walled city. The bridge was then replaced by the current structure in 1897 when the canal was built and the older structure was removed. It is possible that this bridge was a key crossing going to the forest, but when the first bridge was constructed, it was filled in, converting it to a pipeline which still serves the waterway. This is most likely the case as there is no known data that can prove that the pipeline was made with stone arches, unless there was a canal serving residents in the southern part of Erfurt. But even then, it would have to have been made with brick or concrete, or even lead.

But never say never, when it comes to civil engineering. When engineers have a creative idea and/or will, they will carry it out, for the purpose of experiment, aesthetics and especially, functionality. 🙂

And so, it’s your turn. What do you think and/or know about this bridge? Is this an original crossing or a pipeline? How old do you think this bridge is?  Your help with comments and information would be of great help. You can provide your thoughts and comments here or via e-mail.

 

While you are at it, check out the updated version of Erfurt’s Bridge Tour Part 1, which features bridges in the outskirts. This includes maps and additional information as well as additional information via Instagram. Click here to view. Part 2 of the city center’s bridges will follow in the fall.

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Ammann Awards 2012 Results

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

Midwestern Bridges take center stage, Cooper and Newlon win Lifetime Legacy, Thuringia on the map for Best Kept Secret

After the last of the votes have been tallied, it is now time for the results of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ Othmar H. Ammann Awards and the Smith Awards for historic bridges (the results of the latter will be in the next article).  Apart from new categories, this year’s awards mark the first time that the forum had an opportunity to vote for all the categories instead of just the best photo award like last year. And while the voting turnout was low in comparison to last year, the number of entries was not only higher than last year, but the decision on who gets the award for the respective categories was especially difficult for we had some high class bridges and pontists who deserve the recognition regardless of category. For those who voted- the pontists, journalists, historians, columnists and even the common person- time was needed and the voting was based on not just on the bridge’s history (or lack of, in the case of the Mystery Bridges) but the aesthetic features that make the historic bridge an attractive place for passersby. Without further ado, here are the winners and runners-up of this year’s Ammann Awards:

Lifetime Achievement:

James L. Cooper-
Votes: 7

Professor Ermeritus of DePauw University in Indiana, Mr. Cooper has worked with historic bridge preservation for 40 years, leading to success stories of historic bridges being preserved in his home state and several publications. He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Historic Bridge Conference. An interview with him can be found here.

Howard Newlon, Jr. (Post humous)

Howard Newlon spent over 30 years at the Virginia Transportation Research Council and 50 years as professor, promoting historic bridge preservation, and spearheading publication efforts spanning 30 years and still counting. He died on 25 October and a Post Humous article provided by his colleagues can be seen here. The Chronicles is providing an award in his honor for his work.

Runner-up: Julie Bowers and Nels Raynor at Workin Bridges

Vote: 5

 

Best Photo:

Photo taken and submitted by John Weeks III

3rd Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota (submitted by John Weeks III)- this bridge is located over the Mississippi River, overlooking the city’s business district as seen in this picture.

Votes: 6

Photo taken and submitted by Jonathan Parrish

 

Runner-up:  Crosley Bridge in Jennings County, Indiana

Votes: 5

Other bridges in the race: Eau Claire Railroad Bridge, Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Mulberry Creek Bridge in Ford County, Kansas, Washington Bridge in Missouri and New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, among the 13 candidates that were entered this year.

 

Mystery Bridge Award:

Like in the Best Photo Award, this race was also a close one. But the winner of this award goes to….

Photo taken by Aaron Leibold

Waddell A-frame truss bridge in Texas (submitted by Aaron Leibold)

Votes: 5

Orr Bridge, one of many Mystery Bridges profiled this year that belonged to Harrison County. Photo courtesy of Clayton Fraser

Runner-up:  The Bridges of Harrison County, Iowa (submitted by a party of five people, including the author, the locals including Craig Guttau, and the city of Buellton, California)

Votes: 4

 

Other Mystery Bridges that entered the competition included: The Hobuck Flat Bridge in New York, Hurricane Creek Bridge in Arkansas, and a Bascule Bridge in Friedrichstadt, Germany. You can view these candidates as well as other Mystery Bridges by going to the Mystery Bridges section under the Forum and Inquiries page located in the header.

Best Kept Secret Award for the United States

This bridge is a must-see when visiting the state of Minnesota because of its beauty and historic background that is in connection with the development of the transportation infrastructure in the state. The winner of this year’s award goes to:

The Brown’s Creek Bridge near Stillwater, Minnesota (submitted by David Parker)– this bridge was one of the first that was built after the state entered the union in 1853. The 1863 stone arch structure used to carry a military road between Cottage Grove and Duluth. It is the oldest bridge left in the state and one that despite its recognition by the National Register of Historic Places, has received minimal attention- until now.

Votes: 6

We had a two-way tie for second in the Best Kept Secret Award, each receiving three votes apiece. One of the runners-up is the Newfield Bowstring Arch Bridge in New York (submitted by Karen Van Etten), the other is the US Hwy. 50 stretch going through Clay County, Illinois, which features six vintage bridges that have been out of use for many years. That was submitted by James Baughn.

Best Kept Secret International:

The race was rather tight in this category as well as the selection was very difficult to choose from. In the end, Hans-Joerg Vockrodt and Diedrich Baumbach can add this award to their resumé for the winner goes to:

Kraemerbruecke in Erfurt at Christmas time. Photo taken in December 2010

The Bridges of Erfurt, Germany- featuring two dozen pre-1920 arch and truss bridges within the capital of Thuringia, and over 200 bridges within the entire city and metropolitan area. There are two books written by the authors focusing on the restoration attempts of the arch bridges in the inner city and the history of the bridges in the entire city. While they are both in German, perhaps an English version may be in the cards, especially after receiving five votes.

Runners-up saw a tie for second between the bridges of Copenhagen, Denmark and the bridges of Friedrichstadt, Germany with three votes apiece. Each city has a collection of various bridges based on bridge type, but whose history dates back to their founding. More on these bridge can be found by clicking on the respective links.

Other Best Kept Secret entrants for this year include:

US: Good Thunder Railroad Bridge in Blue Earth County, Minnesota, Mill Creek Bridge in Independence County, Kansas, and the Bridges of Boonville, New York

International: Pont Turcot Bridge in Quebec (Canada)

 

Bridge of the Year for 2012:

The final award is the Bridge of the Year, which focuses on a particular bridge that was the focus of massive attention by not only the media, but also the pontists and other people associated with the bridge. This year was supposed to be the year for the Golden Gate Bridge, as it celebrated its 75th birthday. Unfortunately, other bridges received much more attention due to many circumstances that have provoked countless discussions about historic significance versus safety. One of the bridges received the Smith Award this year (more details in the next article).

Eau Claire Viaduct: This year’s bridge of the year winner. Photo taken by John Marvig

Winner of the award:

The Eau Claire Viaduct-  This bridge was found and photographed by John Marvig and is a real gem. It is a quintangular intersecting Warren deck truss bridge that was built by the Lassig Bridge Company and was used by the railroad companies Chicago and Northwestern and later Union Pacific. Although abandoned for over 20 years, the city is looking at converting the bridge into a pedestrian crossing. At the same time, it is in the running for the National Register of Historic Places.

Other candidates: Eggners Ferry Bridge in Kentucky, Kate Shelley Viaduct, Fort Dodge (Iowa) Viaduct, Golden Gate Bridge and Nine Mile Creek along the former Erie Canal.

 

 

The Bridges of Erfurt Part V: The Interview

photo after the presentation
Dietrich Baumbach (l) and Hans Vockrodt (r) holding their respective books on Erfurt’s Bridges

 

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The fifth and final part of the series on Erfurt’s historic bridges deals with the interview with the authors of the book, Hans-Joerg Vockrodt and Dietrich Baumbach. The interview took place this past June, and after going through the dialogue and translating it from German to English, I managed to present the interview in a way where everyone can benefit from reading it. There were a lot of discussion not only about their books, but also bridge preservation and the development of transportation to date and how it has had an effect on the bridges in Germany and the US. This will set the stage for another article coming in the next day(s) dealing with the five-year anniversary of the Minneapolis Bridge disaster. So without further ado, here is the transcript of the interview that took place at one of the small cafés in Erfurt:

 
Background information:

Dietrich Baumbach received a Diploma degree in engineering and worked at the city administration office in Erfurt in the infrastructural section. He is now retired. Hans-Joerg Vockrodt received his degree in civil engineering at the Bauhaus University in Weimar (east of Erfurt). He works at a planning office in Erfurt, specializing in bridge building and restoration, the latter of which he has been doing for over 20 years.
Smith: How did you become interested in historic bridges?
Baumbach: After the German Reunification in 1990, there were a lot of bridges that desperately needed to be rehabilitated to keep it from deteriorating to a point where they were no longer safe and this is where our interest started, even though it was outside our working hours.
Vockrodt: In connection with the historic bridges in Erfurt, there were many bridges that needed to be rehabilitated and this started with the Kraemerbruecke in 1998/99 and continued with other bridges, such as the Radowitz and Kraempfertor Bridges. As the bridges were being restored, the interest in not only the restoration of the structures (restoring it to its original form) but also the history of the bridges grew over time.
Smith: How did the Preservation Laws influence the preservation of bridges before 1989? (Note: The preservation laws existed both in East as well as in West Germany between 1949 and 1990 when the countries and their policies were integrated into one)
Baumbach: Preservation Laws existed in East Germany but the problem we had was the lack of money and resources that were available for renovating and maintaining the bridges. The Kraemerbruecke was renovated because it was one of two main attractions for the city (the other being the cathedral Erfurter Dom) and therefore, it was important to make it attractive for the tourists. (Author’s note: The bridge was renovated twice during the Cold War with extensive work being done in 1986, where the stone arches were redone.) Yet after the German Reunification in 1990, the process of repairing and restoring historic bridges began in full force.
Vockrodt: Preservation laws during that time was focused mainly on the high-rise buildings that existed in the 1980s. So instead of tearing down historic buildings in place of these building blocks, the historic buildings were gutted out, meaning the inner part was replaced while keeping the façade of the outer part intact. This was done with a pilot project in the city center of Gotha (west of Erfurt) in the mid-1980s, and it later extended to the historic bridges and other buildings.

 

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Smith: So the problem you had similar to what we have in the States today, where lack of funding and resources (expertise) resulted in many historic structures being demolished and replaced. Do you see that today with the historic bridges?
Baumbach: One cannot preserve all the bridges as we have to take in account the significance of each structure compared to the high vehicular demand and the tension exerted on the structure by crossing it. In some cases, these bridges need to be replaced with heavier and wider structures. One could make a historic bridge (in particular deck arch bridges) wider to accommodate traffic, but this comes at the cost of its historic significance- most of the time it is compromised.

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Schmiedtstedt Pedestrian Bridge east of Central Station

Vockrodt: There is also the phenomenon where a historic bridge can be duplicated so that it serves a dual function of being a historic bridge and one that carries large volumes of vehicles. An example of how a bridge can be duplicated is an arch bridge located in Saxonburg (located near the Thuringia/ Hesse border northwest of Meiningen). It is an arch bridge that was duplicated because of its historic significance and it was part of the project supported by the State Department of Historic Preservation. Despite the fact that it accommodated four lanes of traffic, its historic significance remained the same.  We’re seeing that with other bridges in Thuringia (and elsewhere) where the increase in the volume of traffic has warranted the need for bridges that are sturdier and wider. For other historic bridges,  like the Kraempfertor Bridge, the bridge needed to be wider to accommodate not only four lanes of vehicular traffic, but also two street car tracks. We were lucky that we were able to secure financial support for the project where the bridge was widened but the historic appearance remained the same.
Most of the bridges built/rebuilt nowadays are those that carry main highways and serve regional areas, including the Autobahn (German Motorways), where the majority of them are built in the 1950s (in the western half) and the 1930s (in the former East Germany). These bridges are being replaced because they deteriorated greatly as a result of increased traffic load. These bridges are usually not recognized as historically significant and are not protected by preservation laws, only those located in cities with a historic setting and whose population is interested in them are the ones that receive the attention.
It is the same with the USA, where it is unthinkable to tear down the Brooklyn Bridge in New York because of that interest. (Note: John Augustus Roebling, the bridge builder and inventor of the wire-cable suspension bridge was born in Muhlhausen in northwestern Thuringia)
Baumbach: Another bridge worth noting is the Lehmann Bridge in Erfurt (one of the oldest arch bridges in the city). In the 1970s, the bridge was in such a desolate state that it had to be demolished. That was the mentality of East Germans (at that time) because of the lack of resources needed to rebuild the bridge, let alone to repair the bridge. After the Reunification of 1990, it would never have been dreamt of because the Preservation Laws (today) have a higher meaning and more interest.
Vockrodt: This mentality (of tearing down old structures and building anew) was also found in the western part of Germany in the 1950s, and as a result we see “modern” cities like Frankfurt (Main) and Kassel (both in the state of Hesse). However this modernization has nothing to do with the lack of resources that we had here in the eastern part of the country.
Note: Most of the bridges in the western part of Germany were built in the 1950s and mostly consisted of bland beam bridges with little historic value. This can be seen clearly in cities, like Frankfurt (Main), Mannheim, Stuttgart, and cities in the Ruhr River region (in North Rhein-Westphalia).

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Smith: Apart from the two books you wrote on Erfurt’s bridges, what other pieces of work did you write about the bridges?
Vockrodt: My first work was published in 1995. Since then, over 20 literary pieces on this subject were published, much of which were in connection with stone arch bridges, bridge preservation in Erfurt, etc.
Smith: Going to the two books you wrote on the subject of Erfurt’s historic bridges: What is the difference between the two?
Baumbach: The first book (published in 2000) focuses on 12 arch bridges and its technical details (including the history of its construction, the rehabilitation and the materials used for bridge  (re-)construction. The second book (published in December 2011) deals with the historical aspect, especially of the bridges that no longer exist (like the Lehmann Bridge and those along the Wild Gera before it was rechanneled).
Vockrodt: The book also features technical drawings and details of each of the 12 bridges that exist, whereas in the second book, it is integrated into the historical context.
Baumbach: Especially in the first book we dealt with the bridges based on our expertise from our own areas of interest (me as city administrator and Vockrodt as civil engineer) and our goal was how to bring these bridges to the interest of the people in Erfurt. This is also in connection with the plan to nominate the historic bridges in Erfurt into the Preservation List in 2000 (Note: In German it is called Denkmalschutzbuch, which is similar to listing the historic places on the National Register of Historic Places in the US).
Note: The reason for choosing stone and concrete arch bridges in the first book was two-fold: 1. These bridges were mostly used for construction- over 30 of them were found within the city limits of Erfurt and 2. These 12 inner-city bridges were the focus of restoration which took place on all but one of them. That bridge (the Karlsbruecke) will be next for rehabilitation as early as next year.  Also worth noting is by including every single bridge in the first book would result in the loss of interest and therefore, the ones not mentioned were put in the second book with one exception: the railroad bridges were mentioned in another book on the railroads of the Greater Erfurt Area (Germ.: Eisenbahndirektion Erfurt) published in 1994 but still in stock.
Smith: Did you have any difficulties finding any information on the bridges, for some of it may have disappeared because of World War II and the regime of the Socialist Party that followed in East Germany?
Baumbach: There were no problems finding the information as much of the information from the Cold War period were given to the Federal Republic at the time of the Reunification but remained in the archives.
Vockrodt: Apart from the archives, what also helped was designing the bridges as it was and providing the details of the structure. It was first done by my father (who was also an engineer) before I took over.

 

Smith: Did you use oral resources for the books? (Note: Oral resources means asking people about the bridges and finding out more information about their history from their point of view. This is useful when writing about the history about a topic, although in cases like historic bridges, many of these sources are dying off in mass numbers, and one has to make do with the people who have no connection with the construction of the bridge but have knowledge and collections of them).
Vockrodt: The only source that is closest is the city archives in Erfurt. There we did a lot of research into the bridges by finding old photographs, paintings and drawings but also finding other sources of information that was useful for the book. The person at the city archives was more than helpful in providing us with as much help as possible. Otherwise finding the information and the people willing to help is really difficult.
Baumbach: There are some people who had collections of postcards of bridges and were willing to let us use them. Other than that, who do you ask if the people who built them are long since gone and you have to make do with the ones who know about the bridges?

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One of the bridges profiled in both books: The Langebruecke (Long Bridge) in the city center of Erfurt. Photo taken in May 2012

Smith: Here is an engineering-related question for you: Since 1985 the number of historic bridges built before 1945 have been replaced with modern structures. Can you summarize the reason for this change?
Vockrodt: One of the reasons is the increase in traffic both in numbers and size, which makes these bridges obsolete. The other reason is in the last century, we have seen an increase in the weight of the vehicles beginning with the horse and buggy, followed by the car, the train, the semi truck and the heavy goods transporter. The deciding factor is the increase in traffic volume which has a negative effect on the bridges that were built in 1945 and earlier because they lack the material needed to accommodate these increasing loads. Other factors include the rust and corrosion of steel caused by salt and other chemicals combined with the lack of maintenance, meaning repairing the bridge every 10 years. Many bridges that have structural issues are inspected every four years with some being inspected annually, but some of the bridges that are in so poor shape are replaced as rehabilitating them would be impossible. This applies not only to pre-1945 bridges but also bridges built in the 1980s, where the increase in traffic loads have caused a strain in the structure itself to a point where even these bridges have to be replaced.
Smith: Now that you mentioned steel corrosion, let’s look at one of the steel bridges, the Riethstrasse Bridge, where weight and height restrictions are now in place. Why is that?
Baumbach: The reason for these restrictions is the fact that many trucks have travelled across the bridge without regard to the weight limit. I have witnessed this myself. Therefore it is necessary that these restrictions are in place so that only cars can travel across them.
Vockrodt: The restriction is basically the decrease in the vehicle’s geometric dimensions and with that, the decrease in the weight.
Smith: Will this bridge be replaced or restored soon?
Baumbach: It depends on the number of vehicles crossing it. If the number of vehicles crossing it is minimal (and the bridge is on a less travelled street), then the bridge will remain in service in its usual form. Yet if the street is extended to include a suburb and traffic increases as a result, then it will have to be replaced. The bridge would have to be saved as it is protected by Preservation Law and would have to be restored and reused for other purposes apart from a pedestrian bridge.

Note: The Riethstrasse Bridge carries minimal traffic through a residential area in the north of Erfurt. It’s neighboring bridge 0.4 kilometers to the north, the Mainzer Strasse Bridge (built in the 1980s), carries a throughway route to Rieth, the shopping area, and the Albert Schweizer Gymnasium (high school). Both will be replaced in 2019 but the former will be kept and reused as a historical monument.

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Riethstrasse Bridge as of 2017 with weight and height limits. The bridge will be replaced in 2019.

Smith: Since you are on the same page with the Preservation Laws, how has that changed between the era before 1989 and after 1990?
Vockrodt: Nothing has really changed as the Preservation Laws are incorporated in the state laws, which states that any building or structure that has historical and cultural value, and whose interest is high in preserving it is protected by law. The owners are required to preserve it in its original form.
Baumbach: The only problem with this is the financial aspect. Money is needed to restore these structures and the resources are limited. In some cases, like with bridges, it costs more to restore and preserve than to replace it outright. Yet it is possible and an obligatory to keep to the laws that exist. Delisting a structure is possible if the structure is slated for demolition and there are no alternatives to rehabilitating them.
Vockrodt: Yet in some cases it is necessary to build a new bridge instead of keeping the old one if the traffic demand warrants it.
Note: This reminds me of a couple of bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal that were built in the 1880s- the Grünental and the Levansau Bridges. Both were protected by the preservation laws in Schleswig Holstein, but the former was delisted when it was demolished in the 1990s because of severe structural deterioration. The latter is being replaced as the canal is to be widened and the length of the bridge is an impediment to the ships passing underneath it. It will eventually be delisted once the demolition is completed by 2023.

Schmiedstedt Railroad Bridge
Smith: How big of an interest do the people have in bridges in general?
Baumbach: The interest in the bridges are there, especially when we saw the number of people that saw our presentation on the 27th of May. Many of them know about the book. Yet, when looking at it locally, the bridges are in the backburner, as the churches, towers and renaissance buildings far outweigh them in their importance. Many people know about the Kraemerbruecke but they don’t know the other bridges, let alone they don’t know that they are crossing a bridge in the city.
Vockrodt: That is the reason why we wanted to bring the bridges to their attention. While Hamburg and Nuremberg have many gorgeous historic bridges, we wanted to present Erfurt’s historic to the attention of the public. That was our motivation behind writing these books.

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Over 50 people attended the presentation of Erfurt’s Bridges on 27 May 2012, including the author, who photographed this picture.

Smith: Is this phenomenon, the lack of interest in bridges, in connection with the I-35W Bridge Disaster in Minneapolis (USA) on 2 August 2007?
Vockrodt:  No, that is not the role. The bridges are inspected regularly for structural deficiencies. The agencies have done a great job in inspecting the structure and its surroundings and therefore have not seen any bridge disasters here in Germany, let alone the northern part of Europe. That’s why people take bridges for granted and concentrate more on other places of interests, like churches for example.

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Kraemerbruecke in Erfurt at Christmas time. Photo taken in December 2010

Smith: Which historic bridge is your favorite bridge (apart from the Kraemerbruecke)?
Vockrodt: Good question. I’ll stick to that bridge.
Baumbach: Mine is the Wilhelmsteg Pedestrian Bridge in the south of Erfurt because of its sleek design and its proximity to another favorite: the Pfoertchenbruecke.

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Smith: Which bridge did you find the most interesting in terms of its history and bridge design?
Vockrodt: The Kraemerbruecke in terms of its history, for it goes back several hundreds of years and as far as design is concerned, the Wilhelmsteg because it is the thinnest arch bridge in Erfurt plus the ornamental design in the arches that exist. (Two bridges in Erfurt have similar designs in the arches: that and the Karlsbruecke)
Baumbach: I agree with him.
Smith: Which bridge did you find the most amount of information about (Apart from the Kraemerbruecke)?
Baumbach: All the bridges along the Flutgraben because of the articles and descriptions that were found in our research.
Smith: And the most difficult? Those over the Wild Gera before they were removed and the river was rerouted?
Baumbach: That is true. We had to rely on paintings and pictures as there was seldom articles about it and if so, it was written in old German, which is different from the Latin letters that we are used to.
Vockrodt: There were no plans for the bridges and we had to rely on images to help us.
Smith: Will you be continuing your research and book writing in the field of historic bridges?
Vockrodt: We would like to stick to the topic as Thuringia has lots of bridges which we would like to inquire about
Baumbach: We would like to go outside the city and have a look at the bridges that exist elsewhere.
Smith: Are there any plans to have them translated into other languages, like English or French?
Baumbach: It depends on the interest….
Vockrodt: …..both on the people but also the publisher. At the moment the interest is low and the publishers we use (which are in Erfurt) are not interested in having the books translated yet. But we’ll have to see if that changes. (Note: Both books are in German).
Smith: If there is someone who is interested in writing a book on historic bridges, what advice would you give to that person?
Vockrodt: Research on the historical aspect is important although difficult to research. If you eye a bridge, you need to look through the sources to see how much has been written about it so that you can use it and add your information to it. Also important is finding a publisher who will sponsor this project. When you have a partner, then you can proceed with the project. Our publishers were with the organization that deals with Erfurt’s historic bridges and they were most supportive of this project.
Smith: So more information and support?
Baumbach: Yes. Once you have a sponsor, you may have to think of making a deposit of EUR 5000 ($5600) so that it has some security should the sale of books be poor. It is really difficult publishing a book these days.
Vockrodt: The most important thing is you have to have the people on your side that are interested in this topic, and we found that the interest has increased since our second book has been published and even more so as we present our topic.
Smith: Ok, that’s about it. Thank you for your time and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors with this project.

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