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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2015 Ammann Awards: The Author has some bridge stories to tell

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To start off this new year, there are some good news as well as some bad news. First the bad news: The deadline for entries for the 2015 Ammann Awards has been pushed back again for the last time. This time the 10th of January at 12:00am Central Standard Time (January 11th at 7:00am Central European Time) is the absolute deadline for all entries, including that for Best Photo, Lifetime Achievement and other categories. Reason for the delay is the low number of entries, much of that has to do with the weather disaster of biblical proportions in the United States and Great Britain, which has kept many away from the cameras and forced many to fill sandbags. The the voting process will proceed as planned with the winners being announced at the end of this month.

The good news: The author has enough candidates and stories to justify announcing his choices for 2015- the first to be announced before the actual Ammann Awards presentations but one that should keep the interest in historic bridges running sky high, especially before the main course. In other words, the author is serving his appetizers right now to keep the readers and candidates hungry for more bridge stuff. 😉

So here is our first appetizer: The Biggest Bonehead Story

Photo taken by Tony Dillon

USA:

Truck Destroys Gospel Street Bridge in Paoli, Indiana- Ever since Christmas Day, this story has been the hottest topic in the media, even breaking records of the number of post clicks on the Chronicles. A 23-year-old woman, who claimed to be Amish, drives a 30-ton truck full of drinking water across the 1880 Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company structure that was only able to carry 6 tons. Naturally, the bridge gave in, yet the excuses the driver brought up became more and more incredulable: 1. I just received my driver’s license, 2. I couldn’t turn around or find an alternative so I took the chance, and 3. (Most outrageous): I didn’t know how many pounds equaled six tons.

Yet the question remains, which was more incredulable: The incident or the consequence of the incident: a mere $135 fine for crossing the light-weight bridge, destroying it in the process?

International:

Viaduct Collapses in Sicily- 2015 was not a good year for bridges outside of the USA, for several key (historic) crossings have met their fate or are about to due to human error. A temporary pedestrian bridge in Johannesburg (South Africa) falls onto the motorway crushing two cars. A pedestrian suspension bridge in New Zealand breaks a cable, causing the decking to twist and send hikers into the water.  Fortunately, no casualties. Both incidents happened in October. The highest glass bridge in the world, located in China, is cracking even though the government says it is safe.

But this bridge collapse on the island of Sicily, which happened in January, was a scandal! The Scorciavacche Viaduct near Palermo was completed in December 2014, three months earlier than scheduled, only for it to collapse partially on January 5th, 10 days after its opening! While no one was hurt, the collapse sparked a political outcry as the multi-million Euro bridge was part of the 200 million Euro motorway project, and as a consequence, officials prompted an investigation into the cause of the bridge. The construction company, which claimed that the accident was caused by “substinence,” tried shooting down the accusations, claiming the accident was overexaggerated. Makes the reader wonder if they tried covering up a possible design flaw, combined with human error, which could have caused the collapse. If so, then they have the (now jailed) Captain of the capsized Costa Concordia to thank, for like the ship that has been towed away and scrapped, the bridge met the same fate. Lesson for the wise: More time means better results. Check your work before opening it to others.

 

 

Best Historic Bridge Find:

While the author stayed out of the US for all of 2015 and focused his interesting findings on European soil, other bridge colleagues have found some bridges that had been either considered gone or had never been heard of before. One of these colleagues from Minnesota happened to find one that is still standing! 🙂

 

USA:

Bridge L-1297 in Clearwater County, Minnesota-

According to records by the Minnesota Historical Society, the Schonemann Park Bridge, located south of Luverne in Rock County, is the only example of a Waddell kingpost truss bridge left standing in Minnesota. This 1912 bridge is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bridge L-1297, which spans the Clearwater River near Gronvich in Clearwater, is the OTHER Waddell kingpost pony truss bridge that is still standing. Its markings matches exactly that of its Schonemann counterpart. Although there is no concrete evidence of when it was built and by whom, Pete Wilson, who found it by chance and addressed it to the Chronicles, mentioned that it was likely that it was built between 1905 and 1910 by the Hewett family, which built the bridge at Luverne. In either case, it is alive, standing albeit as a private crossing, and should be considered for the National Register. Does anybody else agree? 🙂

International:

The Bridges of Zeitz, Germany

It is rare to find a cluster of historic bridges that are seldomly mentioned in any history books or bridge inventory. During a bike tour through eastern Thuringia in March, I happened to find a treasure in the hills: A dozen historic bridges within a 10 km radius, half of which are in the city of 29,000 inhabitants, including the ornamental Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge located on the east end of town. Highly recommended the next time you pass through the area. These bridges will be profiled further in the coming year because of their aesthetic and historic value, which makes the town, resembling an East German bygone era, more attractive. Check them out! 🙂

 

Spectacular Disasters:

Flooding and Fires dominated the headlines as Mother Nature was not to kind to the areas affected, thus they were flooded, destroying historic bridges in the path. If there was no flooding, there were dry spells prompting fires that burned down everything touched. While there were several examples of historic bridges destroyed by nature, the author has chosen two that standout the most, namely because they were filmed, plus two runners-up in the international category. Fortunately for the bridge chosen in the US category, there is somewhat of a happy ending.

Photo by James MacCray

USA:

Full Throttle Saloon Fire-  Only a few weeks after celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Motorcycle Rally at the World’s largest saloon, the Full Throttle Saloon was destroyed by a massive fire on September 8th. Two of the historic bridges, relocated here to serve as overlook platforms and stages, were damaged by the blaze with the bridge decking being completely burned away. While the saloon was considered a total loss, bar owner Michael Ballard is planning on rebuilding the bar complex and has already lined up concert events including the upcoming Motorcycle Rally in August. More on how you can help rebuild here. Whether the bridges will be part of the plan is unclear, but given the effort to bring in the structure, it is likely that they will be kept and be part of the project as well. More on the project will follow, but things are really looking up for bikers and bridge lovers alike. 🙂

 

International:

300-year old arch bridge washed out by flooding-

While there was a three-way tie for spectacular natural disasters done to the historic bridges on the international front, this concrete arch bridge in Tadcaster in the UK stands out the most. The bridge collapsed on December 29th as floodwaters raged throughout much of the northern part of Great Britain. It was one of dozens of bridges that were either severely damaged or destroyed during the worst flooding on record. The saddest part was not the video on how the bridge fell apart bit by bit, but the bridge was over 300 years old. Demolition and replacement of the bridge is expected to commence at the earliest at the end of this year once the damages are assessed and the clean-up efforts are under way.

Runners-up:

Coach takes a swim under a culvert in Brazil:

Two runners-up in this category also have to do with bridge washouts due to flooding. One of them is this culvert wash-out in Brazil. A video submitted to the French magazine LeMonde shows what can happen if engineers choose a culvert over a replacement bridge, as this coach sank into the raging creek, went through the culvert and swam away! :-O Fortunately all the passengers evacuated prior to the disaster, however, it serves as a warning to all who wish to cut cost by choosing a culvert over a new bridge- you better know what you are getting into, especially after watching the video below.

 

Massive Panic as Bridge is washed out in India-

The other runner-up takes us to the city of Chennai in India, where flash flooding wreaked havoc throughout the city. At this bridge, the pier of a concrete bridge gave way as a large wave cut up the crossing in seconds! Massive panic occurred, as seen in the video seen below:

 

 

Dumbest Reason to destroy a historic bridge:

The final category for this year’s Author’s Choice Award goes to the people whose irrational decision-making triggered the (planned) destruction of historic bridges. This year’s candidates features two familiar names that are on the chopping block unless measures on a private scale are undertaken to stop the wrecking ball. One of the bridges is an iconic landmark that is only 53 years old.

Overview of the slue, approach and main spans of the BB Comer Bridge. Photo taken by David Kennamer
Overview of the slue, approach and main spans of the BB Comer Bridge. Photo taken by David Kennamer

USA:

BB Comer Bridge in Alabama- Three years of efforts to raise awareness to a vintage cantilever bridge went up in smoke on November 14th, when county officials not only rejected the notion for a referendum on saving the BB Comer Bridge in Scotsboro, but also turned down any calls for the matter to be brought up for all time to come. While the organization promoting the preservation of the bridge claimed that the city and Jackson County would not need to pay for the maintenance of the bridge, officials were not sold on the idea of having the bridge become a theme park, which would have been a win-win situation as far as producing funds for the tourism industry is concerned. Instead, behind closed doors, the contract was signed off to convert the 1930 bridge into scrap metal, giving into the value of the commodity. Talk about short-sightedness and wrist slitting there!

 

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International:

Fehmarn Bridge to come down- In an effort to push through the Migratory Freeway through Fehmarn Island and down the throats of opposing residents, the German Railways condemned the world’s first basket weave tied arch bridge, built in 1963 to connect the island with the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The official reason was too much rust and any rehabilitation would prolong the bridge’s life by only 20 years- highly disputable among the preservationists and civil engineers given the number of concrete examples of rehabilitated bridges lasting 50+ years. Yet many locals believe that the German Railways is pushing for the bridge to be removed in favor of its own railroad crossing that would carry Fernzüge from Hamburg to Copenhagen, eliminating the ferry service between Puttgarten and Rodby in Denmark. The fight however is far from over as the campaign to save the island and its cherished architectural work is being taken to the national level, most likely going as far as Brussles if necessary. In addition, lack of funding and support on the Danish side is delaying the tunnel project, threatening the entire motorway-bridge-tunnel project to derail. If this happens, then the next step is what to do with the Fehmarn Bridge in terms of prolonging its life. The bridge is in the running for Bridge of the Year for the 2015 Ammann Awards for the second year in a row, after finishing a distant second last year.

 

AND NOW THE VOTING PROCESS AND RESULTS OF THE 2015 AMMANN AWARDS, WHICH WILL BEGIN STARTING JANUARY 11th, AS SOON AS THE DEADLINE FOR ALL ENTRIES PASSES. HURRY TO ENTER YOUR PHOTOS, BRIDGES, AND PERSONS DESERVING HONORS BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!!

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Full Throttle Saloon Destroyed By Fire

Photos taken by James McCray after the relocation to Full Throttle Saloon

Bridges severely damaged in the fire- future in doubt

STURGIS, SOUTH DAKOTA-  A key icon symbolizing the great American bike trip is gone, and with it, most likely two symbols of America’s architectural past.  The Full Throttle Saloon, the world’s largest biker bar and one of the key meeting points of the annual Motorcycle Rally that takes place every summer in August, was lost by a great fire early this morning (September 8th). Fire crews were called to the site at 12:30am (Mountain Standard Time) or 8:30am Berlin Time this morning when smoke was coming out of the building. Despite attempts by the firemen to put out the smoke and flames inside the building, they were forced to battle the fire from outside, when the heat and smoke became too unbearable. Thanks to high winds and a possible gas line leak, the building complex was engulfed in flames at 2:30am and collapsed a half hour later, according to reports from the fire department and local news. No one was injured in the fire, nor was there anyone in the locked building at the time of the fire. The building complex and all its relics and symbols were considered a total loss. The Rapid City Journal has a gallery of photos taken after the fire, which can be viewed here.  Many videos were posted of the fire, but this one below shows the damage to one of the bridges and its decking:

As far as the two bridges are concerned, their futures are in doubt, as fire burned away the wood decking of both spans, leaving a truss superstructure standing. This is the first time since 2013 that a fire did considerable damage to a historic steel truss bridge. The Bunker Mill Bridge southeast of Kalona, Iowa was set ablaze during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August 2013, causing significant damage to the bridge decking and bridge parts. That bridge has since been repaired and is being used as a venue for summer open-air concerts. The two bridges damaged by the Full Throttle Saloon fire were each built in 1912 and had spanned the Belle Fourche River before being relocated to the Saloon in 2008, to be used as an observatory deck for concerts and other events. Both bridges were built by the Canton Bridge Company in Ohio and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The difference between the two is the length and bridge type. The shorter span, measured at 79 feet, is a pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings, decorated with X-lattice at the top- typical of the Canton bridges. The longer span is a Pennsylvania Petit with A-frame portal bracings and V-laced vertical posts. The bridge is approximately 200 feet long.

While the cause of the fire is being investigated by the state fire marshal, scores of letters of support are being poured in on the Saloon’s website and facebook pages in hopes that the place will be rebuilt. Whether and how this will happen, let alone whether these two bridges will be reconstructed or converted to scrap metal will depend on a series of inspections to be conducted by engineers and other architectural experts. These will be conducted in the coming months. But for now, tourists, bikers and bridge enthusiasts are mourning the loss of one of the most popular gatherings in the country, littered with vintage signs and other items that had once provided a nostalgia of a now bygone era, where the biker can pack little but travel cross country to see the wild west, stopping at places like this one for a good beer and good company. For many, Full Throttle will be missed, but another better one will take its place. And hopefully, the bridges and the salvageable can be used as part of a bigger meeting point for bikers.

Note: The Full Throttle Saloon won the Amman Awards for the Best Example of Historic Bridge Reuse in 2011. It was also the site of the 75th annual Motorcycle Rally this year. More on that here. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the future of Full Throttle after the blaze. You can visit their facebook page to provide them with some support for rebuilding the facility.

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Wagon Wheel Bridge Damaged by Fire

West entrance to the bridge. Photo taken during the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend.

Fire damages east approach span. Investigation ongoing.

BOONE, IOWA- Law enforement authorities are investigating a possible arson, which occurred on the Wagon Wheel Bridge most recently. According to reports from multiple sources, the fire was reported by Union Pacific Railroad on Sunday night at 11:00pm at the eastern end of the bridge. While the fire was brought under control and no damage was done to the multiple span truss bridge, the eastern approach spans were charred, prompting county officials to remove the spans. The bridge has since been closed off to pedestrians and cyclists with its future in limbo. Any information pertaining to possible arson should be directed to law enforcement officials in Boone as soon as possible.

The Wagon Wheel Bridge, built in 1910 by the Iowa Bridge Company in Des Moines, has seen its best and worst times, the latter occurring within the past eight years. Damage was sustained by high water in 2008 when sections of the eastern approach spans were washed away during the worst flooding since 1993.  Attempts were made to pass a referendum in 2010, calling for a new structure to be built in place of the vintage structure, only to fall on deaf ears by a vast majority. Two floods later, the structure had been still been standing in tact with new decking added to the entire 710 foot bridge. Even an idea of having a memorial at the bridge site, dedicated to Kathlynn Shepard was brought up in 2013. This was in addition to having two bills passed to make kidnapping a felony and increase the age of the vicitims of such crimes to 15 years of age (instead of 12). More on the efforts can be seen through Kathlynn’s Hope facebook site.  Homage was paid to the bridge through the Historic Bridge Weekend that same year, where 20 people from all over the US attended the event, with Pam Schwartz of the Boone County Historic Society providing the guided tour of that and other bridges- many in connection with the famous Kate Shelley story (click here for details).

With the eastern approach spans removed, attempts are being made to restore the bridge to its original glory. This includes providing new decking that will not be vulnerable to fires. But also the need for repairing the truss parts and stabilizing the cylinder piers are there. All of this is part of the plan to use the bridge as a centerpiece of a bike trail to connect Boone and Odgen with a possibility to connect with the trails in Des Moines. Already, a facebook page has been launched with over 1440 likes on there. The main goal is to raise enough funds to realize the project. Repairs are estimated to be betwene $700,000 and $1m. But the race against time is underway. While the bridge is fenced off to all traffic with the eastern approach spans are removed, consideration is being taken to remove the entire structure for safety reasons. This is being met with solid opposition from locals, the state and other members favoring the preservation of the bridge becaus of its connection with the city’s history. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1998 and any plans to alter, replace, or remove the bridge will require approval and survey, which could take time and money to take. With the love towards the bridge being as high as it was when the referendum failed in 2010, many paths to Rome will be built to ensure that the historic bridge will be saved from becoming scrap metal, even if it means spending more to rehabilitate the structure and make it part of the city’s history and bike trail network. It is more of the question of the availability of resources and effort to undertake this mission. If new decking was added after 2010 with no problems, and looking at the success with Sutliff Bridge, another multiple span truss bridge, people will more likely look at ways to make this project bear fruit.

The Bridgehunter’s Chroncles will keep you posted on the latest on the Wagon Wheel Bridge. Please click on the highlighted links to take a look at the stories written about this bridge and other items. Join the group saving the bridge on facebook and get in touch with them if you are willing to provide some ideas and help to restoring the bridge.

 

Oblique view of the longest span. Photo taken in 2010
View of the east approach. This is where the fire took place recently. The photo had been taken in 2013.

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Sartell Bridge spared demolition

Photo of one of the three Camelback through truss spans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Saba Trestle Wins Spectacular Disaster Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trestle Fire wins Run-Off; I-5 Skagit River and New Castle Bridges tied for second.

Within 25 seconds, it was just gone, and then it just turned into a giant fireball, because of all of the creosote in the cross-ties.- Jack Blossmann

All it took was a combination of heat, dry weather and a spark from a passing train, and a 900-foot long wooden trestle bridge with a more than 100-year history, was engulfed in flames. 30 seconds later, it all came tumbling down, like a stack of dominoes. The San Saba Trestle Bridge near Lometa (located 90 miles west of Waco) spanned the Colorado River and featured a steel through truss span over the river and hundreds of feet of wooden trestle on the west end. Yet its demise created some curiosity among the readers as seen in the video here.  If a teacher shows this disaster to the students in class and they are awed by the sequential cascading disaster, as one of the voters noted, then there is no wonder that the San Saba Bridge would receive the devious prize it deserves. After a week-long run-off vote, the Texas trestle received the Spectacular Disaster Award because of the intense effects of the fire and the bridge’s sequential disaster that followed seconds later. The video shown of the disaster will definitely be shown in many engineering and physics classes to show how dangerous a fire can do to a structure, whose melting temperature is low enough for it to collapse. A devastating loss for the railroad, for it needs $10 million to replace the trestle approach spans, but one that created a lot of curiosity among bridge engineers and scientists alike.

The Trestle beat out the New Castle and Skagit River Bridge Disasters, as they were tied for second place, missing out by only two votes each. This marks the first time in the history of the (recently changed) Author’s Choice Award,  that two bridges received two different awards or honorable mentions in two different categories. The New Castle Bridge west of Oklahoma City had already received the Award for the Worst Preservation Example as the 10-span through truss bridge over the Canadian River was reduced to only one span, thanks to a tornado that destroyed two spans and the city government’s decision to demolish all but one of the remaining spans. It was the same tornado that destroyed Moore and devastated vast parts of Oklahoma City.

The Skagit River crossing in Washington state had received the honorable mention for the Biggest Bonehead Story, as a truck driver dropped the southernmost span into the river after hitting the portal bracing. While this incident raised the debate on what to do with through truss bridges, suggestions by local politicians were above and beyond. The collapsed span has since been replaced and I-5 has returned to normal.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like to thank everybody for voting in this year’s Ammann Awards and parts of the Author’s Choice Awards. As mentioned in the previous article, the voting format and the dates of the voting for this year’s 2014 Ammann Awards will be different as there will be more options but more simplicity to encourage people to vote on their candidates. It may be like the Bridge Bowl, but it might serve as a way to talk about the bridge candidates at the table, while serving traditional foods over the holidays. Entries will be taken in November, as usual, so go out there and get some pics, write about your favorite bridges and nominate your favorite historian.

Minus the Post Humous version of the Lifetime Legacy, let’s head back out there and look at the bridges that need your help regarding preservation, shall we?

Introducing: The 2013 Smith Awards for Spectacular Disasters

Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin: One of many bridges that was in the news because of a collapse of an approach span. Photo courtesy of Robert Thompson, used with permission

Aside from new categories for the 2013 Othmar H. Ammann Awards, the Smith Awards, where the author picks the best and worst news in the world of (historic) bridges, also has a new category that will be featured this year. With all the bridge disasters that have happened so far this year, caused by Mother Nature, recklessness and freak accidents, the Smith Awards will introduce the category for Spectacular Disasters. And unlike other categories for the Smith Awards, you will have an opportunity to vote to see which story should receive the award. Already nominated for this year’s Award includes the following (click on the link for more details):

The Sagging of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin

The Destruction of the Big Bureau Creek Bridge in Bureau County, Illinois

The Destruction of a Railroad Trestle through fire in San Saba County, Texas

The Collapse of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge in Washington State

Bridge Collapse caused by train wreck in Rockview, Missouri

Destruction of the Canadian River Bridge by tornado west of Oklahoma City

Do you have any other bridge disaster stories that are worth nominating? If so, you have until December 1st at 12:00am Central Standard Time to submit your stories to Jason Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. The nominations are open to all bridges in the US, Canada, Europe and elsewhere, and you must include a link to the bridges, so that people can have a look at the entries and vote for them. Bridges destroyed by arson are not included for they belong to the Bonehead Category. Voting will commence at the same time as with the Ammann Awards and the winners will be announced the same time as the winners will be announced- namely before Christmas.

This year has been an unusual year as far as bridge disasters are concerned for they have affected all bridges, young and old and regardless of bridge type. We’re hoping that we can work to address the safety on the bridges, which starts off with maintaining them to ensure that they are safe to cross. Then it is followed by addressing the rules of crossing them, and lastly ensure that their importance in history and as a reference to bridge building is stressed. Only then will disasters like these (and more entries to come) can be avoided.

Ohio Covered Bridge Destroyed by Arson- Arsonist being sought

 

 

 

 

 

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Spanning Raccoon Creek on Covered Bridge, four miles southwest of Wilkesville in Vinton County, the Ponn Humpback Covered Bridge was one of the biggest tourist attractions of the six covered bridges. At 180 feet, the multiple-span kingpost truss bridge was the longest that existed in the county, built in 1874 by Martin McGrath and Lyman Wells and was bypassed by a pony truss bridge built in 2008, with the historic structure being converted into a pedestrian trail. Now the bridge is nothing but a memory.

Vinton County officials are looking for information and leads that will eventually result in the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible for a fire, which destroyed the entire structure on 6 June. The reward is set at up to $5000.  According to county officials, the incident ocurred during the morning hours and the structure burned to the ground. The bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is considered a total loss. It is unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt or not, but county and state officials will look into those options.

Prior to the arson, suspicion of parties involving alcohol and campfires had been reported by many passers-by which included litter and beer cans. It was a question of time before a fire caught the covered bridge and brought it down. That day unfortunately came and now the county is grieving over the loss of an important structure which many people visited while passing through Vinton County.  This is the second fire this year that destroyed a historic bridge. A fire at a wooden viaduct in Texas last month destroyed the entire structure (a video can be found here).

If you have any information useful to the case, please contact the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office at: 740-592-5242    or the Ohio State Fire Marshal (which is overseeing the case) at: 1-800-579-2728    The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest involving the bridge.

Links to the bridge can be found through the Bridgehunter website by clicking on here.

Doug Chapman and Bill Eichenberger have provided some pictures of the bridge before and after the fire, which you can see here:

The Bridge before a pony truss bridge was built alongside it. Photo taken by Bill Eichenberger
The Humpback Bridge (right) and the truss bridge built in 2008 (left)  Photos taken by Doug Chapman

The bridge after the fire with the reward for arson sign.