Hirschgrundbrücke in Glauchau- Update as of October 5, 2019

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Current status as of 5 October, 2019:

The roadway and concrete curb of the Hirschgrundbrücke is completed and is just a question of time before the approaches on both ends (the park side to the south and the castle side to the north) are constructed. With rainy weather we’ve been having, typical of fall weather here in Saxony, it would not be surprising if we have another delay and workers have to wait until they are added, together with the railings.

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Furthermore, the concrete facade, which youu can see in this pic sandwiched between the scaffolding and the concrete, is almost finished as well. The facade, as mentioned in a previous post, is broken up stone that had been on the original structure before it was demolished in July 2018. In this pic, the is about a meter’s worth of layering left before the bridge is like its previous form. And this will lead us to the following question:

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When will the scaffolding come down so that we can finally see the finished product? We know it will open to pedestrians in November, but we’re getting anxious to see her in use again. 🙂

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To be continued……

 

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Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction Part II: How Art and Craftmanship are bring the bridge back together.

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY-  In a follow-up to the last article on the reconstruction of the Hirschgrund Bridge at the Castle Complex in Glauchau, I decided to attend the informational meeting and tour of the bridge, which took place on May 11th at the front court of the castle. This meeting and tour, which was divided up into three different time slots, was part of the Day of Funding and Support sponsored by the State of Saxony, and its main focus is the work that is being done to the castle itself, which started in 2017 and is scheduled to be finished by 2025.  Already finished is the construction of the front court of the castle, which features a series of flower gardens, bike racks, picnic areas and a multifunctional facility that can be used year round, including for ice skating, which is Glauchau’s past time together with its Christmas Market.

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The front court yard of the Castle Complex

This event was also tied in with the city’s first ever arts and crafts fair, which took place inside the castle and included exhibits, workshops and an auction. Due to inclimate weather, comprising of heavy rain and cold weather, the attendance was down across the board. However, we did come away with something for our own best interests- me with bridges, my daughter with arts and my wife with some ideas on how to better the arts and crafts fair. 🙂 Inspite of this, this article is on the bridge itself for based on my meeting with a representative from a construction firm working on the bridge, here are some facts that will need to be taken into account.

For instance, while newspapers and even my own previous reports had mentioned about the bridge being reopened by July, that assumption was proven false, both verbally and on the posters. Right now, if all goes well, the project should be finished and the bridge reopened by the end of November 2019 (this year). There are several factors that contributed to this delay.

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Poster of the project. The upper left-hand corner shows more demo than expected.

The first one has to do with the demolition of the bridge. According to the spokesperson at the meeting, while attempts were made to keep only the foundations and piers of the 1700s- built arch bridge, combined with the two outer arches as part of an agreement with the State Ministry of Culture and Heritage to save them, demolition of the bridge took a little more out than expected as many elements from the original bridge had to be removed because they could no longer be used for the load bearings. That means they were worn out and would not be useful for the reconstruction. A good example of the extensive work on the bridge regarding that aspect can be seen in the picture above.  If this was in American standards, this entire arch bridge would have been completely removed, going against the Historic Preservation Laws that were designed to protect historic structures like this from being destroyed. While the preservation of the outer arches and the piers were a compromise, it should be considered a stroke of luck in the face of modernization, which is becoming the norm in our society, even at our expense.

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With the removal of most of the bridge comes the preservation of more than 12,000 different grey-colored granite stones from the original structure. According to the representative from the construction firm, they will be incorporated, like I mentioned. The question is: how?

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As a facade! 🙂

This would make the best sense especially after my inquiry with the city’s civil engineer who also has been watching this project very closely. As mentioned in the previous article, the bridge is being rebuilt, first starting with the arches, then following with layers of concrete slabs supported by a skeletal system of vertical and horizontal support beams that would hold the bridge in place. The stones from the previous structure would be used as both decking as well as for the facade. While the reconstruction of the arch bridges will not be in-kind, meaning rebuilding it just like building the arch bridge from scratch beginning with the arches and then filling them in, layer by layer, the use of the skeletal system with concrete support beams as a skeleton will ensure that the new bridge will be sturdier than its original predecessor. I learned that in 2004, wooden support beams were put into place underneath the arches to keep them from collapsing. While this would have been considered useless if the bridge was coming down anyway, it did keep the bridge intact, thus helping the construction workers save as much of the materials for the rebuild as possible. Otherwise, allowing the bridge to sit derelict and let it collapse would not only eliminate that possibility, it would have been dangerous to even approach it.

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Granted that there is wooden support for all four of the bridge’s arches for the new structure, yet they were meant for building the two inner arches from the ground up and reinforcing the outer arches- for the former, they were following the recipe Romans used when building their arch bridges during their peak in power.

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Close-up of the truss supports for the arches.

With that comes the skeletal system and the layered concrete, which brings up another interesting fact I learned at the meeting. The vertical beams mentioned in the previous article feature a combination of concrete with steel wiring. This concept is often used for American bridges, in particular, with beam bridges. In Germany, it is hardly spoken of for the majority of modern bridges built after 1945 have focused solely on steel, fabricated from the mills in western Germany as well as parts of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg in the east.  With very few quarries, concrete is used rationally- mainly for abutments, piers and decking- much of it with other materials. In this case, the vertical beams have the American style of steel wiring drowned with concrete with the wiring sticking out. The main purpose here is as the concrete layers are built up, the top layer will be covered with a decking made of stone and concrete, providing a sturdy crossing for years to come.

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Add railings of up to 1.7 meters high to ensure the safety of those crossing it, the bridge will have a width of 3.7 meters and a total length of 55.3 meters from the castle to the park, with LED lighting, making the new crossing an attractive site in addition to the castle itself.  The bridge will be 9 meters tall, a few centimeters taller than its was before the complete makeover started last year.

While there were only a few people at each of the three tours in the morning due to the weather, most were eager to know more about the project and even some of them shared some memories of crossing the bridge before it was closed off due for safety reasons many years ago. Many had a chance to ask the representative more in details about what was being done with the bridge with a lot of curiosity. The atmosphere was mostly positive when I was there. But all had one thing in common- they would love to see their bridge back as it is part of the Castle Complex, connects with the park and is part of Glauchau’s history in general. In November of this year, this will come true.

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fast fact logo There are three projects that are going on around Glauchau’s Castle Complex- all of them being funded by the state. The front courtyard at the castle’s entrance was finished in December, right in time for the Christmas market. The bridge will be finished by the end of November. The third project scheduled to begin in 2020 will be redeveloping the grounds inside the castle as much of the markets and festivals take place there. That project is expected to last 2-3 years.

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T-shirts and apparel with the theme of the bridges along the Zwickau Mulde, with exemplaries of the ones in Glauchau, Zwickau and Rochlitz can be found in the online shop via word press. Click here and order one today. 🙂

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Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Last week in the Chronicles’ Instagram page, there were a pair of photos of the progress that is being made with the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a multiple-span arch bridge spanning the ravine at the castle complex south of Glauchau’s city center. As I’ve been reporting up until now, the original bridge dating to the 1700s is being rebuilt after having sat abandoned for over four decades and having been in danger of collapsing under its own weight. With spring in the air, I took an opportunity to get a closer look at the bridge, apart from my usual vantage points, which were from both ends of the bridge. With all the scaffolding that has “encased” the bridge, this was the closest way to find out how it has progressed since my “sniper” shot of the red arches taken in the fall on the eve of a concert at St. George’s Church.

Then:

Now:

And with that I found a couple observations worth noting:

  1. The bridge was being layered with slabs of concrete, bit by bit, filling in the arches and making its way up.
  2. There was a pile of stones that are on the eastern side of the bridge- assumedly salvaged from the old structure and waiting to be reused and
  3. More curiously, vertical posts were sticking out between the arches.

With number 3, I wanted to find out what they were used for, so I got ahold of the city and one of the engineers for an inquiry. This is what I received for an explanation per e-mail (after having it translated):

The load-bearing system of the bridge consists of transverse walls on the piers and self-supporting longitudinal walls, which are then veneered. The inside of the bridge is filled with lightweight porous concrete.

In simpler languages, the newly-rebuilt bridge will have a skeletal system featuring horizontal slabs supported by the vertical piers planted between the arches. All of them will be covered in layers of concrete and then masked to make it appear historic like its original form. Should this be the case, it would not be the “in-kind” restoration of an arch bridge, meaning building it beginning with the arch and then in layers, stone-by-stone and then filled in to make sure the structure is stabilized. Yet it would represent the modern form of restoring the bridge, as it has been seen with some of the bridges restored in Germany, including those in Thuringia, Berlin and Bavaria. That would still make the arch bridge historic but with “braces” to ensure it lasts longer and is able to withstand the increasing weight and number in traffic. With the Hirschgrundbrücke itself, when reopened, it will serve pedestrians, connecting the castle complex and the park across the ravine.

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The future of the original stones from the bridge is unknown.

While there is no concrete date as to when the project will be finished and when the grand “re-opening” will take place, there are some other curious facts that will be mentioned in a tour that is scheduled to take place this weekend. On May 11th at 10:15, 11:00 and 11:45 there will be a tour of the construction site with many questions and photo sessions available. This is all part of the informational Meeting at the Castle Complex that will include what has been completed and what will be the next phases in renovating the castle- namely the grounds and the park. All of which will start at 10 and be finished after 12:00. A link to the page can be found here.

In either case, more updates on the Hirschgrundbrücke will come in the Chronicles. Stay tuned. In case you haven’t taken a look at Glauchau’s Bridge tour guide, check out this and others by clicking here.

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The Rehab of the Hirschgrundbrücke in Glauchau: A Wine Glass Half-full or Half-Empty?

GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- The construction projects in and around the Castle Complex in Glauchau, which has been in motion since April (as a whole), is like eating in an exclusive restaurant: No matter what the menu offers, including drinks, there’s a lot to eat and a lot to discuss at the table.   The main course, which features lamb chops, is the front yard that leads to the gates of the castle. This is the meat of the project which one will find to the south of the city center, just a three minute walk from Market Square. This was once filled with lucious trees and bushes but also home to the ice skating rink that had occupied the area; it is being torn up in favor of a multi-complex featuring picnic areas, a pavilion and bike racks. This despite opposition from those who preferred to keep the area all green and in its natural form. A comment by one of the opponents, an architect, during a conversation on facebook recently, says it all.

Then we have the natural bridge, crossing the deep ravine connecting the castle’s south side and its adjacent park, sitting idle for many years, closed to all because of safety reasons and now blocked off to the castle park. This stone arch crossing is no more except for the pylons and the outer arches!

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The Hirschgrundbrücke has been the “vegetarian” main dish for dinner and conversation for many years for many reasons: 1. How to renovate the bridge after sitting idle for 40 years, 2. What is the real name of the bridge: Hirschgrund or Hirschgraben, and now this: Is this bridge a complete renovation/ rehabilitation or a complete tear-down and rebuild?

There are many ways of describing how the bridge is being put under the knife. Yet to better understand how this project is being carried out, I had a chance to talk to the city engineer who showed me the plans of rebuilding the structure during my frequent visits to the City Administration Building. He was also the engineer in charge of overseeing the design and construction of The Wave near Wernsdorf in 2017.  During my interview in March, he mentioned that the bridge was going to be stripped down to the bare bones, leaving the outer arches and the stem of the pylon that used to hold the center arches. The plan to leave them in place was based on an agreement with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of Saxony (Dt.: Denkmalschutz) in order to keep the bridge listed in the Cultural Heritage Book (Denkmalschutzbuch), similar to what Americans have with the National Register of Historic Places. The old materials would (for the most part) be discarded, while some will be reused together with new materials made of sandstone and other rock-based materials to rebuild the structure to make it resemble its original form, when it was built in the 1700s. The project was announced in the Free Press in April and it is expected to be completed by November 2019.

During my most recent visit in Glauchau, I decided to have a look at the progress of the bridge and found some observations worth noting:

Film and commentary on this bridge:

This was filmed from the castle side with my newly-acquired Motorola moto 6 out of Pittsburgh. Incredible phone/camera and Glauchau was an incredible place for “target practice.” 😉

My observations of this project is best compared to a glass of wine that is half-full; half-empty. One can technically consider this project a total rehabilitation, where the bridge is stripped down to its arches, the original materials reused for the rebuilding process. This has been done on thousands of bridges of this kind throughout Germany, including the bridges in Erfurt, Dresden, Magdeburg, and Berlin, just to name some examples. It is similar to the coined-term “in-kind” restoration but with arch bridges, not truss structures.  However one could call this a total replacement because 90% of the original structure is completely gone; the materials used for the structure recycled and being replaced with similar materials that are used for other arch bridges. From an American modernist’s point of view, when a superstructure is replaced but the approach spans or even the original piers remain, it is a complete replacement, regardless of how you look at it.  Leaving the outer arches and the pylon stems in place kept the bridge from being completely destroyed and replaced, something that had been considered given its condition of being on the verge of collapsing, as you can see in Glauchau’s bridge tour guide.

So to sum up, this rehabilitation  project is one that is considered a wine glass that is half-full and half- empty. It is half-full because some of the important historic elements are being left in place, to be used as a foundation for the new materials that will come on top of it to retain its historic appeal. It is however half-empty because much of the original materials are not being used for the rebuild. Nonetheless, the bridge will retain its historic status in the books, yet my question I have, which will be answered through photos and commentary  during the course of this project, will be whether the bridge- the vegetarian main dish- will be the same as before? Or if it will be totally different, just like with the new multi-complex at the entrance to the Castle Complex- the main course dinner with lamb chops?

In simpler languages: will the architect be right about the changes not conforming to the castle surroundings, or will the people embrace the new form of history which features a cosmetic makeover but keeping its original historic form?

Stay tuned! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 5

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What’s in a name? A bridge is just a bridge as it crosses a ravine, body of water or even a roadway from point A to point B. This is where this week’s bridge pic comes in. A “natural” bridge spanning a deep ravine connecting a park with a castle……

in Saxony……

in Glauchau…..

The Hirschgrund Bridge has been in the news recently because construction has yet to begin on this 300+ year old stone arch structure. Why has there been a delay?  You’ll love the author and the Glauchau City Council for this….. 😉

The debate over the name of the bridge!

In March of this year, the contract was let to a company for rebuilding the bridge, the name Hirschgaben Bridge was used. However, in the documents on the city’s budget plans was the name Hirschgrund used. This caused a lot of confusion as to how the bridge should be named. On the on hand, Hirschgraben was used because the ravine surrounding the castle was very deep – on the same level as the riverbed of the Zwickau Mulde River- a difference of 30 meters. Geologically speaking is Hirschgraben correct. And according to oral history is Hirschgraben the name used when talking about the bridge and the ravine. Historically speaking, Hirschgrund is also correct as it focuses on the whole complex itself, which includes the castle, park and ravine. In most history books one will find Hirschgrund. Yet given the preference of one or the other, the names of both were both correct, according to multiple sources.  Given the need to cross their Ts and dot the I’s the debate on which name is correct was one of the reasons for the delay in allowing the construction to start.

The other was the city council’s rescinding of the contract to the first firm in favor of the second because the costs were cheaper and the second one was left out of the discussion the first time around. There had been four but only three officially presented their proposals.

In either case, now that the matter over the name has been settled, not to mention the costs and time wasted in “yammering” about it, construction on this natural bridge is about to begin. June is the starting date and the project is expected to take a year to complete. How the bridge will be rebuilt will be presented when the finished product opens to foot traffic for privacy purposes. But it does lead to the question of how this bridge- abandoned for almost five decades- will be reconstructed…..

….or whether it should remain as is: a natural bridge. If that was the case, then the City of Glauchau would learn a great deal from the City of London’s Natural Bridge project.  🙂

This was the reason behind this pic of the week after my visit to Glauchau. Not to mention to the plea mentioned in the Instagram page: It’s just a bridge! Fix the damn thing for once!

Fast Fact: Yammering is German for “jammern” and means simply to complain a great deal like a kindergartner.

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Bridge Beautification in Glauchau (Saxony), Germany

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Hirschgraben Viaduct at the Castle Complex to be Completely Rebuilt; Former Mulde Crossing to become Rest Area for Bikes

GLAUCHAU (SAXONY)-  While driving (or even Walking) through Glauchau in western Saxony in Germany, one cannot avoid several construction barriers and even downed trees in several places within the community of 24,000, located between Zwickau and Chemnitz. As part of the plan to beautify the city, several Buildings sitting empty or abandoned are scheduled to be repurposed or torn down.  And that applies to a couple of the city’s key crossings. A former site of a historic Bridge is about to become a rest area and picnic area for cyclists whereas a historic Bridge near the Castle complex is about to be demolished and rebuilt to mimic the original Bridge from the 1700s. Details about the two Projects can be found here:

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Hirschgrund Bridge to be completely rebuilt as part of the Castle beautification project

Connecting the Fordere and Hintere Glauchau Castles with the city park to the south, the 300+ year old Hirschgrund Viaduct is the oldest known bridge in Glauchau, let alone one of the longest and tallest of the city’s bridges. At approximately 75 meters long and 15 meters high, the bridge consists of five arches built mainly of brick and concrete, although it is unclear whether the concrete was added later or was part of the construction. The bridge has been neglected for over 40 decades and closed to all pedestrians for almost that long, thus causing it to decay rapidly, forming cracks in the concrete and exposing the red brick. Vines have been growing on the structure and some accounts in the social media have described the bridge as wobbling while walking over the deep ravine. All the vines, the wooden scaffolding to support one of the arches and other coverings are about to become a thing of the past, for the Glauchau City Council recently approved a 1.3 million Euro project to completely rebuild the viaduct. According to the Free Press, the entire structure is scheduled to be completely taken down, then using the materials from the old structure, will be completely rebuilt mimicking the 17th Century viaduct when it was opened to horse and buggy. The project is expected to last 1-2 years pending on any unforseen circumstances. The complete rebuild of the viaduct is part of the controversial project to beautify the Castle Complex- in particular the courtyard in front of the Fordere Castle on the east side. At the cost of 500,000, the courtyard is supposed to be converted to a multifunctional arena with shelter house, steel flower tubs, park benches, an aluminum pergola and electric outlet. The proposal has been met with hefty criticism because of the lack of taste and conformity with the castle’s surroundings. Even an article written by a local architect suggested alternatives to the proposal that is more appropriate and based on a total agreement by the parties involved (click here to read the article by Kathleen Scheurer).  Already, the trees at the courtyard have been removed giving the castle complex a bare-naked appearance:

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How the castle complex will look like, once the five-month project ends in October remains open.

 

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Meerane Bridge: new on the left and the old one on the right before its removal. Photo by Ulrich Schleife

Meerane (Upper Mulde) Bridge Abutment to become a Picnic/Rest Area

For over two decades since the construction of the current structure and the removal of the 1880s historic bridge, the remaining eastern abutment has sat in its place, covered with vegetation and garbage and looking like an eyesore. Come April, it will become an eyesore no more. At the cost of 10,000 Euros, the vegetation area will be removed and the eastern abutment will be repurposed as a picnic and rest area for pedestrians and cyclists. Included will be a bike stand, benches and garbage cans in and around the abutment near the pedestrian crossing at Meerane and Linden Streets. That portion of the project will take three weeks to complete, according to the Free Press. This is part of a bigger project which the shoreline of the Zwickau Mulde River will be cleaned up and converted into a park and trail setting, using land from abandoned buildings that either have been torn down or are scheduled to be removed in the near future. Already in the works is the plan to have a bike trail connecting the bridge with the Zimmerstrasse Covered Bridge, located near the Wehrdigt Elementary School. In the long term, the Mulde Bike Trail will go through Glauchau along the river instead of along the Diversion Canal, a plus for those wanting to see the city’s historic bridges along the river. One can also see the bridges leading to the Castle Complex from that proposed stretch of trail.  As for the Meerane Bridge, the east abutment is the remains of the 1880s Town Lattice truss bridge built by local bridge builder Heinrich Carl Hedrich, who was responsible for the construction of a diversion canal around Glauchau, Germany’s first water main systems as well as several dams, mills and bridges in Glauchau and along the Mulde. The bridge was replaced on alignment in the 1990s and subsequently removed once the new structure opened.

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Abutments as remains of the old bridge

With the ongoing changes that are happening in and around Glauchau also comes the updates in the Bridge Tour Guide of Glauchau. Several photos have been added on the castle bridges as well as the Wave, plus some updates based on the current developments which will be followed closely in the Chronicles. To see the updates, click here, which will take you to the guide again. There, you will find more pictures and information so that you can better get to know the bridges in and around the city.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

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The Bridges of Glauchau (Saxony), Germany

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There is a philosophy pertaining to visiting a town that makes tourism unique and interesting: Always look for the most uncommon and unvisited places first before visiting the main attractions. They have the most valuable information and features that will make you leave town knowing a bit more than before.

Glauchau, located in western Saxony approximately 20 kilometers west of Chemnitz and 13 kilometers north of neighboring Zwickau is a typical farming community. Yet despite having 23,000 residents, the community, which has a historic city center and two castles, is known for its serenity, as there is not much activity directly in the city, but more in the areas full of green, thanks to its parks, the Glauchau Reservoir and the green areas along the Zwickauer Mulde River. Here’s a sample of what a person can see while spending time in this quiet community:

And while I was there for an interview for a teaching position at an international school, I was reminded of the philosophy mentioned at the beginning, when it came to relics of the past. While the community was once a pub for the textile industry, it also has a set of historic bridges that are worth visiting. One of which was a viaduct spanning a street and valley, which provided a spectacular view of the northwestern end of Glauchau. Once crossing that enroute to the interview and realizing that I had a long waiting time to catch the returning train to Jena in Thuringia, it became my mission to see what other bridges are worth the visit. And sure enough, enough diamonds in the rough were discovered, which were enough to justify constructing a tour guide showing the readers where these bridges can be found and thus encouraging people to visit them in addition to the town’s historic city center. A map and link to a gallery of photos can be found at the end of the article.

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Lungwitzbach Railroad Viaducts:

When arriving at Glauchau Railway Station from Dresden and Chemnitz, this bridge pairing will greet you, as you cross Lungwitzsbach Creek and the parallel street leading to St. Egedien. Both structures are at least a century old, but each one having a different design and built using different materials. The sandy grey structure with dark brown arches is the most heavily traveled and also the oldest of the two, having been built in the 1860s and is part of the magistrate connecting Dresden with Zwickau and Hof. The bridge has seven arches and and each spandrel is partially closed, for half-circle openings appear, one on each end of the arch. The bridge appears to have been rehabilitated between five and ten years ago, with the line being electrified and the bridge strengthened to provide more trains along the line. One can see the work with the concrete shelves sticking out between the arches, where each overhead pole sits.

The sandy brown colored bridge next to it features a three-span open spandrel arch bridge, totaling three spans. The spandrels have an arch top- for each arch span, there are three spandrels on each side. That structure only serves freight traffic although it had previously served a railway line along the Zwickauer Mulde, connecting Penig, Rochlitz and Grimma. Both bridges are about 200 meters long and have two tracks each. It is unknown who was behind the design and construction of the two bridges, but they are considered the longest in Glauchau and ones that are a must-see when spending time there.

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Am Schafteich Railroad Bridge:

Spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River, this bridge is the nearest of the two arch bridges to greet passengers when entering Glauchau Railway Station from the west (Erfurt, Meerane and Zwickau). This bridge is the gateway to the industrial park, where automobile parts are produced for Volkswagen, whose production facility is located between Glauchau and Zwickau. The structure features three closed spandrel arch spans, the longest (which spans the river) is built using limestone and is about 80 meters. The side arches are built using sandstone and limestone, thus creating a unique color and pattern combination. Each of the spans are about 30 meters, one of which crosses the street. The bridge is the most difficult to photograph because three fourths of the structure is on private property and is fenced off. The last fourth features trees, tall bushes and no sidewalk, thus the risk is great when photographing the structure, as you can see in the pics. The bridge is at least 120 years old but serves the magistrate between Dresden and Hof via Zwickau but also the line between Erfurt and Glauchau. This line is part of the planned Mitteldeutschland Route, connecting Chemnitz with Cologne via Erfurt, Kassel and Gera. It is expected that InterCity trains will start serving the line by 2023, thus making Glauchau a train stop for long-distance trains for the first time since 2006.

 

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King Albert Bridge before its replacement in 1955. Photo courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

King Albert Bridge (a.k.a. Lower Mulde Bridge)

 When traveling west on Auer Strasse in the direction of Gesau, you will not recognize the bridge after you cross it, going past the beverage store Getränkewelt on the left side. If anything, it is just a typical beam bridge with railings, that’s all. You will also not recognize its historic appearance unless you do one of the following:

1. Pull into the parking lot of the beverage store, go into the Mulde, swim underneath the bridge and get a shot on the opposite end (as the front side has another bridge carrying a pipeline over it.

or

  1. Cross the street onto the flower bed of a nearby proprietor, walk the line along the curb bordering the flower bed (without stepping into it) and get an oblique shot from the building.

Being dressed in a suit with no SCUBA equipment for a special occasion, I elected the second option, even though it would have been funny and interesting to try the first option.

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But the photo opportunity is well worth it.

The current structure, built in 1955, is a single-span stone arch bridge, carrying a concrete decking. Given the scarcity of materials needed for bridge building because of the after-effects of World War II combined with the Soviet occupation of the eastern half of Germany, many of the new structures were constructed using concrete and/or with minimal quality and using either beam or truss structures. This bridge was probably built using stone bricks that originated from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) and was cut on site to fit the structure that is 35 meters long and 25 meters wide.

Its predecessor however consisted of a Parker through truss bridge built in 1888 and was, according to local historical accounts,  one of a few Glauchau bridges built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich.  The bridge featured riveted connections among the trusses, v-lacing on its overhead bracing and upper chords and a vertical endposts. Also included were ornametal lampposts on both ends of the bridge, featuring spirals and spherical shapes with an oval-shaped glass cover for lighting.

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Postcard of the bridge before World War II. Courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

The bridge’s original wood decking was replaced in 1927 with a combination of concrete and brick to accommodate increasing traffic loads. 11 years later,  a new coating of paint was needed, which kept the bridge from rusting and thus prolonging its lifespan.  Sadly, even though the bridge survived two World Wars, it was closed to traffic in 1954 because of rust and corrosion on the trusses, including the lower chord. At the same time,  plans for a new bridge commenced, which was realized one year later.

The King Albert Bridge, named after the King of Saxony who was also the member of the House of Wettin, may be just a typical bridge for the City of Glauchau, yet never judge it by its appearance just by crossing it. The treasure can be found in the water, whose historic value will make the writer and historian think twice before writing it off as a typical piece of concrete over a body of water.

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Gründelteich Bridge and Statue

Located at the southeast end of Gründelteich pond near the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this bridge has been in service since the 1880s as it served as the lone access to the island. The history behind the island is that it was named in honor of Heinrich Carl Hedrich (1816-1900), who spent most of his life in Glauchau and left a mark in the city’s history. Hedrich was responsible for the rechanneling of the (Zwickauer) Mulde while reconstructing the dam that had been destroyed by flooding in 1839. Furthermore, he invented Germany’s  first modern water main system running through the community, providing drinking water to the households, while also channeling water away from the Zwickauer Mulde. In addition to the construction of the mills and dams, Hedrich harnessed electricity through hydroelectric power. The people in Glauchau benefitted from his inventions, and Hedrich was awarded with a head statue and an monument with a golden angel in 1884, about the same time this bridge was built. The decking, railings and piers appear to be at least 45 years old, yet the design of the bridge is the same as the original built in 1884.

 

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Upper Mulde Bridge- the replacement bridge (left) and the original bridge with ornamental railings on the right side. Photo courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

Meeraner Strasse (Upper Mulder ) Bridge

 The Meerane Strasse is one of two major streets that have bridges crossing the Mulde River and its diversion arm (Flutgraben). This bridge is located at the junction with Lindenstrasse and by first glance, one will see a typical 90s style concrete deck girder with vertical lining and orange railings. A rather bland structure unless you have a quick blick at the abutments of an older bridge on the right hand side going west towards the Flutgraben crossing. That bridge had a history of its own as it was a steel pony girder bridge with Town Lattice truss features. Ithel Town created this unique truss design in 1820 that consisted of interwoven diagonal beams. This truss type was common on many wooden covered bridges in the United States, but also among many metal truss bridges in Europe, especially those carrying rail traffic.

The Meerane Bridge was constructed back in the 1880s and was claimed by historic resources to have been built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich. Yet the exact date of construction remains unknown. It is known that the structure, which was about 35 meters long and 15 meters wide, was replaced at the time of the Fall of the Berlin Wall because of age and structural deterioration. A concrete bridge was built alongside the old structure, thus allowing for the continuation of traffic between Glauchau and Meerane on the old one. After traffic was diverted onto the new structure, the old one was removed and scrapped.

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THE THREE BRIDGES TO THE “HOLY LAND”

 While Glauchau has eight bridges and a dam spanning the Mulde and its diversion canal Flutgraben, one unique feature that makes the city special are the bridges on the hill leading to its historic city center and castles. Dubbed as the Bridges to the Holy Land, each of the three spans consist of arch bridges crossing deep gorges that serve as drainage to the Mulde. Each of the gorges are approximately 20-25 meters deep. From the flood bed of the Mulde, the height of the bridges is approximately 75 meters high, and given the fact that Glauchau was once a walled city and it has a strong religious core- laden with a variety of denominations- one could christen the name of the bridges along Otto-Schimmel-Strasse and Leipziger Strasse  between the train station and the castles “The Three Bridges to the Holy Land,” named after the Three Wise Men who brought Baby Jesus gifts and blessed Him on what it today called Day of Epiphany (January 6th). Yet that interpretation would be a bit far-fetched if one is either a non-denominational or an atheist.

Even though one of the arch bridges no longer exists (Nicolas Tower and Bridge), all three bridges still serve it purpose of serving traffic and providing commerce to the city center. We will look at all three bridges going towards that “Holy Land”, beginning with the youngest and longest of the three.

 

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Scherberg Bridge

Spanning Talstrasse at Otto-Schimmel-Strasse  and Leipziger Strasse, the Scherberg Bridge is a cross between modernitity and history as the 1920s structure features a concrete closed spandrel Luten arch main span and two circular mini-spans implanted in the wingwall on each side. Furthermore, Art Greco patterns can be seen in the main arch span. A shield representing the City of Glauchau can be seen on the east end on the right of the main arch span. Construction started in 1921, and despite two harsh winters, combined with a lack of personnel and high inflation upping the cost for the bridge because of the aftereffects of World War I and the Marseilles Treaty respectively, the bridge was dedicated on 29 April, 1923. The bridge was deemed a necessity because of the need to connect the city center and the train station, which was completed three years after the bridge opened. Prior to the bridge, accessing the city center was as difficult as Moses climbing the Mountain to meet God and receive the 10 Commandments. Delivery with horse and buggy had to be made by zigzagging up several streets and dealing with gorges and other obstacles. The plan for the bridge had been created in 1909 but work never commenced because of the war, plus hefty discussions regarding the necessity of the bridge. Despite all the aforemetioned adversities affecting Glauchau, the city mayor Otto Schimmel had the final word in favor of the bridge, which has a total length of 97 meters  (the main span is 35 meters), 14 meters wide and 28 feet above Talstrasse.  The bridge was rehabilitated in 2011, which included repairs to the structure, new decking and lighting and new paint- especially with the shield. The bridge may look just like new, but the 94-year old structure is one of the symbols that represent the city of Glauchau.  The Scherberg Bridge serves as a posterboy for other arch bridges of this caliber that exist in the US and elsewhere, many of which are in danger of being demolished and replaced.

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Gottessackbrücke (a.k.a. Postbrücke)

The next bridge along the Road to the Holy Land is the Postbrücke. Spanning another gorge (which is accompanied with a path down to the residential area) carrying Leipziger Strasse, this masonry stone arch bridge is the shortest of the three bridges, having a span of 15 meters and a width of 12 meters. Built in 1887, it is located next to the historic post office, which had existed much longer than the bridge itself. Apart from some minor structural work on the bridge, the Postbrücke has maintained its historic integrity, while serving traffic between the city center and the district of Gottessack (God’s Sack), north of the structure. The area features several historic, but empty buildings that are ripe for restoration and reuse, making Glauchau even better than it is now.

 

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Nicolas Tower and Bridge

 The last bridge going to the city center is the Nicolas Tower and Bridge. While no date has been pinpointed to the bridge, it was believed to have been just as old as the tower itself. The Nicolas Tower served as the main entrance to the city center, which had once been walled on all sides, with watch towers and the castles that were included. It is safe to say that the entrance to the walled town was through the Hintere Schlossbrücke on the south side (still extant) and the Nicolas Tower and Bridge on the north side. While the tower may have been built during the Medieval era as part of the project to make Glauchau a walled city, records indicated that the tower was rebuilt from the ground up in 1741. It featured a living quarters above the gate, where the watchman and his family lived, and was later decorated with a church bell by the Lord Albert Christian Ernst in 1758. A clock was later added to the gate. Because of its narrowness combined with the increase in traffic and damage caused by lightning and high winds, the tower was replaced in 1890, but the bridge itself remained in service until 1965. A mural depicting the tower can be seen at the site where it once stood as you cross the bridge, yet a mini-replica can be found in the city museum.

 

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Remains of the watch tower and the walls of the historic city on the northwest corner (JS)

The Nicolas Bridge featured two different arch bridges- one made of concrete and one made of brick, whereas the former may date back to the time of the castle and the brick span was later added in the early 1800s. The bridge also featured a series of steps to encourage people walking along the path along the creek to use it to go to the bridge and the city center.  Sadly, due to structural damage caused by bombings in World War II and later deterioration because of the increase in automobile traffic, the bridges had to be demolished in 1965. The older arch was first removed, followed by the other arch as soon as the replacement structure was in place and opened to traffic.  It is hard to believe that, despite looking like a bridge built in the 1990s, today’s structure is 52 years old. But part of that was because of the rehabilitation work done in 2003-4 to keep the 33.3 meter long bridge open to traffic. Its width of 19.6 meters include 6.1 meters for pedestrians, and its height of 9 meters above the gorge provides viewers with a glimpse of the gorge and the valley of the Mulde, filled with houses and green landscape. The bridge provides good commerce as many stores line up along the street between the bridge and the Postbrücke, but also towards the city center.

 

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Waldenburger Viaduct

The Waldenburger Viaduct is one of three stone arch viaducts serving the rail lines passing through Glauchau. All of them appear to have been built in the 1860s as the rail lines between Glauchau and Werdau were established. This bridge features three arch spans- the center for vehicular traffic, the outer for the cyclists and pedestrians. With the renewed electrification of the line in the early 2000s, this bridge was renovated as part of the plan to reintroduce InterCity trains between Chemnitz and Cologne via Jena, Erfurt and Kassel. By 2023, InterCity trains are expected to stop in Glauchau from Hof (South), Dresden (East) and Cologne (West). Until then, passengers have only the regional trains connecting the town with Meerane, Gößnitz and Gera to the west as well as those going to Zwickau and Aue to the south and those going to Chemnitz and Dresden to the east, to contend with. But subtracting that, the bridge is one of the nicer structures to visit while in Glauchau but one that stands out in the face of buildings that are victims of either neglect or modernization. If one can detect this bridge early, it is not a miss. Otherwise, it is drowned out by these factors.

 

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Zimmerstrasse Covered Bridge:

Located behind the Wehrdigtschule, this bridge is an easy miss if one goes past it along Lindenstrasse. But its history dates back to the 19th century, when the establishment of factories and residential areas to the west of town necessitated the need for crossings over the Mulde. This crossing was one of four that were built under the direction of Hedrich (the same person responsible for the modern water main lines, mills and the dam), but six additional ones were built after the turn of the century. While the original crossing was most likely destroyed in World War II, this bridge took its place many years later. Between 15 and 25 years old, this wooden Pratt truss bridge is quite modern for a covered bridge but one that gives the nearby schools at Wehrdigt and the Saxony International Elementary School some charm, especially as children and teachers can utilize this crossing for safety and receational purposes.

This bridge was the lone structure I could not find during my first trip through Glauchau, but I recently visited the bridge in September during a tour to Zwickau and found some details worth noting: The bridge is made of wood but with steel bracing, and the connections are pin-connected, some of which featured steel gusset plates embedded into the wooden beams and then bolted with steel, as you can see in the picture above. One cannot see that with other covered bridges unless it’s modern, thus supporting my previous argument of its age. In either case, the bridge is heavily used, especially by school children. 🙂

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Hirschgrund Viaduct at the Castle Complex

Hirschgrund Viaduct:

Located at the southern entrance to the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this five-span concrete and stone arch bridge spans a deep valley and judging by the appearance, is perhaps the oldest bridge in Glauchau, having been built at the same time as the castle itself in the 17th Century. The structure was needed to provide passage into and out of the castle, while the valley floor used to be a moat, used to keep intruders from attacking the castle from the outside. Today’s bridge serves pedestrians, but given its appearance, it would cause an American bridge builder to sound off the alarm regarding structural deficiencies, calling for the demolition and replacement with something resembling a bridge at Walt Disney World in Florida. Fortunately, engineers recognize the bridge’s importance and have been working to stabilize the structure, while at the same time, maintain its original form. However, planning is in the works to rehabilitate and restore the bridge to its original form, which is scheduled to start in July 2018 and expected to take 1-2 years to complete. After 40 years of neglect, the bridge will be reopened again, connecting the castle complex with the park.

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Fordere Glauchau Castle Bridges

Fordere and Hintere Glauchau Castle Bridges:

There are as many bridges at the Castle Complex in Glauchau as the number of castles itself. If counting the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a total of six bridges serve the the two castles that are jointly connected. There are two stone arch bridges that are part of the original Fordere Castle that was built in 1470 and is still considered the oldest Rennaissance castle in the region. Not much has been written about the castle’s history except for the fact that there were three periods of construction involving this Baroque-style castle: between 1470 and 1485, between 1520 and 1534 and in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Hintere Castle was constructed in the 16th Century, and with that, there are three bridges- two connecting the two castles and one connecting the castle with the inner courtyard.  The viaduct connected the castle complex and the park and was built last, having been completed in the 17th Century. All in all, the crossings served their purpose of allowing people to enter and exit the castles without having to worry about drawbridges over moats or even trying to ford the crossing. The crossings at Fordere Castle are only 20 meters apart, still though, they also serve as a good observation deck, where one can see much of Glauchau and its landscape as far as the eye can see. As the castles and the city center are on a high hill, that serves as a big advantage for tourists and photographers alike. 🙂 The crossings at Hintere Castle are inter-connected with the one to the courtyard being 25 meters away from the two enclosed ones, yet the latter provides a good view of the viaduct and the park. 🙂 The Castle Complex is still open for tourists and hosts several events, however changes are being made to make the complex more attractive. And with that the bridges will continue to serve the castle, just like in the Baroque Times.

Hintere Glauchau Bridges:

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Flutgraben Crossings:

Also noteworthy of the tour in Glauchau are the crossings along the Flutgraben. The diversion canal bypasses the city on the west side, extending from the north end east of Jerisau Bridge down south to the Glauchau Reservoir, a distance of six river kilometers. And while there are four crossings that are either as long or longer than the Scherberg Bridge, there is a sad history that is in connection with the Flutgraben. On 31 July, 1858, high water from the Mulde devastated much of the residential areas in Glauchau, causing enough damage to make the houses and apartments unliveable. It was afterwards that the city decided to construct a diversion canal, bypassing Glauchau to the west to alleviate the flow of water in the event of the flooding. Construction lasted until 1890 but not before having removed as many as seven dozen houses, buildings and other properties- many of them were empty or unliveable. The width of the canal is the same as the river itself, yet the flood plain is four times as wide as the canal, and with a depth of 3-4 meters, it would accomodate unusually high flows of water.

Four bridges span the Flutgraben, including the railroad bridge that carries both the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate and the Glauchau-Jena-Erfurt rail line. The Nordufer Bridge at Auer Strasse is the oldest remaining bridge along the canal, while the Meerane and Jerisau Bridges were built in the late 1990s and still accomodate major traffic in and out of Glauchau. Additionally, a dam at the Reservoir, dating back to the 1930s is still in use to control the flow of water from the Mulde. Here is a brief summary of each one:

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Nordufer Bridge

Nordufer Bridge:

At over 200 meters spanning the outer channel of the Mulde, the Nordufer Bridge is the oldest of the existing bridges along this channel. As a key link to Zwickau, it is also the busiest as 30 vehicles cross the bridge per minute. The 50+ year old bridge, which is characterized by its expansion and contracting rollers, has shown significant signs of wear and tear with cracks and spalling appearing on the girder spans. It is likely, given its approximate location near the industrial area and the Saxony International School, it will be replaced in the next decade. The structure carries Hwy. 175 which connects Glauchau with Zwickau.

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Expansion Device: The Roller

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Meerane Bridge

Meerane Bridge:

Located over the Flutgraben at the junction of Meeraner Strasse and Sachsenallee, this bridge was one of the first to have been built at this location after the diversion canal was built. After the Flood of 1858, the city council decided to construct the canal to divert water away from Glauchau, despite successful attempts by Heinrich Hedrich to construct the first drainage system in Germany serving the city. A wooden bridge was built to cross the area where the canal was being built, yet was replaced with a steel trestle at the conclusion of the canal project in 1890. The bridge featured a Bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge divided into three spans. That bridge was later replaced with a concrete girder bridge in 1949, which was later replaced with its current structure some 50 years later. The cantilever deck bridge continues to serve traffic to Gesau and Meerane to the west and is located next to the sports complex where the soccer team Empor Glauchau has its headquarters.  The bridge used to be called the Orphanage Bridge as there was an orphanage located near the site where the diversion canal was located. Built in 1859, the facility housed orphans for 150 years.

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Jerisau Bridge

Jerisau Bridge:

Spanning the Flutgraben at the junction of Waldeburger Strasse and Hochuferstrasse (B-175 Bypass), this bridge connects Glauchau’s northern industrial district with the suburb Jerisau. Before the bypass was built, the bridge carried Highway B-175 through Jerisau enroute to Waldenburg, seven kilometers northeast of Glauchau. The Bypass was built to alleviate traffic and to provide better access to the Autobahn 4. The present bridge, a concrete cantilever span, was built in 1998, with a length of 97 meters- 15 more than its predecessor, a five-span concrete beam bridge built in 1949. This bridge may have followed the footsteps of the Meerane Bridge in terms of the types of bridges that had been built and replaced since the diversion canal was built in 1890.

 

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Leitschutzdamm

Leitschutzdamm at Glauchau Reservoir:

Located near the Glauchau Reservoir, this dam was built for the purpose of rechanneling the Mulde in the event of flooding. That means all excessive water flow through the dam and along the outer channel, alleviating the flow of water along the main river going through town without flooding it. Despite being built in the 1980s, sources indicated that a previous dam was built in the early 1930s, possibly replacing an even earlier one.  When water is diverted towards the town, one can see some unique patters in the channel bed when little water is flowing, as seen in the pic below. The dam acts as a crossing, enabling cyclists and pedestrians to go in the direction of the southern countryside.

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South Dam and Bridge

South Dam and Bridge:

Located over the Mulde at Wehrstrasse, west of Grundelteich, this bridge is one of the oldest in Glauchau, having been built in the late 1890s. This is recognizable with the cast iron railings and its approximate location to the mill and an unusual water silo. It is possible that this bridge was one of four built by Hedrich, but more information is needed to confirm these claims.

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Close-up of the cast iron railings

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The Wave (Wernsdorfer Welle):

This bridge, spanning the Mulde in the southern suburb of Wernsdorf, was one that was completely missed while on tour. The reason: Upon arrival at the crossing, I found the bridge to not exist anymore. I later found out in my research that the bridge had been removed due to structural concerns. In addition, as the region was prone to flooding, dikes needed to be reinforced to keep the waters of the Mulde from flooding the corn fields.  Prior to its demise, the Chemnitz Free Press wrote a eulogy about the structure and its time as a crossing, which can be summarized as follows:

The bridge was built in 1954 to replace a wooden bridge that had been washed away by flooding. It was a simple beam bridge of six spans, built of concrete and steel, and had once been used as main traffic between the village of Wernsdorf and all points going to the south and west. After sustaining damage by  the flooding in 2013, the structure was closed to all traffic, and officials in Wernsdorf and Glauchau worked on a plan to replace the bridge as it served as a vital link, not just for cyclists and locals, but also for farmers. After the plan for a new bridge had been unveiled, the old structure was demolished in April 2016. Despite delays in finishing the project, due to unfavorable weather conditions and the construction of a new bike path connecting the structure with the sports complex, the bridge was dedicated to recreational traffic on 20 June, 2017. Currently, The Wave serves bikers, equestrians and walkers and is part of the Mulde Bike Trail network again, re-establishing a link between Glauchau, Wernsdorf and neighboring villages to the south.

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Film:

 

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As one can see in the pics, the philosophy holds true regarding historic places in a community. Glauchau may be considered a ghost town with little or no activity, a town with two castles and a well-networked school system educating people from different nationalities, a farming community, and one laden with places of Christianity. However, in my visit, I found out by chance that the town is laden with diamonds in the rough as far as history is concerned. No one (on the outside) knew about Heinrich Carl Hedrich’s contributions until my visit, let alone the bridges with either a vast amount of documented history or a potential of finding some history about them. Sometimes it takes some tours with the bike and a good camera to find out the sides of a community that no one knew about. With Glauchau, there was more to know about the town than before, and when viewing these bridges, perhaps others will be willing to contribute to the history of the community in western Saxony. 🙂

For more on the places visited in Glauchau, there are a couple useful links that are of use:

Map of Glauchau and the Bridges:

Gallery of Photos of the Places in Glauchau, which you can see here: 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1149254905105157.1073741854.100000619742271&type=1&l=61ee592055

 

Glauchau’s Christmas Market courtesy of The Flensburg Files:

https://flensburgerfiles.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/2016-christmas-market-tour-glauchau-saxony/

 

The author would like to thank the City of Glauchau and its office of planning, Ulrich Schleife and the crew at Glauchau-City for their contribution to this tour guide. Without your help, we would not have found out more about the city’s bridges than what I discovered as a photographer and pontist. May God bless you for your help.  🙂

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