Time Running out for Washington Bridge in Missouri

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Photo taken by James Baughn in 2008

Washington, Missouri (USA)- Replacing this unique Missouri River crossing is like the film True Crime. The almost 20-year old film featured a newspaper reporter who uses a half a day to rebuke claims that a person sentenced to death is innocent because of discreptancies. The last second evidence to avert the execution: a locket that was stolen by a killer who shoots the clerk at a convenience store and runs off, while the wrongly accused was using the restroom.

 

With the last beam of the new bridge in place, the clock is starting to tick loudly for the Washington Truss Bridge, which spans the Missouri River at Hwy. 47 in Washington. Built in 1936 by three different bridge builders located in Missouri and Kansas, the Bridge features a multiple-span cantilever through truss with X-frame portals and was built during the time of the Works Progress Administration, a program initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to encourage people to partake in projects in response to the Great Depression. Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works in Leavenworth (Kansas) and two St. Louis Bridge builders- Stupp Brothers as well as  Sverdrup & Parcel Company were responsible for designing and constructing the 2,500-foot span, which was once one of the key landmarks of Washington.

Unfortunately for this bridge, its days appear to be coming to a close as a new span is currently being built right alongside the old span. While the length of the new structure will be about the same, the new bridge- a multiple span steel girder span- will be wider, with two 12-foot lanes, two 10-foot shoulders and one 10-foot lane for bikes and pedestrians, which will total 54 feet in width- two and a half times the width of the current bridge. After two years, the last beam was put into place on 12 June and work is now underway to pour the concrete. City officials expect the new bridge to be open by December 1, pending on weather. The truss spans will be imploded at the beginning of 2019. Talks of saving the truss bridge was getting around, however, unless a petition drive is started to save the bridge for recreational use, Franklin County will be down to four through truss bridges that carry traffic, one of which has been relocated and restored. Yet  two of them  are scheduled to come down within the next five years.

Franklin County once had a wide array of through truss bridges. In fact, during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2011, there were at least a dozen bridges of its kind left in service. With the Washington Bridge coming down, we may not have any bridges left to visit and photograph, a sign of the times for many who are disinterested in the history of America and its infrastructure. It doesn’t mean that the bridge is lost yet. There is still a chance to save it. But the time is running to start the drive and convince the State that the Bridge should be saved. It’s more of the question of who is willing to be that person who pulled off a stunt similar to what Everett did in True Crime.

An ariel view of the two bridges can be seen here:

 

A summary of the history of the construction of the Washington Truss Bridge via film can be seen here. A rather interesting documentary on how the bridge was built:

 

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Flooding Devastates Bridges in Missouri, Arkansas and Surrounding States

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Photo taken by Dave Walden and Roamin Rich

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ST LOUIS/ GASCONADE- Looking at this picture taken by Roamin Rich, it presents more volumes than words can ever describe. The Great Flash Flood of 2017, which has been occurring since 30 April but the worst of it was during the date between then and 3 May,  can be compared to the one from 2008 in the Midwest in terms of its massive flow of water and the destruction that was left behind. Hundreds of houses and businesses, many of them more than 80 years old and considered historic, were washed away, and with that the livelihoods of families and business owners.

Many roads were washed away, however, as you can see in the Route 66 Bridge at Gasconade, closed to traffic since 2015, the undermining of asphalt uncovered the original concrete roadway that was laid there when the highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles via Tulsa was designated and built in 1926. This leads to the question of whether to uncover the rest of the roadway and restore the concrete or pave it over. This is important because the debate is heating up regarding ownership and planned restoration of the structure and the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to construct a new bridge alongside the two-span truss bridge and defer ownership to a party willing to repurpose it for recreational use. But that is another story (click here for more about this bridge).

But the Gasconade Bridge also represents several bridges that were negatively affected by the floods. Several structures in Missouri alone have been destroyed- not just historic bridges but also modern bridges built in the 1970s and 80s, thus making them just as vulnerable to catastrophes like this as their predecessors.  James Baughn has compiled a list of bridges affected by the flooding for the Bridgehunter.com website (which you can click here for more details). The Chronicles will summarize the top five that are affected besides the Gasconade Bridge, whose repair work will obviously will be needed in order to make it passable again. We will keep you informed on the latest in Missouri, as clean-up efforts are underway.

 

The Author’s Top Five:

Bruns Bridge- Located over the Meramec River south of Moselle in Franklin County, this 1888 structure was the product of the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, where they fabricated the steel and one of Zenas’ sons, George, whose bridge company was located in Des Moines, oversaw the construction of the pinned connected Pratt through truss with X-frame portal bracings. The 193-foot span was knocked off its foundations and rushing waters slammed it into its replacement span, turning it into twisted metal. A video of the disaster describes it in details. With Franklin County eager on demolishing the remaining truss bridges in the county because of liability issues, one cannot expect this bridge to be restored unless it is relocated out of state, which is currently being sought in Winneshiek County, Iowa after the collapse of the Gilliece Bridge because of an overweight truck.

James Bridge- Ozark County faces at least 20 bridges that either have approach spans wiped out, severely damaged by flooding, both or completely destroyed. The James Bridge over the North Fork White River at Highway PP represents the last variant but in a spectacular fashion. The 1958 bridge, consisting of two polygonal Warren spans with riveted connections that were built by J.W. Githens, was flipped over by rushing waters, crushing the trusses under the weight of its own decking. Originally slated for replacement, this disaster will surely expedite the process as the highway is heavily traveled. But motorists will have to wait a few months before a crossing can be built.

Irwin C. Cudworth Memorial Bridge- Also known as the Hammond Bridge, this North White River Crossing at Highway CC represents a bridge type that is modern on one hand but is still not safe from the floodwaters. The 1975 steel stringer span was wiped out by floodwaters, leaving just the piers and abutments in tact. Despite plans for rebuilding the bridge, one will really need to examine what type of bridge to be built and how high it should be built. Regardless of material and type, no modern bridge is safe from mother nature. This bridge is the eighth modern bridge built after 1975 that has been destroyed since 2012. This includes the infamous interstate bridge collapse in Atlanta, which happened on 30 March, which was caused by a fire. That bridge, which carries Interstate 85, is being rebuilt and should reopen later this summer.

Devil’s Elbow Bridge- Another US 66 Bridge located over Big Piney River in Pulaski County, this two-span Parker through truss structure, which was built in 1923, had been restored and reopened to traffic in 2014, yet flooding put the structure partially underwater. Fortunately, because of the success of the restoration, the bridge withstood the pressure from the rushing water, plus debris from the nearby historic hotel and houses that succumbed under the pressure. Plans are underway to rebuild the hotel.

Windsor Harbor Bridge- Located over Rock Creek near the Mississippi River in Kimmswick in Jefferson County, this bridge is of growing concern as floodwaters of the mighty river has inundated the structure, causing concern for undermining the piers and abutments of this through truss bridge. The bridge was built by the Keystone Bridge Company in 1874 at its original location in St. Louis. It was relocated to its present site in 1930 and was converted to pedestrian traffic when it was restored and repurposed in 1985. It’s well noted because of its Keystone columns and ornamental portals, all constructed with wrought and cast iron.

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Newsflyer 24 June, 2013

Saale-Elster Viaduct in Halle (Saale) during its construction. Photo taken in June 2011

 

Longest railroad viaduct in Germany completed; German Autobahn viaduct demolished; I-5 Bridge in Washington state reopened; conception of a truss bridge in Virginia;

A lot of activities went on this weekend involving several bridges in the US and Europe, but the biggest ones happened to occur in Germany, for while several historic bridges have fallen to progress, one made history even though it is not open to traffic just yet. Here are the headlines you need to know.

Saale-Elster Viaduct under construction. Photo taken in June 2011

Saale-Elster Viaduct near Halle (Saale) completed. To be used for rail traffic in 2016.

6.5 kilometers long- equivalent to over four miles.  20-30 meters tall, tall enough to ride over the waters of the Saale and White Elster Rivers even if the fields and roads are underwater. All concrete except for the steel through arch span spanning a 2.1 kilometer approach viaduct connecting Halle (Saale) and the main railline. Those are the features of the new Saale-Elster Viaduct, which was completed this past Saturday at a cost of over 800 million Euros, mostly financed by the federal government and the Die Bahn (German Railways). It is part of the multi-billion Euro project that has been ongoing since 1992 and features not only this bridge, but hundreds of other bridges and tunnels as the new ICE-train route will connect Leipzig and Halle with Nuremberg via Erfurt. When the bridge is open to traffic at the beginning of 2016, all trips between Berlin and Munich as well as Frankfurt (Main) and Dresden will be cut in half as the ICE trains are expected to travel up to 350 kmph (180 mph) to their destinations. The viaduct can be seen along the InterCity railline connecting Halle (Saale) and Jena just after crossing the historic Skopau Bridge spanning the Saale River south of the southernmost city in Saxony-Anhalt. This bridge is not only the longest railroad viaduct in Germany- even surpassing another ICE-Viaduct the Rombachtal Viaduct in eastern Hesse, which still holds the title as the second tallest in Germany. The bridge is the longest vehicular viaduct in Germany, surpassing the Motorway A6 viaduct near Neckarsulm in Baden- Wurttemberg.

 

The Skopau Railroad Bridge serving the IC Jena-Halle line and the Saale River bike trail. From here you can see the newly completed longest viaduct in Germany. Photo taken in June 2011
The Rombachtal Viaduct in eastern Hesse spanning the Rombach and the Eisenach- Kassel railline carrying the Frankfurt-Hamburg ICE line between Fulda and Kassel. Photo taken in May 2010

 

Autobahn Motorway viaduct near Fulda demolished.

Heading 230 kilometers to the southwest to northwestern Bavaria, another viaduct made the headlines but in a different way. Located in Bad Bruckenau in the district of Bad Kissingen, east of Frankfurt (Main), the Sinnetal Viaduct made headlines for the 46 year-old viaduct made of steel and concrete was imploded on Saturday. As many as 8,000 spectators watched in awe as explosives installed in the concrete columns were detonated, and the entire structure fell 100 meters to the ground in four seconds. Built in 1967 to serve the longest and most heavily traveled Autobahn A7 connecting Flensburg and Austria, the 800 meter long bridge became the poster boy of how concrete bridges were treated, with salt and other substances that penetrated the concrete and steel causing rust and erosion, and with heavily travelled vehicles, some of which went over the weight and height limit. Already in 2009, construction had started on its replacement and was completed and opened to traffic at the beginning of this year. The demolition of the old bridge (shown here in this article) should serve as a reminder to state and federal agencies that even modern bridges require maintenance in order for them to last longer than 50 years. There’s no such thing as a bridge requiring no maintenance and lasting 100 years and the Sinnetal Bridge should serve as an example for agencies to rethink the way bridges are being handled by traffic.

The Magodee Bridge (old) being lifted by crane. Photo taken by Donald Sowers, used with permission

Truss bridge replaced with another truss bridge. Old bridge to be reused.

Sometimes it is not necessary to replace truss bridges with concrete bridges, but with another truss bridge. Such trends have been reported in states, like Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia, for they are conventional and the aesthetics match the scenery than a white bland bridge. But for this bridge, the Magodee Bridge in Franklin County, Virginia, it may set a new trend for other historic bridges receiving new life. The 1929 Warren pony truss was replaced recently with- another Warren pony truss! The length is almost identical and both have riveted connections! The difference? The new pony truss bridge is now used for vehicular traffic, while the old pony truss span, now located behind the old mill, as seen in the pics courtesy of Donald Sowers, will receive new life as a pedestrian bridge located only a few hundred meters from the existing structure! Wouldn’t you like to have an old bridge and a new nearly identical span located not far from each other being used as a tourist trap? For the owner of the mill and the old bridge, the dream will become a reality. For more information on how to make the reality come true, please contact Mr. Sowers at this e-mail address: desowers@centurylink.net.

The new Magodee Bridge with the old span behind the mill. Photo taken by Donald Sowers, used with permission

I-5 Washington Bridge reopens but on restrictions

Nearly a month after the spectactular collapse of the Skagit River Interstate 5 Bridge in Washington state, the collapsed portion of the bridge was rebuilt, using Bailey trusses, and the bridge was reopened to traffic on Friday. But there are several exceptions: No oversized trucks and vehicles requiring special permits will be allowed to use the bridge and will be forced to take the detours that have been used since the collapse. The speed limit has been reduced to 40 mph instead of 60 as enforced before the accident. And the spans are only temporary as the state and federal governments are planning a more permanent crossing, although it is unclear whether the temporary span will be rebuilt as a permanent span or if the entire bridge itself, built in 1956 featuring a Warren through truss design, will be demolished in favor of a newer and even wider bridge. The Chronicles will keep you up to date on the developments regarding the bridge.

29 new bridges in 19 kilometers along the German Autobahn 9!

Built in 1936, the German Autobahn Motorway 9, connecting Berlin and Munich is known as the oldest freeway in Germany, and one of the oldest freeways in the world with many historic markers, including the oldest motorway inn Rodatal in Thuringia, the Vockeroda Bridge and neon marker in Saxony-Anhalt, the Hirschberg Restaurant, one of only two located over the motorway in Germany, and the Bridge of German Unity located at the Bavaria-Thuringia border which also served as the border crossing between East and West Germany. Since 1990 the 530 kilometer (330 mile) route was expanded from four lanes with no emergency lanes to six lanes with emergency lanes to provide safety and efficiency along the highway. This includes the replacement of bridges and overpasses dating as far back as 1936. At the present time, construction is commencing on the last bottleneck between Triptis in Thuringia and the Bavarian border- a span of 20 kilometers. With that, the last of the 1936 bridges and overpassees are coming down for they no longer are able to accomodate the increase in traffic. This includes 18 overpasses and the expansion of the border bridge, built in 1966 replacing the 1936 structure that was destroyed in World War II. Overall, there will be 29 new bridges with modern but attractive appearances when the project is finished in 2014. This includes the railroad bridge connecting the rail line between Schleiz and Ziegenrück on the Saale River. Out of service since 1990, there is hope that funding is available to build a new bridge and connect the two villages by train. At the moment, a dandyhorse rail service is being used by tourists, but once the railroad overpass is completed and the line reopened, the area will become a magnet for tourists again.

Bridgehunter Chronicles Update 30 November 2012

Waterford Bridge in Dakota County, Minnesota. Photo taken in August 2011

As the month of November comes to an end, so will be the month where all kinds of crazy events that has happened, which has to do with historic bridges and ways to preserve or destroy them. Apart from the most heinous decision not to consider a bowstring arch bridge in Nebraska a historic structure- which effectively cleared the last hurdle to tear down the pedestrian bridge which has been sitting abandoned, there are some other notables that are worth putting down here in the Chronicles’ News Flyer, along with a pair of good news and some mystery bridge items which have come to light. 

Without further ado, let us start off with the fishy part:

Vandals get the best of Ghost Bridge in Alabama:

Spanning Cypress Creek in Lauderdale County, Alabama this bridge is one of the most haunted historic bridges in the country as it was the scene of four murders and several lynchings in the past, and people can still see apparitions and strange lights when crossing the structure. Yet the 1912 Pratt through truss bridge and its history is scheduled to come down soon, as vandals have used the bridge for gatherings, leaving garbage at the scene and using the bridge decking for firewood. Despite it being considered historic by the state historical society, the county commission may have the final say in this matter because of liability issues……

Enochs Knob Bridge to come down in December

Like the Ghost Bridge in Alabama, the Franklin County, Missouri structure, featuring a Parker through truss bridge and built in 1908 was the scene of two murders, but several ghostly encounters, such as green dogs, trolls, ghosts of people killing themselves and others, and other abnormalities. While the Ghost Bridge received attention because of its dire state thanks to the vandals, this bridge was the struggle of many attempts to save as a historical marker, but unfortunately to no avail. Construction commenced on its replacement this summer, and the bridge will be removed as soon as the new bridge opens next month. However, as the bridge is still available for purchase through the local contractor, according to recent correspondence, there is a chance that the truss bridge may get a new lease on life, if one is willing to handle its history. More information about this opportunity can be found through this contact detail:

E-mail: skilian@kruppconstructioninc.com

 

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles wrote a piece on this bridge, which can be viewed here.

 

Des Moines Railroad Bridge coming down in pieces

In connection with the most recent article on the collapse of two bridges and the removal of one, here is some unfortunate news on one of the bridges profiled in the article, the Chicago and Great Western Bridge over the Des Moines River in Des Moines.  Due to flooding issues that has plagued the capital of Iowa in recent years (including the 2008 floods), the city decided to take action to raise the dikes along the river in down town, but at the expense of the four-span through truss bridge.  This is perhaps the most logical decision given the dire state the bridge was in. According to a recent visit by John Marvig, parts of the flooring was missing due to vandalism and flooding. Bridge parts rusted and corroded to a point where new parts would be needed. And even worse, the piers on the western side of the river were crumbling at an alarming rate, setting up the stage of parts of the bridge to collapse under its own weight.  Since its abandonment in 2001, there had been plans to convert it into a bike trail, but was scrapped because of its condition and flooding issues. Demolition, consisting of removing the flooring and bringing down the truss spans individually using tow cables, commenced at the beginning of the month, and the removal should be completed by June 2013.  Another through truss bridge, the Red Bridge, which was recently converted into a bike trail, will be raised four feet with new approaches being added. The fate of the other five bridges in the business district is unknown at the moment.

Red Bridge in Des Moines: Unlike the CGW Bridge, this bridge will be raised four feet to allow for more flow of water. Photo taken in August 2011

 

Mulberry Creek Bridge in Kansas considered historic and should be saved; county engineer and commissioners cowing over the results

The Mulberry Creek Bridge in Ford County, Kansas features two of the original six spans of pin-connected Pratt through trusses that had originally spanned the Arkansas River in Dodge City from the time of its original construction in 1906 until its relocation in 1959. It had served a private road until a broken pin was discovered in May 2012, closing the bridge indefinitely. A month later, the county voted unanimously to tear the bridge down and replace it with a culvert. Two months later, the bridge came to the Chronicles’ attention and that of Workin Bridges and the Kansas State Historical Society. Three days ago, the Kansas Historical Society considered the bridge historic and recommended that the bridge be repaired and reopened to traffic, based on historical findings and the thorough investigation by Julie Bowers and crew at Workin Bridges. A clear victory for a potential owner, Wayne Keller, who lives next to the bridge and uses it regularly. Yet the county commissioners are not backing down on their plan as they have ordered a full inspection of the bridge to determine what other issues the structure has that could justify its demise. Many have considered them to be spoiled sports, not willing to give the bridge to Keller to own. A tiny repair before changing ownership can save thousands of tax payer dollars. Yet the ability to do the math seems to be nonexistent. More information to follow.

The bridge is up for nomination for the Ammann Award for best photo. More will come soon. The Chronicles has an article on the bridge, which can be found here.

Cascade Bridge’s Future in Limbo

Located in Burlington, Iowa and built in 1896 to commemorate the state’s 50th anniversary of its statehood, the Cascade Bridge is the only bridge in Iowa that features the Baltimore deck truss span with no steel approaches- that honor goes to the Kate Shelley Bridge in Boone County. It was closed in 2008 due to structural concerns, but despite being listed on the National Register, an engineering report by a consulting firm in September revealed that the bridge is not safe and should be torn down. Yet the bidding process still continues as some parties are begging to differ, given the fact that the firm only visited the bridge once during its inspection and used photos provided by the city. The bridge’s fate now lies in the hands of the SHPO in Ames and up until now, no decision on its future has been made. A blessing or a curse?

Oblique view of the Cascade Bridge in Burlington. Photo taken by Quinn Phelan in 2009

Despite the ugly sides of the historic bridge preservation story, we do have some bright sides for a couple of bridges that are worth noting:

Gilliecie Bridge in Winneshiek County. Photo taken in October 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gilliece Bridge on the move?

Located over the Upper Iowa River on Cattle Creek Road in Winneshiek County, Iowa, the Gilliece Bridge (which also goes by the names of Murtha and Daley) is one of only two bowstring through arches left in the county, and one of only three left that was constructed by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, if one counts the queenpost portion of the Upper Bluffton Bridge that was spared demolition earlier this year. This is despite the fact that Wrought Iron Bridge constructed over two dozen bridges in the county between 1870 and 1890. The 1874 bridge sustained damage to its overhead bracing over the years, yet despite the plans to replace the bridge next year, it seems that this bridge is destined for a golf course in Mitchell County. If all repairs are made and the agreement is made, it will be placed over water at Sunny Brae in the next year or so, to be made available for golfers and visitors alike. More information will follow. The Chronicles is working on a piece on Winneshiek County’s bridges and will have it available very soon.

Waterford Iron Bridge gets a check-up; restoration on the horizon

A contract was let to Workin Bridges to look at options for restoring the bridge. Built in 1909 by the Hennepin Bridge Company in Minneapolis, this 140 foot long Camelback through truss bridge is scheduled to be restored and incorporated into a bike trail network along the Canon River, with work expected to start next year. The question that is on the minds of many involved is how to restore it. New foundations, removal of pack rust, fixing truss beams and repainting are needed, but the total cost is unclear. The investigation has started and more will be revealed once the check-up is finished. The fortunate part is the Waterford Bridge is coming off two victories in the funding part, winning the American Express Prize and the Bronze Medal (and $95,000) in the Partner’s for Preservation Award last year, in connection with additional support from public and private sectors, something that is rare in the world of historic bridge preservation. But once the restoration is completed, it will be worth more in its own value than money can ever offer.

More information on the bridge can be found here. Please note, the photos taken by the author can be found here. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest.

And lastly, we have some news out on a pair of mystery bridges that are worth noting:

Pearson and US 101 Bridges related?

As mentioned earlier this year in many bridge articles, Harrison County, Iowa is one of a few counties in the state that imported many bridges from outside the state, including some high quality aesthetic bridges, such as the (now extant) Orr Bridge, the US 101 Bridges from California, and the Pearson Bridge, all of which can be seen here:

Orr Bridge

US 101 Bridges

Pearson Bridge

Some information about two of the mystery bridges came to light thanks to information from one of the locals. The Pearson Bridge, which spanned Soldier River on 170th Trail near Loess Hills, was originally constructed at the site of the East Kelley Lane Bridge near Mondamin, according to Craig Guttau. The Pearson Bridge was relocated to the present site in the 1950s, when one of the spans of the US 101 Bridge replaced it for reasons of structural soundness, especially when heavier farm equipment needed to cross the bridge. Even more interesting is the fact that a weight limit was imposed on the East Kelley Lane Bridge right from the beginning due to a missing beam from the US 101 span, which was replaced with a makeshift beam that was not as durable as the original one.  The East Kelley Lane Bridge is set to be replaced next year, unless the fiscal cliff issue in Washington delays the project indefinitely. The Pearson Bridge has long since been removed after a heavy vehicle tried crossing the bridge, and fell through the deck. While it has been a few years since the mishap, the county and state made haste in condemning the structure and tearing it down, while at the same time, posted even stricter sanctions on the rest of the bridges to ensure that the mishap never repeats itself. Hence the phrase “Obey the weight limit or this bridge will be closed!”

This leads to the request for more information on the origin of the Pearson Bridge- whether it was built in Harrison County or imported from outside even earlier than 1950. The other question is when and how did the accident on the bridge happened, which led to the bridge’s unfortunate downfall…..

The Harrison County bridges are being considered for the Ammann Awards in the category of Mystery Bridge, although it is unknown whether they will be nominated individually or as a group of bridges.

Horn’s Ferry Bridge revealed (at least partially):

In the last few months, some readers and locals have been contributing information and photos pertaining to the Horn’s Ferry Bridge in Marion County, Iowa and its unfortunate collapse 20 years ago. Here are some points to consider: The bridge was built twice: First time in 1881 and when erosion was undermining the east end of the bridge, two additional spans were built in 1929. Both by local contractors based in Des Moines. The original 1881 spans were built on stone piers supported by walnut pilings. According to many residents, the walnut pilings rotted away, causing the stone piers to crack and spall, contributing to the bridge’s closing in 1982 and its eventual collapse in 1991. The Camelback main span resembles a span that was located upstream, west of Red Rock Dam. Yet that bridge was removed when the Red Rock Dam was built in the 1960s. Here is a pic that Daryl Van Zee sent to the Chronicles a few months ago, taken by an unknown photographer and depicting the bridge as it was before its collapse.

Horn’s Ferry Bridge taken in the 1980s by an unknown photographer. Submitted by Daryl Van Zee.

 

Author’s notes:

1. Voting will begin for the Ammann Awards beginning 3 December. A number of entries have come in within the last few days. If you still want to submit, you have until 3 December to do so.

 

2. There will be some catching up with regards to the Book of the Month in December, as three books will be profiled, two for the months of October and November and one for December. Stay tuned.

 

 

Rally to Save the Cedar Grove Bridge

Oblique view. All photos in this article are courtesy of Tony Dillon

What does it really take to save a historic bridge? Many groups created to save a precious piece of history have been creative in garnering funding and resources to restore and reopen the structure for recreational purposes. Apart from the traditional fundraising and cooperation between the private and public sectors, some have done silent auctions, marathons, music concerts, bike tours, pie sales and even bridge festivals, the last one of which is common in big cities in the US and places in Europe.

But what about a road rally?  A road rally is basically a tour of the area by a caravan of cars, with a gathering at the end of the rally. One can find that with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which is held every July, or the Elephant Rally in Germany, where it honors the Zuendapp Motorcycle, produced by the Germany army during World War II and is famous for its green color.  In the case of this rally, it deals with a famous bridge in an Indiana county that is a focus of efforts to restore it for recreational use.

Side view of the two spans

The Cedar Grove Bridge, spanning the Whitewater River south of Cedar Grove (located 20 kilometers southeast of Brookville) in Franklin County is a rare gem in southeastern Indiana. Built in 1914 by the Indiana Bridge Company of Muncie, the two-span riveted Camelback truss through truss bridge is one of a handful of bridges left in a state which prides itself on historic bridge preservation. The bridge is 368 feet long with each span being 181 feet; the width is 17 feet. Since the early 1990s, both the bridge and the road (old state highway 1) were a focus of a dispute between the Indiana DOT and Franklin County over who claims one of the two, with the former refusing to fix the bridge before handing it over, as demanded by the latter. The DOT had wanted to remove the bridge and went even as far as applying at the state department of historic preservation, and this despite the growth of tourism in the region.

Enter the group Friends of the Cedar Grove Bridge. For the past 10 months, the organization led by Satolli Galssmeyer, has worked together with both the county and the state in claiming ownership of the bridge, with support from Indiana Landmarks and the Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway Group. According to latest reports, the ownership is appearing to go to the group, which would be a huge advantage for the people of Cedar Grove, Franklin County and the region which prides itself in the numerous historic bridges that exist. The problem comes with funding and resources, which are needed to fix up the bridge so that it can be reopened for recreational purposes. This is when the road rally comes in handy.

Inside the bridge. Note that new decking and new paint may be part of the restoration package

On October 6, the event will come to Franklin County, starting at 10:00 am at Harrison High School in Harrison, Ohio. It will feature 60 miles of back roads, scavenger hunting and fact collecting, which will be a treat for family and friends. The Rally will end at the bridge in Cedar Grove where a large gathering is expected. Cost for entering the rally is $35 per car and team if pre-registered, $45 on the day of the event, when registration is at 9:00 am. The goal of the rally is to raise $100 per team, which would help a great deal for purchasing and restoring one of the finest faces of Cedar Grove.

For more information on the event, please contact Satolli Glassmeyer, using the details below. Should the rally be successful, it will not only be a blessing for the people of Cedar Grove and the region, who have find memories of the bridge and would like to keep it for future use, but it will also be used as a tool for fundraising efforts for other bridges in the US and Europe that are historically significant and culturally valuable but are threatened with demolition if no one wants to claim it and reuse it.

Satolli Glassmeyer:

e-mail: info@scenicroadrallies.com

phone: 812-623-5727

website: www.SCENICROADRALLIES.com
www.SCENICROADTOURS.com

 

Enoch Knob Bridge- a bridge full of mysteries

Photo taken by Molly Hill

There is a saying that was mentioned in an interview about Feng Shui and architecture in China, which states “If a person does not believe in ancient philosophies, it does not necessarily mean that it exists.” It is hard to believe the notion that no spirits and ghosts exist in any of the buildings and bridges in general. However, if there was such a notion, then there would not be any stories by people who have encountered them in the first place.  There have been many reports of ghosts and evil spirits lurking about in haunted buildings, cemeteries and even bridges.  Even if no accounts were recorded, some of the bridges, given its location in deep forests and houses that are run down and mostly uninhabited, are considered haunted in itself and should be approached with care. I myself have seen many haunted bridges in my lifetime, but examples will be kept aside for another time, except for one……

The Enoch’s Knob Bridge in Franklin County, Missouri is perhaps one of the most haunted historic bridges ever visited, regardless if you visit it in the day time or at night. Looking at the bridge from the outside, it is plainly a typical Parker through truss bridge with pin connections, A-frame portal bracings and a length of 185 feet long. The only special feature was the fact that it was constructed in 1908 by the Missouri Bridge and Iron Company in St. Louis.  Yet despite the factual information that is accessible via bridge websites, when looking at where the bridge is located- in a remote setting on a gravel road many miles from a nearby highway or town in a thick forest covering Boeuf Creek- it gives a person an eery feeling when approaching and crossing this structure.

In fact, there are many stories that were told of encounters with ghost dogs, demon dogs with green eyes and three legs, trolls in the forest, (ghosts of) teens hanging themselves, people committing suicide by jumping off the bridge, and spirits disabling electronic devices and even automobiles when on the bridge. In one case, a sheriff’s deputy driving over the bridge noticed as he approached the span that the engine of the car and all electronic devices except the radio shut down, allowing the car to coast across the structure before it restarted after getting off. Spooked by this experience, he never approached the bridge again except for emergency calls.

There were two confirmed reports of deaths which contributed to the bridge being haunted. The first involved Patrick Kinneson, who fell 37 feet to his death while at a party on the evening of the 23rd of August, 1987. He was trying to help a friend, whose car was stuck in the mud at a corn field and had climbed the girders of the bridge when he fell without notice. His body was found later that night and the death was ruled accidental. The other death involved Stephen Cooksey, who sustained multiple shots during a drug transaction and managed to pull himself under his vehicle, only for the people responsible for the shooting to burn his car and the body with it. The incident happened at a parking lot next to the bridge on 9 May 2005. Yet many accounts involving close encounters with the paranormal at the bridge revealed that the spirits that exist at the bridge are more in connection with the first tragedy, although research has revealed lynchings that took place in the late 1800s at the site prior to the erection of the truss structure.

Upon my visit to the bridge in August 2011 as part of the Historic Bridge weekend in Missouri, my first impression when approaching the bridge was that it did present an eery sensation. The bridge had been closed to traffic for structural concerns in late 2010 and was barricaded a mile away from the bridge itself, making a trek a rather long one. With each step closer to the bridge it became spookier and rather unsafe. While the trip was in the afternoon sunlight with little breeze, the encounter with the bridge reminded me of a trip to the former railroad bridge spanning the Rock River west of Rock Valley, Iowa in March 1998, even though it had long since been incorporated into a bike trail. Once approaching the bridge, everything was silent as if it was in the film “The Langoleers.” Had it not been for the company of Julie Bowers, who was also looking at the bridge and making estimates for a group wanting to save the bridge, I would have witnessed a deathly silence that can only be related to an evil spirit lurking about day and night. After all, the devil never sleeps at the bridge and one should never walk to the bridge alone unless with some company.  While the cameras of the investigators, ghost hunters, and even the curious ones were bewitched with each visit, during my visit, and that of the fellow pontists who visited the bridge that day, there were no problems, and as you can see in the pics at the end of the article, the bridge and its scenery and unusual serenity warranted numerous pics from various angles.

Despite all this, the days of the bridge are more or less numbered. Plans have been approved recently to bring down the bridge, taking with it all the stories and history associated with the structure. A bland concrete slap bridge will take its place. Efforts were made back in 2011 to save the bridge, and there was even a social network bearing the name, which garnered support. Yet despite all this, it did not sway the local government officials, who wanted the devil’s bridge gone for good while discouraging teens from partying at the site. Also, according to anonymous sources, the interest in preserving the bridge was low, compared to other bridges that have received more attention, like the Riverside Bridge in Ozark or the Long Shoals in Bourbon County, Kansas. Yet perhaps before the demolition, the bridge will have its last laugh, as demolition crews may experience technical failures in the machines that will be in place to dismantle the structure. Many workers may end up walking off the job, spooked by the spirits that still haunt the bridge. Sometimes, demolishing historic structures can raise the spirits that curse the machines and the workers wanting to destroy history. This happened to a demolition crew tearing down the former Middle School building in Jackson, Minnesota in January 2011, as one of the excavators was knocked over on its side for unknown reasons. Speculation was that the spirits that walked the halls of the school (which was for a time part of the high school complex before the new building was open in 1982).  In either case, the bridge replacement will not affect the stories and spirits that will remain at the site, even after the truss bridge is gone.It is just that the bridge will not go down without a fight, be it by preservationists or by the spirits that still occupy the structure and will until its ultimate end and beyond.

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It is unknown whether the demolition process has begun or not. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the Enochs Knob Bridge. In the meantime, enjoy the photos and video clip of the bridge, both were taken by the author in August 2011:

Video of the Enochs Knob Bridge with comments by the author. (Click here!)

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Source: Terry, Dan. “Beyond the Shadows: Exploring the Ghosts of Franklin County.” Stanton, MO: Missouri Kid Press, 2007

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Photos of the Bridge can be found via flickr by clicking here.

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Author’s Note: The truss bridge was torn down in 2013, two years after my visit. Still the area is haunted as there have been stories of encounters near the new structure

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All photos were taken in 2011 except for the graphic which is courtesy of Molly Hill.