Mystery Bridge Nr. 177: The Devil’s Bridge (Teufelsbrücke) in Flensburg

Our tour around Flensburg, Germany this summer uncovered several unknown artefacts that we had not seen during our previous trips. One of the areas that is considered a diamond in the rough is the valley of the Lautrupsbach. This creek is found in the eastern part of the city and flows along Nordstrasse until it empties into the Flensburg Fjord at the junction with Ballastbrücke, where four multiple-story modern buildings are located.  There are at least six bridges along this creek plus a high waterfall where the creek makes a 20+ meter drop before it crosses the aforementioned main streets.

While the waterfall will be mentioned later on in The Flensburg Files, this mystery bridge article is about the Devil’s Bridge. It crosses Nordstrasse and Lautrupsbach, carrying Bismarckstrasse near the School of Theater (Theaterschule Flensburg). When driving on Nordstrasse, one could perceive it is a modern bridge with little or no value.

Hiking up the trail, we found that we were dead wrong.  Going up the trail, find that an arch bridge exists at Bismarckstrasse, crossing the trail and the creek right next to it. And while it is difficult to see it because of the covering of trees and other vegetation, the arch is quite decorated.  I bought a couple books at a bookstore in Kappeln, which talked about the rail service in Flensburg and the surrounding area, and found that it was one long bridge crossing more than just a creek, as you can see in my rough sketch of the bridge:

Many of you are wondering how this came to be. As Piggeldy and Frederick would say: “Nicht leichter als das.” (Not easier than this in German):

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The History of the Railroads in Flensburg in Short and Simple Terms:

To understand this bridge, we have to understand Flensburg’s railroad system, which is best compared to a bowl of spaghetti- well-networked but sometimes quite chaotic!

Flensburg is a border-city, located just south of Denmark and therefore all trains from Germany and the east (Holstein and Angeln) and all trains from Denmark and the North Sea region meet in Flensburg. But when the railroad was introduced in 1854, there were two termini but in one specific location: The Hafenspitze at Flensburg Fjord.  Specifically, from 1854 until the present-day international railway station was built in 1927, Flensburg had two railway stations- one on each side of the Fjord. On the western side where the historic old town was located, there was the terminus for all trains heading to the north and west-specifically to Husum and  Niebüll on the German side as well as Tonder, Fredericia and Kolding on the Danish side. It started with the English Bridge, a wooden bridge that connected the old town with the loading dock in the harbor that was built in 1854. It was short-lived for salt water undermined the piers and pilings and it was therefore removed in 1881. While a make-shift train stop built at that time served as a stop-gap, a real train station, with Victorian-style architecture opened to service in 1883. Johannes Otzen was the designer.

On the eastern end of the Fjord was another train station, and it was the terminus for a regular train route to Kiel as well as two narrow-gauge train routes- one to Satrup and Hörup and another to Glücksburg and Kappeln. When the present-day railroad station at Mühlendamm and Schleswiger Strasse opened in 1927, services started to cease operations for passenger services, beginning with the regular train services to Kiel, the North Sea region and Denmark. The narrow gauge routes were phased out so that by 1953, there were no more trains running these routes. At the same time, the two stations on each side of the Hafenspitze were removed and the railroad tracks were for the most part abandoned.  The Devil’s Bridge crossed these tracks coming from the eastern station along the Fjord.

The History of the Devil’s Bridge:

After introducing the history of the railroads in Flensburg, we will come back to this bridge. The Devil’s Bridge features not only one but two crossings, as you can see in the diagram above. The arch section crossed the Kiel railroad line until it was removed in 1928. Now it’s a trail that runs along the Lautrupsbach. The arch section is closed spandrel and its portals are decorated. It looks like a tunnel because it is partially buried with soil and vegetation. Therefore one can technically call it a tunnel.  It was used as a shelter during the air raids in World War II, although Flensburg escaped with only minor damage.

Close-up of one of the ornamental pegs on the arch portion of the bridge.

 The other section of the bridge was a two-span concrete beam bridge that spanned the two narrow-gauge raillines to Kappeln and Satrup.  The bridge was known to be haunted because of its spooky setting, especially at night. Even the horses would not dare pass through the bridge.  The entire structure was built in 1912 and it was for the purpose of connecting Flensburg with its suburb of Mürwik and further on to Glücksburg. Due to the expansion of housing and with that, the increase in the volume of traffic, the section of the bridge where the two narrow-gauge trains had existed was torn down and replaced with a modern, one-span beam structure, which was higher than the previous span. This happened in 1960.  Seven years before that, the tracks involved were removed and replaced with the present-day Nordstrasse which connects the harbor with the Osttangente, the bypass that runs east and south of Flensburg. There is no information on who designed and built the Devil’s Bridge, especially the original design of 1912.  Yet another mystery behind the bridge has to do with another crossing that is up the hill behind the Devil’s Bridge.

The arch-like abutment from the Kappeln-crossing

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Crossing Bridges

About 150 meters away from the Devil’s Bridge are the abutments of yet another bridge or two. On both sides of the Lautrupsbach, one can see the arch-like abutments that stick out of the ground, thus confirming that a bridge existed. Even the maps and sources confirm this as the narrow-gauge line crosses both the creek as well as the Kiel rail line, enroute to Kappeln. When the line was abandoned by 1953, both the tracks as well as the bridge were removed in their entirety as they were rendered useless and a hazard for hikers. There is no information nor photos of what the structure looked like, let alone when the structure was built and by whom. But judging by the fact that the abutments are diagonal from one another, one has to confirm that the bridge had a skewed setting, thus leading to three types that can be built with skewed portal entrances: stone arch (rare to find but possible), steel girder (likely after 1900) and truss (very likely regardless of whether the trusses are deck, pony or through). Because the railroad opened in 1881 and steel was becoming a popular and cheap commodity, my hunches are that the truss bridge was built at that spot and the arches were used as abutments to support the span.

The arched portion of the abutment opposite the Lautrupsbach and trail but ca. 30-40 meters away from the abutment on the trail side.

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Fazit- What are we looking for?

To summarize, the Devil’s Bridge features two bridges crossing three rail lines and Lautrupsbach, carrying Bismarckstrasse. The rail lines have since been replaced with a trail and Nordstrasse. Only one half of the 1912 bridge (the tunnel) still exists; the other half was replaced in 1960. We’re looking for the builders behind this complex, monstrous structure that has since been buried in time by cars and vegetation. Behind the Devil’s Bridge are the remains of a railroad bridge that once crossed the Kiel line, which ran through the tunnel portion of the Devil’s Bridge. We have no information on the bridge’s appearance, let alone who built the bridge and when it was built. Had it been built in 1881, it’s a truss bridge. If it’s 1900, then a girder. 

As I would like to add both in the book on Schleswig-Holstein’s bridges, if you have any information that may be useful, photos included, feel free to contact me, using the contract details enclosed here. Information on the book project can also be found in the Chronicles. Click here for details and feel free to contribute. Your help would be much appreciated. Spread the word.

And with that, we have another bridge along the Lautrupsbach that needs our attention. With that we move on to the next page. Until then, happy bridgehunting, folks. 🙂

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Interview with Greg Jackson Part II: The Brooklyn Bridge, the Roebling Family and Everything In Between.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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After talking about the podcast History that Doesn’t Suck (click here if you haven’t read the interview yet), we’re going to move on with the interview with Prof. Jackson about his masterpiece on the Brooklyn Bridge and the family that left their mark on its construction, from the planning to the realization of the historic landmark. Born in Mühlhausen in the German state of Thuringia, John Roebling had already established a reputation for his perfectionism and his inventions. He had already invented the wire suspension bridge and prior to building the bridge in Brooklyn, he had already left his mark with the Cincinnati-Covington Suspension Bridge as the longest of its kind in the world and the suspension bridge at Niagara Falls as the first suspension bridge with double-decking. Little did he realize that designing the Brooklyn Bridge was easy, building it presented more obstacles than necessary and after he died in 1870, the responsibility fell to his son, Washington and his wife Emily, who would complete the job even though the bridge opened in 1883.

This is just a summary. Yet the juiciest details would come in the form of a podcast Jackson created in June of 2021. It was then followed by a two-part interview with Dave Arnold and Kristen Bennett of Infrastructure Junkies in October. Both of these can be found in part 2 of the interview I did with Prof. Jackson. The first will start with the actual podcast which is enclosed below. It will then be followed by my questions and lastly, the two-part series by Infrastructure Junkies.

We hope you enjoy the show and will get an appreciation of how people come together to build a bridge that not only crosses a river but a landmark that helped America be what it is today. 🙂

And so, without further ado, here we go:

After listening to his podcast, here are the questions I had for him and his responses:

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1.      What got you interested in the topic on the bridge and with that, the Roebling family?

Well, the Gilded Age is often thought of as kind of a “downer” in US history. I wanted to tell some stories that highlighted the good in the era too. Among those, in my mind, are the magnificent construction projects undertaken in the time. I’d call the Brooklyn Bridge one of the most outstanding among those.

It also has such a compelling story in terms of its construction. It is Roebling family’s multi-generational work! The blood and tears in that thing (literally) makes it a compelling tale.

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2.      Have you visited any of the Roebling sites, including bridges, historic residences, and even the birthplaces including John’s in Mühlhausen, Germany?

Alas, I’ve only been to the Brooklyn Bridge. But you can bet I walked it, both ways, slowly, admiring every Roebling cable spanning the bridge and running into the anchors. 

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3.      Did you have an opportunity to read the novel by David McCullough on the Brooklyn Bridge or any of the works about the bridge?

I have read David McCullough’s most excellent history of the Bridge. In researching the episode, I also read Roebling biographies, histories of Gilded Age New York, Boss Tweed, looks at maps, plans, etc. Every episode is rigorously researched. It isn’t uncommon for me to have dozens of primary and secondary sources. If you visit my website you can see the sources I used in that episode (HTDSpodcast.com).

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4.       You mentioned a lot about the engineer John Roebling and his character in your podcast. What are two things that you know about him that many of us don’t know about him?

Two things most people probably don’t know about John Roebling: 1) he loved his family. He worked so hard and was such a serious person, I think this is lost sometimes. But under that tough skin was a loving heart, even if he failed to show it as often as he should’ve. 2) John wasn’t just an engineer, he was an inventor. Though I might say a successful engineer is and must be an inventor. I’m slow to speak to what engineers should do when I’m not one, but as a historian who’s studied a lot of engineers and their incredible works, I’ve noted that the greats don’t just build; they build things others said couldn’t be done: like the Brooklyn Bridge. Generations of Americans said it couldn’t be done. John never asked “if” a thing could be done. He just started figuring out the “how” on his own.

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5.    When John died from tetanus as a result of his foot injury, his son Washington took over. If you were to compare him with his father, what are some differences you can find between them in terms of their character, how they handled building the bridge, etc. ?

Both were brilliant men and excellent engineers. John was more stern in his demeanor. Washington displayed more emotional intelligence than his father.

Yet, John was the genius than Washington wasn’t. And I don’t mean that as an insult, I think “Washy” would agree with me. He was an excellent engineer, but if we reserve “genius” for the top 1%, the out-of-the-box thinkers, John is the one of the two who hits that mark.

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6.  Then there’s Washington’s wife, Emily. She basically took over when he fell ill and became bed-ridden. What role did she play in helping finish the bridge project?

Oh, Emily is a hero! She taught herself engineering so she could be the relay between her bed-ridden husband and the ground. She was the co-Chief Engineer in my book. 

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7.  There are some in the history community that say that Emily should have been credited for building the bridge, but in the end, Washington’s name was mentioned. Why was she fully left out and should there be something to honor her for she was Washington’s eyes and guidance?

Frankly, I think it’s a damn shame that the plaques on the Brooklyn Bridge listing the big shots who built it and made it happen do not list her. I think it should be updated.

The reason why she got left off … I have no sources that I’ve seen in which the decision makers explain their rationale. As a historian, I want those documents first and foremost. In their absence, however, I would say it is fair to speculate the reason comes down to US attitudes on gender roles in the 19th century. And I am all for her receiving the proper recognition she deserves in our present.

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8. Since the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, there have been improvements in safety standards regarding bridge building. Can you elaborate further on this?

Thankfully, John Roebling over-engineered it. The bridge was designed to hold far more weight than it was expected to. That’s why it didn’t need much change for the first few decades. But as the population increased and cars became a thing, concrete and steel-reinforced roadway had to be added in the 20th century. The bridge has been renovated (painted, cleaned, etc.) a number of times. Like anything you want to last, it needs care and attention. 

Though perhaps one of the most important things New York has done was simply building other bridges, which cut down on traffic and weight on the bridge each day!

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9. Last year, you did a two-hour podcast on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Roebling family through Infrastructure Junkies. Your original podcast was about an hour. What are some differences between the two podcasts? 

The key difference is that HTDS’s episode was the story of the Brooklyn Bridge told as a single-narrator. I got int the drama of the Roebling family a bit more and the intrigue of New York politics. With Infrastructure Junkies, not only was the story’s telling through a conversation, it was focused very much on the nuts and bolts (literally). Still a good time, just a different flavor.

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10. What was your reaction to winning the 2021 Bridgehunter Awards in the category Best Bridge Media and Genre?

Honored, of course! Thank you again for the acknowledgement. It’s always good to know one’s work is appreciated, and I’ll add that I was particularly proud of that episode. I really enjoyed it. I obsessed over getting the engineering details right. So getting a nod for my telling of the Brooklyn Bridge was great.

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11. Are you planning on doing some further podcasts on American bridges and if so, which ones? 

Likely going to do Golden Gate and Bay Bridges at least. Others … we’ll see!

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12. If you have some advice for people doing podcasts on bridges, what would you give them? 

I would say know your audience. Are you telling the history of bridges or the infrastructure? Not that they are mutually exclusive but figure out what your primary goal is and make sure your product matches your intentions.

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And now the two-part interview about the Brooklyn Bridge done by the crew at Infrastructure Junkies. Each part is approximately 40 minutes.

And before we close it on the series on the Brooklyn Bridge, we have one person to interview because of the book review on David McCullough’s work on the bridge. That will come in the next article. Stay tuned! 🙂

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BHC Newsflyer: 5 February, 2022

De Hef Lift Bridge in Rotterdam: To be dismantled to allow for Jeff Bezos’ Multi-Story Yacht to pass. Source: elm3r, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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To listen to the podcast, click here for Anchor or here for WP version

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Headlines:

Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh taken three weeks before its collapse. Source: Samstein, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh Collapses ahead of Biden Visit

Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/28/us/pittsburgh-bridge-collapse/index.html

WGN Article: Pittsburgh bridge collapses hours before Biden visit about infrastructure — WGN-TV

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/pa/allegheny/bh96087/

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More Viaducts Along the Motorway 45 in the Sauerland Region in Germany will need to be replaced!

Link: https://www1.wdr.de/nachrichten/bruecken-ersetzen-a45-sauerlandlinie-100.html

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Historic De Hef Bridge in Rotterdam to be Dismantled for Jeff Bezos’ Mega-Yacht

Link: https://amp.dw.com/en/netherlands-to-dismantle-historic-bridge-for-jeff-bezos-megayacht/a-60638161

Bridge Info: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Hef

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Poltruded Expansion of Historic Bridge in Torun, Poland

Link: https://www.innovationintextiles.com/construction-architecture/pultruded-expansion-for-historic-bridge/

Bridge Info: https://structurae.net/en/structures/jozef-pilsudski-bridge

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Old Dobbs Ford Bridge in Cleveland before its restoration. Photo by Calvin Snead (bridgehunter.com)

Historic Bridge in Cleveland (Tennessee) Restored and Reopened

Link: https://www.wdef.com/historic-bridge-gets-new-home-at-new-cleveland-greenway/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/tn/bradley/old-dobbs-ford/

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Historic Carrollton Covered Bridge after the arson in 2017. Photo by Jack Schmidt (bridgehunter.com)

Work Starts on Historic Carrolton Covered Bridge in West Virginia

Link: https://www.mybuckhannon.com/work-is-underway-to-restore-historic-carrollton-covered-bridge-in-barbour-county/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/wv/barbour/carrollton-covered/

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Bridge Documentary on the Historic Bridges of Donegal, Ireland

Link: https://www.donegaldaily.com/2022/02/01/secrets-behind-donegal-bridges-unveiled-in-tv-doc/

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The Bridges of Grimma (Saxony), Germany

Poppelmann Bridge at Volkshausplatz and City Center. Photos taken in August 2021

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Located on the River Mulde between Leipzig and Dresden is the city of Grimma. With a population of 28,700 inhabitants, Grimma is geographically located at the junction of the flat lands to the north and the hills and lakes region to the south. The name is of Sorbian origin and means a region that is at or below sea level, surrounded by water. The city has had its share of flooding in its 1000+ year history, but for each disaster it faces, it emerges bigger and better than before. It has survived six floods plus the bombings of the second World War only to become a more attractive community for people to live. Much of Grimma’s architecture today either originates from the Baroque period or mimick’s that because the original was destroyed. Grimma’s city center has many small shops in historic buildings that are over two centuries old. The historic city hall is one of them. The largest building in the city is the St. Augustin, a combination of high school and chuch located along the Mulde. To the south of the city near the dam is the castle, where the Margraves of Meissen and the Electors of Saxony once resided.  Grimma is the largest city along the River Mulde in Saxony and is a major stop for cyclists riding along the Mulde. In terms of land size, it’s the fourth largest in the state of Saxony. And when it comes to bridges, Grimma has a storied history behind two of the city’s most popular attractions.

Eight bridges within a radius of 10 kilometers can be found in Grimma, including the Motorway 14 Bridge and a bridge south of Grimma at Grossboden, all but two spans the River Mulde. Yet the most important of the city’s bridges are the Grimma Suspension Bridge and the Poppelmann Arch Bridge because of its history of being rebuilt after each disaster and also because of their unique designs. These two bridges, plus an arch bridge along a former railroad line, the arch bridge at Grossboden and the Mill Run Bridge will be featured in the Top Five Bridge Pics when visiting Grimma. The other bridges will be mentioned in one way or another in reference to the bridges profiled here in this tour guide.

So without further ado, let’s have a look at the bridges in Grimma and find five bridge reasons to convince you to visit this fine community.

Poppelmann Arch Bridge

Location: Mulde River at Volkhausplatz and Muldenufer

Type: Stone arch bridge with tubular steel arch main span. Five arch spans exist.

Built: 1719 replacing earlier spans dating back to 1292. Rebuilt seven times, the last being in 2012

Length: 143 meters, 7.3 meters wide

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The Poppelmann Bridge has perhaps one of the most storied histories of bridge building not only in Saxony, but on the international front. Its first crossing dates back to the 13th Century. Counting the reconstruction in 2021, it has been rebuilt at least ten times in over 900 years of its existence. It was built and rebuilt using at least five different bridge types: arch bridge, covered bridge, metal truss bridge, suspension bridge and modern beam bridge. It is also considered one of the most ornamental bridges in Saxony, as today’s bridge is covered with ornamental lighting, and has a Baroque-style shield representing Saxony. To go into detail about the bridge would require a separate article but there is a book that was written about this bridge that was published in 2017.  But to give you some facts about this bridge:

The ornamental monument with the seal of Saxony, constructed with the bridge in 1719. Source: Joeb07, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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The bridge in its current form was constructed in 1719 by Mathias Poppelmann. It was the fourth crossing at this location as the previous ones were destroyed either during warfare or flooding. For almost a Centruy before Poppelmann built this bridge, there was no crossing and attempts to garner support had failed. Mr. Poppelmann had left his signature in bridge building in Saxony, which included not only the construction of the Augustus Bridge in Dresden, but also the Poppelmann design, where the covered bridge is the main span and the approach spans are made of red stone arch. Dozens were built in Saxony during his time as bridge engineer, yet sans covered bridge, only two of his examples exist today, here and in Waldheim. The Poppelmann Bridge in his current form had existed for over 170 years with the covered bridge having been rebuilt in 1816, three years after it was destroyed during the war with Napoleon.

In 1894, in response to the increase in traffic, the bridge was rebuilt. The covered bridge was replaced with a Schwedler pony truss span while the arches were strengthened. It was in service until the span was imploded by the fleeing Nazi troops on 15 April, 1945. It was rebuilt with an improvised suspension bridge right after the war, but was replaced with a deck truss bridge two years later. The bridge was extensively rehabbed in 1972 which included a permanent deck truss span. It remained in service until 1996 when the bridge was rehabbed again, this time with a concrete deck arch center span. At the same time, a taller span was constructed, located 100 meters north of the structure, which has been serving traffic ever since. The historic bridge was reopened in 1999 but little did the City of Grimma realize that a flood of biblical proportions would cause massive destruction to much of the city and this bridge.

The Poppelmann Bridge after the 2002 Floods. When this was taken in 2009, two additional arches were removed. Source: Joeb07, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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On August 13, 2002, massive floodwaters caused extensive damage to the bridge. The newly built center span was dislodged from the bridge and was washed away. The two arches that had supported the main span was damaged to the point that they were not salvageable. The bridge was rebuilt from the bottom up, rebuilding the arches that could be saved and removing the ones that were not. A new center span, featuring a tubular arch design, was chosen as its replacement. On August 12, 2012, after a three-year project, the bridge was reopened to pedestrians and cyclists. It survived the 2013 floods unscathed, while other areas to the north of Grimma was affected the worst.

Today’s Poppelmann Arch Bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists and is conveniently located next to the parking lot that accommodates visitors to the shopping center and sports complex. The Poppelmann Bridge is the best accessory to Grimma’s city center as it presents a backdrop to the historic buildings that exist on the western side of the river, including the St. Augustin and the historic City Hall.

More on the bridge, including historic photos and the like here: http://www.poeppelmannbruecke.de/

Grimma Suspension Bridge

Location: Mulde River at Colditzer Weg and Bärenburg Castle

Type: All-steel wire suspension bridge

Built: 1924, rebuilt in 1949 and again in 2004

Length: 80 meters

The Grimma Suspension Bridge can be easily accessed by both car as well as through the Mulde Bike Trail as both run along the river. The bridge itself is the longest suspension bridge in Saxony and is one of six suspension bridges along the Mulde/ Zwickau Mulde. The suspension bridge is a photographer’s paradise as it presents a beautiful backdrop from both sides of the river. On the west side of the river is Bärenburg Castle located on the hill. Two eateries and a hotel are located nearby. On the east end is nothing but nature as the city park and forest cover much of the eastern side of the Mulde. The bridge is located 30 meters from the dam and one could find a perfect side view from that area, with or without the dam.  The bridge is unique as the entire structure is all built using steel. The roadway is supported by Warren trusses which even curves around the western entrance. The cables and suspenders are all wired and pin-connected.  The towers have three different portals with a V-laced bracing at the top, followed by vertical beams and lastly an A-frame portal bracing whose bottom endpost extends to the bridge deck. It’s one of the most ornamental of bridges in Saxony, competing with the likes of neighboring Poppelmann Bridge, the Blue Miracle Bridge in Dresden and the Paradiesbrücke upstream in Zwickau.

The bridge has survived a bombing attack before the end of World War II as well as several flooding events, among others, in 1954, 2002 and 2013. It has been rebuilt twice: in 1949 and again after the flood disaster in 2004. Repairs were made in response to the flood damage two years earlier and the bridge reopened again in 2015.  Located near the dam, a memorial was erected in 2006 that was dedicated to the Great Flood in 2002 with people who risked their lives to save many others, some of which were profiled in newspapers and magazines.

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Source: Falk2, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Rabenstein Railroad Bridge (now extant)

Location: River Mulde south of the Grimma Suspension Bridge at the Rabenstein Observation Point

Type: Metal Through Truss Bridge

Built: 1876 (first crossing); replaced in 1931; destroyed in 1945; removed afterwards

When biking south along the Mulde bike trail, one will find  piers and abutments of a bridge that once existed. The Rabenstein Bridge was built as part of the construction of a rail line that connected Grimma with Grossboden. The original railroad station was located adjacent to the market square. The original span, built in 1876, featured a two-span Schwedler through truss with skewed portal bracings. How the portals looked like remains unclear, but post card photos reveal how the end posts are skewed at the piers.

Source: Brück & Sohn Kunstverlag Meißen, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because of the increase in rail traffic and the structural weakness of the bridge, the spans were replaced by multiple-span Warren through truss bridges in 1931, built with riveted connections and with I-beam portal bracings supported by heels. All but the easternmost span were imploded in April 1945 by the Nazis in an attempt to slow the advancement of Russian and American troops from the east. Grimma came under Soviet control and eventually became part of East Germany by 1949. Because of chronic material shortage, rail lines and bridges deemed expendable were removed with the steel recycled and reused for other purposes. That was the case with the rail line as it was relocated to the western side of the Mulde and up the hill making the original line useless. A new station at Leipziger Strasse near the city center was constructed which still operates to this day.  The tracks of the old line and the remaining span were both removed in the 1960s, though when exactly it happened is unknown. The Mulde Bike Trail now uses the track remains along the eastern side of the river.

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Mulde Bike Trail Arch Bridge

Location: Small hiking path near the Grimma Dam and Suspension Bridge

Type: Stone Arch Bridge

Built: 1876

This bridge is hard to find, unless you happen to hike the trails in the city forest on the eastern side of the River Mulde. It is unknown who was behind the design and construction of this short crossing, which is no longer than 10 meters long and 3 meters high, but it was once part of the railroad line that had passed through Grimma until 1945. It’s now a rail-to-trail that is part of the Mulde Bike Trail. When going under the bridge towards the dam, one must pay attention to the mud that exists, partially because of the water run off from the hills into the river, 30 meters away.

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Kössern Bridge

Location: Mulde River near Grossboden

Bridge Type: Eight-span stone arch bridge

Built: 1887-88

Dimensions: 142.5 meters long, 22.5 meters wide

As a bonus, one should drive 6 kilometers south along the Mulde to this bridge. This bridge is easy to photograph as there is plenty of grass land on the eastern side of the river which makes it perfect for a photo with a heavily-forested background. The bridge is located only two kilometers from the train station in Grossboden, which serves train traffic to this day between Leipzig and Freiberg via Grimma and Wurzen. The bridge is the first roadway crossing over the Mulde north of the confluence between the Zwickau and Freiberg Mulde at Sermuth. Not far from the bridge is an abandoned railroad bridge made of girder spans.

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Fazit:

Grimma is a quick stop for a visit, with many possibilities to satisfy travelers for a good hour or so. If you are a pontist, the city has two historic bridges with a storied history in the Suspension and Poppelmann Bridges and three more bridges whose history belongs in the books and are worth a visit. It’s a junction between a well-traveled bike trail and some well-travelled highways. Speaking from experience of spending a couple hours there with my family, Grimma is worth the stop no matter where you go. 🙂

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Author’s Note: A Biography on Mathias Poppelmann will appear in the next year as the author is currently collecting some bridge examples that were built by the engineer, namely the Poppelmann Bridges with the combination covered bridge with stone arch approaches. If you know of some postcards, photos and other information on these bridges, feel free to use my contact form (here) and send it over. Thank you for your help in this matter. 🙂

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The Rhine Bridges of Wesel (NRW)

The ruins of the approach spans of the Railroad Bridge in Wesel. Photo taken by Daniel Ullrich Threedots, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

Located along the River Rhine northwest of Duisburg in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the town of Wesel, with a population of 60,200 inhabitants, is one of the towns in Germany that had been scarred by the history of conquest. It had been captured by the Spanish in 1590, then was the focal point of a tug-a-war between the Spaniards and the Dutch until the French captured it in 1672. The Prussians entered the picture in the 17th Century only to fight with the French over the city for the next century. After the Battle of Waterloo and the subsequent fall of Napoleon in 1813, Wesel became part of Prussia, which later became Germany with the unification of several small states and kingdoms and the ratification of the treaty in 1871. The town was a strategic point for weaponry during World War II, which made it an easy target for attack by the Allied Troops. After three different bombing attacks on February and March of 1945, the city was reduced to rubble; the population was reduced from 25,000 inhabitants in 1939 to only 1,900 by the end of World War II in May 1945.

Despite some of the architecture that withstood the test of time, much of Wesel has been reconstructed to its former glory since the end of World War II, with a newly rebuilt market square and cathedral, as well as Berlin Gate. Yet one can find some ruins of the city that had once been fortified but was one of the key industrial ports along the lower portion of the Rhine River.

This includes a pair of bridges that spanned the river. Both spans had been built before 1900, yet their fate landed in the hands of German dictator Adolf Hitler, who ordered every single bridge along the Rhine and its tributaries to be blown up after Wesel was sacked by bombs on February 19th. The railroad bridge that had existed north of Wesel was the last crossing over the Rhine before it was detonated. The bridge remains are still visible to see. The roadway bridge was rebuilt using a prefabricated truss design, and it lasted for over 60 years until it was replaced in 2009. The history of the two bridges and their fates will be summarized here. It includes video of the two bridges to give you an insight on what they had looked like prior to and after1945.

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Wesel Railroad Bridge:

On 1 MArch, 1874, the Wesel Railroad Bridge was opened to traffic. It was built by the Cologne Railroad Company and was part of the railroad line that had connected Paris with Hamburg, via Münster and Bremen. It is unknown who designed the bridge, but it was one of a few bridges that were put on display at the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873 and received accolades for their architectural work. It is known that the railroad bridge was the longest Rhine crossing in Germany and was last crossing standing when it was destroyed in March 1945. The bridge had a total length of almost 2km (1,950 meters) and featured four main spans, each of a curved Whipple through truss, six additional truss spans, plus 97 stone arch approach spans- 65 on the west side of the Rhine and 32 on the east side where Wesel is located. The truss beams had welded connections, which were typical for European truss bridges built during the last three decades of the 19th Century.

Source: N.N. / Johann Heinrich Schönscheidt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Source: N.N. / Johann Heinrich Schönscheidt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The fate of the railroad bridge coincited with the fate of the rail line that passed through Wesel. Despite its length, the bridge was imploded on March 10th, 1945 under the direction of General Alfred Schlemm. The troops and much of Wesel were under attack during the last month, including the bombings that started February 12th and ended on the 19th, destroying much of the city. As American, Canadian and British troops advanced towards the town under the operation “Varsity”, Schlemm and his troops set the bombs on the main spans and during the morning hours of the 10th, the bridge was detonated. Hours later, the Allied Troops took the town without much resistance with only 80+ casualties. The Wesel Railroad Bridge outlived the Ludendorff in Remagen (southeast of Bonn) by three days.

Plans to rebuild the railroad was abandoned and the Hamburg-Paris rail line was later rerouted through Duisburg and later Düsseldorf. The truss bridge piers were later removed in 1968 to allow for ships along the Rhine to pass. What is left of the old railroad bridge are the approach spans, which you can see in the videos and picture below. The railroad bridge has since been considered a historic landmark because of its design and association with German industrial history.

Source: ᛗᚨᚱᚲᚢᛊ ᚨᛒᚱᚨᛗ, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Wesel Highway Bridge:

Unlike the railroad bridge spanning the Rhine, the highway bridge was rebuilt towards the end of World War II. Since 1945, the bridge has been rebuilt twice. The Wesel Highway Bridge was first built in 1917 and featured a continuous cantilever through truss bridge with Warren truss design. Like the railroad bridge, the highway bridge was detonated by the fleeing Nazi soldiers in an attempt to slow the advencement of Allied troops. Little did they realize, they found a creative way to re-erect a crossing, using the technology that was based on an invention in Great Britain: The Bailey Truss.

As soon as the troops captured Wesel, they constructed a temporary bridge, made of pontoons, to enable the passage of troops and equipment and to speed up the process of ending the war, which was successful with the capitulation of Germany on May 7, 1945. With the war over, came the reconstruction of Germany and that included important crossings like this one. In October 1945, English troops constructed a multiple-span Bailey Truss bridge over the Rhine, featuring two bridges, each carrying one lane of traffic and with a speed limit of 25 km/h (15 mph). The Montgomery Bridge, named after Bernard Law Montgomery, who led troops through North Africa, Italy and the Normandy, was the second longest Bailey crossing behind a crossing at Rees. Nicknamed the Gummibrücke, this bridge was in service until a newer, more stable crossing could be put into place.

As you can see in the video here, the bridge in the foreground was the successor to the Bailey Truss . It was a continuous through truss span using the simple Warren design with riveted connections. It was built in 1953 by a consortium of three companies and served traffic until 2009. Because of its narrowness, it was considered structurally obsolete, resulting in the construction of the new, but present structure, as you can see in the background.

The present structure took four years to build but in the end, the bridge was opened to traffic on 30 November, 2009 and right after that, the truss bridge was dismantled. Some parts can still be seen near the present day structure. The bridge features a bottle-shaped A-frame tower with stayed cables. At 772 meters in length, it’s 200 meters longer than the truss bridge. Thanks to a width of 27.5 meters, the bridge can carry four lanes of traffic along the Highway 58.

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Fazit:

The bridges of Wesel once provided a main artery over the Rhine and services for the residents. Because of the war, much of the city was destroyed and relicts from the war can be seen today, especially with the railroad bridge that once was part of Wesel. Yet the destruction of both bridges showed that through the use of technology, combined with the resiliency of locals to have a crossing open, that newer bridges can be built that are sturdier and can carry more than their predecessors. They helped with the rebuilding efforts of Wesel and to this day, made the town a stronger and more intact community than during the war. Still the scars will forever remain on the landscape and they must not be forgotten when talking about war in the classroom and its impact on society. World War II presents an example of a war that must never happen again, and that speaking from experience of those who witnessed it first hand and afterwards…..

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 157: The Oldest (and Unusual) Bridge in Husum, Germany

In Schleswig-Holstein, the oldest known bridge in the state can be found in the town of Schmalfeld in the district of Segeberg, located in the eastern part of the state. It was built in 1785 and was in service for 198 years before it was bypassed and converted into a bike trail crossing. It is one of only a handful of arch bridges that are known to exist in the northernmost state in Germany.

Source: Holger.Ellgaard, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Many arch bridges have gone unnoticed during the surveys of historic bridges in the last half decade, some of which deserve some sort of recognition.

The Schiffsbrücke in Husum is one of them. The bridge spans the Mühlenau at Zingeldamm near the Schiffsfahrtsmuseum (Museum of Shipping) and is the last crossing before the river empties into the harbor- right after the crossing. There’s next to no information on the bridge except for a couple dates to pass along to it. The first is in the picture above, which has a date of 1858 with the letter F on it.

Husum was part of the kingdom of Frisia, a region which stretched from southern Denmark, all the way to northeastern Netherlands, all along the North Sea coast and includes the islands in the Halligen region. The first known existence came in during the Roman Empire and it was once a regional powerhouse until the 16th Century, when it was split up. The German portion of Frisia, including Husum, became Uthlande, which later became part of Denmark until after the War of 1864, which resulted in German annexation. It is possible that given the Danish crown on the insignia, that Denmark had recognized Husum as Frisian, thus allowing for the language and culture to continue thriving. Yet we need more information to confirm these facts and to answer the question of why we have this insignia.

While the insignia states it was built in 1858, the informational board located on Zingeldamm stated otherwise, as it claimed that the bridge was built in 1871. Where the information came from is unknown but as original insignias on bridges are known to be the most reliable source of information to determine its construction date, there are two possibilities behind these two conflicting dates:

  1. The information is proven false because of a lack of records and thus historians may have assumed the date without taking a closer look at the bridge.
  2. The bridge may have been rebuilt after it was destroyed but the original brick railings, arch and insignia were retained and restored to provide a historic taste and conformity to Husum’s thriving city center and adjacent harbor.

Much of Husum survived unscathed during World War II as it used to serve as a naval port for the Nazis until its relocation to Flensburg in the district of Mürwik in 1943. Its only scar was a concentration camp near the town of Schwesing, where prisoners were used to build a wall to keep the waters of the North Sea out. The camp only existed for a few months in 1944, yet atrocities committed there could not be ignored and even an investigation into the camp took place in the 1960s. The city center, with its historic brick buildings dating back to the 17th century, has mainly remained in tact with only a couple minor alterations over the past 75 years, which means Husum has retained its historic architecture making it an attractive place to visit. The Schiffsbrücke represents that historic character that belongs to Husum’s past.

Unique feature of Schiffsbrücke is its wall. Husum lies on the North Sea coast and has its Flut and Ebbe (high and low tide). To keep the waters of the North Sea out of the Mühlenau, the wall is hoisted up to the keystone of the arch span. Because the Mühlenau is a “sweet water” river, this is done to protect the flora and fauna that exists in the river and are reliant on fresh water. Other than that feature, the bridge and its unique brick railings and insignia is one of the most unique and ornamental arch bridges in the state. Yet its mystery behind the construction date and the engineer behind the bridge and wall system makes it a bridge that one should research more on to find out its history.

And with that, it is your turn. What do you known about the Schiffsbrücke regarding its history, and which date would you lean towards- 1858 or 1871?

Feel free to place your comments on the Chronicles, either directly or via social media.

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Author’s Note:

This bridge article is in connection with a book project on the Bridges of Schleswig-Holstein that has restarted since the author’s return. Click here to look at the details and feel free to contribute some information on the project. Happy bridgehunting, folks. 🙂 ❤

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BHC Newsflyer: 29 May, 2021

Pruitt Bridge in Newton Co., AR. Source: HABS/HAER/HALS

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To listen to the podcast, click onto the Anchor page here.

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Headlines:

Pruitt Bridge in Arkansas Coming Down

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/ar/newton/pruitt/

Article: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/may/23/buffalo-river-span-among-last-of-kind/

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South Quay Road Bridge in Virginia Being Replaced

Link: http://bridgehunter.com/va/southampton/17755/

Article: https://www.virginiadot.org/projects/hamptonroads/south_quay_bridge.asp

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Europabrücke in Rendsburg to be Replaced

Click here to read.

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Arch Bridge in Corning, NY Turns 100

Article: https://www.weny.com/story/43962024/a-centennial-birthday-celebration-for-historic-centerway-bridge

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/ny/steuben/centerway-arch/

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Expressway Bridge in Arkansas Now on the NRHP

Article: https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/may/27/2-jefferson-county-sites-put-on-historic-registry/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/ar/jefferson/bh62570/

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Vertical Lift Bridge in Plaue (MV) almost finished with Rehabilitation

Link with Video: https://www.ndr.de/fernsehen/sendungen/nordmagazin/Letzte-Reparaturarbeiten-an-der-Plauer-Hubbruecke,nordmagazin85032.html (!: News in German)

Bridge Info: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plauer_Hubbr%C3%BCcke (!: Info in German)

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Plus (click on the heading and it will take you directly to the site):

Online Forum on Lansing Bridge (via bridgehunter.com)

125th Anniversary of Bridge Disaster in Victoria, BC, Canada

150th Anniversary of the Demolition of the First Bridge in Brisbane, Australia

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Centerway Bridge in Corning, NY. Photo taken in 2016 by Dana and Kay Klein

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 144: A Small Unusual Bridge in the Ruins of a Large Military Complex

The best discoveries are found in your backyard. This mystery bridge fits the historian stereotype like a glove and can be found in the southeastern part of Glauchau in the area now designated as a natural reserve, behind the Rudolph Virchow Hospital and adjacent Agricola High School.  We found this bridge as pure coincidence, while we were hiking and taking pictures on a Sunday afternoon. The structure is a two-span deck arch bridge all made with metal, and the connections are welded. The bridge has a total length of 25 meters and it appeared that it used to span a body of water which has since shrunk in size, leaving the area the bridge crosses to be nothing more but a dry ravine to be forded because much of the decking on the bridge is in critical condition with missing or cracked flooring. The bridge used to carry an abandoned road, which we later found that it led to the hospital grounds and given its width, it was probably used only for cars and pedestrians only.

The bridge has a unique feature that is rare to find for bridges built during its time. One side of the bridge exposes the arch section where only a couple vertical beams support the arches. Both the arches as well as the center piers are tubular and are welded together. On the opposite end, the arches are covered with paneling resembling an appearance of a faux pas arch span: a beam bridge that is decorated with only the outer arches, whose spandrels are covered with paneling, thus making the bridge look like a real arch bridge but it’s merely a beam bridge that functions as the crossing supporting traffic.

It is unknown when the bridge was built, let alone who built it, but the area where the bridge was discovered by accident belongs to a natural area known as the Rümpfwald, an area that is the size of 10 football pitches that extends from the hospital, along the cemetary and past Bismarck Tower going south and east towards Rottenbach Creek and the adjacent forest near Niederlungwitz and St. Egidien, located six kilometers southeast of Glauchau’s Railway station. A map featuring both the forest and the bridge shows you the size of the natural area.

Before the habitat was created, it was once a military complex with a long history, most of which still hangs a dark cloud over Glauchau to this day.  In 1914, a military complex was established under the name Friedrich August Kaserne, which covered an area including the hospital, and the western half of Rümpfwald. Originally used for the German army, it was made irrelevant when Germany was forced to reduce its military to a quarter of ist size through the Versailles Treaty of 1919. Nevertheless, when Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, the military base was reactivated and used as a concentration camp for political prisoners. By 1936, it became a base for the Wehrmacht- the Nazi army. By 1945, the Soviet troops took over the eastern half of Germany and with that, the military base in Glauchau, which would later be expanded to include the production of weaponry and tanks as well as a practice area. The Soviets occupied the base until 1993, when the last Russian troops left the base. Afterwards, the entire complex was razed to the ground and the area was converted to a natural area, yet some of the relicts from the past still exist today….

….including this bridge. Given its current, deteriorating state, the bridge will most likely succumb to nature as the arches and the superstructure have corroded to a point where a full rehabilitation would be deemed impossible. Yet given the fact that this bridge is one of the most neglected of all of Glauchau’s bridges, it would be a shame to see it disappear without knowing about its history. While only a small portion of the military base has been preserved as a mini-library, perhaps there is a place for this unique bridge, even if the dark past of the military days in Glauchau have long since disappeared…..

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  The Watchman’s post and the Historic Gate to the military base at Wolffersdorfstrasse and the north entrance to the hospital were preserved, restored and converted to a library. The smallest library in Germany was completed in 2009 and received the 2011 Pegasus Award, the most important award of the EU devoted to preserving places of historic interest. More information on the project can be found here.  Ironically, book booth, a phone booth is located on the opposite end of the street at Virchowstrasse. There, you can donate your books and take one from the booth with. It’s next to a panel of what was part of the Berlin Wall.

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Plans are in the making to expand the Virchow Hospital further into the forest and former military compound, which includes rehabilitation areas and a health care sector. When the work starts remains open.

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Stupp Brothers Bridge Company of St. Louis, Missouri

Buck O’neil Bridge in Kansas City- A product of the Stupp Brothers Bridge Company. Photo taken by Mark Frazier

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The Westward Expansion was one of the greatest developments in American History. From 1865 until the end of World War I in 1918, millions of miles of roads and railroads were built west of the Mississippi River.  And with that came bridges, big or small, that crossed whatever ravine was in the way. Hundreds of bridge building companies were established between 1865 and 1910 and while half of them either folded or merged with other bridge building firms, others remained in the business and with enough capital and a set of minds that were strong-willed and innovative, they succeeded in building unique crossings and competing with the bigger and more powerful conglomerates. Some of the companies eventually continued their business well into the 20th Century.

In the case of Stupp Brothers, they have been building bridges and other forms of artwork for 165 years and counting. Many people don’t know much about Stupp Brothers except when you find historic truss bridges with the Stupp plaques on them. Most of these bridges can be found in Missouri but this was because Stupp has its headquarters in St. Louis.  When looking at the history of bridge building, some of the unique crossings have been built by Stupp. Aside from the Jefferson City Bridges, Stupp built the Bird’s Nest Bridge in Crawford County, Broadway Bridge in Kansas City, the Martin Luther Bridge in St. Louis, and the Route 66 Meramec River Bridge west of St. Louis- all of which still exist to this day.

More closely is the history of the Stupp Brothers Bridge Company itself, for its founder, originated from Germany in what is now North Rhine-Westphalia. And this is where the story starts.  I did some research on the company and interviewed Judith Stupp, wife of the current president, John Stupp, in 2017 as efforts were being taken to find funding to restore the Meramec Bridge.  While the role of Stupp with that bridge will be discussed later due to changes in developments to date, here’s what we learned about the bridge company, the Stupp family and 165 years of engineering success.

Bird’s Nest Bridge in Crawford County. Photo taken by James Baughn

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1. Who were the founders of the bridge company?

 Technically, the bridge business was founded by George, Peter and Julius Stupp, the sons of Johann Stupp, but the story begins with Johann. Johann Stupp was born in 1827 in Cologne (Köln), Germany- Prussia at that time. He was trained as a metal smith and during his wanderberuf he developed friendships with several other young wanderers.

Economic conditions convinced some of these friends to immigrate to the US. Initially Johann resisted, but in 1854 he chose to join his friends in St Louis, Missouri. The influx of Germans was so great that by 1860, of the 160,783 citizens of St Louis, 50,510 were German-born.

By 1856 Johann was married and had started his own business fabricating small machine parts and doing some ornamental iron work. He brought his brother Peter to St Louis to work as foreman at J. Stupp and Bros., Blacksmiths.

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2. What role did Stupp Brothers play in the Civil War, both regarding the bridge building business as well as in their private lives?

Though there is no documentation to prove it, there is a family conviction that Johann’s shop made iron plates for the fleet of seven ironclad gunboats built by John B. Eads to support the union effort to take control of the Mississippi and its tributaries. Eads was under intense pressure to produce the fleet in 90 days, so it seems likely that a shop like Johann’s would have been involved in the effort. Johann hadproduced iron plates for barges while still in Germany. Johann served in the “Home Guard” during the Civil War. This group was instrumental in preventing Missouri from seceding from the union.

By 1867 the firm was being advertised as the South St. Louis Iron Works. They fabricated fire escapes, railings and various ornamental items. In the late 1860’s the firm received a sub-contract to fabricate the gates at the newly created Lafayette Park. It was a triumph for the shop. Of the 32 gates Johann created 30 remain standing. Johann would concentrate on ornamental iron gates and fencing for the rest of his time in the business. Johann was a superb craftsman, meticulous and an artist in his trade. He died in 1915 at the age of 88.

By 1873 all three of Johann’s teenaged sons worked in the business. George was office manager, Peter was assistant pattern-maker and Julius was a bolt cutter. That same year saw the credit crisis known as The Panic of 1873. Johann had borrowed $3000 from an unscrupulous lender and, unable to pay the loan when called, lost the business. As a result of this experience no doubt, George Stupp had enrolled in business classes. In 1878 George formed the George Stupp South St. Louis Ornamental Zinc and Iron works. When Peter and Julius came of age a partnership was formed and the name was changed to Stupp Bros. With George in charge the company began to move from ornamental to structural work. One of the firms earliest orders was from the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Hurricane Deck Bridge in Camden County (now replaced). Photo courtesy of the MoDOT Archives

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3. How did Stupp play a role in the Westward Expension?

The 1880’s was an ideal time for the newly formed company. St. Louis was growing and prospering, it was fourth among American cities in gross value of manufactures and fifth in capital invested in manufacturing. When Stupp built its first bridge in around 1886, it was one of five bridge companies in St. Louis.

In December of 1890, the brothers incorporated, changing the firm’s name to Stupp Bros.

Bridge and Iron Company. America was becoming an industrial giant, Americans were pouring into the frontier, cities like Omaha, Dallas, Denver and San Francisco had emerged from frontier outposts. The networks of roads and rails in the east were improved and expanded, while new lines pushed westward creating and feeding new markets for manufactured materials. Buoyed by the expanding market, in 1893 the brothers expanded their plant by adding a second story to house an office and drafting room.

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4. How did the bridge building expand after the Civil War? How many branch offices did it have and which ones still exist today?

In the early 1900-1920’s there were offices in Iowa City, Iowa, Kansas City, Missouri and downtown St Louis. Today manufacturing is done in Bowling Green, KY with the sales office at the company location in St Louis where has been since 1902.

Meramec River (Route 66) Bridge west of St. Louis. Photo taken by James Baughn in 2015 after the deck was removed.

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5. While as many as 28 bridge companies merged to become the American Bridge Company in 1901 (including the Wrought Iron Bridge Company), Stupp didn‘t engage in this venture and continued to build bridges in the face of competition. How did the company achieve that successfully?

Independent minded. It is unknown whether or not they were ever approached about a merger. The company had the capital  to remain independent.

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6. What major projects has the bridge company been involved with since 1900? Bridge examples included.

Stupp’s contract records identify nearly 20,000 projects. Bridges make up a significant portion of them though not the majority of them. Some notable projects include:

  • Hurricane Deck at Lake of the Ozarks, MO (1936 Prize Bridge winner)
  • George P. Coleman Bridge over the York River, VA (Multiple swing spans-1990’s)
  • Randolph Street Bascule Bridge Chicago 1970’s
  • Ohio River Bridge Renovations Louisville, KY 2014-2016 (20,000 tons)
  • Truss Bridges over the Missouri River at Washington, Herman, Chesterfield, St. Charles, Jefferson City, Miami for the state of Missouri 1940s to 1960’s
  • Choteau Bridge replacement at Kansas City MO 2001
Martin Luther King Bridge in St. Louis. Photo taken by James Baughn

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7. Who is in charge of the company today and what kinds of bridges are being built today in comparison with 100 years or even 150 years ago?

John Stupp is the president of the company and R. Philip Stupp, Jr. Is our executive vice president. They are cousins and great-great grandsons of Johann. Three members of the sixth generation are currently working for the company.

Stupp began building bridges in the 1880s.  Most of the bridges Stupp fabricated in this time frame were less than 100 foot in individual span lengths.  The majority of the bridges were truss bridges.  The vertical elements of truss bridges are top chords, bottom chords, vertical and diagonal struts.  These components form panels and the completed panels span the crossing.  Horizontal members tie the two trusses together and support the roadway. Thru trusses, deck trusses, and pony trusses are three types of bridges that made up the majority of our contracts during the period.  Railroad bridges and highway bridges were our primary bridge products.

In 1902 Stupp moved to a much larger plant and began building much larger structures (longer spans require larger structures)  Trusses remained a dominant bridge type for another 100 years.  Our expanded capabilities allowed us to build arch bridges, long span railroad bridges, and moveable bridges.  Categories of moveable bridges include bascule, swing span, and lift.  Rolled beams (wide flange) were introduced by Carnegie Steel and then mass marketed by Bethlehem Steel around the turn of the century.  Their use greatly reduced the cost of short span bridges and these are known as rolled beam bridges. 

Plate girder bridges became cost effective and widely used after welding was perfected in the 1950’s.  Prior to then riveting plates together with angles was the preferred method.  Today plate girder bridges make up over 80% of the steel bridge market.  Plate girder bridges are the only bridge type that Stupp manufacturers since 1999.

Photo by James Baughn

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To learn more about Stupp Brothers, click onto the link here and read more about it.

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BHC Newsflyer: 13 March, 2021

Cobban Bridge in Chippewa County, WI: Officially doomed after failed attempts to relocate it

To listen to the podcast, click here. WordPress version found here.

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Headlines:

Close-up of the fire at the Mt. Zion Covered Bridge. Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office

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Mt. Zion Covered Bridge in Kentucky Destroyed by Arson

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2021/03/11/fire-destroys-iconic-covered-bridge-in-kentucky/

Video:

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Broadway Bridge in Frankfort. Photo taken by James MacCray

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Future of Broadway Bridge in Doubt because of Insurance Issue

Link: https://www.state-journal.com/news/insurance-question-clouds-broadway-bridge-s-future/article_44ff6c32-8073-11eb-b2bf-c7a141ba6b4e.html

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Save-Broadway-Bridge-108589957397738/

Tilton Island Truesdell Truss Bridge. Photo taken by Royce and Bobette Hailey

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Change in Ownership for Bridge and Island in New Hampshire

Link: https://www.concordmonitor.com/tilton-northfield-nh-park-39315636

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500-year old bridges in Yorkshire, England rebuilt despite Covid-19 delays

Link: Collapsed 500-year-old Yorkshire bridges finally rebuilt after Covid and weather delays – New Civil Engineer

Bleicher Hag Bridge in Ulm- Now Demolished

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Bleicher Hag Bridge in Ulm, Germany Demolished; Ludwig Erhardt Bridge to be Rehabilitated

Link: https://www.augsburger-allgemeine.de/neu-ulm/Wie-die-Brueckenkiller-in-Ulm-ein-historisches-Bauwerk-entfernen-id59201891.html

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The winners of the 2020 Brückenpreis Award in Germany

Link: https://www.brueckenbaupreis.de/retheklappbruecke-in-hamburg-und-trumpf-steg-in-ditzingen-gewinnen-deutschen-brueckenbaupreis-2020/

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ASCE Bridge Photo Contest: https://source.asce.org/three-keys-to-taking-a-great-bridge-photo/

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Cobban Truss Bridge to be Demolished after Failed Proposal to Relocate It– On BHC facebook page.

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