The Wrong Picture

Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Over the holiday season, as I was celebrating with family and getting some photo opportunities of some bridges in Iowa and Minnesota, one of my fellow pontists brought this painting up to the attention of the historic bridge community. It was a sketch of low quality showing a tall suspension bridge, trying to go along the lines of the Golden Gate Bridge but it is unknown whether it is the Golden Girl or the Big Mac Bridge (aka Mackinac Bridge) in Michigan because it was too blurry to tell. To an art teacher, the “artist” portraying this bridge would have received a failing grade for its lack of quality. However, both the teacher as well as a historian would have gotten grey hair and wrinkly had they seen that the title of this “pseudo-drawing” been touted as The Brooklyn Bridge!

I think I feel the tremble of the ground as a result of the Roebling family coming out of their graves for that!

While this person had good intentions of making money, and Wal-mart (where the drawing was spotted) was the place to sell the artwork, little did he realize that with the help of the internet and some photos from books and other sources, he would have found out that there is a stark contrast between the Brooklyn, Mackinac and the Golden Gate Bridges. How stark? The photos below speak for themselves…..

Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Transversal view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Nathan Holth

The problem with this misperception of this drawing is that many people do not know what the bridges look like and will take drawings like this one to mislead them into knowing that it is this bridge, when in all reality the actual appearance is anything but that. Furthermore, both the aforementioned bridges have been seen in books and movies, so the differences between them should be obvious. Yet with our total embrace with electronic games and technology as if we are swimming in a pool of water is causing us to lose sight on our surroundings, let along our basic knowledge of history and other core subjects that they all seem to be placed in the backburner. We become disillusioned to what we see, and the younger the generation, the more likely they will identify with the wrong items and have them stick to a point where it becomes more difficult to unglue.

So in order to avoid this type of misunderstanding and misleading identification, here is a word of advice to give to the next person who attempts to draw or paint a picture of something as iconic as a historic bridge: Get it right the first time!

Look at the photos and films, visualize in your head what it looks like and how it should look on paper, and allow yourself an ample amount of time to do the artwork correctly. And don’t worry about the issues of copyright laws. If you do the artwork differently than the one before that, yours will turn out just as well, if not better.

As Gaudenz Assenza, former professor of political science at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany and now professor at the Catholic University of Rozemborok in Slovakia once quoted: Quality trumps quantity in all aspects of life.  While this may refer to aspects on the level of academia, it also applies to all aspects in life, especially when it comes to something like artwork. Think about this before putting the lead to the leaf, no matter how you do it.

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The Wrong Picture

Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Over the holiday season, as I was celebrating with family and getting some photo opportunities of some bridges in Iowa and Minnesota, one of my fellow pontists brought this painting up to the attention of the historic bridge community. It was a sketch of low quality showing a tall suspension bridge, trying to go along the lines of the Golden Gate Bridge but it is unknown whether it is the Golden Girl or the Big Mac Bridge (aka Mackinac Bridge) in Michigan because it was too blurry to tell. To an art teacher, the “artist” portraying this bridge would have received a failing grade for its lack of quality. However, both the teacher as well as a historian would have gotten grey hair and wrinkly had they seen that the title of this “pseudo-drawing” been touted as The Brooklyn Bridge!

I think I feel the tremble of the ground as a result of the Roebling family coming out of their graves for that!

While this person had good intentions of making money, and Wal-mart (where the drawing was spotted) was the place to sell the artwork, little did he realize that with the help of the internet and some photos from books and other sources, he would have found out that there is a stark contrast between the Brooklyn, Mackinac and the Golden Gate Bridges. How stark? The photos below speak for themselves…..

Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth

 

Transversal view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Nathan Holth

The problem with this misperception of this drawing is that many people do not know what the bridges look like and will take drawings like this one to mislead them into knowing that it is this bridge, when in all reality the actual appearance is anything but that. Furthermore, both the aforementioned bridges have been seen in books and movies, so the differences between them should be obvious. Yet with our total embrace with electronic games and technology as if we are swimming in a pool of water is causing us to lose sight on our surroundings, let along our basic knowledge of history and other core subjects that they all seem to be placed in the backburner. We become disillusioned to what we see, and the younger the generation, the more likely they will identify with the wrong items and have them stick to a point where it becomes more difficult to unglue.

So in order to avoid this type of misunderstanding and misleading identification, here is a word of advice to give to the next person who attempts to draw or paint a picture of something as iconic as a historic bridge: Get it right the first time!

Look at the photos and films, visualize in your head what it looks like and how it should look on paper, and allow yourself an ample amount of time to do the artwork correctly. And don’t worry about the issues of copyright laws. If you do the artwork differently than the one before that, yours will turn out just as well, if not better.

As Gaudenz Assenza, former professor of political science at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany and now professor at the Catholic University of Rozemborok in Slovakia once quoted: Quality trumps quantity in all aspects of life.  While this may refer to aspects on the level of academia, it also applies to all aspects in life, especially when it comes to something like artwork. Think about this before putting the lead to the leaf, no matter how you do it.

bhc new logo jpeg

Newsflyer 24 April 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Newsflyer:  24 April, 2013

Historic International Crossing spared Terrorist Attack, Two Historic Bridges lost to Flooding, One Bridge with connection to Internationally Renowned Bridge Coming Down

There has been a lot of action that took place in the US this past week, which included an unprecedented series of explosions- two at the Boston Marathon and an atomic-size explosion that nearly destroyed a Texas town- combined with the pursuit of the terrorists and those neglecting the safety guidelines of the fertilizer plant, and lots of rage by Mother Nature, implementing her wrath on the Midwest with snow and flooding.

And with that comes the demise of more historic bridges, but one was spared another potential terroristic plot to blow it up. How bad was this? The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a list of news headlines that have been compiled under its latest Newsflyer.

Bridge at Niagra Falls saved from bombing attempt

The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge is a very important historic bridge in the Niagra Region for two reasons: 1. The 1897 steel deck arch bridge, measured at 329 meters long, and featuring a upper deck for rail traffic and lower deck for vehicular traffic is an important link between the US and Canada, serving rail traffic between New York and Montreal and Toronto. 2. It is one of two important historic bridges to see near Niagra Falls, as it is located 2.4 km from the Falls, where another arch bridge is located. It was refurbished in 2009-10 and is now owned by Amtrak which maintains the track and allows Canadian trains to cross.  This bridge was a target of a terrorist attack that was foiled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Monday, arresting two people who had connections with Al Qaida in Iran- one of which was of Tunisian origins. Both were Canadians.  It is unknown how the planning was foiled for there was little information prior to the event, but had the attack succeeded, it would have resulted in massive loss of life among people in the train that they would have bombed in the process, car drivers and a historical landmark being destroyed, severing an important link between the two countries. The two men are currently in jail awaiting their fate. A close call for both countries, especially the USA, which was digesting its first terrorist attack since 9/11.

Two important Illinois historic bridges lost to flooding.

“No way!” This was the reaction of the amateur videographer who filmed the demise of the wrought iron Pratt through truss bridge spanning Big Bureau Creek east of Tiskilwa in Bureau County on 18 April. Built in the 1880s by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, the bridge had been abandoned for many years and like its cousin, the Maple Rapids Bridge in Michigan, it was also leaning to one side after sustaining previous flood damage. This most recent flood did the structure in. Half of the bridge is still in the water but the structure, which resembles the Jacobs Tavern Bridge in New Jersey, will most likely come out to be scrapped, as with another bridge.

Located over Wilburn Creek in Marshall County, this 1924 riveted Pratt pony truss bridge was in excellent shape with minor restrictions until flooding undermined the abutments and knocked the bridge over on its side. Despite the bridge being in good shape inspite of the fall, the county engineer has written it off and it will be replaced. The fate of the trusses hangs in the balance, but they do have a potential of being reused at a park if rehabilitated with welding technology…

Part of the Golden Gate Bridge gone!

The Doyle Drive Viaduct, located near the Presidio south of the Golden Gate Bridge is technically part of the grand lady. Built in 1936, the bridge features a rusty orange color, similar to the almost 76-year old suspension bridge. With the demolition of the bridge, it marks the loss of a piece of history. Currently this bridge is being replaced with a concrete viaduct as part of the plan to reconstruct the interchange with the road leading to the historic police station. This is part of a larger plan to modernize the Golden Gate area, which includes replacing toll takers of the grand lady with automatic electronic toll machines. This has taken place already. It makes people of San Francisco and other people who know about the bridge and its heritage wonder what will be done with the Golden Gate area next….

Yet there is a sign of life for one historic bridge with a pair of bonuses that are on the way. This time it involves the McIntyre Bridge in Iowa.

Bowers has it her way and possibly then some

After suffering numerous set backs this year, a glimmer of hope has finally arrived for Julie Bowers and the crew at Workin Bridges, as  Poweshiek County signed off on a grant for $184,000 provided by the Iowa DOT on April 19th to be used to rebuild the McIntyre Bowstring Arch Bridge. The 1883 structure spanned North Skunk River until it was washed away by floods in 2010. Since then, painstaking efforts to raise money to restore the bridge were undertaken until the offer by the state agency, located in Ames, was brought to the table. Poweshiek County agreed to the proposal under the condition that Workin Bridges maintains the bridge over the next 20 years. If all is approved and the restoration efforts start in the summer, the bridge could be back over the river and in service again by the fall of this year.

In addition, a couple pony truss bridges from Carroll County may be heading to Poweshiek County to be reused for recreational reasons. When and where they will be relocated remains open, but the county is planning on replacing them this summer. More information from the Chronicles to come soon.

Ammann Awards 2012 Results

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

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

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

Lifetime Achievement:

James L. Cooper-
Votes: 7

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

Howard Newlon, Jr. (Post humous)

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

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

Vote: 5

 

Best Photo:

Photo taken and submitted by John Weeks III

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

Votes: 6

Photo taken and submitted by Jonathan Parrish

 

Runner-up:  Crosley Bridge in Jennings County, Indiana

Votes: 5

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

 

Mystery Bridge Award:

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

Photo taken by Aaron Leibold

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

Votes: 5

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

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

Votes: 4

 

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

Best Kept Secret Award for the United States

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

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

Votes: 6

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

Best Kept Secret International:

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

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

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

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

Other Best Kept Secret entrants for this year include:

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

International: Pont Turcot Bridge in Quebec (Canada)

 

Bridge of the Year for 2012:

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

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

Winner of the award:

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

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

 

 

Take Pride in America’s Bridges

The Golden Gate Bridge with the USS Iowa crossing underneath it. Two historic events on that day: The bridge turned 75 and the battleship bowed out with a final voyage to San Pedro to be decommissioned. Photo Copyright Craig Philpott used with permission for educational and non profit use only 2012

Each country has a bridge or a set of bridges which one can associate with on an international scale. France is famous for its bridges along the Rhone and Seine as well as the Millau Viaduct. Italy has the Rialto and the bridges of Florence and Venice. Canada has the Quebec Bridge and the Lions Gate. While we have two bridges in the US we can take pride in- the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate, the one that has received more recognition than the other from a foreigner’s point of view is the Golden Gate Bridge

At 75 years of age, the golden girl was the work of engineering genius Joesph Strauss and the hundreds of workers who spent eight years creating a tall orange monster that rose from the water, spanned the Golden Gate connecting San Francisco and the rest of the northern half of the Pacific Coast and created an image that is breath-taking and typical of San Francisco. It is one of the most internationally recognized structures that one can associate with, especially when it comes to the question of being typically American.

Beneath this image lies a dark side to America’s infrastructure and in particular its bridges. While most Americans take pride in the golden girl and maintain its upkeep, the majority of the bridges in America have become a victim of modernization, where old highly prized works of architecture constructed between 1860 and 1930 are becoming prey to bland architectural works that engineers and highway agencies tout as a step moving forward but in all reality are real eyesores, high maintenance, and in the end, last a fraction as long as their predecessors.  Too many examples of bridges lost can be found, whether it was the Manchester and Point Bridges of Pittsburgh, The Grace and Pearlman Bridges in Charleston, South Carolina, the Fort Steuben Bridge near Wheeling, West Virginia, Eagle Point Bridge in Dubuque, Iowa, The New Franklin Viaduct in Missouri, just to name a few.  These were works of  art that started in the steel mills as bridge parts or quarries as stone pieces that were transported hundreds or even thousands of miles to their final destination where they were erected on site. It is unknown how many workers on average were responsible for putting these structures together and integrating them into the fabric of America’s transportation system, but the number is huge.

It is unknown why these bridges had to be replaced except to say that there are too many factors, whether it is due to a lack of maintenance of the structures or a lack of interest in preserving these structures or even a lack of funding needed to preserve them. In either case, what we are seeing are more dollars and sense and less of the history and culture that these bridges stand for. It is like there is a lack of appreciation towards these historic structures and all of the toil and energy that it took to build them. It makes a person wonder if the wrecking ball will come for the more recognized structures, like the Golden Gate Bridge in favor of a cable-stayed bridge that has a lack of taste toward the city of San Francisco and America….

Fortunately though, it is not the case. The Golden Gate Bridge is alive and well, thanks to all the money and effort needed in maintaining the structure. As for the other historic bridges that are still standing, there are a growing number of Americans that still appreciate them and are taking the efforts to save them for others to see, whether it is incorporating them into a bike trail network, as we’re seeing more and more of that, or creating a park for these bridges, like the one near Battle Creek, Michigan and Iowa City. In places like Indiana and Texas, bridges are being refurbished, piece by piece, to serve traffic for many years to come. And those that are still in use but are approaching the end of their service life, there are more considerations to saving them for reuse instead of demolishing them. The mentality of the Americans has changed over the past 20 years, going from a throw-away society to that of reusing things. Part of that is for environmental reasons but the other part is for the purpose of preserving what is left of our culture and integrating them into our lives.

As David Plowden once mentioned in a book on bridges of North America: People tend to build bridges for the purpose of achieving something and not for achievement itself.  This expression was based on earlier history where architecture in America was based on building things quickly and efficiently. This may be true to an extent, yet the bridges of the past are much nicer than those of today. It has something to do with its appearance, but even more, it has something to do with its association with the people who live near them, the community it is integrated in, and the American History that should not be forgotten. While we will see more newer and fancier structures on America’s road in the future, there will be more historic bridges preserved for future generations as many Americans do care a great deal about their prized work of art and the ancestors that put it together for people to use.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles would like wish everyone a Happy 4th of July. Take some time to go to a nearest historic bridge near your home and think about the structure and how it was built, how it is associated with your lives and your community, how it became part of local and regional history and more importantly, how it can be preserve, should the time come for it to be retired from service. Chances are that 99 times out of 100, your bridge will be as valuable as the Golden Gate Bridge and there will be many reasons to save the structure for future use.

Bridgehunter’s Chronicles Newsflyer: 10 May 2012

Greensburg Pike Bridge to be demolished this year. Photo taken in August 2010

 

May and June are perhaps one of the busiest months when it comes to historic preservation and bridges in general. A lot of important events are coming up that will provide people with a chance to either visit the historic bridge as part of their travel itinerary or take part in some contests and conferences. Here are some examples of upcoming events for you to keep in mind:
Photo Contests Commemorating National Historic Landmarks in the United States:
Once a year the National Park Service hosts a photo contest for photographers and historians alike, who want to showcase their talent to others and encourage others to take pride in the national landmarks in the US. Between now and 13 June, contestants can take advantage of the opportunity to “spice up” their digital photos for the right picture and submit them via flickr to the National Park Service. Please limit your entries to 10 photos per person but ONE photo per National Landmark. There are over 2,500 National Landmarks in the US but additional rules can be found here.  I’ve already chosen my pics to enter and I hope others will take part or at least encourage others to show their talent and their pride towards American history and enter. Good luck!

Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference in Vermont:
For those interested in historic preservation per se, or would like to know more on how to bridge the gap between historic preservation policy and practice (successes and shortcoming), there is the 18th annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference scheduled to take place on 8 June at Memorial Hall in Wilmington. Located in southern Vermont, the town was one of many that was devastated by Hurricane Irene in August of last year, but residents have been resilient in their successful attempts of restoring the historic town. This conference will feature many presentations including the importance of Main Street and recycling buildings. Tying education and preservation together is another topic that will be brought to the attention of the public through a presentation by Kaitlin O’shea-Healy of Preservation in Pink in the presentation entitled How Historic Preservation Involves YOU.  Cost are $35 for non-residents of Wilmington and accommodations are plenty. More information can be found here.

Historic Bridges in Erfurt in the Limelight:
There are over 25 historic bridges that exist in the capital of Thuringia, located in central Germany. Hans-Joerg Vockrodt and Dietrich Baumbach are the main source of authority when it comes to the history of bridges, some of which date back to the 12th century and have been since producing their own works in the 1990s and their first book on Erfurt’s bridges in 1994. Their second piece on the history of Erfurt’s bridges was released last year and on 23 May at 7:00pm at the Stapp book store in Erfurt, they will be presenting this topic to those interested in knowing about this topic. The cost for participating is three Euros. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will be there live and an interview with the authors will be in the works for the posting on Erfurt’s historic bridges and the book itself. Stay tuned.
German:  Es gibt über 25 Brücken in Erfurt, die Landeshauptstadt Thüringens, die im Mitteldeutschland liegt. Die Autoren, Hans-Jörg Vockrodt und Dietrich Baumbach sind die Hauptquellen für die Geschichte Erfurts Brücken, welche davon seit dem 12. Jahrhundert existiert haben, und sie haben seit der 90er Jahren über dieses Thema geschrieben, unter Anderem das erste Buch, das 1994 erschienen ist. Das zweite Buch über dieses Thema wurde im letzten Jahr veröffentlicht  und am 23. Mai um 19:00, findet ein Vortrag darüber in der Buchhandlung Stapp in Erfurt statt für diejenigen, die sich für dieses Thema interessieren. Die Eintrittkosten beträgt drei Euros. Die Bridgehunter’s Chronicles ist Live dabei und ein Artikel sowie ein Interview mit den Autoren werden geplant. 
Golden Gate Bridge to be 75 years old:
It took over 3 years, losing 21 people in the process, to achieve this feat. For 75 years, it has withstood the heavy currents of the Golden Gate as well as the earthquakes that shook the region, especially counting the 1989 earthquake. It has become a symbol for the city of San Francisco and the state of California, was used in many films, like Star Trek and Superman, and has been widely recognized by many who visit the USA from outside. This May, the Golden Gate Bridge will turn 75 years old and during the weekend of 27 May, a celebration marking its birthday will take place on the bridge. Information on the events can be found here.
Unfortunately though, the celebrations will take place without any survivors of the bridge construction. Jack Balestreri and Edward Ashoff, the last two surviving men who contributed to the building of the Golden Gate Bridge died recently due to old age and illness. An obituary of the two can be read here. These two plus a handful of others received the key to San Francisco by mayor Dianne Feinstein at the 50th anniversary celebration in 1987, it was put on display at the memorial services for Balestreri.
On a somber note, there are some bridges in the news that deserve to be mentioned as they have been a target of attempts to preserve them, most of which were to no avail due to either lack of funding or lack of interest in saving them. Here are some examples of bridges that are coming out soon:
Hulton Bridge in Pittsburgh (USA):

Built in 1909, the bridge was named after Jonathan Hulton, one of the first settlers of the Oakmont village located along the Allegheny River northeast of Pittsburgh. The bridge is famous for its long span- a 500-foot Pennsylvania petit main span with Parker truss approach spans, all colored in lavender. Sadly because of the high amount of cars crossing the bridge on a daily basis- over 25,000 a day to be exact- the bridge is scheduled to be replaced soon. Construction will start in 2013 at the latest and is expected to last two years at a cost of over $80 million. The future of the truss bridge is questionable for attempts by the students of the Carnegie Mellon University to convert the bridge into a pedestrian crossing has been ongoing. The bridge is in really good shape after being rehabilitated and painted in 1991 and has some historic significance, yet PennDOT officials elected to have a 4-lane structure to replace the vintage truss span.  The question is where to construct the bridge as both sides of the bridge are privately owned. At the time of this posting, an engineering firm has been hired to find the right place to build the new span. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest there. For more information on how to contribute to saving the historic bridge, please contact Todd Wilson of Bridgemapper.com, whose contact information can be found via article on the bridge here.

 

Greensburg Pike Bridge in Pittsburgh (USA):

Work is well underway to replace the Greensburg Pike Bridge in Turtle Creek near Pittsburgh. The seven-span through truss bridge built in 1925 and featuring 45° skews at the portal bracing will remain open through September of this year, while a new bridge is being built downstream from the structure, which afterwards, the roadway will be realigned and the truss spans will be removed. As the bridge spans at least seven tracks of the Norfolk Southern Railroad, attempts will be made to minimize disruptions as the truss bridge will be dismantled. The new bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic by August 2013. More on the bridge replacement is here.

Railroad Underpass at Grevesmuehlen, Germany:

Located about 70 kilometers east of Luebeck in western Mecklenburg-Pommerania in northeastern Germany, the bridge carries a local street in the village of Grevesmuehlen spanning a two-track rail line. The bridge is a Bailey truss bridge, one of many that were built in the late 1940s to replace bridges either severely damaged or destroyed in World War II. Unfortunately, its days have been numbered as the structure has become obsolete and therefore will be replaced with a concrete bridge. Work started recently and the bridge is scheduled to be completed and open to traffic in August of this year. Rail line will not be disrupted but detours will be in place until the project is completed.

The Nussrain Bridge at Bensigheim, Germany:

Located about 80 kilometers south of Heilbronn on the Neckar Canal in Baden Wuerttemberg, the city of Bensigheim has not been too kind to its bridges, as a six-span double-barrel Whipple through truss bridge built in 1874 was replaced in 2006 with the majority of the structure being reduced to scrap metal (a small section was saved as a monument). Now it has problems maintaining its existing bridges. The Nussrain Bridge spanning the Neckar Canal between Bensigheim and Hessigheim is scheduled to be replaced, but in 2016. The reaction from the public has been anything but positive, as the structure, built sometime in the 1950s, is crumbling and it is considered obsolete for accommodating vehicular traffic, including cyclists and pedestrians. The reason for the delay is the bridge project is supposed to be tied together with improving the canal and the roadway that crosses the bridge and constructing the roundabout on the Bensigheim side of the bridge. Work is underway to push up the construction date.

Yet on a positive note, a couple of bridges are about to be rehabilitated as the demand for more stabile structures to accommodate pedestrians are needed. One of them is a covered bridge built 250 years ago located in Switzerland (near Zug).

Kleinodbruecke to be renovated:

Built 250 years ago, the covered bridge spans the Lorzel River between Baar and Menzingen in the Zug Canton and carries pedestrians and cyclists. The covered bridge is protected by Swiss law, but given the increasing amount of traffic, the covered bridge is about to receive a major facelift. New wood siding and approaches will be constructed to replace the ones that have corroded over the years, in addition to repairing some of the wooden truss parts that have dealt with weather extremities. The project has just started and will be completed in September. A substitute bridge is available for pedestrians to use during the time of the bridge work. More information on the bridge can be found here, and the construction project here.  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a link to Switzerland’s covered bridges, which can be accessed here and in the links page in the lower window of the main page.