Century-old railroad overpass spanning the rail lines between Leipzig/Halle and Naumburg (Saale) being demolished after sitting idle for almost three decades.
GROSSKORBETHA/BAD DURRENBERG/LEIPZIG- Travellers passing through the German states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt by train have been seeing a lot of construction on the rail lines, lately. As part of the modernization process, overhead electrical lines that provide power to trains are being replaced because of age, tracks are being replaced or added, train stations are being rebuilt and unused bridges are being taken down. The Wengelsdorf Bridge at Grosskorbetha is one of the bridges that has fallen victim to progress. Sitting idle since 1990, the 1910 structure, which was rehabilitated and extended in 1945 and used to connect the villages of Wengelsdorf and Grosskorbetha, is coming down in pieces. Already gone is the larger half featuring the signature arch spans over the rail line going to Leipzig, work is being done to replace the line going to Halle (Saale) as this article is being posted. The city council in Weissenfels and the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn) in 2013 agreed to provide 1.4 million Euros ($2.1 million) to remove the 150-meter long structure, which belongs to the Bahn, as the bridge had become a hindrance to train service and it no longer was deemed useful. The demolition is part of the plan by the Bahn to modernize the railroad yard and junction at Grosskorbetha, which include new tracks and overhead lines, both of which are at least 50 years old. While the project is expected to be completed by 2018, the bridge is expected to be gone by the end of August of this year. By that time, the construction year, already touted as the worst in the history of the Deutsche Bahn with several major projects and railroad detours, will have reached its end, and passengers will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as they commute between work and home- without the delays and other complications.
As for the Wengelsdorf Bridge, a Mystery Bridge in itself, what will be left behind is history that will be discovered in books and through oral sources.
Check out the mystery bridge article on this bridge here.
ALSO: Try your luck on Saxony-Anhalt with a quiz, provided by sister column The Flensburg Files, which you can click here. Answer sheet is provided via link.
In connection with the series on Saxony-Anhalt through sister column, The Flensburg Files, we have another mystery bridge to solve. This one is between Grosskorbetha (where the railroad overpass is located) and the city of Halle, in the town of Schkopau. Located along the Saale River north of Merseburg, the town has 10,900 inhabitants, located along the Saale River, and has a castle dating back to 1177. It is sandwiched between the natural wildlife refuge of the Saale and Elster Rivers to the north and the chemical district of Leuna to the south, both of which are easily accessible by rail line and light rail between Halle and Leipzig via Bad Durremberg. Before the viaduct north of town was completed in 2014 to accomodate ICE-trains between Erfurt and Leipzig/Halle, there were only two rather unknown bridges in Schkopau: the railroad bridge and this overpass.
The overpass spans the rail line which connects Halle and Naumburg via Merseburg and Grosskorbetha and features a 10-panel pony truss bridge with riveted connections and a curved connection between the end post and the top chord. Judging by its appearance, with little rust as it has, the bridge appears to originate from the East German period, having been built after the close of World War II by the Soviets. What is interesting is the fact that the approachs feature inclined concrete arches that appear older than the truss span. Furthermore, even though the span accommodates pedestrians, it only crosses one set of tracks and not both. It only provides access from the west side of the track to the platform which separates the two tracks. According to Googlemap, the rail line splits the town into two. This leads to speculation that there once was a bridge or two bridges that crossed the entire track, but one of them was removed.
If that is the case, then when, and what did the bridge look like before it happened? Any information on the bridge’s history would be useful. You know what to do there, right?
Happy bridgehunting! 🙂
Test yourself on your knowledge of Saxony-Anhalt by clicking here to try out the Guessing Quiz. Answers will come very soon. 🙂
Staying in Saxony-Anhalt for the next mystery bridge article, we head back to Halle (Saale). As many of you have probably read, the city along the Saale River has over 38 bridges along this main river, its tributaries and even along the ICE rail line. While there is a tour guide that takes you to the city’s bridges through the Chronicles and Halle in Bild, neither authors figured in that there would be a few additional outlyers with historic value that should be taken into account, and added.
Like this railroad crossing, for example.
Located less than 100 meters north of Halle Central Station, this western crossing looks like just an ordinary railroad bridge- or a series of railroad bridges as there are six bridges serving seven tracks- one each track except for the outermost crossing. As a bonus, one can enjoy the view of the historic water tower when crossing it. Yet when looking at the bridge more closely, one can see the history behind this construction:
The finials were located only at the southern entrance to the structure, right before entering the platform of Halle Central Station. They resemble sword-shaped towers resembling Washington Monument in the United States, with Victorian-like foundations, standing on the abutments made of sandstone and limestone brick and concrete. An inscription with the year 1909 indicated the year the bridge was constructed, spanning Delitzscher Strasse. The bridge’s railings are made of cast iron and feature a parapet that has circilar and mushroom shapes with posts that feature a pyramid-shaped finial and a an outrigger per post that resembles a raindrop. Outriggers are diagonal posts that slant outwards at an angle 60-80° and used to support the trusses for pony truss bridges and railings for stringers, like this one, regardless of length. Many stringer bridges in Germany have these ornamental outriggers which makes the structure rather attractive. In America, one will see most outriggers on truss bridges, especially those built after 1900 with riveted connections in the form of Pratt, Howe or Warren truss designs, and have geometric shapes.
Judging by the main span, it appears that the structure is one of two bridge types: 1. It is a stringer which was constructed a few years ago to replace an arch bridge with either open-or-closed spandrel design or a truss design. This would make the most sense as Delitzscher Strasse is one of key streets connecting Halle City and the train station with points to the west, including Delitzsch, the Leipzig-Halle Airport and neighboring Leipzig. To accommodate more traffic, the arches were removed in favor of the stringer span, but the ornamental railings and the finials were preserved as historical markers, showing people where the bridge used to stand. With the modernization of Halle Central Station, this theory would not come as a surprise, given the fact that the complex was in such a desolate state during the time of the East German Communist rule.
Then there is option two, which is the stringer has stood since 1909 but had to be rehabilitated to accomodate rail traffic. This theory is tall but doable as engineering experiments have been done to either strengthen or partially replace the decking while keeping the bridge design in place, a concept that costs less money than a full replacement. Yet, given the modernization-happiness of the Deutsche Bahn, which owns the lines and the railway station complex, it is doubtful that the firm would go for quick fix-ups, as they want to conform to the modern rail standards and would rather have new bridges that function for 100 years than to have a restored bridge, like this one. Whe one looks at the firm’s campaign to have the 53-year old Fehmarn Bridge in Schleswig-Holstein torn down and replaced or the Chemnitz Viaduct replaced, one will understand why the Bahn is not listening to alternatives by local and regional governments. By the way, the fight to save the bridges is still on, and other European countries have modernized their rail lines but kept their historic bridges, including Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and even Belgium.
Keeping the theories in mind, we now turn to the forum, providing the following questions for you to ponder and share information about. Feel free to comment on them as the people in Halle would like to know more about this bridge, possibly adding it into a book that should be written on the city’s bridges (see a collection here). Here are the questions for the forum:
When was this bridge built and who was behind the design?
Is the current bridge the restored original or a replacement? If the latter, when was it replaced?
If the bridge was restored, how was it done and who led the efforts?
Who was behind the design of the ornamental railings and finials?
While on the subject of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt as there is a quiz on this subject (click hereto challenge yourself), there are a few historic bridges in the state that many of us don’t know about. Many of them have been abandoned, and the little records that may have existed in the past vanished because of war and political oppression. Saxony-Anhalt was one of five German states that fell under the rule of two different dictators between 1933 and 1990: The first with Hitler and the second under Communism. During that time, records of these structures were either lost or altered in an attempt to prop up the goodness of these two regimes, when they anything but that.
This railroad viaduct in Grosskorbetha is one of these gigantic structures that has been sitting abandoned for decades and whose records on its history may have been lost to time and the iron fist. Grosskorbetha is a village in southern Saxony-Anhalt thatis the bridge between the industrial area to the north and the wine industry to the south. It is a transitional point in terms of landscape where going south, one can see the limestone hills lining along the Saale and Unstrut Rivers. Going north, it has nothing but flat plains. It is an outlyer to the megalopolis region of Leipzig and Halle, which includes Bad Durrenberg, Merseburg, Schkopau, Delitzsch and Bitterfeld-Wolfen. And it is the Grand Central Station (or in German terms, Hamburg Hauptbahnhof) for all freight trains, especially as they branch off into three parts going north: to Leipzig, to Halle and to the petroleum area in Leuna. For passenger train service, no one can escape seeing these trains and industrial complexes when passing through.
And for this railroad bridge, which is an nine-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge, it is the structure which one will pass through by train, noticing all the cracks and spalling, the barriers keeping everyone off the structure, but one will have a difficult time photographing it. This shot was taken by train but at speeds of 120 km/h. The bridge is located a kilometer north of the train station, which makes walking ti the structure impossible, given the high volume of traffic at this junction. Even Nathan Holth would face the wrath of the Bahn in one form or another if he was to even try to walk to the bridge. 😉 But what we can say about the bridge is it is at least 80 years old, and it has withstood damages caused by war, wear and tear and trains passing through. Crossing the main passenger lines heading to Leipzig and Halle, one could say the bridge is well over 170 meters long. And the width is enough to hold vehicular traffic in both directions, especially when it connects Leuna and Grosskorbertha. But…..
What else do we know about this bridge? Any ideas in English or German would be of great help.
Author’s Tip: As a tip when photographing bridges like these: If you cannot zoom in with your camera, try by train, but use the speed modus, and fire away as you approach the bridge. If you miss, turn around and try when the train goes away from the bridge. The second step is easier than the first, but you will be able to get a “drive-by” shot while the train is in motion. My success here came after the train passed through the bridge, except it was with the red regional trains which have since been decommissioned due to age. They featured windows you can open and stick your arms and camera out for a good shot. With the newer trains by the rail service Abellio, the windows are fixed shut and it may be more difficult to photograph with a closed window, but still, it is doable.
Wiley Bridge wins Best Photo Award, Cologne and Fayette County win Tour Guide Award, Coffeville Bridge Best Kept Secret for Individual Bridge.
Run-off elections for spectacular disaster underway; winner announced Friday. New changes underway for 2014 Ammann Awards.
A grey foggy morning in rural Pennsylvania. All is quiet on the homefront, except for a few clicks with the camera, all covered in dew, taken by a pontist crossing an old iron bridge that is cold, eeiry, walking into the bridge…. and into nowhere! This is probably the feeling Nathan Holth had as he photographed the Wiley Bridge in Berks County in northern Pennsylvania. The bridge had been closed for many years, awaiting its removal. Yet if it happens, it will most likely be relocated to Alabama instead of the dumpster. This photo won the Ammann Awards for Snapshot which will be more points for the preservationists. A sure way to bid farewell after 110 years and say hello to its new home.
For this category, it was divided up into the Tour Guide Section, where we have a region or city with a cluster of historic bridges and Individual Bridge, awarded for finding a historic bridge.
Tour Guide Award:
Like the Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle(Saale), the Bridges along the Rhine River in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which includes the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne, won the Tour Guide Award in both the international division, as well as All Around. The history of the bridges in this region go back over 100 years, despite the majority of them being severely damaged or destroyed in World War II as the Nazis detonated them in a desparate attempt to stop the march of American and British troops. This includes the Remagen Bridge, as well as the bridges in Dusseldorf, Duisburg and Cologne. Fortunately, some of the bridges damaged in the war were restored to their original form; others were rebuilt entirely from scratch. In any case, one can find bridges going as far back as 1877 along the river in this still heavily industrialized state, as mentioned in a WDR documentary last year. The NRW Bridges edged the bridges of Lübeck by three votes and Halle (Saale) and Quedlinburg by four votes in the international division.
Other results: Magdeburg (6), Kiel (5), Baltic-North Sea Canal (5), Flensburg (3) Note: All these candidates are from Germany
There are many regions, cities and counties in the USA whose historic bridges are plentiful. But there is no county that has used historic bridges as a showcase as Fayette County, Iowa, this year’s Tour Guide Award for the USA division. As many as four dozen pre-1945 bridges are known to exist in the county, half of them are metal trusses, like the West Auburn Bridge, an 1880 Whipple truss bridge built by Horace Horton that’s located west of Eldorado. There are also numerous concrete arch bridges located in and around West Union and in western parts of the county, including the Oelwein area. And lastly, Fayette County has the only Kingpost through truss bridge in the state of Iowa, and perhaps the oldest of its kind left in North America. Located over Quinn Creek in the northern part of the county, the 1880 structure has remained a tourist attraction, despite being bypassed by a series of culverts in the 1990s.
Thanks to Bill Moellering’s efforts during his years as county engineer, the county has the highest number of historic bridges in northeastern Iowa and one of the highest in the state. And the county won the Tour Guide Award by edging the City of Des Moines by one vote.
Other votes: Franklin Park in Syracuse, New York (5)
In the All Around, Fayette County finished second behind Cologne, Germany, falling short by two votes, but with one vote ahead of Lübeck, Germany and Des Moines.
1. Cologne/ North Rhine-Westphalia (11); 2. Fayette County, Iowa (9); T3. Lübeck (8), Des Moines (8)
Best Kept Secret for Best Historic Bridge Find
In the second subcategory under Best Kept Secret, we have the individual bridges, where only a handful of bridges have been entered. While it is very few for a first time, the number will most likely increase when introduced for 2014. Only three bridges fall into this category, whereby the Coffeville Bridge, a three-span Marsh arch bridge spanning the Verdigris River in Montgomery County, Kansas not only won out in this category, but won the entire category, when combined with the Tour Guide candidates, beating Cologne by one vote and Fayette County by three. Not bad for a bridge that is about to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here is how the winners fared out.
Individual Bridge Find:
Coffeville Arch Bridge in Kansas (submitted by Robert Elder) 12
Total Count for entire Category (including Tour Guide Candidates)
Coffeville Arch Bridge in Kansas 12
The Bridges of Cologne and NRW 11
The Bridges of Fayette County, Iowa 9
Field Bridge in Cedar County, Iowa 9
The Bridges of Des Moines 8
The Bridges of Lübeck, Germany 8
Run-off elections for Spectacular Bridge Disasters
The last category, the Smith Awards for Spectacular Bridge Disasters, ended up in a tie for first place between the Newcastle Bridge Disaster and the I-5 Skagit River Bridge disaster, with the fire on the San Sabo Trestle Bridge disaster being a vote behind the two in second place. Since there is no such thing as a tie-for-first place finish, we will have our very first run-off election among the three candidates. Go to the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ facebook page, look at the three candidates and like the one that should deserve the award (ENTITLED CANDIDATE NUMBER AND THE TITLE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS). One like per voter please. The candidate with the most likes will win. Please like one of the three candidates by no later than Thursday at 12:00am Central Time (7:00am Berlin time on Friday). The winner will be announced on Friday in the Chronicles.
The use of social networks will be a prelude to the changes that will take place for the 2014 Ammann Awards. As there were some technical issues involving the ballot, which caused many to need more time to vote or even pass on the voting, the 2014 Awards will be using more of the social networks and other forms of 2.0 technology to ensure that there are more voters and the voting process is much easier and quicker. This includes the expanded use of facebook and linkedIn, as well as youtube, and other apps, like GoAnimate and other education apps. More information will come when voting takes place in December. The format for the 2014 voting will remain the same: submission of bridge candidates will be taken in November, ending on December 1st. However, the voting process will indeed resemble the Bridge Bowl, as it will be extended through Christmas and New Year, ending on January 6th, the Day of Epiphany. The winners will be announced on January 7th, 2015. More information can also be found in the Ammann Awards page.
The Chronicles would like to thanks those who voted and apologize to those who had problems with the voting from the 2013 Awards.
Robert (Bob) Frame III elected overwhelmingly for Lifetime Achievement; same result for Riverside Bridge (Ozark, Missouri) for Best Preservation Example. Halle (Saale) and Flensburg (Germany) numbers one and two respectively for Mystery Bridge.
Run-off vote for Spectacular Bridge Vote underway. Results expected on Friday.
For this year’s Ammann Awards, presented by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, there is a first for everything. While 45-50 voters participated in this year’s voting (which included some casting their vote for one category only, and canceled out the voting scheme on the ballot) we had a pair of deadline extensions- one due to the Arctic Blast which kept people from voting due to blocked roads and power outages and another due to multiple ties for first place in four categories, and now a run-off election for one category.
But despite the complications, one of the unique themes of the election is how people in general (not just the pontists and bridge experts) weighed in their support for their candidates in droves, making the elections a nail-biter to the very end. It shows that people appreciate their bridges and the preservation efforts that accompany them. How exciting was the voting? Let’s have a look at the results for their respective categories.
When I contacted him for the first time over seven years ago regarding inquiries about some bridges in Minnesota, my homestate, I got more than I bargained for when he provided me with an encyclopedia’s worth. But through his work, several historic bridges in Minnesota and other states have been preserved with more yet to come, including the Dodd Ford Bridge near Amboy in Blue Earth County. Robert (Bob) Frame III capped off his successful 40+ year career by winning the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work- but by an overwhelming majority, outracing his distant competitors, Nels Raynor and Bill Moellering. An interview with him will follow later on in the year in the Chronicles, which I’ll find out more about his passion for historic bridges and how it bore fruit careerwise, as a senior historian at Mead & Hunt, a post he still holds at present.
Robert Frame III 18
Nels Raynor 7 Raynor engineered successful preservation efforts in Texas, Kansas and Iowa (among others) and is spearheading efforts to save the Bunker Mill Brudge
Bill Moellering 5 36 years of success as county engineer and preservationist for Fayette County brought him an award for the county in another category and better chances of integrating the historic bridges into a tourist attraction.
Other participants: Friends of the Aldrich Change Bridge (4) and James Stewart (2)
Bridge of the Year:
Spanning the creek bearing the bridge’s name, this 1932 concrete deck arch structure is one of the tallest in the world, the most photographed by tourists because of its aesthetic nature and one of the most widely used bridge for American culture, as it was used in several Hollywood films, and it is even on a US Stamp. Now it earns another title, which is the 2013 Bridge of the Year Award, despite winning by a narrowest of margins. The bridge: The Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, in Monterrey County, California, located along the original US 101 (now called CA Hwy. 1), which has many bridges of this caliber between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. But not as popular as this bridge.
Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur 12
Hastings Arch Bridge in Minnesota 11 Spanning the Mississippi River, the 1951 steel through arch bridge (known as Big Blue) was built at the site of the Hastings Spiral Bridge. Now Big Red, the largest tied arch bridge in North America has taken over in hopes it can outlive Big Blue.
Wells Street Bridge in Chicago 7 This deck truss bascule bridge, built in 1922 was the focus of a major unprecedented habilitation project last year, as the trusses were replaced with duplicate ones keeping the historic integrity in tact.
Other votes: Vizcaya Bridge in Spain (6), Rendsburg High Bridge in Germany (5), Petit Jean Bridge in Arkansas (4) and Prestressed Concrete Bridge near Cologne (Germany) (3)
In its inaugural year, the category Mystery Bridge had not only a winner and a second place finisher in its own territory, but overall. The Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale) in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has a unique design, a unique history in connection with politics, but an unknown history as to who constructed this structure in 1884, which has survived two World Wars and the Cold War era nearly unscathed. That bridge received 12 votes, four more than its second place finisher, the Angelbuger Bridge in Flensburg (located at the Danish border), the bridge whose abutment used to house a bike shop, a comic store and a used goods shop. It shares second place with the winner in the US category, the Chaska Swing Bridge, which also received 8 votes. Also known as the Dan Patch Swing Bridge, it is the last bridge of its kind along the Minnesota River, which used to be laden with these bridge types, as it served as a key waterway linking Minneapolis and Winnipeg via Ortonville, Fargo and Grand Forks. The bridge is seldomly used and there’s hope that it will one day be a bike trail bridge.
Dan Patch Swing Bridge in Minnesota 8
Dinkey Creek Wooden Parker Truss Bridge in California 7
V-laced truss bridges in Iowa 5
Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale), Germany 12
Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg, Germany 8
Schleswig Strasse Bridge in Flensburg, Germany 1
Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale) 12
Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg and
Dan Patch Swing Bridge 8
Dinkey Creek Bridge in California 7
Best Preservation Example:
It took three years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, thousands of hours of volunteer work and effort by thousands of people with direct ties to this 1909 Canton Bridge Company structure, plus a Historic Bridge Weekend event not to mention lots of politicking and clarification of the laws. But it all paid off as the Riverside Bridge, spanning Finley Creek in Ozark, Missouri, located east of Springfield, was rehabilitated and reopened to traffic in August 2013. The group was informed yesterday that it has been awarded the Preservation Missouri Award for its work. The Ammann Award for Best Preservation Practice, awarded on the international scale has put the cherry on top of a cake that took so long to make, thanks to the people for their efforts, esp. as the bridge won by a smashing majority!
Best Preservation Practice:
Riverside Bridge in Ozark, Missouri 19
North Bennington Bridge in Vermont 7 A set of Moseley Arch trusses were found along the road- dismantled after service. It was reassembled and now, it’s a bridge again.
Big Four Railroad Bridge in Kentucky 6 45 years out of service, the City of Louisville put the Ohio River crossing back into service as a pedestrian bridge.
Other votes: Cremery Bridge in Kansas (6), Petit Jean Bridge (5), Wells Street Bridge in Chicago (5), The Bridges of Robertson County, Texas (5), Checkered House Bridge in Vermont (2), Moose Brook Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio (1) and Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma, Washington (1)
More results of the Ammann Awards are found in Part II. To be continued……
Halle (Saale)- the birthplace of George Friedrich Handel. The second largest city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt and representing the second half of the metropolis Leipzig-Halle, which has 100,000 of the metro’s 600,000 inhabitants as well as one of the most renowned universities in Germany. Yet when you get off the train in Halle, you may be turned off by the ugly high-rise buildings that date back to the days of the German Democratic Republic, a communist state that existed until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German Reunification in 1990. Yet when you walk further towards the City Center, you will see another face of Halle that will sweep you off your feet: architecture dating to the Baroque Period, a statue of Handel overlooking the Cathedral and the Town Square, and further towards the Saale River, there’s the Giebichenstein Castle and the Halle Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the eastern half of Germany (Neuenbundesländer).
Surprisingly, if you are a pontist, you will be surprised to find that Halle has a wide selection of historic bridges that exist along the Saale River, its tributaries and to the south, the White Elster River, which meanders through Leipzig enroute to the Vogtland region in Thuringia and Saxony. There are 131 bridges in and around Halle; 14 of which are declared historically significant and protected by state preservation laws. It is very rare to find historic bridges of at least four different types, or until recently have more than one cantilever truss spans, dating back to the 1880s. And in terms of German history, many of these bridges survived the test of time, including World War II, in contrast to the majority of cities and regions, whose bridges were severely damaged or destroyed through air raids and attempts by the Nazis to fend off advancing Allied troops. This plus the history that is still being sought on these bridges is what makes the bridges of the City of Salt unique.
This article will take you on a tour of the bridges that you should see, when spending a day in Halle. This includes a pair of bridges that no longer exist but are still part of the memories of the Hallenser people that still live there as well as those who were born there but have long since moved away for better possibilities. So without further ado, here is a small guide of the Bridges of Halle, keeping in mind that there are links available that will bring you to the photos and info on the bridge:
This bridge, built in 1733, is the last crossing along the White Elster before it empties into the Saale River in the Hallense suburb of Böllberg. It used to serve a main trading route between Merseberg and Magdeburg before it lost its importance because of the railroads. Today, the stone and concrete arch bridge serves the White Elster bike trail between Halle and Leipzig. Yet the bridge has seen its better days as the arches have deteriorated to a point where reconstruction is badly needed in order to avoid the structure to collapse.
Halle-Neustadt Railroad Bridge:Spanning the Saale River in the southwest end of Halle, this eight-span stone arch bridge is one of the longest of its kind in the city, as well as the oldest. Most likely dating back to the late 1800s, this bridge used to serve an InterCity train line connecting the city with Kassel and Cologne. Thanks to privatization, combined with the realignment of long-distance rail lines, the bridge now serves regional services to Sangerhausen, Halberstadt and Nordhausen, enroute to its original destination. The bridge is one of the hardest to reach for a photographer needs to fight trees, thorns and tall grass before reaching the east bank and the bridge itself.
ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct:With a total length of 8.5 kilometers plus two more for a branch to Halle, the ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct currently holds the title of being the longest railway viaduct in Germany. Completed in 2013, the viaduct features concrete box girder spans crossing the two rivers and swamp areas nearby but also features a steel through arch span that spans the branch that breaks off the main route to Halle. Although it passes the village of Schkopau (and with that a 1936 railroad truss bridge spanning the Saale just a kilometer south of the bridge), the viaduct is part of the ICE line connecting Erfurt and Leipzig, which since its opening in December 2015, has cut down the travel time by 60% to only 30 minutes between the two cities. The record will remain until 2017 when another viaduct located south of Erfurt will open, which will be longer than this one.
This is the second youngest bridge in the city and the youngest to span the Saale. This bridge spans the Saale’s main river at the entrance to Rabeninsel (Raven’s Island) and features a cable-stayed bridge, whose pylon angles towards Böllberg Weg and the cables support the roadway. The roadway resembles a raindrop as it encircles the pylon. Built in 2000, the bridge measures 85 meters long and is 20 meters tall, easily seen from the main highway a kilometer away.
A few months ago, the Chronicles did a segment on this mystery bridge, spanning the Saale River at the confluence of the Elisabeth Saale and Middle Saale Rivers, west of Böllberg Weg. This bridge was built in 1884 and used to serve a rail line connecting the city with Magdeburg (north) and Merseburg (south) for over 80 years. When the line was abandoned in the 1970s, the lenticular through truss span, measured at 40 meters in length, was rehabilitated and converted into a bike and pedestrian crossing, which still serves its function today. The bridge also has a dark side- and a memorial plaque is placed on the truss as a marker of this tragedy. In the night of 13-14 March, 1919, Karl Meseberg, who was a revolutionary leader during World War I, was murdered on the bridge with his body landing in the Saale. It was found five days later. While the bridge shows its bright side during the day, at dusk, one can feel the presence of a ghost at the bridge, keeping people away from the crossing. This may be in connection with this unfortunate event, but more info in the form of eyewitnesses and evidence is needed to confirm the claims of a ghost at the bridge. If you look to the south of the bridge, you will find a blue tied-arch bridge about 100 meters away. That bridge was built in 2000 and carry water lines connecting the southern and western parts of the city.
This steel through arch bridge is located over the Saale River at William Jost Strasse north of the Hafenbahnbrücke. Built in 1912, the grey-colored span is similar to the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne in terms of the design of the bridge, but the portal bracing resemble a bridge located west of Steinbrücke in neighboring Magdeburg. But when passing underneath the bridge, one will see the stone arched approach spans carrying the emblem of Halle on there- an impressive construction by the builder of the bridge, whoever it was.
Spanning the Saale River at the Mansfelder Strasse, there are three crossings located within 60 meters of each other. The oldest span is a polygonal Warren pony truss with riveted connections that used to serve streetcar and vehicular traffic. Yet because of its structural obliqueness- too narrow and too light to support traffic- a vehicular crossing to the north was built in the early 1990s, which was followed by a separate streetcar crossing to the south a decade later. The truss span was later converted to pedestrian use by strenthening the trusses and adding a concrete and brick deck. An economic and interesting way to preserve a piece of history.
Apart from the Hafenbahn, Giebichenstein, and Mühlentor Bridges, the Peissnitz Bridge is one of the crown jewels as far as Halle’s bridges are concerned. Spanning the Saale River at Peissnitz Island, carrying the street carrying the same name, the bridge is one of the most ornamental of bridges, for the 1898 structure features a cantilever Pratt truss design, with ornamental towers supporting street lights, and red quarry stone arch approach spans, presenting its grey and red colors which are typical colors of the city. When built in 1898, the bridge was the only toll bridge in the city, as money was collected for people wanting to cross the bridge and enter Peissnitz Island. This was discontinued in 1921 and the bridge has operated as a free bridge ever since. The bridge is 103 meters long, 70 meters of which represent the main span. Despite sustaining damage during World War II, it was rebuilt in 1946 and was eventually converted to a pedestrian and bike crossing, which remains that way to this day. The Peissnitz Bridge, located on the east end, is one of three bridges that provide access to the island, along with Schwanenbrücke and another bridge at the west end. The latter, built in the 1900s, was recently replaced with a steel truss bridge in 2013.
Schwanenbrücke:Located at Weinberg at the northwest end of Peissnitz Island, this 1893 bridge is one of the oldest standing in Halle. The structure features a wire suspension span with eyebar connections found at the steel towers. Its roadway features a Town Lattice truss design railing which together with the suspenders, support the wooden decking. The bridge was destroyed during World War II but was later rebuilt in 1946. It was renovated in 1992, which includes dismantling, sandblasting and improving the steel parts, and reerecting the span on new abutments made of brick and concrete. The abutments feature the name Schwanenbrücke on there. The bridge is open to cyclists and pedestrians wishing to enter the island from the northwest. The bridge is next to the island park railway station, which provides service to places on the island.
Spanning the Mühlgraben at Peissnitzstrasse, this 1912 closed spandrel arch bridge has some unique features making a stop a necessity. Like the Pfälzer Bridge, the railings feature a Howe truss in an Art Deco design, all in concrete. Two pairs of cast iron lanterns, encased in concrete, decorated with gargoyles, can be found on each end of the 20 meter long span, which provides the lone access to Peissnitz Island and park area to the west, let alone the Peissnitz Bridge itself. The bridge was named after a water mill, located nearby that was built in the late 1800s and was made of stone. That mill still exists today.
This bridge and neighboring Giebichenstein Castle on the lime cliffs of the Saale River go together like bread and butter. The three-span concrete arch bridge is the fourth crossing at this site, being built in 1928 replacing a steel Parker through truss bridge, whose predecessors included a pontoon bridge, ferry and a covered bridge. The bridge is 261 meters long, 60 of which consist of the largest arch span. The bridge features two sculptures on the south side facing neighboring Peissnitz Bridge, resembling cattle- making the bridge a real treat to see. The bridge was renovated in 1995 and again in 2011, but continues to serve vehicular and street car traffic connecting the city center with the western suburb of Krollwitz.
Like the Peissnitz Bridge, the Mühlentor Bridge, spanning Mühlgraben-a tributary of the Saale- at Neuwerk in the northern end of the city, is the most ornamental bridge but in the form of an arch bridge. Art Deco art on the bridge’s railing and four lamp posts can be seen when crossing the 1912 span by car or bike. The railings resemble a Howe truss made of concrete, a rarity one can see these days.
Located at the Robert Franz Ring, this Mühlengraben crossing is one of the newest bridges along this route. Little has been written about this bridge except for the fact that the steel deck arch span appears to date back to a time span between the 1990s, going back to the 1940s. In either case, the bridge’s lean appearance is attractive for many bridge photographers who enjoy a few minutes with the camera.
When leaving Halle (Saale) by train heading north, this bridge will be the last landmark to be seen on your way out. Today’s bridge, built in 2005, features a cable-stayed span that is 71 meters tall and 171 meters long, spanning the railroad tracks. Yet the bridge came at the cost of a steel eyebar suspension bridge with pony truss decking, which was built during the first World War, with the help of French soldiers. It was originally named the Hindenburg Bridge before it was changed after World War II. Despite being considered a historic landmark, excessive rust and corrosion, caused by diesel-powered trains passing underneath it, doomed the bridge, causing the city council to decide for a replacement span. The cable-stayed bridge was built to the north of the bridge and after its completion in 2005, the 1916 bridge was dismantled and sold for scrap, despite protests by many who wanted to keep the structure for reuse as a pedestrian bridge.
While some local newspapers have mentioned a bit about Halle’s bridges, more publicity on the structures was presented through a guide of Halle’s infrastructure, which was presented last year and included as many as 38 bridges in and around the city. Whether the article originally published in the Chronicles in 2012 as well as following newspaper articles had something to do with that or if people enjoy visiting the city’s bridges remains clear. But given the interest of tying the city’s bridges in with its history, it is a foregone conclusion that these historical structures will be properly cared for for generations to come, thus giving Halle several accolades for its heritage that had been kept under the rug by the East German government until 1989 but has shown its beautiful sides since then. And these 38 bridges, seen here in this guide (in German), together with a map of the bridges visited in 2011 and 2015, are one of many reasons why Halle is a place to visit when travelling through Germany and wanting a good bike tour through the city’s history and heritage. It is one of the cities I’ve since had on my top 10 German places to visit list. You’ll understand why when you get a chance to see it too. 🙂
More photos of the bridges in Halle can be found in the wordpress version of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Click HERE to get to the page. The photos were taken during the author’s visit in 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Halle (Saale) is famous for many markets and events honoring Handel and other music greats. This includes the Christmas market, which you can click here to read about. Courtesy of sister column The Flensburg Files.
Flensburg, Germany. Located at the German-Danish border, the city of 90,000 inhabitants is home to two universities, a top-class handball team (SG Flensburg-Handewitt) and 800 years of history involving shipping and trade. It is deep in the heart of the Angel region, whose inhabitants invaded England in the 4th Century and became the first group to introduce the English language. There’s the local breweries of Hansen’s and the Flensburger, the latter of which have produced over a dozen types of beer that can still be tasted today. And lastly, it is the birthplace of the rum industry, where over a dozen rum distilleries and another dozen sugar processing plants dominated the region up until the 1950s. The distilleries of Pott and Johanssen still exist today with over 300 years of tradition.
Then there are the bridges. Over a dozen bridges serve the city and a radius of 10 kilometers, much of them feature girder types like this one, the mystery bridge which can be found at the junction of Angelburger Strasse and the Suederhofenden at the southern tip of Flensburg’s city center. It is unknown when it was built, except to say that because pony girder bridges were commonly used for railroad bridges during the first three decades of the 20th century, that it is assumed it was constructed in the 1920s. It used to serve a rail line connecting Flensburg’s railway station (located to the south of the city center) and the docking area (located in the vicinity of the Schiffsfahrtmuseum, Hansen’s brewery and a collection of clipper ships). This line has been abandoned for some years and with that, the bridge, one of at least six serving the spur, is still in tact.
Now why choose a girder bridge like this one, apart from its unusual truss railings resembling a Howe truss style and the bottom truss bracing resembling V-lacing which can be seen while walking under the structure? Have a look at the following photos taken while visiting Flensburg in 2010 and take a wild guess, asking why the northern abutment is what it is in the picture:
After looking at the northern abutment, one is probably asking whether it is possible to house a business or residence in the abutment. While it may be inconceivable in the United States, it is common in Germany and other places in Europe. In places like Berlin, Halle (Saale) and Frankfurt (Main), one can see many businesses embedded in the brick or concrete abutment and wall with trains passing over them without incident. The reason is simple: the population density which makes this move a necessity and the proximity to railway stations and other important points where people can board the trains provide it with an opportunity to catch any passers-by. Judging by the appearance on the abutment at the railroad underpass in Flensburg- with the words “Fahrräder” above the entrance and window, which was walled in, and the bike wheel facing the street passing under the bridge- it appears that the northern abutment of the railroad used to have a bike business. The question is, when was the area abandoned and why. Furthermore, were the original inhabitants the Petersens, whose bike business is now located up the hill at Hafermarkt 19, approximately 300 meters east of the bridge? And lastly, why was the northern abutment of the bridge holed in to create a business in the first place? Who was the mastermind behind this scheme?
Before touring Flensburg’s bridges, the Chronicles is gathering information on the bridge’s history. If you have any information on this bridge that will be useful, please contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also add your comments and facts about the bridge under Comments at the end of this article or on the Bridgehunter’s Chronicle’s facebook page. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is an online column that focuses on historic bridges, with a specialty in solving mysteries of such historic bridges like this one in the US, Europe and elsewhere.
While in Flensburg, there is another bridge whose information is lacking and will be shown in the next Mystery Bridge article. Stay tuned and enjoy the rum and the discussion on this bridge.