Two changes to Facebook Pages

 

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Two pages changed to honor the (historic) bridges of Saxony (Germany) and Iowa.

GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Two facebook webpage have been changed and henceforth will honor areas that are highly populated with historic bridges- and with that, their history, heritage and ways to keep them from becoming a memory.

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The Bridges of Saxony (Die Brücken Sachsens)

The original page Friends of the Rechenhausbrücke (Bockau Arch Bridge) was changed to The Bridges of Saxony. The webpage was originally created in 2018 and was used as a platform to campaign for preserving the 150-year old structure that used to span the Zwickau Mulde River near the village of Bockau, located six kilometers southwest of Aue and 10 km south of Schneeberg in the Ore Mountains. Despite all the efforts, the bridge was torn down last year after a new span was built on a new alignment. More details can be found here. 

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Since then, the page was gradually modified to include, first the bridges in the western Ore Mountain region and lastly the whole of Saxony. Saxony has one of the highest number of historic bridges that exist in Germany. Many of them survived two World Wars and the Cold War all intact. Some of them are still scheduled to be either rehabilitated or replaced.

To access the facebook page and like to follow, click  here.

The Historic Bridges of Iowa:

Another webpage that has been changed recently is the one for saving the Green Bridge at Jackson Street and Fifth Avenue in Des Moines. Like its Saxon predecessor, the original page was a campaign platform for saving the 1898 three-span structure built by George E. King, but whose future was in doubt due to structural concerns. Unlike its predecessor though, the bridge was saved thanks to a wide array of campaigns and fund-raisers. The bridge was restored and reopened in 2017.

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Afterwards, a survey was carried out on what to do with the page. There, 70% of the respondants favored converting the page into one honoring the historic bridges in Iowa. Iowa is in the top five in terms of the highest number of bridges ages 70 and older in the US. Many of them have been preserved while others have been closed down and their futures are in doubt, like the Cascade Bridge in Burlington.  Some have already been demolished despite historical status, like it happened with the Wagon Wheel Bridge   in 2016. Since yesterday, the name was changed. The facebook page is now called The Historic Bridges of Iowa and it can be accessed here.

Both pages have the same mission:

1. It will be used to share photos, stories and histories of bridges in their respective areas. People wishing to post them are more than welcome to do so.

2. News articles, aside from what comes from BHC, on historic bridges are also welcome.

3. If people have books on certain bridges in the Iowa or Saxony that they wish to present on the platform, they can do so.

4. It will also be a platform for exchanging ideas involving preserving historic bridges in Iowa and Saxony. This includes any initiatives from groups that are fighting to keep their bridge instead of being demolished.

Given the political situation facing Germany/Europe and the US, no political commentaries are allowed on the respective pages. They are solely used for talking about bridges.

Like to follow on both the pages and enjoy the bridge photos, stories and the like that you will see when visiting the pages. 🙂

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Bridgehunter Awards for Lifetime Legacy Post Humous: John F. Graham

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John F. Graham lecturing at the 2010 HB Conference in Pittsburgh. Photo taken in August 2010

When I first met John Graham at the 2nd annual Historic Bridge Conference in Pittsburgh in 2010, my first impression of him was that he was a conservative, dressed up as white collar worker, but a man of detail and experience.  It was John F. Graham who came up with a concept of augmented reality for structural analysis of bridges.

Augmented reality is a computer term that I had recently collected some general information on through a pair of presentations in an English for IT class at the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences in Germany. It basically analyses the inner portion of structures to analyze problems and find solutions. It had been introduced for medicine for identifying tissue damage in humans, making a precise diagnostic and recommendations for improving the body damage where the damage occurred.  Yet could Augmented Reality work for infrastructure, such as bridges?

Red Jacket Trestle after its reconstruction. Photo taken in 2012 by John Marvig

Apparently according to Graham, it does. In theory based on trial and error combined with experience, Mr. Graham at the conference showed that augmented reality can identify structural deficiencies inside bridge structures, through the use of special sensors, and make recommendations for fixing them. This latest technology would save money and prolong the life of the bridge, especially after the structure is rehabilitated. Evidence in praxis was shown with the Red Jacket Railroad Trestle south of Mankato, Minnesota later that year, for the Minnesota DOT was in charge of rebuilding the trestle after floodwaters undermined one of the piers, forcing officials to remove the deck plate girders while watching the stone pier collapse. In the other piers, structural weaknesses were identified to a point where the piers were reconstructed to resemble the original. The restoration ended in 2011.  Other rehabilitation projects involved this type of technology which saved costs and opened the doors for reusing historic bridges.

Hot Metal Bridges in Pittsburgh. Photo taken in 2010

Mr. Graham’s presentation based on this concept was one of many aspects that will make him a person who was conservative but reasonable when it came to the decision of rehabilitating bridges that were an asset to the area and replacing those that deteriorated beyond repair. He was a true Pittsburghese, having been born in the Steel City on 2 April, 1936 and studied civil engineering at Carnegie Tech (today known as Carnegie Mellon University. For most of his career, he was Director for Engineering and Construction for Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, a position he held until 1989. During his time, he was responsible for the rehabilitation of hundreds of bridges in and around Pittsburgh, including the Sister Bridges, Sixteenth Street and the arch bridges at Fort Pitt and Fort Dusquene, just to name a few. He also had to replace some, like at Sutersville and Coraopolis, according to Todd Wilson, a civil engineer who knew him well during his days at Carnegie Mellon. Mr. Graham in 1978 pushed for and supported legislation that would allow the Federal Highway Administration to allocate the 90:10 funding ratio, whereby state and local governments would only bear 10% of the cost for rehabilitating or replacing the bridge, the former Graham championed and led to the prolongation of the lives of several of Pittsburgh’s bridges. Legislation continued this 90:10 ratio and prioritized rehabilitation until the Minneapolis Bridge collapse in 2007, which resulted in more radical measures to replace bridges. To the end, Mr. Graham continued advocating for identifying and fixing deficiencies in the structures, claiming that they were cost effective and would save on the use of materials needed for new bridges. Indirectly, it was a plus when identifying the historic significance of the bridges.

In 1989, Mr. Graham became the Director of Capital Projects for the City of Pittsburgh, where he oversaw the construction of the Pittsburgh International Airport and other related construction projects, including the Southern Beltway. He later worked for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and later taught engineering classes at Carnegie Mellon. He even operated his own civil engineering firm, where he was responsible for several projects, including the infrastructure for Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers American Football team. Much of the work in the greater Pittsburgh area has Mr. Graham’s name on it, and his unique conservative approach to bridge engineering will be remembered, even as people cross several of Pittsburgh’s restored historic bridges, of which he’s left a mark in at least half of them.

John F. Graham died peacefully on 14 March, 2019 with his daughter Wendy and her husband Marc by his side. In the last two years of his life he lived with her and her family in Philadelphia, which included her two sons. He was preceded in death by his wife, Kay.  Mr. Graham was a true Pittsburghese and one who left a mark in Pittsburgh, the US and beyond, especially for his work in the field of civil engineering. Therefore, for his work, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is awarding him and his family Lifetime Legacy Post Humus with a big thanks for his contributions. Because of him, we have found many creative ways to make bridges safe and maintain its integrity instead of replacing them outright, a concept that does more than waste money. It impacts the environment negatively because of materials used that are dwindling and non-renewable.

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Finding History in Your Backyard: An Interview with Satolli Glassmeyer

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Satolli Glassmeyer doing a segment at one of the stone arch bridges for HYB. 

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Have you found something that was small and unnoticeable from the outside but you find high historic value in that you want to document on it? It could be a ghost town, abandoned church, a historic bridge that is closed or even a historic site that is open but doesn’t receive enough attention to get any notice?  How would you document it: in print form, video, online, or a combination of the mentioned items?  History is an underrated commodity where even the most popular places are sometimes ignored and hidden jewels that have high historic value are forgotten- buried under a pile of dirt representing time, until someone discovers it and want to talk about it.

Someone like Satolli Glassmeyer, the creator of History in Your Backyard (HYB).  Launched in 2014, HYB is an online portal where videos on artefacts of the past can be found, be it abandoned school houses and churches, memorials commemorating history or in this case, historic bridges, which are disappearing in vast numbers every year.  Much of the coverage has been between Chicago and Cleveland, for Mr. Glassmeyer originates from Cincinnati, Ohio and spent much of his childhood visiting many spots in the vicinity (and later beyond).

But how was HYB conceived and how successful has it been since its launch?  The Chronicles did an interview with Mr. Glassmeyer and found out some interesting details about HYB and the direction it’s going in the future.  Here’s what I found out about him and HYB’s successes. Please note that some video examples from HYB are included for you to watch.

 

  1. I wanted to start off by asking you what motivated you to starting this video program?

This  is  kind  of  a  long  story  but  here  we  go….When  I  was  a  teenager  back  in  the  mid  1970s  I  had  zero  interest  in  history  such  as  the  War  of  1812  or  the  Magna  Carta.  However  I  was  a  huge  bicycle  enthusiast  riding  my  bike  at  least  10 miles  a  day  and  then  typically  doing  75-100  mile  bike  rides  on  a  Saturday  or  Sunday.  My  longer  weekend  trips  would  take  me  through  small  towns  where  I  began  to  fall  in  love  with  the  buildings  and  bridges  constructed  in  the  late  1800s  and  early  1900s.  I  was  fascinated  with  what  was  built  back  then  and  with  what  little  they  had  to  work  with  compared  to  the  modern  construction  equipment  that  we  have  today.

 

When  I  was  18  I  bought  my  first  car,  a  1970  AMX  which  was  also  another  passion  of  mine.  About  a  year  later  I  formed  an  AMX  club  in  the  greater  Cincinnati  area  which  eventually  included  20-25 owners  of  these  unique  automobiles.  We  would  get  together  once  a  month  and  have  events  for  the  club.  Some  of  the  “older  guys”  in  their  30s  and  40s  taught  us  younger  guys  how  to  do  “road  rallies”  which  is  basically  a  scavenger  hunt  using  an  automobile.  Once  again  I  fell  in  love  with  the  road  rally  concept  and  did  quite  a  few  for  the  club  as  a  hobby  until  I  turned  it  into  a  business  in  the  late  1990s  called  Scenic  Road  Rallies.  With  the  rallies,  I  found  that  I  was  able  to  take  my  passion  for  fast  automobiles  and  combine  it  with  my  passion  for  historic  structures.  In  the  direction  packets  that  I  handed  out  for  each  road  rally  event  I  included  a  few  short  lines  about  each  historic  building  the  teams  would  pass  or  each  bridge  they  would  cross  over.

 

The  teams  enjoyed  the  short  history  lessons  but  asked  for  more  information  on  these  sites.  Information  that  they  could  use  on  their  own  time  without  having  to  do  a  road  rally  event.  So  in  2011  I  began  producing  driving  booklets  that  I  sold  which  were  basically  guided  road  tours  spelling  out  in  detail  (With  pictures)  all  of  the  historic  buildings  and  bridges  along  the  route.  I  put  myself  on  a  strict  schedule  of  producing  one  driving  tour  booklet  a  month  until  after  2  years  I  had  accumulated  a  small  24  volume  library  of  tour  guides.

 

Unfortunately  the  booklets  didn’t  sell  as  expected.  A  couple  of  friends  pointed  out  that  people  don’t  read  much  anymore  and  videos  now  seem  to  be  the  way  most  people  get  their  information.  I  gave  it  some  thought,  then  when  out  and  bought  a  cheap  video  camera,  named  my  new  company  History  In  Your  Own  Backyard  and  went  off  to  document  the  forgotten  historic  structures  in  the  region.  That’s  basically  how  we  arrived  at  this  point  in  time.

 

  1. How are your historic places selected? Based on personal visit, personal request or both?

Since  this  is  a  business,  I  typically  don’t  choose  the  site,  the  client  makes  the  selection  be  it  a  church,  a  bridge  or  a  cemetery.  If  I  have  time  after  the  clients  shoot,  I  will  go  out  and  film  other  obscure  sites  such  as  bridges  that  I’m  sure  no  client  will  pay  for  yet  needs  to  be  documented  for  future  generations.

 

  1. What is all involved in the filming process?

 

It’s  a  fairly  involved  process  to  film  a  site.  I  have  a  check  list  of  29  points  that  need  to  be  addressed  to  get  a  video  from  start  to  finish.  Beginning  with  discussing  the  potential  project  with  the  sponsor  to  contacting  the  local  newspaper  after  the  video  is  released  so  that  they  can  write  a  story  about  the  video  project.

 

 

  1. How do you collect the information on your historic artifact?

 

This  is  basically  the  sponsors  responsibility.  However  if  I  am  doing  a  video  on  a  site  of  my  choosing,  the  research  process  can  entail  online  searches,  books,  personal  interviews,  etc.  Each  project  is  different  when  it  comes  to  an  information  source  and  history  is  always  muddy.  No  matter  how  much  research  you  do,  once  the  video  is  produced,  someone  will  say  “you’re  wrong”.  So  you  just  have  to  do  your  best  and  keep  an  open  mind  that  not  everything  you  read  or  see  is  accurate.

 

  1. Many videos on bridges are between a half hour and an hour. Yours are between 3-5 minutes on average, with some being only 10 minutes.  Why so short?

 

Good  question!  My  video  style  is  much  different  from  traditional  videos.

Everyday  around  the  world  we  lose  historic  buildings  and  bridges  to  fire,  flood,  storms,  neglect,  progress,  civil  unrest,  war,  earthquakes,  etc.  Nothing  lasts  forever  and  it’s  important  to  me  to  document  these  structures  as  quickly  as  possible  before  they  are  lost  forever.  My  goal  is  to  produce  10,000  documentaries  before  I  die.  Right  now  I  have  about  420  documentaries  completed  which  means  even  if  I  produce  a  documentary  every  day  from  here  on  out,  I  still  have  over  26  years  of  work  ahead  of  me.  I’m  62  now  so  I’m  basically  running  out  of  time  here.

 

I  produce  short  documentaries  for  a  couple  of  reasons:

One  is  that  statistically  speaking  most  people  who  watch  a  video  on  YouTube  (Where  all  of  my  videos  are  featured)  only  watch  about  4  minutes  of  a  video  before  they  click  off  and  move  on  to  the  next  selection.  If  you  produce  a  relatively  short  video  you  have  a  better  chance  of  having  the  video  completely  viewed  to  the  end  and  a  better  chance  of  having  the  viewer  share  that  video  with  their  friends  and  family.  Longer  videos  are  rarely  watched  completely  and  it’s  even  rarer  for  them  to  be  shared.  The  whole  idea  behind  my  project  is  to  get  as  many  eyes  on  these  videos  as  possible  so  that  people  will  sit  up  and  take  notice  of  these  structures  and  possibly  save  them  for  future  generations.  My  videos  are  not  designed  to  be  entertainment  but  rather  peak  peoples  interest  so  that  they  get  in  their  car  and  go  out  to  look  at  the  site.

Video  production  isn’t  cheap  and  is  very  time  consuming.  When  it  comes  to  my  videos,  for  every  one  minute  of  video  you  see,  it  takes  about  1  hour  of  research,  shooting  video  and  editing  to  complete  the  job.  So  a  5  minute  video  may  take  about  5  hours  while  a  30  minute  video  could  take  30  hours  or  more.

 

Secondly,  I’m  trying  to  do  this  project  as  cheaply  as  possible  so  that  anyone  who  wants  a  video  can  afford  it.  I  produce  these  videos  at  about  1/3  the  going  rate  of  a  typical  video  production  company.  Mainly  because  I  have  very  little  overhead,  a  small  crew  and  I’m  pretty  damn  good  at  keeping  costs  down. I  charge  between  $399.00  and  $1899.00  to  produce  a  video  depending  on  the  site,  location  and  needs  of  the  client.

A  50  minute  long  documentary  you  might  see  on  PBS  can  take  years  to  produce  using  an  army  of  people  and  hundreds  of  thousands  of  dollars. I  know  someone  that  produced  a  documentary  for  PBS  using  just  grants.  The  documentary  turned  out  great  but  took  5  years  to  make  and  over  $120,000.00.  I  personally  don’t  have  the  time  to  mess  around  for  3,  4  or  5  years  to  produce  one  indepth  video.

 

I  know  of  a  tourism  bureau  who  had  a  local  TV  station  produce  a  60  second  video  on  the  sights  and  sounds  of  their  town.  The  project  cost  them  $6,000.00  ($100.00  per  second)  and  all  they  received  was  a  DVD  of  the  project.  It  was  never  shown  on  TV.  It  was  for  their  own  personal  use.  Not  many  of  my  clients  have  $6,000.00  to  spend  on  a  60  second  video  so  that’s  where  I  come  into  play  with  a  decent  quality  video  at  a  very  reasonable  price  which  will  be  viewed  by  thousands  of  people.

 

  1. Aside from Youtube, how are your videos published?

 

Yes,  my  videos  can  be  found  on  YouTube  under  the  History  In  Your  Own  Backyard  channel.  All  of  those  videos  are  linked  to  my website  database  where  the  videos  are  broken  down  by  State/County/Town  and  also  include  a  map  to  show  the  location  of  the  site.  (By clicking onto the two highlighted links, you will be redirected to their respective sites) All  of  the  schools  in  the  county  where  the  video  was  shot  and  all  of  the  schools  in  the  surrounding  counties  are  sent  a  link  to  the  video  so  that  the  history  teachers  can  share  it  with  their  students.  All  of  the  mayors  and  council  members  in  the  county  where  the  video  was  shot  and  all  of  the  council  members  in  the  surrounding  counties  are  sent  a  link  to  the  video  so  that  they  can  share  it  with  their  residents.  The  video  is  placed  on  a  Google  Maps  page  where  you  can  click  on  any  of  the  420+  pinpoints  to  see  a  video  in  that  exact  location.  Eventually  all  of  the  videos  will  be  archived  in  the  state  libraries  where  they  were  shot  so  that  future  generations  can  look  back  to  see  what  existed  in  2019.  I  did  contact  the  Library  of  Congress  regarding  these  videos  being  archived  but  that  was  very  early  on  in  the  project.  I  was  asked  to  contact  the  department  later  after  I  had  a substantial  number  of  videos  produced.  When  I  hit  the  500  mark  next  year,  I’ll  reach  back  out  to  them.

 

  1. How many  people  are  on  your  staff?

 

My  direct  staff  is  just  me  and  the  two  cats.  However  I  do  have  a  couple  of  interviewers  that  work  for  me  directly  on  the  videos  shoots.  So  in  a  nutshell,  I  do  just  about  everything,  sales,  research,  shooting  video,  editing  video  and  the  archiving  process.

 

 

 

  1. Give me your top three favorite historic bridges that you’ve filmed?

 

Tough  question  Jason!  In  no  particular  order:

 

The  Triple  Whipple  Bridge  near  Aurora,  Indiana  is  high  on  my  list.  As  someone  else  said,  she’s  the  Queen  Mary  of  all  bridges!  Beautiful,  tall,  restored  and  the  only  one  of  it’s  kind  still  standing.  The  bridge  is  only  about  15  miles  from  my  home  so  I  get  to  see  her  fairly  often.

Film on the bridge:

The  Dresden  Suspension  Bridge  in  Dresden,  Ohio  is  a  favorite  that  we  just  covered  this  year  with  the  Ohio  Historic  Bridge  Association.  A  beautiful  bridge  that  is  easily  viewed.

Film on the bridge:

Finally  the  Crosley  Bridge  in Jennings  County,  Indiana.  A  private  steel  truss  bridge  built  by  Powel  Crosley,  the  bridge  is  extremely  narrow  and  hidden  deep  in  the  woods  via  a  dirt  road.

Film on the bridge:

 

  1. What historic bridge do you regret seeing demolished?

 

Definitely  it  was  the  Cedar  Grove  Bridge  in  Cedar  Grove,  Indiana.  Long  story  short,  I  was  part  of  a  group  who  tried  to  save  this  bridge  from  demolition.  The  State  of  Indiana  offered  to  give  our  group  the  money  they  would  pay  for  the  demolition  if  we  could  find  a  local  government  entity  who  would  take  ownership  of  the  bridge  for  30  seconds  while  signing  the  bridge  over  to  us  where  it  would  be  refurbished  and  turned  into  a  park  for  the  locals.  Unfortunately  the  town  council  in  Cedar  Grove  and  the  Franklin  County  Commissioners  had  zero  interest  in  seeing  the  bridge  survive.  After  a  2+  year  fight  to  save  the  bridge,  when  it  became  apparent  that  all  of  the  government  entities  and  the  locals  themselves  had  zero  interest  in  the  structure,  we  abandoned  our  cause  and  the  bridge  was  demolished  via  the  State  of  Indiana  on  February  17,  2016.

Film on the bridge’s demise: 

  1. Complete this sentence: A historic bridge in your opinion……..

 

A  historic  bridge  in  my  opinion  is  a  mix  of  style,  engineering  and  quality  from  an  era  that  we  will  never  see  again.  It  was  a  different  breed  of  men  that  built  bridges  in  the  1800s  and  early  1900s.

 

 

  1. What is important for keeping the historic bridge “historic” instead of neglecting it to a point of demolition?

 

Once  these  bridges  are  gone,  they  are  gone  forever.  Bridges  are  probably  the  most  used  structure  no  matter  where  they  were  built.  Some  bridges  only  see  5  or  10  crossing  per  day  while  others  literally  see  tens  of  thousands  of  crossings  if  not  more.  It’s  hard  to  think  of  another  item  produced  by  man  that  gets  this  much  usage  and    can  last  for  100  or  more  years.  Holding  on  to  these  structures  for  future  generations  is  important  not  only  for  educational  purposes  but  for  general  enjoyment  as  well.

 

  1. What are your future plans for HYB? What bridges are on your agenda?

 

Right  now  as  I  think  I  mentioned  earlier,  I  have  over  420  videos  produced  and  hope  to  add  at  least  100  more  documentary  videos  in  2020.  I  have  about  20  bridge  videos  that  have  been  shot  and  are  awaiting  the  editing  process.  They  are  scattered  throughout  Ohio,  Indiana,  Kentucky,  Virginia  &  West  Virginia.  Hopefully  I  can  get  those  finished  over  the  Winter.

 

 

  1. If a person has a historic bridge that needs to be filmed, like for example Kern Bridge in Minnesota or the Bridgeport Bridge in Michigan, who to contact?

 

It’s  simple,  just  give  me  (Satolli  Glassmeyer)  a  call  at  812-623-5727  between  8:00 am  and  9:00 pm.  If  I  don’t  answer,  leave  a  message.  Or  if  you  like,  send  an  email  to  Info@HistoryInYourOwnBackyard.com.  We  can  discuss  your  needs  and  wants  for  the  video  project  while  I  guide  you  to  the  best  option  to  preserve  that  bridge  on  video  now  and  in  the  future.

 

A  closing  thought……Statistically  speaking,  over  the  next  100  years  we  will  lose  50%  of  the  historic  bridges  currently  standing  due  to  fire,  flood,  storms,  neglect,  progress,  civil  unrest,  war,  earthquakes,  etc.  99%  of  those  historic  bridges  will  disappear  over  the  next  200  years  for  the  same  reasons  and  eventually  all  will  disappear.  Nothing  lasts  forever.  At  some  point  down  the  road,  we’ll  no  longer  need  bridges  and  this  project  will  at  least  preserve  the  memory  of  when  we  used  these  engineering  marvels  to  cross  vast  expanses  of  water  or  terrain

 

Thank you for your time and interview at the Chronicles and wishing you all the best in your career. 

 

Just recently, HYB got its 1 millionth view on YouTube on its page. It currently has over 3900 viewers with just as many (if not more) visitors daily, which makes it one of the most popular short-film documentaries in the US. A video on that can be found here:

HYB provides people with a short glimpse of some of the historic artefacts that people can see while they are in the area, let alone should see before they are gone.  Sometimes less means more- the most basic means the more interest in seeing the places in person.  So as Satolli would say: Travel Slowly, Stop Often. 🙂

 

Author’s Note: Some of HYB’s bridges will also appear on this page from time to time, to encourage people to watch them and eventually visit them. 

 

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Royal Springs Bridge in Kentucky- the oldest; the most forgotten of historic bridges?

Photo taken by James MacCray in 2013

A History in Your Backyard Documentary.

GEORGETOWN, KENTUCKY (USA)- The best historic bridges are the ones that are the most hidden, the most unrecognizable and in this case, the most heavily traveled bridge. The Royal Springs Bridge is located in Georgetown. It spans the creek bearing its name carrying Main Street and US Hwy. 460 near the university. Although the bridge was built in 1800, records indicated that it was constructed in 1789, the same year George Washington was elected the first president of the US. The engineer was Elijah Craig.This makes it the oldest bridge in the state.

Yet there are some more interesting points about this bridge. Here are some more in a documentary produced by History in Your Own Backyard:

 

Further information about its history can be found here via bridgehunter.com.

This bridge is a classic example of a bridge that is a forgotten one unless you make a stop with the camera and get a few shots. Especially if the structure is listed as a technical heritage site. 🙂

 

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Book of the Month/ Tour Guide: The Bridges of Schwarzenberg (Saxony), Germany

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Author’s Note: For the first time in four years, a literary review is being introduced in the Chronicles. Previously, we had a Book of the Week that had existed from 2013-14, but due to time constraints, it was discontinued. This time we have the Book of the Month, where each bridge piece will be introduced for people to have a look at. You will find this and future pieces on the Chronicles. A page is being created where all the bridge literary pieces will be added, past and present.  So without further ado……

Book of the Month: January 2019

The first ever book of the month takes us to the German state of Saxony, and to the community of Schwarzenberg. Located 10 kilometers east of Aue, deep in the Ore Mountains, the community of 23,300 prides itself on its traditional culture and its history for several historic landmarks are located in the old town, which features a castle and church overlooking the deep valley where the rivers Schwarzwasser and Mittweida meet. The town was one of the key hubs for railroads that met from areas high in the mountains. Today only one line exists from Johanngeorgenstadt to Zwickau, passing through this community. And while the mining industry almost no longer exists, other industries have taken over, thus making the city rather attractive.

While many cities in Saxony, such as Dresden, Leipzig and Plauen have prided themselves on their historic bridges because of popularity, no one has ever thought about the fact that a community, such as Schwarzenberg, would have an interesting set of their own.

Enter the Senior Citizens Club Haus Schlossblick in Schwarzenberg and their prized work, Schwarzenberg’s Bridges. The booklet was released in December 2018, with many copies having been sold during the Christmas markets and beyond. Even though the target language in this 53-page booklet is German, the booklet is laden with pictures of Schwarzenberg’s 44 bridges- both past and present- combined with years of research and photo collections all put together and presented in a form of a tour guide. The photos with the bare essential information is enough for people to read up before finding the bridges, especially as they are listed in the order going downstream for every river mentioned, minus the railroad crossings.

The booklet is different to another bridge booklet written in 2014 on the city of Aue. (For more, please click here to view the tour guide). While current pics of the city’s bridges were included, there was mainly text on the history of each of the bridges in the city of 16,000, located at the confluence between the Zwickau Mulde and the Schwarzwasser, as well as along the Flyover, connecting the city with the Autobahn 72. More pics on the previous structures, plus a better selection of information would have perhaps helped.

Going back to the bridges in Schwarzenberg, there are some interesting facts that are presented in the book, some of which will get the reader to visit them while in Germany. Here are the top five:

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  1. The Steynerne Bridge (pictured above) is the oldest bridge stilll existing in Schwarzenberg. It is also the narrowest vehicular crossing in the Ore Mountains.
  2. The Topp-Müller-Arch Bridge was the oldest stone arch bridge ever built in Schwarzenberg, dating back to 1539.
  3. Two railroad bridges used to carry a railline through the steep hills underneath the old town. It was bypassed in 1952.
  4. The old railroad arch bridge east of the train station is one of the best examples of a restored historic bridge of its kind.
  5. Each bridge has a medaillon on the railing, signaling the build and replacement dates, plus some of the symbols of the city.

Interesting is the fact that the author included the Markersbach Viaduct in the booklet. While that bridge is only a few kilometers away, it was included in the Chronicles’ tour guide (shown here). Still, the authors believe that it belongs to the Schwarzenberg ensemble, which is considered far fetched but ok. Also included is the Hammerbrücke, a covered bridge located in Lauter, which is three kilometers away.

A map with the location of the bridges in Schwarzenberg can be found below. I did a bike tour in the region on three different occasions and have therefore included photos in all but a couple of the city’s bridges. The rest of the information is from the booklet.

The book on Schwarzenberg’s bridges, which can be bought at the tourist information center upon personal visit for only six Euros, does bring up a question with regards to writing a book on bridges in such a community. While the book with sufficient information and photos on the bridges, like in Schwarzenberg, would be appropriate especially for readers who just want to know a bit on the bridges, the question is whether this book would fit for another community.

Which town would benefit from such a “picture book” with sufficient information?

Feel free to make your top five cities you would like to see a bridge book written on, either by choosing from the Chronicles’ tour guide page or adding some of your own.

My top five cities that deserve such a bridge booklet include: Glauchau, Zwickau, Dresden, Minneapolis and Des Moines. What about yours? Add your thoughts in the comment section.

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Obituary: Eric Delony (1944-2018)

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Eric Delony (right) with fellow historian and preservationist Mary-Ann Savage at the Bollmann Truss Bridge in Savage, Maryland. Photo taken in 2014

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Author’s update: Funeral Arrangements are being planned for historic bridge preservationist Eric Delony, who died on October 23rd. According to Information from Christopher Marston, it is being scheduled for January 2019. When and where has yet to be determined, but the Chronicles will inform you in due time as soon as everything is finalized.

Mr. Marston, who worked with Eric for many years, write a much-detailed version of the obituary, honoring him for his three decades-plus work in documenting and saving historic bridges, much more than what the Chronicles covered when having honored him with the Ammann Awards for Lifetime Achievement. This was done in 2016. With his permission, the detail of his life and work are written below. More Information on him and the stories behind his historic bridge preservation will follow. For now, enjoy reading about Mr. Delony from Christopher’s point of view:

Eric N. DeLony, who served as Chief of the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) from 1987 to 2003, died on October 23, 2018, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Over his career, Eric became known as a pioneer in historic bridge documentation and preservation and one of the nation’s leading experts in historic bridges. In recognition of his achievements, Eric was the recipient of the 2000 General Tools Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Society for Industrial Archeology.

 

Early Years at HAER

After graduating from the Ohio State University in 1968, Eric was first hired as a summer architect on the New England Textile Mills Survey, a joint project of the Smithsonian (under the leadership of Robert Vogel) and the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). The following year he became a member of the Mohawk-Hudson Area Survey, HAER’s very first field team. This ambitious project documented several industrial sites and bridges in the Albany area, and team members were challenged to devise new recording techniques for manufacturing and engineering structures. His detailed drawing of the Troy Gasholder remains the logo of the Society for Industrial Archeology to this day. Once he completed his Master’s in Historic Preservation at Columbia University under James Marston Fitch (where he first met his lifelong friend and colleague, preservation educator Chester Liebs), Eric was hired as HAER’s first full-time employee in 1971. HAER began recording a variety of bridges and other industrial structure types as part of state inventories and themed surveys. These included surveys of the Baltimore & Ohio and Erie railroads, Paterson and Lowell mill towns, and later mining, steel, power, and maritime-related sites, among others. Eric also helped initiate “SWAT teams” to record endangered structures prior to demolition. By 1987, Eric DeLony had been promoted to Chief of HAER.

 

HAER Historic Bridge Program

In collaboration with Emory Kemp of West Virginia University, Eric began developing the HAER Historic Bridge Program in 1973, which would become the first comprehensive national program to identify and protect historic bridges. Through Eric’s efforts, HAER developed partnerships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and state historic preservation offices (SHPOs). The first goal of the program was to promote comprehensive historic bridge inventories in each state. When inventories were required by law in 1987, Eric’s initiative became a catalyst in making highway bridges the first class of historic structures to be nationally evaluated.

After the preliminary state bridge inventories were completed, HAER partnered with state departments of transportation (DOTs) to undertake HAER summer documentation projects that would more intensively document representative bridges, with the first taking place in Ohio in 1986. Using funding from a variety of partners like the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOTs, and historic groups, HAER recording teams collaborated with national and local experts to produce large-format photographs, histories, and drawings of hundreds of historic bridges in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, from 1987-2001. Eric also worked with engineering professors such as Dario Gasparini at Case Western, Stephen Buonopane at Bucknell, and Ben Schafer at Johns Hopkins to hire students to compile detailed engineering analyses of a variety of historic bridge types, going beyond traditional architectural history reports. In appreciation of Eric’s initiatives, the White House and ACHP presented HAER’s Historic Bridge Program with a National Historic Preservation Award in 1992.

In addition to the nation’s highway bridges, the historic roads and bridges in the National Park system were also deteriorating from neglect and overuse. HAER developed a pilot project in the National Capital Region of the National Park Service (NPS) in 1988 to survey the historic and significant transportation-related structures and designed landscapes at various NPS units. With support from FHWA and NPS, this program expanded in 1989 and continued until 2002 to document the roads and bridges of large western national parks, national battlefields, and eastern parkways. HAER also partnered with New York and Connecticut to record several historic local parkways. The drawings of these projects are compiled in America’s National Park Roads and Parkways: Drawings from the Historic American Engineering Record (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2004).

Eric DeLony was also influential in HAER’s involvement with a third major initiative involving FHWA and historic bridges. Realizing that covered bridges were a beloved but endangered resource, Vermont Senator James Jeffords proposed legislation to save them. The resulting National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation (NHCBP) Program was established by FHWA in 1998 as part of the TEA-21 transportation bill. HAER received research funding beginning in 2002 to document the nation’s most significant covered bridges, as well as developing other educational initiatives including engineering studies, a traveling exhibition, national conferences, and National Historic Landmark nominations. With the benefit of continued FHWA support, HAER Project Leader Christopher Marston has continued Eric’s vision and is in the process of finalizing several research projects. These include the 2015 publication Covered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering, co-edited with Justine Christianson, and dedicated to Eric DeLony. Rehabilitation Guidelines for Historic Covered Bridges will be published later in 2018.

 

Nationwide Advocacy

Eric was a longtime member of the Society for Industrial Archeology (SIA) and developed the SIA Historic Bridge Symposium beginning in the early 1980s to allow experts to share research and preservation experiences. Eric attended his last one in 2011; the 25th was held in 2016 in cooperation with the Historic Bridge Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. He was also an active participant with the Transportation Research Board (TRB)’s Committee on Historic Preservation and Archaeology in Transportation (ADC50) beginning in the 1990s, which was comprised of professionals from state DOTs, SHPOs, and consultants involved in preservation issues on federally funded transportation projects. Research and best practices on preserving and maintaining historic bridges was always a major focus of the committee. As a subcontractor to Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eric DeLony co-authored A Context for Common Historic Bridge Types with Robert Jackson, for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCPRP Project 25-25, Task 15) in 2005.

Not satisfied to just record historic bridges, Eric was also determined to see as many bridges as possible saved and preserved. Some of the projects that Eric championed included: the 1828 Blaine S-Bridge and the 1868 Zoarville Station Bridge in Ohio; the 1869 Henszey’s Bridge in Pennsylvania; and the 1858 Aldrich Change Bridge in New York. As Ohio DOT’s Tom Barrett reflected, “Through Eric’s encouragement, I feel that the historic bridge inventory in Ohio has stabilized and improved in many ways. We strive to explore all plausible alternatives to demolition and find ways to educate everyone on proper rehabilitation and design solutions. Hard-fought successes here and nationwide in bridge preservation will always be a part of Eric’s legacy.”

Eric’s advocacy extended beyond bridges to roads as well. As Preserving the Historic Road conference founder Paul Daniel Marriott stated, “Eric appreciated that roads and bridges were intertwined. He was one of the first people to acknowledge that historic research and advocacy [were needed] for historic roads. Eric DeLony was instrumental in establishing the historic roads movement.”

 

International Influence

Eric studied at Ironbridge with Sir Neil Cossons in 1971-72 as a Fulbright Scholar, and this experience led him to encourage collaboration between HAER and industrial archeologists and preservationists in Europe and other countries. Eric consistently hired International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) foreign exchange students for his summer field teams beginning in 1984.

He represented the United States at several meetings of the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH). He also worked with several prominent European scholars, such as Barrie Trinder at Ironbridge and Louis Bergeron at Le Creusot, on various publications, exhibitions, and conferences. Another issue that Eric championed has finally shown dividends; after several decades, the U.S. delegation finally nominated the Brooklyn Bridge as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

 

Post-career Legacy

After retiring to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2003, Eric became a bridge preservation consultant. Maintaining “The Pontists” email list, he advocated for various bridge preservation causes and initiatives, and continued to write and teach.

An avid collector of rare books, technical reports, and images of historic bridges, Eric donated his collection to two prestigious archives. The “Eric DeLony Collection of the History of Bridges and Bridge Construction” was established in 2010 at The Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. In 2013, the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Missouri received the “Eric N. DeLony Engineering & Bridge Collection.”

After health issues removed him from public life, Eric continued to receive various honors acknowledging his legacy. Beginning in 2014, David Wright of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges established the Eric DeLony Scholarship, an annual prize awarded to a college student interested in historic preservation. Eric was also a recipient of the 2016 Othmar H. Amman Award for Lifetime Achievement from The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.

Eric DeLony was truly a pioneer in the world of historic bridge documentation, preservation, and advocacy. The 3,000+ bridges in the HAER Collection at the Library of Congress, and hundreds of examples of preserved historic bridges across the country are all a testament to his lifelong determination and passion for saving historic bridges.

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2018 Othmar H. Ammann Awards: Now Accepting Entries

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Scherberg Bridge at dusk and in black and white

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2018 has presented itself with many surprises in all aspects. In particular with bridgehunting and bridge photography, where readers, followers and enthusiasts have been awed by many historic bridges abandoned for many years until discovered most recently, communities where historic bridges that are little mentioned are getting recognition, and historic bridges that are the spotlight for photographers and preservationists who worked successfully to breathe new life into them.

And with that, the 2018 Othmar H. Ammann is now open to business. Between now and December 3rd, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is now accepting entries of (historic) bridges and people who have worked to save them for reuse. Named after the Swiss bridge engineer who left his mark in bridge building in New York and the surrounding area, the Award is given out, both on the national and international levels in te following categories:

Best Bridge Photo

Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge

Lifetime Achievement (including post mortem)

Tour Guide- Communities, Counties, Districts with a high number of historic and fancy modern bridges

Best Kept Secret- Individual Bridge

Mystery Bridge and

Bridge of the Year.

More details can be found here. You can also find the results of the previous winners of the awards so that you have an idea which bridges, photos, etc. deserve to be entered.

Do you have a bridge, set of bridges, bridge photo(s) or even person(s) who has devoted time and effort to historic bridges that deserve recognition on the national and international levels? Send them here via form or e-mail:

E-mail: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.

You have until December 3rd to submit your entries. For bridge photos, please submit them using JPEG and keep it under 1MB, if possible. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Smith using the abovementioned form or e-mail address. Voting will proceed afterwards, ending on 8th January, 2019, with the winners being announced on the 12th.  We will use the same scheme as before with polldaddy yet we may experiment with other options when we vote.  More will come when the entries end and the voting begins.  The contest is open globally. Anyone can enter. 🙂  If you have a bridge worth mentioning or a photo worth showing, let’s see it! 🙂

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