BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 166  Tribute to James Baughn

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This week’s Pic of the Week is also an Endangered TRUSS Award candidate and it focuses on a bridge that has been neglected for such long time, and if there is a possibility, it needs a new home. The Bolivia Road Bridge, known by locals as the Lanesville Truss Bridge, is a multiple-span truss bridge, spanning the Sangamon River at the border of Christian and Sangamon Counties. The 620-foot long bridge features a 180-foot pinned connected Parker through truss span, which has ornamental Lattice portal bracings with curved heels; the struts are also lattice. The remaining spans feature a half-hip pony truss span, 19-spans of trestle approaches on the north end and a stringer approach on the south end. The 120-year old bridge, built by J.T. Garrett of St. Louis, has been listed on the National Register since 2004.

Despite the listing on the NRHP, the Bolivia Road Bridge is considered one of the most neglected historic bridges in the country- a “step child” that neither county cares to have on their road system. The bridge has been closed for over a decade and plans had been in place at the same time for a new concrete span, whose expected lifespan is over a century- with no maintenance.  Furthermore, news stories on the bridge’s history has been distorted in newspapers, numerous times, resulting in criticism from the historic bridge community because the story is biased and written from someone who did no research and wrote for the money provided in the coffins of rich people wanting a new bridge at any cost.

Despite all the talk of demolition of the bridge, the structure is still standing. Even after James Baughn took this in 2016, most recent photos have indicated that the bridge is still standing strong- the decking covered in grass- but still standing in tact. The question though is for how long? While the window of opportunity is still open, we need a plan that will include saving and most likely relocating the Bolivia Bridge, getting our hands on the structure before the wrecking crew does. While the bridge is protected by the National Register, it is unknown for how long for pressure is mounting to have it delisted to allow for the demolition to take place. Therefore one needs to find it a new home and soon, be it in state or out of state, as long as the window of opportunity remains open.

If there is a way to find a new home for it or to restore it, feel free to comment, but also address the issue with the local officials and other agencies.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 165 Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Clay County, Illinois and to this bridge. When bridgehunting, one will find an abandoned structure out in the open and hard to reach. In the case of this bridge, it’s the exact opposite. The Parker through truss may be in tact, as one can see in this picture. But given the thick vegetation that has grown on the structure, it is almost inaccessible. One would have to brave cuts and abrasives as well as spiders and other insects just to get onto this structure. It has a scary resemblance of a bridge in Kansas that was covered in vines, but was sadly removed earlier this year.

Yet this bridge is one of three that can be found along US Highway 50 between Clay City and Noble. All three bridges were built in 1923, when the US Highway system had not been introduced just yet and the road was operated as FR 2114. It was one of the first in the state that was built using concrete. When the highway system was introduced in 1926, this stretch of road was designated as US Hwy. 50, which became a 3073-mile route from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California, but running through Cincinnati, St. Louis and Kansas City. Out west, it received the nickname “Loneliest Road in the Country” as it crossed through hundreds of miles of desert and mountains.

The bridge trio carried US 50 until the 1980s when the highway was realigned and widened and the structures were vacated. Now closed to all traffic, they can be seen while driving along this stretch. However, talks have been ongoing about making the stretch of US 50 an expressway, which means these three bridge may become history unless there is opposition to the project. Given their location in the wildlife area where the Little Wabash, and the branches of Muddy Creek are located, there is enough ammunition to put a stop to the plans with arguments involving the environmental impacts of such a project, let along the historical significance of the bridge trio. The bridges are not on the National Register but should be because of their association with the highway’s history, let alone their design and connection with the builder, whoever was responsible for the structures.

When traveling between Clay City and Noble, check out these structures, then find many ways to make preserving them happen.

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INFORMATION ON THE BRIDGE TRIO OF CLAY COUNTY:

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Big Muddy Creek Bridge:

Location: Bug Muddy Creek west of N. Clay Rd. and Hites Hardware

Description: This crossing is a multiple span bridge with a riveted Pratt through truss span and concrete beam approach spans. The approach spans have brick railings. The truss span has lattice portal bracings

Built: 1923 by unknown builder

Dimensions:

Length of largest span: 125.0 ft.
Total length: 558.9 ft.
Deck width: 21.0 ft.

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Little Muddy Creek Bridge

Location: Little Muddy Creek

Description: This crossing is a multiple span bridge with a riveted Pratt through truss span and concrete beam approach spans. The approach spans have brick railings. The truss span has lattice portal bracings

Built: 1923 by unknown builder

Dimensions:

Length of largest span: 125.0 ft.
Total length: 341.9 ft.
Deck width: 21.0 ft.

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Litte Wabash River Bridge

Location: Little Wabash River east of Mayflower Road.

Description: Single span Parker through truss bridge with concrete decking, riveted connections, and Howe lattice bracings on the struts and portals

Built: 1923 by unknown builder

Dimensions:

Length of largest span: 170.0 ft.
Total length: 172.9 ft.
Deck width: 21.0 ft.

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The photos were taken by James Baughn sometime between 2015 and 2016 but we don’t know the current status as of present. According to Google Maps and Street View, they appear to be extant. We can only hope they remain that way and they can be saved for generations to come.

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Remembering J.R. Manning and Dr. James Cooper- Key Contributors in the World of Historic Bridge Preservation

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

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When we travel along the rural backroads of Indiana, one might see an old, iron through truss bridge along the way, with a four ton weight limit, being narrow and having a wooden deck, yet a fresh coat of paint, LED lighting for safe passage for night driving and a restored plaque with the names of Vicennes, New Castle or Central Plaines on it reveal that it looks brand new.  In another location, this time in Wisconsin, one sees another steel truss bridge, located inside a park, serving bikers and hikers. Each bridge having a history info-board describing its history and why it deserves a National Register listing. Each bridge is visited by dozens of people every day, is talked about by teachers who lead field trips with school children to the historic site and is read in history books, magazines and newspapers.

Preserving historic bridges takes a lot of efforts to carry out. It includes collecting documents on the bridge’s history, including the companies that built them. It includes informing the public about the bridge and its significance, to encourage them to take part in the preservation efforts. It also includes a good bridge marketing program where a historic bridge finds a new home if it is in the way of progress.

It especially includes some very key figures who lead the campaign to make preserving historic bridges happen, special people like the people we are honoring in this article. 

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J.R. Manning:

There were many nicknames for Jerrold Robert Manning (known by many as simply J.R.), including Loose Lug Nuts, the Kitchen Guy or simply Jerry. But if there is one word to describe J.R. when it came to historic bridges, it was “Shooter.” J.R. was a very popular figure in the upper Midwest. Born in Akron, Ohio, the family moved to Michigan and then to Brown Deer, Wisconsin. J.R. attended Algonquin Elementary School, Brown Deer High School, UW-Milwaukee-Mass Communications and Cardinal Stritch University-Business Administration. He mastered Dale Carnegie’s Sales Course and is a Certified Technical Trainer. J.R. was a member Brown Deer U.C.C and St. John U.C.C in Germantown serving as a liturgist and was on several committees. Many people viewed J.R. as a talented salesman and a musician. Yet his key signature was his famous quotes on the meaning of life, something that people like me took with.  J.R. however traveled a lot and saw and photographed hundreds of bridges along the way: in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. He was a key contributor of photos, histories and news stories of historic bridges in bridgehunter.com, having provided people with some interesting and useful information. Yet his dedication to historic bridges didn’t stop there. He was also a fan of architectural history and one can find dozens of pieces and photos in landmarkhunter.com, which is devoted to historic buildings in the US. I never met him in person but we corresponded frequently via e-mail and social media and as a person, he was a great philosopher- a person who could spend a whole day talking about life over a cup of coffee.

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Dr. James Cooper:

If there is one state that would be considered the hub for historic bridges, regardless of the materials used for building it, it would be Indiana. Indiana has one of the most comprehensive marketing programs for historic bridges, where each structure threatened with replacement is relocated to different sites for reuse, while others are rehabilitated with the purpose to prolong their functional lives. It has a comprehensive inventory on the history of bridges and their builders that existed in the Hoosier State. There are even books written on Indiana’s historic bridges, including covered bridges, concrete bridges and even metal truss bridges. Much of this was the work of one pontist, who was a professor of history and sociology but whose passion for bridges spans for half a century.

Born in Princeton, N.J., James L. Cooper moved to Greencastle in 1964 to join the faculty of DePauw University, where he served for more than three decades. At DePauw, Cooper was dedicated to faculty development, becoming the university’s academic dean in 1981 and then vice president of academic affairs in 1983. Yet his interest in historic bridges started in the 1970s.

“I started in the late 1970s with an introduction to material culture studies as a supplement to documentary research.  HAER contacts led me into bridge survey work in Indiana which I combined with more traditional research in my survey publications.  Then Indiana Landmarks Foundation contacted me to turn bridge surveying/historical research into preservation efforts,” Cooper stated during an interview with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles in 2012.

For years, he tirelessly worked to document those bridges in a database that now serves as a resource for the historic preservation community. Furthermore, he helped fellow pontist Eric DeLony create an online network, where pontists and people interested in historic bridges would collaborate with each other. This network still exists and has been extended to include social media, especially in LinkedIn.  Cooper wrote several pieces devoted to historic bridges, including Artistry and Ingenuity in Artificial Stone: Indiana’s Concrete Bridges, 1900-1942 and Iron Monuments to Distant Posterity: Indiana’s Metal Bridges, 1870-1930.  Cooper’s work captured his appreciation for the culture, ingenuity and journey of the people who built, crossed, and settled around the bridges that he so admired.

“I credit him for helping me to understand the fragile plight of Indiana’s metal truss bridges and for shifting my focus towards preserving them. I will always considered him my mentor… something that he chuckled at when I told him one time,” mentioned  fellow pontist, Tony Dillon in a statement in bridgehunter.com.

From an author’s point of view, though I only conversed with him via e-mail, Mr. Cooper had extensive knowledge in his field of historic bridges. If you wanted to know about a bridge, engineer or bridge builder in Indiana, let alone the influence of the bridge builders in the Hoosier State on other states, especially after 1900, Mr. Cooper was that man to go to. His extensive research had a domino effect on historic bridge preservation throughout the US and even beyond. Some of the research and practice that has been done in Indiana is being carried out in other states, such as Texas, Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, etc. with mainly positive results for people wishing to see a piece of history that was a contributing factor in the development of America’s infrastructure.

Mr. Cooper’s work has garnered dozens of awards during his lifetime, including the the Indiana Historical Society’s Dorothy Riker Hoosier Historian Award, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)  Leadership in History Awards and lastly the 2012 Bridgehunter Awards for Lifetime Achievement (which was named the Othman H. Ammann Awards at that time), courtesy of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles (an interview can be found here.)

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Death on August 19, 2021:

On August 19, 2021, both of these fine pontists passed away peacefully, surrounded by family. J.R. was 69 years old and is survived by his wife of 21 years, Kathy and his step son, Steve. A funeral service took place on September 2nd at the Schmidt and Bartelt Funeral Home, in Menomonee Falls, which included a storytelling session at Bub’s Irish Pub in Germantown that followed the service. The service was also live on Zoom.

Dr. Cooper was 86 and is survived by his wife Sheila, his daughter Mairi and her husband, as well as his son, James Jr. and his family (wife and two children).  Due to Covid-19, a memorial service will be held at a later time, but burial will take place in Auburn, NY.  

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While the 19th of August is considered a tragic day in the historic bridge community, it is (and will also be) considered a day of reflection on the years of achievement these two fine people have made, having left marks not only within their respective areas but also beyond. What they have done for historic bridges is being practiced elsewhere, not just in the United States, but also beyond. 

While many of us sometimes take life too seriously, here’s a quote J.R. left me in my last correspondence with him back in February, which states otherwise:

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“Don’t take life so serious, son, it ain’t nohow permanent.” ~Porky Pine in Walt Kelly’s Pogo

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You can only do so much in life. It’s a matter of how you can project your achievements and passions to others. For these fine pontists with a lifetime passion for bridges, all I can say is this: “Thanks for everything.” ❤

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 157 Tribute to James Baughn

Here’s a quiz for the forum: How many spans of a bridge have you tried to photograph into one picture? Panorama photos have their pros and cons, speaking from personal experience. One pro is if you find the right angle, spot and location, you may be able to get the whole length of the bridge. But this is granted that you have the right lighting and setting, let alone the safety precautions in case something goes wrong. The disadvantage is no matter how many spans you can get in one shot, something may go wrong in one way or another- either poor lighting, lack of focus, camera shaking, or in one case, if trying to get multiple shots into one panorama view, the photos may be shifted to a point where you may have a panorama shot that looks more like a Picasso or Dali instead of a real shot. This is the reason why panorama photos should be done if and only if you find the right location for it and the right photo program to doctor it up to make it more genuine and more like a profi.

And with that, we go to this bridge, the Cairo Railroad Bridge, which spans the Ohio River at the Illinois and Kentucky border. This bridge was built in 1952 and features a six-span polygonal through truss bridge with riveted connections. In the data provided by bridgehunter.com, the bridge features an A-frame portal bracing and was built on the piers of a series of Whipple through trusses, built by George S. Morrison and the crew at Union Bridge Company in Buffalo in 1889. The bridge was replaced span by span with the current trusses during the three-year replacement project by sliding the old span off, which was carried away to be cut up. The new span was slid on in its place. This process was later practiced with other multiple-span truss bridges, especially those that are at least a half mile long. The total length of the present-day Cairo Bridge is at least a mile long, yet when James Baughn photographed this structure in 2015, it showed all six truss spans in one frame. An amazing shot but one to envy especially those who have tried and failed to make a picture as perfect as this one. Now how did he get this shot?

Still no matter how this picture was taken, there is one word of advice to give to the photographers- the best ones always experiment and expect the unexpected. When the eye says take it, then you take the shot. Chances are greater that way than if you plan a shot and watch your plans be foiled by mother nature or other elements.

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Joliet Bridge and Iron Company

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Bridgeport, Michigan. August 2018. Standing on a finished work of art. The Bridgeport (State Street) Bridge spans the Cass River. The structure had been rehabilitated, turning a pair of rusty and partially twisted Pratt through trusses leaning on a center pier into a structure that had just been put together for the first time. Hours of welding and new bolts, restoring it in-kind and complete with new decking and new railing. The Bridgeport Bridge has become a centerpiece of tourism in a town, which neighbors another popular tourist attraction, Frankenmuth.

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Petersburg Road Bridge in Jackson Minnesota. Photo taken by MnDOT in 1979

The bridge itself is a cousin resemblance to a pair of bridges built in Jackson County, Minnesota, where I grew up. This was one of them: The Petersburg Road Bridge which was built in 1907 by a company that became a primary supplier of bridges for a decade, the Joliet Bridge and Iron Works Company. The portals are typical of such a bridge built by Joliet, the one that was later adopted by other bridge builders. Another bridge of similar features was built two years later, spanning the same river as this one: West Branch Des Moines River, but just south of Windom. Both structures are now extant.  Another feature are the builder plaques that represent either a shield or a New York-style trapezoid, as you can see in the Bridgeport Bridge shot.

Still what was the bridge company all about?   I did some research on this while writing a book on Jackson County’s bridges a decade ago and found that the Joliet Bridge and Iron Company was like a fame flower (Phemeranthus rugospermus)- it built dozens of bridges during its short existence.

The company was founded in 1896 by Robert C. Morrison and had agents throughout the USA, including Max J. Frey, the company’s agent in St. Louis, who may have been responsible for the Upper Midwest.  Much of the work was concentrated in the South and Midwest, mostly in Michigan, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota, though the company also built bridges in countries outside the United States. It garnered international reputation for its prompt action and good workmanship.  At its peak, 400 people were employed at Joliet by 1914 with its bridge building headquarters located on Collins Street, right next to the penetiary.  A subsidiary plant under the direction of George Larimer was in operation in Memphis, Tennessee from 1909 until its closure by 1912. Apart from the Bridgeport Bridge, some of the noteworthy bridges built by Joliet during its almost 25 year run include the earliest known existing bridges- a pair of twin suspension bridges at Chautauqua Park in Pontiac, Illinois, constructed in 1898.  Other examples include the existing historic bridges in Michigan, such as the Black Bridge at Tiny’s Farm and Church in Frankenmuth, the Gugel Bridge south of Frankenmuth, Currie Parkway Bridge and Smith Crossing both in Midland. The Bello Street Bridge at Pismo Beach in California is the only example of a bridge built the furthest away from Joliet’s coverage.  Minnesota once had a lot of bridges built by Joliet, eight of which in Jackson County. All of them have since disappeared.

Despite its popularity in bridge construction, the Joliet Bridge and Iron Company was forced to shut down briefly when Robert C. Morrison died in 1913. His son Raymond K. Morrison took over operations afterwards and reorganized the company as the Joliet Bridge and Construction Company in 1920.  That company continued to construct bridges in the region, despite the decline in steel mills due to the Great Depression and later lesser demand for the product. The company ceased all operations by 1985, making it one of only a few bridge companies that had dominated bridge building at the turn of the century and survived through the Reagan era of the 1980s.  Key structures built during Ray’s era included the Algoma Street Drawbridge in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the Braceville Arch Bridge in Illinois, which used to carry Route 66. Both structures no longer exist, but it does lead to questions of what other structures had been built by the company before it folded permanently. Just as important is which bridges in foreign countries were built by Joliet, regardless of which era. 

 

Joliet Bridge and Iron is not related to another company located in the same city, the Joliet Iron and Steel Works Company. That company was founded in 1869 but constructed many steel parts for buildings, bridges and the like. That company was taken over three times before it became part of US Steel in 1936. The company closed down by the early 1980s but the site was later converted to a historic site.

The Joliet Bridge and Iron Company represents a bridge company that survived many mergers and crises and still built many structures that represented fine examples of infrastructure that expanded throughout the USA during the first half of the 20th Century. Its innovative designs and great workmanship has resulted in many structures still standing today, most of which in Illinois and Michigan. Many of them have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and some have even been restored to their former glory. Nevertheless there are still many that have long since disappeared that deserve recognition because of their association with the company and the Morrison family. You can find a database of the bridges that were built by Joliet below:

bridgehunter.com database: http://bridgehunter.com/category/builder/joliet-bridge-iron-co/

HistoricBridges.org: https://historicbridges.org/b_a_listings.php?bitem=builder&bsearch=Joliet+Bridge+and+Iron+Company+of+Joliet%2C+Illinois

HABS/HAER/HALS: https://www.loc.gov/search/?fa=contributor:joliet+bridge+%26+iron+company

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 140: Tribute to James Baughn-Easter Edition Part 1

This week’s Pic of the Week features a two-pic special in observance of the Easter holiday weekend. The first part will be showcased today on Easter Saturday, the second part on Easter Sunday- all in honor of the bridgehunter webmaster himself, James Baughn.

Today’s Pic takes us to Chester, Illinois and this bridge, the Gage Junction Bridge. This pic was taken by Mr. Baughn in 2013 at the time where Spring is beginning to take its course with the blossoming of trees and the melting of the snow. When this pic was taken, the river levels were higher because of the run-off caused by the melting snow. Nevertheless, this shot deserves recognition for its beauty as the greening process takes its course.

The Gage Junction Bridge is one of the newer versions of the truss bridge. The bridge features a polygonal Warren through truss span supported by multiple plate girder spans. The portals are Washington-style (WA) and the connections are riveted. The total length is 1380 feet; the truss span is 240 feet. The bridge is located over the Kaskaskia River just above the Lock and Dam northwest of Chester, in Randolph County, Illinois. It was built in 1976 replacing a swing bridge that had been built in 1903 but was destroyed in a train wreck in 1975. Union Pacific continues to operate the line and this bridge to this day.

The Gage Junction Bridge represents an example of truss bridges that were still being used during the 1970s. Even though truss bridges became rare to build because of other bridge designs that were more commonly used, such as beams and girders. However, in the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of truss bridges being built. Even though nine out of ten newer truss bridges have been built for railway traffic, we have seen new truss bridges that have been built either for pedestrian use, like the Sutliff Bridge in Johnson County, or for roadway use, like the Motor Mill Bridge in Clayton County– both located in Iowa. We’re not talking about the mail-order-truss structures that are welded together at a manufcaturing company and installed on the spot. We’re talking about truss bridges that are put together and supported by riveted connections and feature genuine portal and strut bracings, V-laced vertical beams and upper and lower chords. And they are built together onsite and over the river. 🙂

This leads me to some questions for you to ponder:

  1. How historically valuable are these modern truss bridges compared to the ones built between 1870 and 1940, including those made of iron and also those with special (ornamental) features?
  2. Will truss bridges make a comeback and become another option for bridge building? We’re seeing many examples of such bridges dating back to the 1980s and later in places like Indiana and Ohio. But what about the other states?
  3. What truss designs are used to construct modern truss bridges and which ones would you like to see built?
  4. And lastly, what’s a typical truss bridge to you and in your opinion, will these modern truss bridges meet your own expectations?

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Feel free to comment here or in the Chronicles’ facebook pages. We love to hear from you. 🙂

BHC Newsflyer: 20 March, 2021

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To listen to the podcast, click here for Anchor and here for WP.

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Headlines:

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Longest Causeway in Kenya to be replaced

Article: https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/63324-kenha-closes-section-historic-mombasa-bridge-after-emergency

Information on the Causeway: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makupa_Causeway

Information on the Mobasa Bridge on the Causeway: https://constructionreviewonline.com/news/kenya/kenha-to-construct-a-bridge-across-makupa-causeway-in-mombasa/

And: https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/60744-details-new-ksh82b-mombasa-gate-bridge-video

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Historic Batıayaz Bridge in Turkey Being Rehabilitated

Article: https://www.raillynews.com/2021/03/the-historical-batiayaz-bridge-is-being-repaired/

Information on the Bridge: https://www.flickr.com/photos/efkansinan/41715801790

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Utica Bridge in Illinois Imploded

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/il/lasalle/utica/

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Photo by Jann Mayer

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Bridge Street Bridge in California Restored and Reopened

Article: https://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article249917298.html

Bridge Information: http://bridgehunter.com/ca/san-luis-obispo/49C0196/

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Award Given to Firm for Rehabbing Winnington Turn Bridge in the UK

Article: https://scottishconstructionnow.com/article/paisley-firm-wins-civil-engineering-award-for-english-bridge-restoration

Information on the bridge: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1391406

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Photo by James MacCray

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Historic Truss Bridge in Kentucky Moves to Park

Article: https://www.tristatehomepage.com/news/local-news/historic-bridge-moving-to-henderson-co-park/

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/ky/hancock/46C00028N/

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Arch of Chenab Railroad Bridge in Kashmir Completed

Article: https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/others/railways-connects-bottom-ends-of-main-arch-of-world-s-tallest-bridge-over-chenab-101615921804613.html

Film on the Project:

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BHC Newsflyer: 12 February, 2021

Sulphur Lake Bridge in Redwood Valley, MN- To be removed in the near future. Built in 1928 and bypassed in 1997. Photo taken in 2010

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To listen to the podcast, click here.

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Headlines in this Newflyer Podcast:

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May be an image of bridge and nature

Judge Votes for Replacement of Frank J. Wood Bridge- Preservation Group to Appeal

Article: https://www.centralmaine.com/2021/02/08/topsham-brunswick-bridge-group-to-appeal-federal-ruling/

Article on Bridges on Highway 1 Project: https://www.pressherald.com/2021/02/07/southern-midcoast-bridge-replacements-included-in-mdot-work-plan/

Please note the cost estimates of the four bridge project vary due to different information sources.

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Sulphur Lake Bridge in Redwood Valley to be Removed

Information on Project: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d8/projects/sulphurlake/index.html

Information on the Bridge Trio: http://loc.gov/pictures/item/mn0545/

!: Includes contact information.

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Historic Covered Bridge in Vermont Destroyed by Fire

Article: https://www.vnews.com/Vermont-town-hopes-to-replace-destroyed-covered-bridge-38774407

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/vt/orleans/101017000810171/

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Postcard of Plummer Creek Covered Bridge with the Burr Truss design. Source: Johnson Wholesale Co.

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Attempted Destruction of Covered Bridge in Indiana through Arson

Article (including contact information): https://www.wibc.com/news/local-indiana/greene-county-covered-bridge-closed-after-fire/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/in/greene/plummer-creek/

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Photo by Steve Conro in 2012

Covered Bridge Hit for 13th Time Since Rehabilitation in 2020- Calls for Removal

Article: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/ct-lns-long-grove-bridge-crash-st-0204-20210203-shhljplk65bp3l3p2hzllv7pkq-story.html

Editorial: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/opinion/ct-lns-selle-long-grove-bridge-st-0209-20210208-asinkmjsfffufosgmrzuvma5wa-story.html?fbclid=IwAR1p3FF-dRM-LuN1SJegOOhy-HLJ6y30GlTH_jh6B7CxzF4LSI8bOVKUMdU

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/il/lake/49715027150/

!: Questionnaire on the bridge’s future on BHC’s facebook page.

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Waco Suspension Bridge. Source: Library of Congress

Original Cables of Waco Suspension Bridge to be Removed

Article: https://wacotrib.com/news/local/cable-removal-begins-on-historic-waco-suspension-bridge/article_b5924a9c-6a5b-11eb-8337-63c716ce53f8.html

Bridge Info (including rehab project): http://bridgehunter.com/tx/mclennan/waco-suspension/

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2020 Author’s Choice Awards- Mr Smith takes his picks

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on Pexels.com

And now, before we announce the winners of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards, I have a few favorites that I hand-picked that deserve international recognition. 2020 was a year like no other. Apart from head-scratcher stories of bridges being torn down, we had an innummeral number of natural disasters that were impossible to follow, especially when it came to bridge casualties. We had some bonehead stories of people downing bridges with their weight that was 10 times as much as what the limit was and therefore they were given the Timmy for that (click on the link that will lead you to the picture and the reason behind it.) But despite this we also had a wide selection of success stories in connection with historic bridge preservation. This include two rare historic bridges that had long since disappeared but have now reappeared with bright futures ahead of them. It also include the in-kind reconstruction of historic bridges, yet most importantly, they also include historic bridges that were discovered and we had never heard of before- until last year.

And so with that in mind, I have some personal favorites that deserve international recognition- both in the US as well as international- awarded in six categories, beginning with the first one:

Best example of reused bridge:

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The Castlewood Thacher Truss Bridge in South Dakota:

One of three hybrid Thacher through truss bridges left in the US, the bridge used to span the Big Sioux River near Castlewood until it disappeared from the radar after 1990. Many pontists, including myself, looked for it for three decades until my cousin, Jennifer Heath, found it at the Threshing Grounds in Twin Brooks. Apparently the product of the King Bridge Company, built in 1894, was relocated to this site in 1998 and restored for car use, in-kind. Still being used but we’re still scratching our heads as to how it managed to disappear from our radar for a very long time…..

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/castlewood-bridge-in-a-new-home-on-the-threshing-grounds/

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International:

Plaka Bridge in Greece:

Built in 1866, this bridge was unique for its arch design. It was destroyed by floods in 2015 but it took five years of painstaking efforts to put the bridge back together again, finding and matching each stone and reinforcing it with concrete to restore it like it was before the tragedy. Putting it back together again like a puzzle will definitely make for a puzzle game using this unique bridge as an example. Stay tuned.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/02/19/plaka-bridge-in-greece-restored/

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Hirschgrundbrücke in Glauchau:

While it has not been opened yet for the construction of the South Park Gardens is progressing, this four-span arch bridge connecting the Park with the Castle Complex was completely restored after 2.5 years of rebuilding the 17th Century structure which had been abandoned for four decades. Keeping the outer arches, the bridge was rebuilt using a skeletal structure that was later covered with concrete. The stones from the original bridge was used as a façade. When open to the public in the spring, one will see the bridge that looks like the original but has a function where people can cross it. And with the skeleton, it will be around for a very long time.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/11/06/update-on-the-hirschgrundbrucke-in-glauchau-saxony/

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Worst example of reused bridge:

Northern Avenue Bridge in Boston

This one definitely deserves a whole box of tomatoes. Instead of rehabilitating the truss bridge and repurposing it for bike and public transportation use, designers unveiled a new bridge that tries to mimic the old span but is too futuristic. Watch the video and see for yourself. My take: Better to build a futuristic span, scrap the historic icon and get it over with.

Link: https://www.northernavebridgebos.com/about & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcWEvjdsAUQ

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International:

Demolishing the Pilchowicki Bridge in Poland for a Motion Picture Film-

Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruz should both be ashamed of themselves. As part of a scene in the film, Mission Impossible, this historic bridge, spanning a lake, was supposed to be blown up, then rebuilt mimicking the original structure. The bridge had served a railroad and spans a lake. The plan was tabled after a huge international cry to save the structure. Nevertheless, the thwarted plan shows that America has long been famous for: Using historic places for their purpose then redo it without thinking about the historic value that was lost in the process.

Links: https://notesfrompoland.com/2020/07/24/concern-over-reports-that-historic-bridge-in-poland-will-be-blown-up-for-tom-cruise-film/ & https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/so-long-tom-historic-bridge-saved-from-tom-cruise-bomb-14980

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Salvageable Mentioned:

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Okoboji Truss Bridge at Parks Marina in Iowa-

A one of a kind Thacher pony truss, this bridge went from being a swing bridge crossing connecting East and West Lake Okoboji, to a Little Sioux River crossing that was eventually washed out by flooding in 2011, to the storage bin, and now, to its new home- Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji. The owner had one big heart to salvage it. Plus it was in pristine condition when it was relocated to its now fourth home. A real winner.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/the-okoboji-bridge-at-parks-marina/

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International:

Dömitz Railroad Bridge between Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Pommerania in Germany-

World War II had a lasting after-effect on Germany’s infrastructure as hundreds of thousands of historic bridges were destroyed, either through bombs or through Hitler’s policies of destroying every single crossing to slow the advancement of the Allied Troops. Yet the Dömitz Railroad Bridge, spanning the River Elbe, represents a rare example of a bridge that survived not only the effects of WWII, but also the East-West division that followed, as the Mecklenburg side was completely removed to keep people from fleeing to Lower Saxony. All that remains are the structures on the Lower Saxony side- preserved as a monument symbolizing the two wars and the division that was lasting for almost a half century before 1990.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/domitz-railroad-bridge/

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Spectacular Bridge Disaster

Forest Fires along the West Coast- 2020 was the year of disasters in a literal sense of the word. Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought the world to a near standstill, 2020 was the year where records were smashed for natural disasters, including hurricanes and in particular- forest fires. While 20% of the US battled one hurricane after another, 70% of the western half of the country, ranging from the West Coast all the way to Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas dealt with record-setting forest fires, caused by drought, record-setting heatwaves and high winds. Hardest hit area was in California, Washington and even Oregon. Covered bridges and other historic structures took a massive hit, though some survived the blazes miraculously. And even some that did survive, presented some frightening photo scenes that symbolizes the dire need to act on climate change and global warming before our Earth becomes the next Genesis in Star Trek.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/12/great-western-fires-destroy-iconic-historic-bridges/  &  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/12/catastrophic-inferno-hits-western-united-states-photos-noble-reporters-worlds-iconic-news-media-site/  & https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/09/11/no-comment-nr-2-the-great-california-fire/

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Bonehead Story:

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Demolition of the Historic Millbrook Bridge in Illinois-

Inaction has consequences. Indifference has even more painful consequences. Instead of fixing a crumbling pier that could have left the 123-year old, three-span through truss bridge in tact, Kendall County and the Village of Millbrook saw dollar signs in their eyes and went ahead with demolishing the entire structure for $476,000, coming out of- you guessed it- our taxpayer money. Cheapest way but at our expense anyway- duh!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/historic-millbrook-bridge-demolished/

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Planned Demolition of the Bridges of Westchester County, New York-

While Kendall County succeeded in senselessly tearing down the last truss bridge in the county, Westchester County is planning on tearing down its remaining through truss bridges, even though the contract has not been let out just yet. The bridges have been abandoned for quite some time but they are all in great shape and would make for pedestrian and bike crossings if money was spent to rehabilitate and repurpose them. Refer to the examples of the Calhoun and Saginaw County historic bridges in Michigan, as well as those restored in Winneshiek, Fayette, Madison, Johnson, Jones and Linn Counties in Iowa.  Calling Julie Bowers and Nels Raynor!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/10/the-bridges-of-westchester-county-new-york/

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Collapse of Westphalia Bridge due to overweight truck-

To the truck driver who drove a load over the bridge whose weight was four times the weight limit, let alone bring down the 128-year old product of the Kansas City Bridge Company: It’s Timmy time! “One, …. two,….. three! DUH!!!!”  The incident happened on August 17th 2020 and the beauty of this is, upon suggesting headache bars for protecting the bridge, county engineers claimed they were a liability. LAME excuse!

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/08/18/truck-driver-narrowly-escapes-when-missouri-bridge-collapses-truckers-4-truckers/

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International:

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Waldcafé Bridge in Lunzenau, Saxony-

Located near the Göhren Viaduct in the vicinity of Burgstädt and Mittweida, this open-spandrel stone arch bridge used to span the Zwickau Mulde and was a key accessory to the fourth tallest viaduct in Saxony. Yet it was not valuable enough to be demolished and replaced during the year. The 124-year old bridge was in good shape and had another 30 years of use left. This one has gotten heads scratching.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/waldcafe-bridge-in-gohren-to-be-replaced/

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Collapse of Bridge in Nova Scotia due to overweight truck-

It is unknown which is more embarrassing: Driving a truck across a 60+ year old truss bridge that is scheduled to be torn down or doing the same and being filmed at the same time. In any case, the driver got the biggest embarrassment in addition to getting the Timmy in French: “Un,…. deux,…… toi! DUH!!!” The incident happened on July 8th.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/historic-bridge-in-nova-scotia-collapses-because-of-truck-reminder-to-obey-weight-and-height-limits/

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Spectacular Bridge Find:

Root Bridges in Meghalaya State in India-

Consisting of vine bridges dating back hundreds of years, this area has become a celebrity since its discovery early last year. People in different fields of work from engineers to natural scientists are working to figure out how these vined bridges were created and how they have maintained themselves without having been altered by mankind. This region is one of the World’s Top Wonders that should be visited, regardless whether you are a pontist or a natural scientist.

Link:  https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/living-root-bridges-in-the-tropical-forests-of-meghalaya-state-india/

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Puente de Occidente in Colombia-

This structure deserves special recognition not only because it turned 125 years old in 2020. The bridge is the longest of its kind on the South American continent and it took eight years to build. There’s an interesting story behind this bridge that is worth the read…..

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/04/15/1895-this-suspension-bridge-in-colombia-is-still-the-second-longest-span-of-its-kind-on-the-continent/

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The Bridges of Schwerin, Germany-

For bridge tours on the international front, I would recommend the bridges of Schwerin. It features seven iron bridges, three unique modern bridges, a wooden truss span, a former swing span and  a multiple span arch bridge that is as old as the castle itself, Schwerin’s centerpiece and also home of the state parliament. This was a big steal for the author as the day trip was worth it.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/11/03/the-bridges-of-schwerin/

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USA:

Thomas Viaduct in Maryland-

Little is written about the multiple-span stone built in 1835, except that it’s still the oldest functioning viaduct of its kind in the US and one stemming from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad era.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/thomas-viaduct-in-maryland/

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The Bridge Daheim in New York-

Geoff Hobbs brought the bridge to the attention of the pontist community in July 2020, only to find that the bridge belonged to a mansion that has a unique history. As a bonus, the structure is still standing as with the now derelict mansion.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/02/mystery-bridge-nr-132-the-bridge-daheim/

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The Bridges of Jefferson Proving Grounds in Indiana-

The Proving Grounds used to be a military base that covered sections of four counties in Indiana. The place is loaded with history, as not only many buildings have remained largely in tact but also the Grounds’ dozen bridges or so. Satolli Glassmeyer provided us with a tour of the area and you can find it in this film.

Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/07/23/the-bridges-of-jefferson-proving-grounds-in-indiana-hyb/

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Now that the favorites have been announced and awarded, it is now the voter’s turn to select their winners, featured in nine categories of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards. And for that, we will go right, this way…… =>

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Historic Millbrook Bridge Demolished

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123-year old through truss bridge sent to the scrap yard.

Millbrook, Illinois- The bridge was the last of its kind in the county. It was a perfect fit as a hiking trail, a centerpiece for the village of Millbrook. Now the historic Millbrook Truss Bridge is no more.

Crews demolished the three-span through truss bridge on Monday, thus putting an end to all the talk of saving the structure. At the time of this post, crews are removing the truss parts and the stone piers that had held the structure in place for 123 years. The cost for the bridge removal is expected to be at $476,000 with the county and the forest preserve, where the bridge is located, expected to share the expense.

The Millbrook Bridge was built in 1897. One of the truss spans was replaced in 1910. It had served traffic until its closure to vehicles in 1984 and finally to pedestrians in 2015, following an inspection that deemed the bridge was unsafe for use. Talks of trying to save the bridge by handing over ownership and sharing the costs for rehabilitation failed to bear fruit due to liability concerns, something neither Kendall County, the forest preserve nor the Village of Millbrook were able to afford.

With the Millbrook Bridge gone, there are no more truss bridges in Kendall County and only a handful of historic bridges dating back to the 1920s remain in the county. Yet with the progress on its infrastructure with new roads and fewer railroads in operation, it is expected that the remaining historic bridges will be gone within a decade, thus making the county an HB-free state, one of an ongoing, increasing number of US counties that are following the trend. Sadly though, the new structures in place will be due for rehabilitation in 10-15 years, resulting in the question of whether this senseless progress of modernization was worth the price. It may be the case with the fall of the Millbrook Bridge in the short term. In the long term, one will be asking whether it was necessary.

To view the photos of the (demolition) of the Millbrook Bridge, click here to see the bridge before and after the demolition.