The search for information on the Castlewood Bridge: Link here.
BHC is collecting stories on Bizarre Encounters with People and Animals while bridgehunting/ photographing bridges: Link here
There will be a pair of updates coming in the Chronicles Newsflyer regarding the Castlewood Bridge and another Thacher Truss span, the Okoboji Bridge, based on the most recent findings that occurred at the time if this podcast. Stay tuned. 🙂
This story is part of the series on Most Bizarre Bridgehunting Encounters with People and Animals. If you want to submit your stories, click here to find out how to do it. You will also find more stories in the comment section.
The best bridgehunters started out as novices and as a novice, you encounter the common variables that will stick to you as you go from bridge to bridge. This story came from Melissa Brand-Welch as she was just starting her career as a bridgehunter/photographer. Hers dealt with one common variable that all of us have dealt with- especially in the summer: Mosquitos!
These blood-sucking creatures can be found anywhere where there are tall weeds and lots of moisture. Not even the toughest insect repellent will phase them for they will consider it, an attraction. Not even repellent with lavender scent- a mistake I made in one bridgehunting adventure a decade ago. And to the person who is reading this: I still have the repellent and will instead use it on my next date with my wife. 😉
Here’s her story and the bridge where she encountered these pesky things with wings:
In October 2018, 4 days into my bridge hunting adventurers, I took my granddaughter to Sigler Bridge. James Baughn found it and added it to bridgehunter.com. I wanted to add the first photos. We arrived around 7am and as soon as I saw the weeds I knew it was a mistake! We started towards the bridge; it was the longest mile of my life in thick, three foot high weeds. The river bank was swarming with mosquitoes. I took a few photos and we hiked back to the truck. Despite all of that, I was hooked. I went back to the same bridge later in the month after the field was cut and took some great photos.
Once scheduled for demolition, the contract is rescinded. Now discussion about its future is back on the table.
MILLBROOK, ILLINOIS- One will see the structure upon crossing the Fox River.A three-span Pratt through truss bridge with a total length of 500 feet. The bridge is 123 years old, although the largest of the two spans was relocated at around 1910. That span has riveted connections and Howe lattice portal and strut bracings. The two smaller spans, apparently original, have Town lattice portals, V-laced strut bracings and pinned connections. The bridge and the road both were bypassed in 1984 and since then, the structure has been used as a pedestrian and bike crossing. A beautiful accessory to the nearby forest.
Still, the Kendall County Forest Preserve wants to see the bridge be removed. The reason? Failing limestone piers.
The forest preserve is cash-strapped for any funding to even fix the bridge. Even the money coughed up for removing the bridge was from scraping the bottom of the funding pot. When the contract was let to demolish the bridge in 2018, the amount was more than what was estimated- 476,000 to D-Construction instead of $200,000. The cost for rehabilitating the bridge: over one million Dollars. And this for repairing the bridge piers, the paint job and possible repairs.
Theory and practice reveal that even repairing or replacing the piers alone is approximately 50% cheaper than removing the bridge alone. With the restoration work needed for the bridge, if one chooses the right firm, such as Workin Bridges, BACH or Mead and Hunt, the cost for the above-mentioned job is 20% cheaper. Even if trusses are dismantled and stored while funding is collected for rebuilding the piers, the cost would be much cheaper. The act to remove the bridge without a slight hint of possible restoration and incorporating it into a trail, let alone the possibility of seeking resources and grants is very short-sighted and thus should be reconsidered.
Already the first attempt to form an intergovernmental partnership with the village of Millbrook failed to bear fruit. Still a larger attempt to include the county and state authorities, let alone private actors is needed to ensure any action with the bridge is carried out without emptying the pockets in the process. This also applies to removing the bridge which if done, pedestrians and cyclists would be forced to use the current crossing 100 yards away, which would increase the risk of accidents and fatalities, thus putting the liability onto the forest service and the county.
At the present time, the contract with D-Construction has been rescinded for the purpose of the state attorney needing to examine it. Yet in the news release on February 4th, the Forest Commission is planning to vote on the proposed demolition of the bridge on February 18th. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 9:00am on the second floor of the County Office Building at 111 W. Fox St. in Yorkville. Furthermore, discussions on the attempts to save the bridge will also be included. Instead of proceeding with the project of simply wiping away a bridge that is loaded with history and is one of Millbrook’s prized treasures, one should look at other alternatives, including any partnership possibilities and contacting resources who can help with restoring the bridge. Even by dismantling and storing the bridge temporarily until funding found for the trail and restoring the bridge, it would be a starting point and one that the parties involve would be willing to take as the first step. What is important is that bridge can be saved and there are ways of doing that.
It’s just a matter of taking that first step, even as the clock runs out.
There’s a facebook page that is focused on saving the Millbrook Truss Bridge which you can join and follow the developments. Click on the link below and you’ll be directed to the site.
After revealing the author’s pics through the Author’s Choice Awards yesterday, here are the final results of the 2019 Bridgehunter Awards. I’m doing things a bit differently this year. The results will be posted including some highlights. Yet the details of this award and the Author’s Choice Awards will be posted as a podcast, to enable readers to get to the point in terms of results but also listen to the details. The podcast will appear in the next post.
Top Four photos taken by two photographers.
New records set in this category including highest number of votes in one category.
Not one candidate had less than 200 votes
Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge International
Brunel Swivel and Rosenstein also share the Author’s Choice Award title for best Bridge Find.
Top Six finishers either from Germany or the UK.
Blow-out finish for the Swivel.
Tour Guide International
Title stays in Germany but going west for the first time
Big day for the Bridges of Edersee in this and the category Mystery Bridge (finishing second)
Tight race especially in the top three
Winner, who has been the webmaster of Bridgehunter.com, will be interviewed later in the year. Congratulations to James Baughn on his 20 years experience.
Bridge of the Year
Two Iowa Bridges finish in the top 2 outdoing the international competition. This despite their uncertain futures
Tight finish between the second and fifth place finishers.
Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge US/Canada:
Top two finishers are scheduled to be renovated.
Bronze medalist’s future unclear
Royal Springs Bridge oldest in Kentucky.
Bridge Tour Guide USA
Winner has several restored historic truss bridges including the lone remaining Stearns through truss span (Gilmore Bridge)
Book on the Bridges along Route 66 to be presented plus interview later in the Chronicles
Madison County includes the freshly rebuilt Cedar Covered Bridge plus five other original covered bridges.
Top eight finishers received more than 100 votes each. 7th place finisher (Rosenstein) received 120 votes. 8th place finisher (Wichert Viaduct) received 100 votes.
Tight finish among the top six finishers.
Third and fourth place finishers are no longer extant- Buckatunna collapsed in January ’19; Dale Bend was destroyed in an accident on January 30th, ’19
Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge
Third Award in a row in this category for the crew of Julie Bowers, Nels Raynor and crew at Workin Bridges and BACH Steel.
Longfellow and Winona Bridges Awarded Author’s Choice for their work.
Second place finisher is first bridge in the world made of cast iron. Delicate restoration needed.
Several lead changes in this category.
Last but not least, the following announcements:
This year’s Bridgehunter Awards will be its 10th, which coincides with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ 10th anniversary. Therefore, entries are being taken now and until December 1st for the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards. They include two new categories which will be presented in detail in a later article. Details on how to enter is found here.
The top four finishers in the category Best Bridge Photo will have their photos displayed on the Chronicles’ website and its facebook and twitter pages between the middle of January and the end of July this year. Details in the podcast.
The 2019 Bridgehunter Awards will include a tribute to a former bridge engineer from Pittsburgh, whose invention has made inspecting bridges and diagnosting deficiencies requiring repairs instead of replacement much more advanced. More on him after the podcast.
Congratulations to all the candidates on their bridge entries and voters like you for supporting them in the 2019 Awards. And a big honor to the top finishers in each category! You deserve it! 🙂
As we close out the year, which is also the last day of the second decade of the third millenium, we would like to take you back to 2014 and this bridge, theI-74 Bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Bettendorf and Moline in the Quad Cities. The twin spans that are literally identical, were built in 1935 and 1961, respectively and are still one of two twin suspension bridges of its kind that exist in the States. The other is the twin set at Wilmington, Delaware. Sadly, the twins are in their last year of their operational lives. To the east a new set of twins are being built, consisting of basket handle tied arches. The project, which includes rebuilding much of the I-74 corridor has been going on since 2017. Next year, the twin spans will be completed and all of I-74 traffic will be rerouted onto the new spans. The original spans will then be removed, and the bridge will be nothing more than a memory. While you still can, you might want to pay homage to this bridge and get as many pics as you can. By 2022, it will be a memory.
And with that ends 2019 with a bang for the Chronicles, even though voting for this year’s Bridgehunter Awards is still ongoing and will conclude on January 10th with the winners to be announced on the 12th. If you still haven’t had the chance to vote, click here and do so. There are two ballots, each page representing a ballot. Your vote, however many bridges and times you cast, matters. 🙂
2020 will not only usher in a new decade- and hopefully one more promising than this one. It will mark the 10th anniversary of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column The Flensburg Files. Some events marking the celebration are in the making and will be presented during the year. The Bridgehunter Awards (originally known as the Ammann Awards) will enter its 10th year as well. Stay tuned and subscribe to follow up on the latest as we celebrate 10 years of success and many more to come.
We wish you and yours all the best as we say good-bye to the old (including the bhc logo) and ring in the new. Happy New Years! Cheers! 🙂 ❤
Fellow pontist James Baughn of bridgehunter.com found a real diamond in the rough most recently while on tour through Illinois, but one that is really fragile and could splinter if nothing is done to preserve it.
The diamond in the rough is this bridge. The structure is located at Cypress Pond State Natural Area. The bridge spans the old channel of the Cache River along what is left of a road connecting Elvira and Pleasant Grove, approximately five miles west of the nearest town of Buncombe. The road has been abandoned for decades and the only way to access it is by walking about two miles south from where Baldwin Lane ends on the northern side of the crossing. The southern side is not accessible due to corn fields and the impossibility to cross the new channel of the Cache River. Yet when arriving at the bridge, the hike is well worth it as the bridge has features that are atypical for truss bridges.
At 50 feet long, the bridge is a bedstead pony truss bridge with a Warren design. Bedstead trusses are characterized by endposts that are vertical, forming a 90° angle. Because the connections are riveted, the build date has to be somewhere after 1900. The reason for this is because riveted truss bridges made their debut at the turn of the century to replace the pin-connected truss spans because they are able to withstand increasing volumes of traffic. They were standardized by the states through different laws and regulations by 1915, narrowing the different trusses down to half a dozen and phasing out all other truss designs and the use of pinned connections altogether. The railings feature a lattice design that is inside the trusses, bolted together. This is unusual for truss bridges of its design and age, for only simple railings were used after 1900. One has to assume that this bridge was built at this location between 1900 and 1910. It is unknown who built the bridge, let alone when the structure was abandoned. For the latter question, it may have happened at the time when the Cache River was rechanneled, which we don’t know when it happened.
The problem is the bridge is falling apart due to nature’s wrath. In other words, if nothing is done to relocate it and restore it in due time, the bridge will surely collapse into the river. Problems that James Baughn saw during his field visit included the fact that the bridge has no decking left but just the bottom chord that is hanging by a thread over the river. The entire bottom chord has corroded away to a point where it and the trusses themselves could fall into the river. The support is pretty much gone. Furthermore, the northern endposts have sustained damage in a form of twisted and corroded beams. This was caused by a shift in the river current, combined with erosion and other elements. In addition to the damage on the north side, a tree is growing right through the chords, thus causing damage to the stringers. On the south end, it is not much better as erosion was dominant and undermining the abutments to a point where they could fall into the river upon the next flood, along with the trusses themselves.
To make it short, time is of the essence to pull the bridge out and find ways to reuse it. Potential for restoring the bridge is possible but it would require extensive work with sandblasting and replacing the beams. Ideas on how to approach this delicate project should be referred to the county officials in Johnson County as well as some of the bridge companies that are experts in bridge restoration, like Workin Bridges and BACH Steel, as well as Mead and Hunt. Even if the flooring system is not salvageable, which appears is not the case, the trusses could be used as ornamental railings for a new bridge.
But as mentioned before, time is of the essence, as well as the interest. When there is a will to save this bridge, there will be a way, especially as it has a lot of history to be looked at in connection with the Cache River and the county itself.
Check out James Baughn’s page with some more info and photos he took of the bridge here.
Australian Traveller that loves to "Roam" our globe, creator of ENDLESSROAMING.COM sharing the experience through word and photography. Currently residing in my home of Newtown Sydney but hope to be back on the road late 2020. Feedback / questions are more than welcome, happy travels