This week’s Pic of the week takes us to Anamosa, Iowa and to one of the oldest bridges left in the state. The Anamosa Bridge was built in 1878 by the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works Company . It was replaced on a new alignment in 1929 but remained open to traffic until 1955. It would be one of the first historic bridges in the state to be converted into a pedestrian crossing, the project was finished in 1975. It was rehabbed once more in 2012 with new decking, replacing the ones damaged by flooding in 2008. The bridge can be seen from the Elm Street crossing as both span the Wapsipinicon River entering the the historic community of 5500 inhabitants, which has a historic state penitentiary on one end, a historic business district on another end and Wapsipinicon State Park on the opposite end of the two.
The bridge has a lot of angles where a person can take a lot of shots, whether it is at sundown, on a foggy night when the amber-blazing lights turn the city into a gold color, or this one, where a group of people were camping. This was taken in August 2011 during the time a full moon was coming out. It was a crystal clear night and a group decided to have a campfire next to the bridge. None of them minded as I was taking some shots with the Pentax. However, I did mind when the prints turned out darker than expected. Hence a photoshop program to lighten it up. Here’s your result.
Have you ever tried camping and/or fishing next to the bridge? If not, it’s one to mark on your bucket list, both as the camper/fisher, as well as the photographer. A good way to enjoy the summer, especially in these times.
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us on a road trip to rural Iowa and to this bridge- out in the middle of nowhere. 😉 The Durrow Road Bridge spans Blue Creek in Linn County. The bridge can be seen from I-380 right before exiting at Urbana. It’s about 10 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids. It’s a Parker through truss bridge, built in the 1920s using standardized truss designs and measures that were introduced by the Iowa State Highway Commission (now Iowa DOT). It was relocated to this spot at the T-intersection with Blue Creek Road in 1949 and has been serving farm traffic ever since. It has been well-kept with new paint and consistent maintenance.
This photo was taken during one of two visits in 2011, together with my bridgehunting colleague Quinn Phelan, who has lived in the area for many years and knows most of the bridges both in Linn County as well as in many parts of east central Iowa. Like it is today here in Saxony and parts of the Midwestern US, it was taken on a beautiful blue sunny day with a slight breeze and lots of greenery in the area.
The Durrow Road Bridge is a structure that exemplifies a bridge that was common in rural Iowa and a great photo opp for not only the pontists and photographers, but for people who appreciate what this bridge has to offer.
And now, after having done the Guessing Quiz, let’s have a look at the results. What I’ve done here is numbered the bridge types and pointed them out in the picture with an arrow.
The green line indicates the decking of the bridge, the red is the bottom chord. The bottom chord consists of a square-shaped panel with diagonal beams cris-crossing each other like the letter X. For the top chord of a through truss bridge, it’s the same as one can see in nr. 13. While the side view of the bridge doesn’t specifically show what the chords look like, another diagram, done in 3D and from a bird’s eye perspective shows the cross section of the bridge, including its decking. The panels are the side chords where the vertical beams support the top and bottom chords. The diagonal beams, pending on the truss design, keeps the panel together and prevents it from folding.
What’s missing from this diagram are the lalley columns, which is nr. 16. Lally columns are cylindrical piers that are used to support the end post and the bottom bridge decking. Lallies, used up to ca. 1890, were the predecessor to concrete piers that were used when standardized trusses were built beginning between 1890 and 1900. The Henry Bridge has no lally column because the truss bridge is the lone span going across the river. It’s supported by the abutments alone, as marked with nr. 11. Railings, marked with nr. 12 were once built using iron and steel; many of them had lattice bracing. In later bridge constructions and when rehabilitated, concrete railings and decking were used.
While I hope the answers and the supplemental diagram are of some help, a closer version of the bridge can be found through a series of drone videos one can find in the social media, including youtube. This one presented below is a series on historic truss bridges spanning the Bear River in the US state of Utah. There you can get a close-up of where the truss parts are.
After looking at the parts of the truss bridge, the next bridge will feature a similar bridge type but one that was more commonly built before the truss bridge itself. As a hint, the Kern and Blackfriars Bridges are the two longest of their kind.
This Pic of the Week is also the first in a series of educational series on the anatomy of bridge types. For each bridge, there will be some terminologies involving bridge parts where you have to find and identify them. These words you will find in a box below.
Our first bridge type for the matching activity: The Truss Bridge. Match the bridge terms with the ones you find in the picture above. Also find the parts that do NOT appear in this picture. Good luck!
As for the bridge photo, this was taken at the Henry Bridge in Winneshiek County, Iowa in 2009. The bridge spans the Upper Iowa River on Scenic River Road northwest of Decorah and represents an example of a truss bridge that was built by the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company. It was one of two primary bridge builders in Winneshiek County during the age of truss bridge building between 1870 and 1920. The 1911 structure has a total length of 121 feet, has an A-frame portal bracing and pinned connections. Closed since 2016, plans are in the making to either rehabilitate the bridge to reopen for light traffic or repurpose it for bike and pedestrian use. And it’s a practical and sensible idea too, for the high bluffs of the river present an excellent backdrop for the bridge and provides an exclusive photo opportunity, especially as there is parking nearby. In fact, from various angles, even from the bluffs, one can get a great photo opportunity of this unique historic bridge. My photo formed the basis of an educational exercise like this one, where people of all ages and with a keen interest on bridges and history can take part.
Looks can be deceiving in this week’s Pic of the Week. This photo was taken in August 2011 and showed a car that wanted to cross this historic through truss bridge, only to be stopped by a Road Closed sign and a bunch of weeds. A tunnel view shot with some colorful reactions from the driver, which starts with …………
You finish the sentence. 😉
About the bridge itself, the Pratt through truss structure spanned the East Branch of the Des Moines River just off US Hwy. 169 north of the Humboldt-Kossuth County line. It was built in 1895 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was one of only a handful of bridges left in the state of Iowa that was built directly by Zenas King. His son George E. King established his bridge building company in Des Moines and was responsible for dozens more, many of them are still standing today. Closed in 2010, the structure was removed during the Winter 2016/17. More information and photos of the bridge can be found here.
Back in 2011, I had an opportunity to photograph, document and film the Okoboji Bridge, which used to span the Little Sioux River, a few miles west of West Lake Okoboji. It had spanned the strait that connected West and East Lakes as the second crossing between the first (a cable-stayed span with wooden towers) and the third, a single-span arch bridge. The current span, also an arch bridge, still carries US Hwy. 71 between Okoboji and Arnolds Park.
The bridge was damaged by the flooding during my visit and it would have taken a miracle to pull it out and make the necessary repairs in order for it to return to service someday. Most truss bridges damaged by major storms and floods are usually demolished and replaced because the repair costs are “too high,” according to county engineers. However the bridge was taken off the river and dismantled, stored somewhere until an owner would reclaim it and use it for his/her purpose.
According to Mary Dreier, however, the bridge has a new owner. Butch Parks, who owns the Parks Marina conglomerate, recently purchased the bridge. According to the website,
Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji was established in 1983 when Leo “Butch” Parks purchased the then Gibson Sporting Goods. What was once a small fishing boat sales and repair facility, has expanded into a diversified three location business, with marinas, sales, service, storage, boat rentals, pro-shops, and specialty retail stores. Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji features the World Famous Barefoot Bar. Okoboji Boat Works on West Lake Okoboji features much of the same, along with state of the art boat slips, the world’s largest Fish House, pro-shop and clothing Boutique, and a sandy beach for families to enjoy.
Part of the Parks Marina conglomerate includes a boat sales and service store in Sioux Falls, plus the Central Emporium in Arnolds Park, a shopping mall with over a century’s worth of tradition with small shops that sell food and merchandise typical of the Lakes Region.
Now how does the Okoboji Bridge come into play?
The board of the county historical society recently did a presentation on the bridge and its history, which was well-received by many visitors. It was learned that Mr. Parks bought the bridge a while back with plans to install the crossing over a pond located just outside its East Lake Okoboji location. Already a concrete bridge is in place, according to Google Maps, yet it doesn’t mean that it is impossible to install it either in its place or elsewhere on the grounds. What is known is according to Ms. Dreier, the bridge is currently sitting on the grounds, just outside the large building which stores boats and the like, waiting to be sold and used on the lakes.
What will become of the bridge is unclear. I enquired Parks Marina about the purchase of the bridge and its future use via e-mail, only to get a no response. It could be that the headquarters is still in hibernation and it’s just a matter of a few months until I get a response. It could also be that the owner is not sure what the plans are with the bridge. But in any case, if he does respond, I have some questions for him, which includes:
Why this bridge?
What are the plans for the structure?
To be continued. But for now, enjoy the photos Ms. Dreier took for this article.
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Iowa and to this bridge. The Thunder Bridge is one of two Pennsylvania through truss bridges that span the Little Sioux River in Spencer, Iowa. The bridge is the shorter of the two and also the younger, having a length of 164 feet and been built in 1905. Yet the two were built by the same company, the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company. They also have other commonality: the sound of rattling wooden planks when crossing it. In the car or even taken from an oblique angle like in this picture taken in 2011, one will hear it clearly. A video taken by another avid bridge fan and fisherman below will show you the sound taken from the car.
Currently the bridge is still open and if you want to get some photos, you can park at the nearby boat access next to the bridge. It’s highly unlikely that the bridge will close to traffic because only a few cars cross it daily. Furthermore, the street which the bridge carries makes a loop and ends a quarter mile to the west at the same highway, which makes truck deliveries easier. If anything, since Clay County has a few very unique but important artefacts, that Thunder will at the very most receive new wooden flooring in addition to the repairs of beams and the like, making it one of the classic examples of in-kind restoration, and one where the wheels will keep on rattling, just like in the pic with the US-Postal Service truck. A real treat if you visit Iowa and happen to pass by this place.
To see more of Iowa’s historic bridges, please visit the facebook website and like to follow. The link is available here.