The Wrong Picture

Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Over the holiday season, as I was celebrating with family and getting some photo opportunities of some bridges in Iowa and Minnesota, one of my fellow pontists brought this painting up to the attention of the historic bridge community. It was a sketch of low quality showing a tall suspension bridge, trying to go along the lines of the Golden Gate Bridge but it is unknown whether it is the Golden Girl or the Big Mac Bridge (aka Mackinac Bridge) in Michigan because it was too blurry to tell. To an art teacher, the “artist” portraying this bridge would have received a failing grade for its lack of quality. However, both the teacher as well as a historian would have gotten grey hair and wrinkly had they seen that the title of this “pseudo-drawing” been touted as The Brooklyn Bridge!

I think I feel the tremble of the ground as a result of the Roebling family coming out of their graves for that!

While this person had good intentions of making money, and Wal-mart (where the drawing was spotted) was the place to sell the artwork, little did he realize that with the help of the internet and some photos from books and other sources, he would have found out that there is a stark contrast between the Brooklyn, Mackinac and the Golden Gate Bridges. How stark? The photos below speak for themselves…..

Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Transversal view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Nathan Holth

The problem with this misperception of this drawing is that many people do not know what the bridges look like and will take drawings like this one to mislead them into knowing that it is this bridge, when in all reality the actual appearance is anything but that. Furthermore, both the aforementioned bridges have been seen in books and movies, so the differences between them should be obvious. Yet with our total embrace with electronic games and technology as if we are swimming in a pool of water is causing us to lose sight on our surroundings, let along our basic knowledge of history and other core subjects that they all seem to be placed in the backburner. We become disillusioned to what we see, and the younger the generation, the more likely they will identify with the wrong items and have them stick to a point where it becomes more difficult to unglue.

So in order to avoid this type of misunderstanding and misleading identification, here is a word of advice to give to the next person who attempts to draw or paint a picture of something as iconic as a historic bridge: Get it right the first time!

Look at the photos and films, visualize in your head what it looks like and how it should look on paper, and allow yourself an ample amount of time to do the artwork correctly. And don’t worry about the issues of copyright laws. If you do the artwork differently than the one before that, yours will turn out just as well, if not better.

As Gaudenz Assenza, former professor of political science at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany and now professor at the Catholic University of Rozemborok in Slovakia once quoted: Quality trumps quantity in all aspects of life.  While this may refer to aspects on the level of academia, it also applies to all aspects in life, especially when it comes to something like artwork. Think about this before putting the lead to the leaf, no matter how you do it.

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The Wrong Picture

Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Over the holiday season, as I was celebrating with family and getting some photo opportunities of some bridges in Iowa and Minnesota, one of my fellow pontists brought this painting up to the attention of the historic bridge community. It was a sketch of low quality showing a tall suspension bridge, trying to go along the lines of the Golden Gate Bridge but it is unknown whether it is the Golden Girl or the Big Mac Bridge (aka Mackinac Bridge) in Michigan because it was too blurry to tell. To an art teacher, the “artist” portraying this bridge would have received a failing grade for its lack of quality. However, both the teacher as well as a historian would have gotten grey hair and wrinkly had they seen that the title of this “pseudo-drawing” been touted as The Brooklyn Bridge!

I think I feel the tremble of the ground as a result of the Roebling family coming out of their graves for that!

While this person had good intentions of making money, and Wal-mart (where the drawing was spotted) was the place to sell the artwork, little did he realize that with the help of the internet and some photos from books and other sources, he would have found out that there is a stark contrast between the Brooklyn, Mackinac and the Golden Gate Bridges. How stark? The photos below speak for themselves…..

Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Golden Gate Brifdge. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. Photo taken by Nathan Holth

 

Transversal view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Nathan Holth

The problem with this misperception of this drawing is that many people do not know what the bridges look like and will take drawings like this one to mislead them into knowing that it is this bridge, when in all reality the actual appearance is anything but that. Furthermore, both the aforementioned bridges have been seen in books and movies, so the differences between them should be obvious. Yet with our total embrace with electronic games and technology as if we are swimming in a pool of water is causing us to lose sight on our surroundings, let along our basic knowledge of history and other core subjects that they all seem to be placed in the backburner. We become disillusioned to what we see, and the younger the generation, the more likely they will identify with the wrong items and have them stick to a point where it becomes more difficult to unglue.

So in order to avoid this type of misunderstanding and misleading identification, here is a word of advice to give to the next person who attempts to draw or paint a picture of something as iconic as a historic bridge: Get it right the first time!

Look at the photos and films, visualize in your head what it looks like and how it should look on paper, and allow yourself an ample amount of time to do the artwork correctly. And don’t worry about the issues of copyright laws. If you do the artwork differently than the one before that, yours will turn out just as well, if not better.

As Gaudenz Assenza, former professor of political science at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany and now professor at the Catholic University of Rozemborok in Slovakia once quoted: Quality trumps quantity in all aspects of life.  While this may refer to aspects on the level of academia, it also applies to all aspects in life, especially when it comes to something like artwork. Think about this before putting the lead to the leaf, no matter how you do it.

bhc new logo jpeg

2014 Historic Bridge Weekend Highlights

Mackinac Bridge at night. One of the key bridges on the places to visit list for this year’s HB Weekend. Photo taken by Nathan Holth of HistoricBridges.org

From north to south, all of Michigan has been covered. Although this year’s historic bridge weekend may have produced fewer numbers than in the past (due to it taking place in the shoulder season- after summer break), it provided participants with a visit to Michigan’s finest bridges, whether it was the Mackinac Bridge (as seen above) or the bridges in Grand Rapids, or even the states concrete camelback arch bridges. In either case, Michigan has a wide variety of bridges that are worth visiting, as described by Rick McOmber. McOmber is one of the correspondents of HistoricBridges.org, a website founded by Nathan Holth, this year’s coordinator. He has agreed to provide you with some highlights of the events. Photos of the events were taken by Nathan Holth with some more available by clicking here.  Here are the highlights from McOmber:

On September 5-7, 2014 the historic bridge weekend was held in Michigan. Although not as many people attended as previous years it was still a very productive and exciting weekend. I know I could have done a better job of posting details about this gathering earlier but thanks to everyone for spreading the word on their respective websites. This year attendees include James Baughn and his mom from Missouri, Todd Wilson from Pittsburgh and locals Nathan Holth and I.
Friday Sept 5, 2014
Once the strong thunderstorms cleared our trip began as Todd, Nathan and I left East Lansing, MI and headed north on I-75. Before checking in at our hotel in St Ignace, a few night photos were in order for the Mackinac Bridge. Crossing this beautiful suspension bridge at night with the 552 ft. towers lit up is an amazing experience. James and his mother were also in Northern Michigan Friday visiting bridges on their way up.

International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie Michigan/Ontario. Photos taken by Nathan Holth
International Railroad Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie Michigan/Ontario

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Sept 6, 2014
We awoke to sunny skies Saturday so we returned to the Mackinac Bridge early to obtain some side views. Some painting/maintenance work was in progress but the on-site workers were kind enough to uncover some plastic covering on the Steinman plaque so we all could get photos. James captured some excellent pictures of the Mackinac Bridge later on in the day as he took a ferry tour. Once our morning photos were complete we drove to Sault St. Marie and crossed the border to Canada. This afforded us some spectacular vantage points of the International Bridge along with the Int. swing dam bridge; portal views of the 8 span pin-connected railroad bridge and Canadian locks. We ate lunch then drove back to Sault St. Marie USA where we drove a top the campus of Lake Superior St University so we could take aerial photos of the Int. Bridge. (Thanks for researching this location Nathan) We paid a quick visit to the Soo locks before departing to photo document the Ashmun St through arch bridge. This 1935 span was a favorite among all of us. We then headed west so we could visit the deck cantilever Cut River Bridge. Using the walkway we were able some get some adequate side photographs. We continued west on Route 2, stopped at a scenic byway to get distant views of the Mackinac bridge. Shortly after we met up with the Baughns at the Bridge View Park. After a brief visit we drove to Charlevoix to photo a double leaf bascule along with warren through rail bridge now a part of a rail trail. Although late in the day we began an adventuresome trek on the back roads of Michigan to a rehabbed pin connected pony truss (Iron Road) bridge. We headed south to Grayling, MI where there was enough daylight to photo the Au Sable River bridge which is a rigid frame with unique railings. After that we drove into town to eat at Dawson & Stevens which is a 1950’s theme restaurant to discuss the day’s events and relax.

Mottville Bridge, one of a handful of camelback concrete arch bridges left in Michigan

Sunday Sept 7, 2014
Weather cooperated again with sunny skies and once our lavish breakfast at Tim Horton’s was complete James joined Todd, Nathan and I for the Sunday tour. Our goal was to visit Grand Rapids area and bridges in southwest Michigan. Before stopping in Grand Rapids we visited a Pratt Through Railroad Bridge in Lowell and the Burroughs St Camelback pony truss. While In Grand Rapids we visited the 6th St, Blue Rail Bridge, North Park St, Indian Mounds,  a lattice girder bridge. Fortunately we were able to get nice pictures of the significant 1924 Pine Island drive concrete curved chord through girder before modern Armco railings were installed. We left the greater Kent county area and drove down to one of feature bridges of the trip, 1879 New Richmond swing pony truss bridge. The King Bridge Co Whipple was next in Allegan, MI, one of only 3 whipple examples in Michigan. We stopped for lunch and then it was on to the city of Plainwell for some of our states best ice cream, a good way to break up the day. We drove next to Mottville which was another key bridge of the trip to visit (270 Ft concrete curved chord through girder bridge) and an engineering landmark designated by MDOT. We continued on to St Joseph County, MI to visit several pin connected trusses Marantette, Haybridge Rd, and the ½ Mile road through truss. We drove to the M-86 Camelback pony truss before this span is moved at a later date. We had enough daylight to dip into Lagrange County, Indiana to see the IN-120 Bridge and glad it was still standing. This through truss has serious section loss at the lower chord connection points.
That concluded our trip as the group closed out the weekend dining in East Lansing, MI Sunday evening. From Sault St. Marie to LaGrange County, IN it was another fun time had by all and successful historic bridge weekend. Our long distance travel awards go to Todd and James, we thank you for visiting  “Pure Michigan”. I thank you Todd for arranging our efficient and fun to drive VW Passat rental car. Nathan we all appreciate your meticulous trip mapping each day. For additional questions on trip details or photos contact anyone of us. I look forward to seeing everyone at the 2015 Historic Bridge Weekend Event!
Thanks,
Rick McOmber –

A list of bridges visited can be found by clicking here. Planning is in the works to highlight the bridges to visit in Sault Ste. Marie and Grand Rapids to give you an idea which historic bridges to visit while in Michigan, in addition to the Historic Bridge Park near Kalmazoo.They will be posted here as soon as the tour guides are finished.

As far as the 2015 Historic Bridge Weekend are concerned, the venue is still open, although ideas of hosting one in Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa had been brought up prior to the event. Even though it is early to plan, if you have any suggestions for visiting historic bridges for next year’s event, please contact the author of the Chronicles, Nathan Holth at HistoricBridges.org, Todd Wilson at Bridgemapper or James Baughn at Bridgehunter.com to present your ideas. Who knows, your place may be on our agenda for visiting next year. The Chronicles will keep you in the loop regarding the Historic Bridge Weekend as well as other upcoming events pertaining to historic bridges and preservation.

The author would like to thank the organizers of the 2014 Historic Bridge Weekend for the write-up and photos, some of the latter of which were posted here as highlights.

2014 Historic Bridge Weekend in Michigan

Mackinac Bridge at night. One of the key bridges on the places to visit list for this year’s HB Weekend. Photo taken by Nathan Holth of HistoricBridges.org

Three-day Event to take place September 5-7, 2014.

Labor Day weekend usually marks the end of summer and the start of the school year throughout the US, unless you are living in some states that have already started school. Yet if you or your child is a bridge fan, like Nathan Holth, then you could consider this year’s Historic Bridge Weekend as the event to close out this summer vacation.

This year’s event, hosted by the author and columnist of HistoricBridges.org, will take place in Michigan, focusing on the creme dela creme of historic bridges. The three-day weekend will start with a tour of Historic Bridge Park on the evening of September 5th, beginning at 5:00pm. Located near Battle Creek, this park features six historic bridges that were brought in from places in southern Michigan, restored and erected as trails throughout the park. The complex received the Chronicles’ Ammann Awards for Best Kept Secret in 2011.

After touring southern Michigan and parts of northern Indiana on Saturday (including a Saturday night photo opportunity of the bridges in Grand Rapids), Sunday’s tour will feature a visit to the Big Mac. Built in 1957 under the direction of David Steinman, the five-mile long bridge, with the main span of 3,800 feet, still remains the longest single bridge in the western hemisphere. Also included in the Sunday tour are the bridges in the Sault Sainte Marie area, which will mark the first time that the HB Weekend will include some bridges outside the US. Sault Ste. Marie is located at the US-Canadian Border and features over a half dozen key structures straddling the St. Mary’s River and the international border, including the International Bridge, built by Steinman and Associates in 1962.

If you have any questions or are interested in participating in this rather informal event that will bring together pontists and bridge enthusiasts from all over the country, please contact Nathan Holth using the contact details enclosed here.    Highlights of the Historic Bridge Weekend will be provided in the Chronicles in case if it is impossible to make the event but would like to know which bridges to see while visiting Michigan. The author of the Chronicles already has a few bridges to visit on his agenda for his visit to the region in the future.

Author’s Note: A book on the Mackinac Bridge will be featured in the Chronicles’ Book of the Month soon.

Waldo Hancock Suspension Bridge coming down- but how?

Waldo Hancock Bridge in Maine. Photo courtesy of HABS-HAER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It had served US 1 for 71 years and has been standing for a total of 82 years. Now, a piece of Maine’s history is coming down. The Waldo-Hancock Bridge, spanning the Penobscot River at the Waldo- Hancock County border was one of two bridges built by the American Bridge Company and designed by David Steinman. Built in 1931 over a year before Franklin Roosevelt dethroned Herbert Hoover in the Presidential Elections and introduced the New Deal to fight the Great Depression, the bridge was characteristic for its towers, its Vierendeel truss work used for its roadway and its stiffening wire cables that were used to support the roadway. The Dear Isle Bridge, also in Hancock County, and the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan are two other known examples of bridges built by Steinman. Nathan Holth wrote a detailed description of the suspension bridge, which can be seen here.

Maine DOT had originally planned to rehabilitate the suspension bridge in 2001, only to retract the plan when inspection revealed many cables and trusses rusting and corroding to a point of where the bridge was beyond repair. Therefore, in 2007, a cable-stayed suspension bridge was built alongside the Waldo-Hancock span, which featured an observation deck on the west tower of the span. While the state had planned to rehabilitate the old suspension bridge, it decided to demolish the structure last Fall. At the time of this posting, demolition is commencing, but in an unusual fashion.

As we have seen with many bridges, demolition contractors have used explosives to bring them down, and the time it took to remove the debris was in a span of between 2 days and 2 months, pending on the size and the boat traffic. This was the case with the Ft. Steuben Bridge over the Ohio River, when it was imploded in February of last year.  In other cases, the spans are cut up in pieces, brought down to the barges and hauled away to land, where they are cut up to pieces and hauled away. This happened to the Red Bridge near Dubuque in July of last year.

Given the environmental circumstances and its proximity of the cable-stayed bridge, there is another method that the contractors have taken and has been approved by Maine DOT. Can you take a guess as to how the Waldo-Hancock Suspension Bridge is being taken down?

Put your guesses down in the Comment section and the answer will be revealed next week at this time. Good luck. 🙂