Newsflyer 20 June, 2020

train with smoke
Photo by Gabriela Palai on

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To listen to the podcast, click onto this link:–2020-efngcj



Bridge Restoration Firm to Close Down

Information on Workin Bridges (including statement):




Virginia’s Historic Truss Bridges on the Endangered List


Guide on Virginia’s HBs:

Top Rankings (


The Pursuit to Rename a Historic Bridge in Alabama

Bridge Info:

Article 1:

Article 2:


Covered Bridge in Danger of Collapse

Bridge Info:



Historic Bridge in Trier, Germany to be Rehabilitated


Bridge Info:


Hochdonn Viaduct in Schleswig-Holstein to be Repainted


Bridge Tour:


A pair of Historic Bridges discovered in southern Germany

Soda Bridge in Bavaria:

Arch Bridge near Lahr:


Plus an important address about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota


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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 95

Holmes Street Bridge alt


This week’s Pic of the Week keeps us in Minnesota but takes us towards the Twin Cities. About a half hour drive southwest of Minneapolis we have the city of Shakopee, located on the Minnesota River. The city of 41,500 inhabitants has a lot of popular places of interest, including Valleyfair, Cantebury Downs, and the Renaissance Festival, in addition to its historic city center (even though it has been dwarfed by a population explosion in the past 30 years.)  When you follow the former US highway 169 (county highway 69) into the city and want to cross the Minnesota, you can at this one.

The Holmes Street Bridge features two bridges. The newest one (in the background) was built in 1993; the historic bridge in the foreground, a continuous Warren deck truss span was built in 1927. That structure replaced one of several swing bridges that had existed along the river from Mankato to St. Paul.  The bridge is 645 feet total in length and had six spans, including an underpass on the Shakopee side. That span has a flight of stairs that connect the street with the bridge itself.   The bridge carried US 169 before it was carried over to the 1993 crossing for awhile. The highway eventually was relocated again five years later when it became an expressway and bypassed Shakopee and its cross-river neighbor Chaska. County 69 became the replacement although with many cars driving through the city, it has the characteristics of a major highway in Minnesota with a four-lane highway whose lanes are much wider than a typical county road.

This photo was taken in August 2009 as we were making a brief stop for a break. The bridge was already open for pedestrians and cyclists and I saw quite a few of them passing by as I photographed the structure. The bridge was scheduled to be rehabilitated a year later, but it didn’t stop me from getting some details of the decking and truss superstructure before some of the elements were eventually replaced. While some of the gussets were replaced, the lighting and railings were completely replaced with those mimicking a nostalgic era of over a century ago. You can find more photos per here.

There is a story that came along after the photos were posted on An insurance agency in Shakopee found this picture, the pic of the week feature, so interesting that they wanted to use it for their campaign. The green light was given- but under one condition. I wanted an example oft he finished product once it was released in the public. I received a folder with the name of the insurance agency in the end.  It was a neat souvenir that I still have at home. And for the agent, a way to bring a relict of the past to the public to show them what makes Shakopee a unique community, despite it becoming an urban sprawl. A win-win situation for all.


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Shakopee went from a small town of 9,400 in 1980 to an urban community of 41,500 by 2018, an increase of 31,000 over the course of almost four decades.  Together with Chaska, the twin communities have a population of ca. 70,000 inhabitants. Ironically, Chaska had only 4500 inhabitants before sprouting in the 1990s. It has almost 27,000 residents. Both are part oft he Minneapolis/ St. Paul Metropolitan area, which has a total of 3.9 million people, counting the Twin Cities plus all the cities surrounding it.

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 75


This week’s Pic of the Week brings winter, holidays and bridgehunting together. It’s a throwback to 2010 and my trip to the States for Christmas. Together with another fellow pontist, who is also a civil engineer, we had a chance to visit several bridges in and around the Twin Cities before he had to leave to visit family members. Even though I also visited some friends in the Cities, I stopped for some photo opps along the way, like this one in Minneapolis at Boom Island Bridge.  This 8-panel through truss Bridge with pinned connections and Howe lattice Portal bracings was built in 1901 by –Butler-Ryan Co. of St. Paul, Minnesota, with  Charles Frederick Loweth of Cleveland, Ohio being the designer and  R.B. Tweedy being the chief engineer. The bridge was most recently renovated for bike use but when this was taken, there were eight inches of snow on the ground- thick enough for even snowmobiling.  The purplish-blue setting reflects on the overcast skies with the ground all covered in snow. A great scene for a picture like this, taken while in tunnel view. Sometimes the best bridge pics are taken when there’s snow on the ground and in certain angles like this one. 🙂

Enjoy the pic and have a great Holiday Season! 🙂 ❤

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Minneapolis Bridge Company- Minneapolis, MN (USA)

Granite Falls Suspension Bridge, spanning Minnesota River. Built in 1933

During a period between 1870 and 1940, the United States experienced an exponential growth in the number of not only iron and steel truss bridges, but also the number of bridge companies and steel mills. Originating from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and New York, companies were established in the 1870s but through consolidations and insider business training, the numbers expanded westward, reaching Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa by 1910.

With these expansions came the development of the schools of bridge builders. Consisting of family dynasties and strong ties among the builders, these bridge builders were established either as family businesses or businesses with closest ties- whose founders later established ventures out west as a way to compete with the giant monopolies, like the American Bridge Company. Many schools of bridge builders existed beginning in the 1880s, including ones in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Ohio, New England,

and this one in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The Minneapolis School of Bridge Builders featured bridge builders having established companies in Minneapolis and points to the east. These bridge builders were either self taught, had ties with companies to the east or both, and had a close-knit network of family members and close partners who later established companies or contracted westwards in the Great Plains and western states. They included the Hewett Family (William, Seth, Arthur), Commodore P. Jones, Lawrence Johnson and Alexander Bayne. Jones and Bayne were responsible for the Minneapolis Bridge Company, which was the longest tenured bridge company in the Minneapolis School and one of the longest in the United States.

Kilen Woods SPB B&W
Kilen Woods State Park Bridge in Jackson County, Minnesota. Built in 1913, replaced in 2004. Photo taken in 1994

Founded in 1887 by Commodore P. Jones, the Minneapolis Bridge Company has a unique history, some of which is still being debated by historians and scholars today. What is known is the fact that the bridge company operated under different ownerships as well as different names. According to the 1985 study on Minnesota’s bridges by Robert Frame, the company operated under Minneapolis Bridge Company from 1888 to 1898 and from 1913 to 1941, the Minneapolis Bridge and Iron Company from 1898-1910 and as the Minneapolis Bridge Construction Company 1941- ca. 1944.  Jones operated the company before he left in 1910 to join Seth Hewett (with whom he was partners in the bridge business some years earlier) and formed the Great Northern Bridge Company, which operated until 1922.

It is unknown what happened to the company between the time span of 1910 and 1913, although some sources claim that the company was out of business by 1910 and was restarted in 1913. But more research is needed to determine whether this was the case. However, one of Jones’s disciples, Alexander Y. Bayne took over the company in 1913, and the Minneapolis Bridge Company resumed its bridge building business. Bayne was president of the company from 1913 to 1917, when his partner, Oliver Matteson took over the presidency and held it until 1926. Matteson had been an agent of the company up to 1917 as well as an agent for two other previous companies prior to the resurrection of the Minneapolis Bridge Company.

Another bridge builder, Isak Helseth took over the operations in 1941 and presided over the company until it folded in 1950.  Assuming the bridge company was not closed down between 1910 and 1913, the Minneapolis Bridge Company relocated twice in its life span: first to the Met Life Building from its original location at the Lumber Exchange Building in 1913 and seven years later to 3100 NE 6th Street. The company was known to have constructed dozens of bridges during its existence. The 1985 study by Frame indicated that five were built by Jones and 27 by Bayne. However upon doing a count by the writer as part of a book project completed eight years ago,  31 bridges were constructed under Commodore Jones and dozens of others by Bayne.

Winona Bridge. Built in 1941

Several historic bridges remaining in the country were built by Minneapolis Bridge Company, almost all of which were under the operations by Bayne, even though he had another business in Canada. Examples of bridges built by the company that are still standing include the following:

Winona Bridge (Minnesota)

St. Mary Aqueduct (Montana)

Sorlie Memorial Bridge (North Dakota/ Minnesota)

Ortonville Arch Bridge (Minnesota)

Granite Falls Suspension Bridge (Minnesota)

Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter (Minnesota)

Ten Mile Road Bridge (Michigan)

Savanna-Sabula Bridge. Built in 1932. Demolished and replaced in 2018.

Bridges that no longer exist but were built by Minneapolis Bridge Company include the following:

Savanna-Sabula Bridge (Iowa/Illinois)

Kilen Woods Bridge (Minnesota)

Meadow Hill Drive Bridge (Wisconsin)

Walworth Bridge (South Dakota)

Rockdale Viaduct (Iowa)



Frame, Robert III „A Report on Historic Bridges in Minnesota.“ St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society and Minnesota Department of Transportation, 1985

Gardner, Denis. “Wood + Concrete + Stone + Steel: Minnesota’s Historic Bridges.” Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008


St. Anthony Parkway Bridge spans for sale

Side view of the Warren trusses and its skewed configuration. Photo taken in August 2010

Meeting on Bridge Project scheduled for 29 October at River East in Minneapolis.

The St. Anthony Parkway Bridge, spanning the railroad yard in the Minneapolis suburb of Columbia Heights, has been a focus of concern for transportation officials, historians and locals alike, for although the bridge is historically significant, rust and corrosion was revealed on the bridge, prompting measures to ensure that the bridge is replaced as soon as possible.

Over five months after the article was written (see link here), the project appears to have moved forward. Plans have been approved to replace the five-span Warren through truss bridge, built in 1925 and features a set of skewed portal bracings, with a crossing featuring a through truss span and girder spans. The original trusses are being offered for sale by the City to be used for several purposes. The lone exception is one of the spans will be salvaged and used as an interpretive memorial located on the western end of the bridge. That means four spans are available for grabs to be reused on a local road or bike trail.

If interested, there is an informational meeting on Monday 29 October, 2013 from 6:00- 8:00pm at the River Village East, Community Room, located at 2919 Randolph St NE in Monneapolis. There, the public can discuss about the project and express their interest in the purchase of the old bridge. There will be more meetings to come between now and the time construction actually starts, which is next fall. The new bridge is expected to be open to traffic by the end of 2015.  More information about the project can be found here. This includes the contact details in case of any questions.

The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest involving the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge, but in case you know someone who wants a historic bridge for a bike trail, park or road, there are four spans available for you to get while they are still there…

2013 SIA Conference in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. All photos courtesy of Amy Squitieri


Author’s note: There are a lot of unique features that make the Twin Cities in Minnesota worth visiting. One of those has to do with the bridges. Regardless of type, hundreds of them can be seen while travelling through the area by car, boat or even by walking, dating as far back as 1884 with the Stone Arch Bridge, the Merriam Street Bridge built at the Broadway Avenue crossing site in 1887 before saving and relocating one of the spans to its present, or even the arch bridges that have been spanning the Mississippi River for over 80 years.  This year’s Society for Industrial Archeology Conference took place in Minneapolis and St. Paul. And as the author could not make it because of time commitments, another colleague and fellow pontist Amy Squitieri, who works at Mead & Hunt located in Minneapolis, Madison (WI) and Austin (TX), was there and was happy to provide you as the reader with the highlights of the three-day event that took place May 30- June 2. Here are the highlights and photos, all of which speak for themselves. Enjoy!

From Amy Squitieri:

Bridge enthusiasts came in force to the SIA Annual Conference in St. Paul.  Friday’s sold-out bridge tour, Mighty Mississippi: A Twin Cities Riverboat Cruise with the Expert, was organized by Bob Frame of Mead & Hunt, which co-sponsored the tour in partnership with the Historic Bridge Foundation. Tour guides included historians with expertise in bridges and the Mississippi River, bridge engineers, and the Dispatcher with Upper River Services, a barge operating service.

Our first stop during the brief land-based portion of the tour was the Seventh Street Improvement Arches (1884) in St. Paul, one of the few helicoidal stone arches in the United States. As participants gathered to take pictures (see photo), State Bridge Engineer Nancy Daubenberger welcomed us to the bridge tour and to this ASCE National Historic Engineering Landmark, one of only three in Minnesota.

Arriving at St. Anthony Falls, we left the bus and walked across the deck of the 1883 Stone Arch Railroad Bridge, the second ASCE National Historic Engineering Landmark and now a major trail crossing (photo of participants gathered mid-span for an introduction to the Mighty Mississippi). The 2,100-foot, 23-arch bridge includes a six-degree curve (photo as seen from the deck of our Mississippi riverboat, the Magnolia Blossom).

The riverboat tour began at the top of the lock chamber and proceeded down river on a cruise for the remainder of the day, ending in downtown St. Paul. We observed historic bridges of the Twin Cities from the riverboat deck, cruising from the waterpower center of the Historic Minneapolis Mill District at the Falls of St. Anthony to the traditional head of navigation at St. Paul. A full tour description is here (

Highlights of the tour included the Cappelen Memorial (Franklin Ave.) features a 400-ft. main span—setting the world record for a concrete-arch span when the bridge was completed in 1923 (see photo).  This bridge is among an important group of large reinforced-concrete arch bridges that were built in the Twin Cities, particularly over the Mississippi, in the 1920s.

As we passed by the Omaha Railroad Swing Bridge (1915), the operator opened it for us (see photos of bridge opening). One participant noted that “operation of the swing bridge was a WAY COOL high point.”  Near the end in St. Paul, we saw the beautiful rainbow arch Robert Street Bridge (1924-25).

The program for Saturday featured the 23rd Historic Bridge Symposium with 13 speakers from as close as the Twin Cities and as far as Vermont and Texas. Represented were cultural resource professionals at State DOTs, consultants, reps of Army National Guard and National Park Service, advocates and enthusiasts. The audience ranged from about 25 to max of 50 during the day-long symposium.

The Historic Bridge Foundation sponsored the symposium and director Kitty Henderson served as moderator. Speakers and topics, with quick highlights, were as follows:
Session 3A
Michael Krakower, “Restoration of the Oaklawn Concrete Bridge” – Early reinforced arch and only bridge by renowned architects Greene & Greene
Deborah Baldwin Van Steen, “History vs. Technology: Emergency Repairs to the Route 33 Bridge, Hightstown, New Jersey” – Bridge washed out in flood and was restored with modified railings to meet current safety guidelines
Christopher H. Marston, “Salvation, Documentation, and Reconstruction of the Moose Brook Bridge Howe Truss” – A wood bridge burned and was carefully rebuilt with lessons about timber strength and craftsmanship
Session 3B
Scott Newman, “Historic Bridge Projects: A Preservation Reality Check” – Shared several recent VT rehab projects including the famous Checkered House Bridge, a widened truss.
Katherine Haun, “Bridge Engineering from the Bottom Up: Substructure Matters on the Red River of the North” – A fascinating look at how the abutments and bearings were designed to accommodate sinking soils
Raina Regan, “The Bailey Bridge: Misconceptions in Identification, Significance, and Preservation” – Her detailed research has shown that extant US “Bailey Bridges” post-date World War II
Session 3C
Rebecca Burrow, “How to Date a Bridge: Case Studies on Steel Truss Design”
Nathan Holth, “Creative Bridge Building in Early 20th Century Chicago”
Mark M. Brown, “Bridges of the Recent Past: Three Texas Case Studies” – Entertaining!
Session 3D
Gary W. Houston, “Two Lessons for Historic Urban Bridge Protection Offered by San Antonio’s Hays Street Bridge” – Lesson 1: Public art shouldn’t be forced onto a historic bridge; Lesson 2: Public bridges are for public users, not private concessionaires
Amy Squitieri and Kristen Zschomler, “Minnesota’s Bridges: Lessons Learned and Current Best Practices” – We shared recent rehab projects with a focus on common challenges of railings, rivets, stone/concrete repair techniques, adequate width and capacity
Justin M. Spivey, “Crowd-Sourcing Historic Bridge Research” – You can find out a lot on the web, some good and other info is more suspect

Session abstracts and speaker bios are available here;

Click to access SIA2013PaperPresentations.pdf

On a personal note, it was a great pleasure to see my colleague at Mead & Hunt, Bob Frame, receive SIA’s most prestigious honor, the General Tools Award, for his lifetime contributions to industrial archeology. As one of the leading historic bridge experts in the country, Bob conducts research, completes evaluations and documentation, and leads historic bridge assessments.  He has contributed to eight statewide historic bridge surveys. Details about Bob’s accomplishment are included in a blog post (

Bridge fans should make plans to attend next year’s SIA conference in Portland, Maine, and the 24th Historic Bridge Symposium. The conference is tentatively scheduled for mid- or late-May. Updates will be provided on the SIA website


Author’s Note: Some of the bridges mentioned here will be profiled separately in the future as there are some interesting stories that went along with them and how they were preserved. The Chronicles will do an interview with Bob Frame as well, for he devoted over 40 years to historic bridge preservation, including publishing inventories on historic bridges in Minnesota, the oldest version of which I still have in my possession and have been using to track down the history of the bridges in Minnesota.

Another colleague, Kaitlin O’shea of Preservation in Pink, was also there and provided highlights of the Conference from a preservationists point of view. You can see the article with pictures here.

Special thanks to Amy Squitieri for her help in providing us with information and photos of the event, the latter of which can be seen below:



Robert Street Bridge in St. Paul

Side view of the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis

Cappelen Memorial Bridge in Minneapolis

Seventh Street Arch Improvements in St. Paul

Railroad Swing Bridge in a closed position….
….and in an open position

Walking across the Stone Arch Bridge