Central States Bridge Company of Indianapolis, Indiana

115587-L
Boyd Bridge at Greensburg City Park in Craig, Indiana- a fine product of CSBC. Photo taken by Tony Dillon

This article is in connection with the creation of the database for the Bridge Builder’s Directory in the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ wordpress page, which you can click here to view.

Indiana, together with Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York, were considered the big six in terms of steel construction and bridge building during the heyday of architectural and infrastructural expansion between 1880 and 1920. Steel mills were found between Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, including the metropolises of Chicago, Indianapolis, Canton and Cleveland. Several schools of bridge building existed, which churned out the finest bridge builders and businessmen in the field. This included the Indiana school, which had over a dozen bridge builders, including the longest known bridge builder in the state, The Central States Bridge Company (CSBC). But what do we know about the company and its founder to date?

The company was created in 1895 as the New Castle Steel Sewer Pipe Company by Eugene Runyan and others, with its headquarters in New Castle, IN. It later expanded its services and began building bridges. In 1897,  in response to the changing trends in infrastructural work that included the increasing demand for metal truss bridges, the company changed its name to New Castle Bridge Company and would later receive contracts for bridge building in Iowa, Virginia, and Michigan. In 1905, the company relocated to Indianapolis and was renamed the Central States Bridge Company. Prior to World War I, the bridge company constructed dozens of bridges of its kind in 10 states, including: Indiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Montana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska and New York.

Lilleberg Bridge
Lilleberg Bridge in Jackson County, MN (1910-1976) Source: Jackson Co. Hwy. Dept.

Many of these bridges have been either documented by the State Historical Societies, HABS/HAER or both and are either listed on the National Register of Historic Places or are considered eligible. Yet many of these CSBC bridges are disappearing fast as they have been either replaced or demolished in the past 20 years. This includes the following bridges:

Lefarge Bridge in Wisconsin: This bridge used to be the Hudson Toll Bridge until it was relocated in 1953 to its final destination. It was documented by HABS/HAER before it was removed in 1983.

Standing Rock Bridge in Montana: This three-span polygonal Warren through truss bridge was one of the key historic sites along the Yellowstone River until its replacement in 1991

Little Flatrock Bridge in Indiana: Decatur County was CSBC’s primary customer as a half dozen of its bridges were built there between 1900 and 1916. This one had a fancy portal bracing, yet efforts to save the bridge from the wrecking ball failed, as the bridge was removed in 2000 after its replacement was built. However, the Applegate Bridge has a similar feature and is in storage, awaiting relocation for reuse.

Lilleberg Bridge in Minnesota: The Lilleberg Bridge was one of the younger bridges built by Central States, for it was constructed in 1911. It was the fourth structure at the location and used to be a centerpiece for the now extant village of Belmont. Sadly, flood damage in 1969 resulted in its replacement in 1976 on a new alignment. One can still see the lally columns from the current structure today.

 

Structures that are still standing include:

Boyd Bridge in Indiana: This used to span Sand Creek at CR 700 before it was relocated to Greensburg Park in Craig in 2006, nicely restored and now part of a bike path.

Bernadotte Bridge in Illinois: This bridge features a Pratt through truss and a Pratt pony truss. Damaged by the flooding along the Spoon River, the pony truss span was taken out of the river and placed on blocks, while the through truss is still standing. Efforts are being undertaken to save the entire structure.

Locust Street Bridge in New York: Located in the town of Waterloo, this 1914 arch structure was the only known bridge of its kind built by CSBC and is still in service today.

Little is known what happened to the Central States except to say that even though the founder, Mr. Runyan, died in 1913, the business continued building bridges well into the 1970s and 80s, according to the Indiana Historical Society during the author’s correspondance in 2007. Whether the company still exists today, either as an independent entity or as part of a larger steel and/or bridge company remains unknown to date, nor do we have much information on the later structures built by CSBC.

If you know more about the company, especially regarding Euguene Runyan’s life and the company’s existence sice 1919 in terms of bridge examples, advertising or other information, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, under the following address: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. Further information will be added to this page pending on the information that is received at that time.

In the meantime, check out the list of bridges built by CSBC by clicking on the following links below:

http://bridgehunter.com/category/builder/central-states-bridge-co/- Bridgehunter.com

Historic Bridges.org: Central States Bridge Company

 

bhc-logo-newest1

2015 Ammann Awards: The Winners

2015 Ammann Awards: The Winners

Amy Squitieri wins Lifetime Achievement; Gallatin County, Montana gets top honors in two categories, another accolade for Michigan’s Historic Bridges

JENA, GERMANY-  Earth calling Amy Squitieri! Ms. Squitieri, there is a customer out in Montana, specifically in Gallatin County, who has been profiling historic bridges in the county. The majority of them cannot bear today’s loads anymore but have historic character to it that many people don’t want to see scrapped. This includes the Nixon Bridge. Can you help?

After all, with multiple years of experience, you deserve the Lifetime Achievement Award, so your help is needed. 🙂 And as a bonus, the man named Troy Carter won Best Photo for the Nixon Bridge! 😀

TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE A car drives over the Nixon Bridge above the East Gallatin River near Manhattan on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Gallatin County Commissioners approved Tuesday an engineering study for its replacement.
TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE
A car drives over the Nixon Bridge above the East Gallatin River near Manhattan on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Gallatin County Commissioners approved Tuesday an engineering study for its replacement.

Before getting to the rest of the results, the Chronicles would like to thank everyone for taking part in the voting. Thanks to Poll Daddy, people had no problems with the voting process, with the exception of the website being down once a day for five minutes, as that was the only complaint. Because of the high turnout, the plan is to keep the format as is for the 2016 Awards, which will run its original form with voting in December and the results to be presented in January 2017.

But going back to the results, Squitieri is the second person from Mead and Hunt in three years to win the Lifetime Achievement Award, Robert Frame III won it in 2014. And like Frame, she received 45.8% of the votes, far outpacing the second place winners from Ames, Iowa- consisting of Randy Faber, Judy McDonald, Hank Zalatel and Matt Donovan from the Iowa Department of Transportation- who received 22.4%. Julie Bowers from Workin Bridges recieved 14% of the votes, outgunning Nathan Holth by four percentage points.

And the rest of the results for LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT:

  1. Amy Squitieri- 45.8%
  2. Donovan, Faber, McDonald and Zalatel- 22.4%
  3. Julie Bowers- 14%
  4. Nathan Holth- 9.4%
  5. James Barker- 5.7%
  6. Todd Wilson and Lauren Winkler- 2.8%

 

TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE Anglers row on the Jefferson River just before the Williams Bridge near Willow Creek on Saturday, Oct. 24. Six one-lane truss bridges, including the Williams Bridge, have been designated structurally obsolete according to the Gallatin County Road and Bridge Department.
TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE
Anglers row on the Jefferson River just before the Williams Bridge near Willow Creek on Saturday, Oct. 24. Six one-lane truss bridges, including the Williams Bridge, have been designated structurally obsolete according to the Gallatin County Road and Bridge Department.

BEST PHOTO:

As mentioned at the beginning, Galatin County, Montana won in two categories, which include the category of best photo. Even more so, Troy Carter obtained not only the gold medal, but also the silver for the picture above, of the Williams Bridge. Bronze medalist goes to Roger Deschner for his photo of the Savana-Sabula Bridge over the Mississippi River.  And the rest of the votes:

  1. Nixon Bridge (Troy Carter)- 51.2%
  2. Williams Bridge (Troy Carter)- 38.1%
  3. Savana-Sabula Bridge (Roger Deschner)- 6%
  4. Tied:  Bentonsport Bridge, Firescald Bridge, Thompson Bridge, Chapel Curry Bridge (1%)

BEST KEPT SECRET:

Due to a lack of entries for individual bridges, that and the city guide tours were merged for this year’s awards. However, the two subcategories will be presented again for the 2016 awards. As always, the votes were broken down to US, International and All around. The top three in the US category happened to be the winners all around, while the bridges in Newcastle (UK) and Paris (France) shared top honors in the International Division. Furthermore, he second and third place winners came from New Jersey, while three out of the top five finishers originated from New Jersey.  Here are the results:

USA/ All Around:  

  1. The Bridges of Gallatin County, Montana- 41.1%
  2. The Bridges along the South Branch Raritan River in New Jersey- 17.9%
  3. The Bridges along the Delaware River at the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border- 10.7%
  4. The Bridges of New Ulm, Minnesota- 7.1%
  5. The Bridges of Hunterdon County, New Jersey- 5.4%
  6. Tied- Newcastle (UK) and Paris (France)- 5.4%

International:

  1. Newcastle/Paris
  2. Tied- York (UK)/ Zeitz (Germany)

 

BEST RESTORED HISTORIC BRIDGE(S):

For the second time since its inception, the Historic Bridge Park near Kalmazoo, Michigan has won an award by the Chronicles. In 2011, the Park won the Award for Best Kept Secret, while simultaneously, its engineer behind the creation of the park, Vern Mesler, won the Lifetime Achievement Award. As attractive as the park is and as big of a posterboy as this place has served, it is justified that the award is given, especially as 36.4% of the voters gave the people there the nod. 🙂 As for the other results….

  1. Historic Bridge Park in Michigan- 36.4%
  2. Tied- Sandy River, Portland Waterworks Bridge in Oregon/ Thompson Bridge in St. Louis County, Minnesota- 15.2%
  3. McConnellsville Bridge in Morgan County, Ohio- 12.1%
  4. High Bridge in New York City- 9.1%
  5. Swing Bridge Park at Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota- 6.1%
  6. Two tied with 3%

 

MYSTERY BRIDGE:

The competition was fierce, especially in the international division, but the unusual covered bridge in New Hampshire received 25% of the vote, and therefore took the USA and All Around divisions. Only 7% behind was the Waddell truss bridge in Clearwater County, Minnesota with 18.8%, and the Howe Truss Bridges in Blue Earth County won third place with 3.1%. In the International Category, the Estate Bridge in Staffordshire in the UK won the competition, and third place in the All Around. In second place, we have a tie between The Bridge of Lions in Berlin and the Natural Bridge at Mallorca Island in Spain. Third place goes to Havenga Bridge in South Africa and the Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge in Zeitz, Germany.  Here are the complete results:

  1. Covered Bridge in New Hampshire- 25%
  2. Waddell Truss Bridge in Minnesota- 18.8%
  3. Estate Bridge in the UK- 15.6%
  4. Bridge of Lions (Germany) and Natural Bridge (Spain)- 12.5%
  5. Havenga Bridge (South Africa) and Moritzburg Bridge (Germany)- 6.3%
  6. Howe Truss Bridges in Minnesota- 3.1%

 

 

hayden bridge

BRIDGE OF THE YEAR:

And lastly, the 2015 Bridge of the Year. While the Cliffton Suspension Bridge ran away with the competition in the 2014 Awards, the competition was fierce among the candidates, as there were several ties before the Hayden Bridge in Oregon came away a winner with 27% of the votes. Second place finisher is the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama, which was the site of the demonstrations in 1964. The 50th anniversary celebrations took place at this steel through arch bridge. It received 18.1% of the votes. The Savana-Sabula Bridge finished in third with 12.1%.  And as for the rest:

  1. Hayden Bridge in Oregon
  2. Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama
  3. Savana-Sabula Bridge
  4. Tied- Fehmarn Bridge in Germany/ Firth of Forth Bridge in Scotland/ Calhoun Street Bridge in New Jersey
  5. Chemnitz Viaduct in Germany
  6. Traffic Bridge in Saskatoon (Canada)

 

FAZIT:

And with that, we have closed shop for the belated 2015 Ammann Awards by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. For the delay because of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the author apologizes. For that, plus in light of the 5-year anniversary of the Ammann Awards, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will be accepting nominations for the 2016 Ammann Awards between now and 1 December, 2016. If you have any candidates in any of the categories, please use the contact form and send them in this direction.

In addition, the Chronicles will have its own version of the Hall of Fame, where the top two candidates of each category of each year (from 2011 to 2016) will be voted upon, and the top three in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. More information will come during the course of the year. It is clear that two different and sequential voting processes will commence during December 2016 and January 2017.

In the meantime, get your cameras and candidates out there, you have more than enough time between now and December 1st, 2016 to win your fame and fortune with your bridge and pontist. 🙂

bhc new logo jpeg

2015 Amman Awards Voting Part 1

Finally, after a pair of significant delays due to events that have interrupted our lifestyles on both sides of the Big Atlantic, the time has come for the voting process for the 2015 Othmar H. Ammann Awards, powered by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and Poll Daddy.com. Unlike in previous voting, all the voting will be done directly through the Chronicles, which means more independence from external sources. 🙂 Also differently from last year is that the voting process will commence in two separate articles. This article will feature the category of Best Photo, where all photos will be presented and you will choose your top two votes.  Article 2 will feature the rest of the categories in the form of ballots with descriptions being presented. Please follow all instructions given when voting. In case of questions, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles

You have until 2 February to vote. The votes will be tallied and the result presented the same day. The five-year anniversary version of the Ammann Awards, where the top two from each category in the years 2011-2016 will be selected and voted on next year. More details will come in November.

Here we go with the voting! 😀

BEST PHOTO (2 Votes limit)

Photo taken by the author in December, 2014
Photo taken by the author in December, 2014

Bentonsport Bridge in Iowa- Jason D. Smith

 

MN-210 Bridge

Thomson Bridge in Minnesota- John Weeks III

 

hayden bridge

Hayden Bridge in Oregon- Julie Bowers

 

TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE A car drives over the Nixon Bridge above the East Gallatin River near Manhattan on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Gallatin County Commissioners approved Tuesday an engineering study for its replacement.
TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE
A car drives over the Nixon Bridge above the East Gallatin River near Manhattan on Tuesday, Oct. 6. Gallatin County Commissioners approved Tuesday an engineering study for its replacement.

Nixon Bridge in Montana- Troy Carter- Bozeman Chronicle

 

TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE Anglers row on the Jefferson River just before the Williams Bridge near Willow Creek on Saturday, Oct. 24. Six one-lane truss bridges, including the Williams Bridge, have been designated structurally obsolete according to the Gallatin County Road and Bridge Department.
TROY CARTER/CHRONICLE
Anglers row on the Jefferson River just before the Williams Bridge near Willow Creek on Saturday, Oct. 24. Six one-lane truss bridges, including the Williams Bridge, have been designated structurally obsolete according to the Gallatin County Road and Bridge Department.

Williams Bridge in Montana- Troy Carter  Bozeman Chronicle

 

hwy.5 bridge alabama

Hwy. 5 Bridge in Alabama- J. Carson Barrett

 

firescald bridge tn

Firescald Bridge in Tennessee- J. Carson Barrett

curry chapel bridge

Chapel Curry Bridge in Alabama- J. Carson Barrett

 

Savana-Sabula Bridge in Iowa-Illinois- Roger Deschner

 

AFTER LOOKING AT THE PHOTOS, PLEASE PROCEED TO PART II, WHICH IS HERE ->

Old Red Bridge in Columbia Falls, Montana

Overview of the Red Bridge. Photos courtesy of Greg Fortin, used with permission

 

Montana: its mountainous landscape, its lucious vegetation, its gorgeous bridges. In the state about the size of France with 2 million inhabitants, it holds a vast array of historic bridges, many of them built between 1890 and 1930 and made of steel. Most of them were built by the bridge builders originating from the Minneapolis School of Bridge Builders. Featuring the likes of Commodore Jones, The Hewett Family, Lawrence Johnson, and Alexander Bayne, these were men who owned and operated bridge building companies in Minneapolis and became the counterweight to the American Bridge Company when it was created out of 28 well-known bridge companies located in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania in 1901, dominating the western landscape with hundreds of truss bridges built using several truss types.

The Old Red Bridge, spanning the Flathead River near Columbia Falls is one of several bridges that came from the Minneapolis School of Bridge Builders. Constructed in 1912 by disciple Alexander Bayne, the bridge features two Pennsylvania petit spans, with each one being over 200 feet in length, totalling 442 feet. The bridge withstood the test of time, including flooding, which was a common problem for residents of Columbia Falls at the time of the bridge’s opening. One of the floods in 1913 caused the center pier to erode and the bridge spans to tilt. While that was corrected, the bridge served traffic until it was closed off to vehicles in 1989 and to pedestrians three years later. To ensure that no one crossed the bridge, workers removed the approach spans and fenced off the bridge from both ends after the decision was made to close the structure to all traffic.

Workers removing the approach spans to the bridge to ensure that the pedestrians stay off the structure. Photo from the facebook site Old Red Bridge

The current situation with the bridge is as follows: The bridge is the last bridge in Montana featuring two Pennsylvania petit spans- this after the demolition of the Fort Keogh Bridge in 2012. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2010 because of its association with Alexander Bayne and his contributions to bridge building in Montana and points to the west.  And lastly, since 2010, attempts have been volleyed between restoring the structure or removing it altogether. This included a proposal to restore the bridge and convert it into a bike trail, featuring a park complex, as proposed in the link.  County officials have been adamant about doing anything with the bridge because it has become an issue of liability, especially in light of the recent floods in 2011 and 2012.

Already proposals to dismantle the bridge were brought up, which they claim to be the most viable issue as other measures to keep people off the bridge would be futile. The county, which owns the bridge, is fully aware of the historical significance of the bridge and the paperwork that is required before tearing it down, which includes informing the state historical preservation office (SHPO) about it. Yet as many in the community are attached to the bridge and its history, plus due to its potential to be preserved as a recreational bridge, both the residents of Columbia Falls as well as Flathead County are not ready to let go of the bridge until all options to preserve and restore the bridge are exhausted.

The current state of the bridge without its approach span, but with lots of graffiti

At the present time, efforts are being rekindled to restore the Red Bridge, although at a snail’s pace, which is slower than in 2010. The main factor that is keeping the bridge from being restored is money. Cost for restoring the structure is estimated at $2.5 million, not including plans for a bed and breakfast, restaurant, kayak landing and boat ramp near the bridge as possible sources of funding for the project. Originally, $500,000 had been earmarked for the bridge restoration by the county through a federal grant, but was shifted towards other projects because of the lack of commitment towards providing funding for the bridge from other groups. “I see it more as an issue of show me the money,” stated city manager Susan Nicosia, who brought the issue of restoring the bridge to the attention of the Columbia Falls City Council in May.  It has led to the questions of how much it will cost for restoring the bridge, how should the bridge be restored, how much money will be garnered from the public and private sectors to restore the bridge and through which means.

Greg Fortin, who is leading the latest efforts to saving the Red Bridge, under the name of Old Red Bridge LLC, is currently consulting a non-profit restoration company specializing in restoring historic bridges in hopes to have a starting point in the project that has been lagging due to several external factors that has hindered the willingness of the county and the City of Columbia Falls to say “yes” to the project. According to him in an interview with the Chronicles, having a consultant as an outsider will help in terms of many items needed to restore the bridge, ranging from grant writing to any grass roots efforts needed to repair and reuse the bridge again. He hopes that the bridge would one day be part of the Gateway to the Glacier Trail, which is proposed to run from Glacier National Park to Columbia Falls, but currently has an existing trail between Hungry Horse and Coram. More information about the trail can be found here.

The Old Red Bridge LLC needs your help. Apart from pushing for more efforts towards restoring the iconic landmark in Columbia Falls, funding ideas and donations are needed to make the project happen, with the eventual goal of reopening the bridge to recreational traffic and producing income through tourism in the area. The ideas of having boat ramps , food and lodging are advantageous for passers-by travelling through the city by boat, bike or car, yet it cannot be realized without your help. Go to the facebook page Old Red Bridge, follow and find out how you can get involved in the restoration efforts. The contact person is Greg Fortin, who can provide you with information and let you know how you can help.

The Red Bridge is an integral part of Columbia Falls’ history and surrounding landscape. Eventually it will become a magnet for tourists and historians, especially if the bike trail to Glacier’s National Park is realized. But it can only be done if one shows them the money and manpower available.  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will follow-up on the preservation efforts as events unfold and the future of the Red Bridge is more clearly known.

The author wishes to thank Greg Fortin for the interview and photos, and may the wishes of the organization to have the bridge reopen for recreation come true. 🙂

 

Three Bridges Gone, Two collapsed, One dead

Fort Keogh Bridge in Montana, now demolished. Photo courtesy of HABS-HAER

There is a proverb that was passed down to the author by a friend of mine from Minnesota during a bridgehunting tour a couple years ago: Taking care of a valuable thing in life can prolong its life.  Sadly, as far as bridges are concerned, this proverb cannot be taken lightly as neglect and carelessness can destroy a structure with one swift drop into the ravine. In some cases, lives are sacrificed and the value of the structure is lost forever.

Three historic bridge tragedies have come to light in the last month clearly shows the neglect people have taken to maintain or in cases of damage caused by natural disasters, fix the structure to use again. The mentality seems to be that a bridge is to be crossed and if it means exceeding the weight limit. If a bridge is unable to hold traffic, it goes but without considering alternative crossings as a way of saving money and leaving the structure alone for lighter vehicles to cross.  The trouble with these three bridges is that there was little to no media coverage, thus allowing grassroots writers and even bridge websites like this one to fill in the vacuum. Part of that has to do with the Presidential Elections in the USA, which many people are looking forward to it being over with after today. But the other part has to do with the fact that various mediums have focused on issues that are of marginal importance and not on those that matter the most. In the case of one of the bridges that collapsed, one person died of his injuries the next day.  It is hoped that after the Elections are finished, that society and the media can focus on the real issues that matter the most. In this case, ways to preserve and maintain historic bridges for people to use in the future, while at the same time, make them safe for crossing- or if it is not safe, provide alternatives so that drivers can cross to get from point A to point B.

Here are the obituaries of the three bridges:

Fort Keogh Bridge near Miles City, Montana:

Built in 1902 by the Hewett Bridge Company, this two-span Pennsylvania through truss bridge was perhaps the most ornamental of the bridges along the Yellowstone River, which flows into the Missouri River. Sadly though, flooding in 2011 sealed the bridge’s fate as one of the approach spans collapsed and one of the main spans leaned over. Despite pleas from the pontists and preservationists to salvage the bridge for reuse, plans went ahead to demolish the bridge in its entirety. While it was planned in the fall of 2012, it took place with next to no notice this past spring. The bad news was given to the author this past weekend by the state historical society. This tragedy will definitely end up on one pontist’s Wall of Shame because of its discreteness of the whole process, combined with lack of information and will to at least communicate regarding alternatives to demolition. It is questioned whether this act violated the preservation laws (especially Section 106), but no word on that aspect has been given.

Side view of the collapsed structure. Photo courtesy of Sherman Cahal

Old KY Hwy. 1657 Bridge near Falmouth, Kentucky:

Located over the South Branch of Grassy Creek, this bridge is typical of the standardized riveted Pratt through truss bridges that were built in the late 1910s and early 1920s. It was bypassed by a new bridge over a decade ago and became private property. Sadly, the bridge collapsed on 28 October in the evening when Craig Ruber, who owned a landscape store and was part of the Grant County Farm Board, tried crossing the bridge while hauling hay. The weight was too much for the bridge and the truss structure dropped into the river. He died of injuries sustained in the 20-foot fall. Sherman Cahal, who runs a blog bearing the name Bridges and Tunnels, visited the bridge before and after the collapse and provided some details of the structure, which you can click on here.

CGW Bridge and its collapsed span. Photo courtesy of Andy Winegar
The bridge taken at the same site last summer. Courtesy of the author.

Chicago and Great Western Railroad Bridge in Des Moines, Iowa:

The City of Des Moines has a wide array of unique bridges, both in modern terms as well as in historical terms. The CGW Bridge, built between 1893 and 1901 over the Des Moines River, is one of those structures. The bridge features four Pratt through truss spans built on a skew of approximately 20°. When it was abandoned and later bought by the city in 2002, it was hoped that the bridge would become a valued asset for the bike trail network serving the city of 230,000 inhabitants. After the collapse of one of the main spans a week ago, the future of the bridge is anything but certain. While fire caused by arson last year may have contributed to the weakening of the bridge, the main culprit was a crumbling pier supporting the third and fourth spans (going east to west). While it did not receive much attention by the media, this mishap is not unfamiliar, for another Des Moines River Crossing, the Horn’s Ferry Bridge in Marion County, suffered a similar fate 20 years ago. It is unclear what will happen to the CGW Bridge except the options are on the table: replacement span through a girder type structure, conversion into a pier like it happened at Horn’s Ferry, or complete demolition and removal. Given the work being done at the site, it appears that the third option may be exercised. But we will not know until we have clearer details by the city and the contractors involved.

Close-up of the cracked piers. Photo courtesy of John Marvig
Work being done at the bridge site. Photo courtesy of Andy Winegar

Ammann Award Results for 2011

After many entries and votes for the best historic bridges and the people who have made a difference, the Historic Bridge Month has come to a close, but not before announcing the winners of the Othmar H. Ammann Awards for Excellence in the following categories:

Example of the work done on a bridge- rewelding the pin-connections. Photo taken by Nathan Holth, used with permission

Lifetime Legacy Award:
Vern Mesler: It is rare that there are people in the world who are experts in welding or any profession dealing with the steel industry. It is even rarer if a particular welder is also a bridgelover. But Vern Mesler, who has been in the welding business for over 30 years is one that has gone the extra mile to use his expertise to save historic bridges. He has not only offered courses in these two areas to those interested in taking up the profession of welding and historic bridge preservation, but he went further by creating a historic bridge park in Calhoun County, featuring his finished works of historic bridges that he put his expertise into use and preserved. All of his examples can be found in his newsletters the VJM Craftsman Newsletter. The author of the Chronicles has sent him some interview questions which he will send back to be posted.  Mr. Mesler can take pride in his work as he has not only won the Lifetime Legacy Award but also the Best Kept Secret Award for his historic bridge park in Michigan. The Bridgehunter‘s Chronicles would like to congratulate him for his work.
Honorably Mentioned:
Julie Bowers: Inspired by a local bowstring arch bridge in Poweshiek County (The McIntyre Bridge), Ms. Bowers put her marketing strategy and expertise in historic bridge preservation into use with the founding of Workin‘ Bridges, an organization devoted to consulting, marketing and doing estimates on historic bridges to be preserved for reuse. Already she has been successful with many bridges in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, just to name a few. The Chronicles has done an interview with her via e-mail and will post the success story in the next posting.

Best Snapshot Award:

Photo taken by the winner: John Goold

High Level Arch Bridge in Akron (Ohio)- 32 votes: This oblique photo, taken by John Goold from the bottom of the structure shows a detailed look at the 1953 cantilever truss structure and the way it graces across the river and parking lot. This bridge should be considered a poster boy for all of these types that are coming down in vast numbers; especially in response to the I-35W Bridge collapse in August, 2007. This structure is not spared from this massive slaughter as it is slated for replacement as soon as the funding is approved (which could be either 2012 or 2013), unless attempts are made to rehabilitate it to prolong its functional life.
Link: http://www.bridgehunter.com/oh/summit/bh49749/

Honorably Mentioned:

Dotson Bridge. Photo taken by John Marvig

Dotson Bridge near Sanborn (Minnesota)- 29 votes: John Marvig had to fight through a half a mile of bushes, tall green grass and trees to discover and photograph this railroad bridge, a 1920s lattice through truss bridge that was once part of the Chicago and Northwestern railroad  route going from Sanborn to Sherburn and Fairmont, but was abandoned in the 1980s because of flood damage to the structure and the lack of service on the route. The bridge was named after a village that had once existed in the age of the Great Expansion (1870s) but all that is left of its memory is this piece of natural artwork. It is owned by the state department of natural resources but one has to get permission from nearby residents to get to the bridge.
Link with info:  http://pegnsean.net/~johnm/CNWCottonwoodRiverBridge.html
Other participants (with number of votes): Snowmobile Whipple Truss Bridge in northern New York state- taken by Marc Scotti (21); Riverside Bridge in Ozark (Missouri), taken by Daniel Shortt (13); Railroad/Pedestrian Bridge in New York state- taken by Marc Scotti (7); Sylvan Island Railroad Bridge-abandoned, in Rock Island (Illinois), taken by John Weeks III (6)

Note: The author would like to thank the students of the Departments of Civil Engineering, City Planning, and Building and Energy Technology at the University of Applied Science in Erfurt, Germany for voting on the historic bridge photos.

Best Kept Secret Award:

Charlotte Road Bridge at Historic Bridge Park. Photo taken by Nathan Holth, used by permission

Historic Bridge Park in Calhoun County (Michigan): This park, located not far from I-94 in south central Michigan, features a half-dozen vintage truss bridges, dating as far back as 1880; all of which were dismantled at their original sites, sandblasted, rewelded, and reassembled at their new location in the park.  This includes the Charlotte Highway Bridge, a 1886 Whipple through truss bridge, and the Bauer Road Bridge, a pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with very ornamental and rare portal bracings. The mastermind behind the park is Vern Mesler as he has received many awards for his park and has inspired other groups to form parks similar to his. One of which was discovered in Iowa this past summer at F.W. Kent Park near Iowa City, which houses eight truss bridges. Mesler can add one more award to his collection with the Lifetime Legacy Award for his work.
Links:   http://historicbridges.org/truss/bauer/index.htm
http://historicbridges.org/truss/charlotte/index.htm
http://historicbridges.org/info/bridgepark/index.htm

Photo taken by the author in April 2011

Rendsburg High Bridge in Rendsburg (Germany): The first time that I crossed or even heard of this bridge was in May 2010 while on a train trip from Hamburg to Flensburg. Since that time information has been collected and it is sufficient enough to justify its prize on the international scale; especially given the fact that despite its rare design- a cantilever truss bridge with a transporter span over the Baltic-North Sea Canal combined with a loop approach supported by steel trestles and brick arch spans- and the fact that it was one of many bridges built in Germany by Friedrich Voss (this one was built in 1913), the bridge is under-recognized by the international bridge community. Even some pontists in the US had never heard about this bridge until it was presented at the Historic Bridge Conferences in Pittsburgh (2010) and St. Louis (2011).  Perhaps this recognition combined with an article to come in the Chronicles will help this bridge find its place on the international scale.
Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendsburg_High_Bridge

 

In addition to that, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles also has its own pics for historic bridges both in the US as well on the international scale that deserve to be recognized. Without further ado, here are the pics for 2011:

BRIDGEHUNTER CHRONICLES‘ BRIDGE PICS:
Best Example of Historic Bridge Reuse:
USA:
Full Throttle Saloon and Bridges in Sturgis (South Dakota): What was Michael Ballard thinking when he purchased a two-span through truss bridge (a Pennsylvania petit and a Pratt) and moved them to the world‘s largest and most popular motorcycle restaurant, bar and grandstand at Sturgis to be used as decoration and a grandstand for concerts? Well, nobody knows the answer to that question but Mr. Ballard himself. Yet maybe when he receives word of the award he is about to receive for his creativity in saving a historic bridge from becoming a pile of scrap metal and making it a popular tourist attraction, perhaps he will provide readers with a secret to his successful push to making his two bridges and his venue the place to visit while on a road trip through the country. The Bridgehunter‘s Chronicles has sent him a couple questions about this and as soon as an answer arrives, you will have an opportunity to read it for yourself.
Links:
http://www.bridgehunter.com/sd/meade/bh47904/
http://www.bridgehunter.com/sd/meade/bh47905/
http://www.fullthrottlesaloon.com/

International:

Photo taken by the author in December 2010

Krämerbrücke in Erfurt (Germany): The Kramer Bridge in the state capital of Thuringia in central Germany is perhaps the only bridge left in Europe whose arch design supports housing. The London Bridge was the other bridge, before its relocation to Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1969. The bridge is part of the historic district considered a World Heritage Site and still houses small shops today ranging from local specialties to unique gifts for people to have. Further information on the bridge will come in a later column on the bridges in Erfurt. In the meantime….
Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krämerbrücke

Worst Example of Historic Bridge Reuse:

Oblique view of the Rock Island Bridge- Photo taken by John Weeks III, used with permission
Close-up of the swing span at the time of its demolition. Photo taken by John Weeks III, used with permission
The finished product- a pier using the last two spans of the Rock Island Bridge. Photo taken by the author in August, 2011

Rock Island Railroad Bridge at Inver Grove Heights (Minnesota)
This story is rather a tragic one for bridge lovers and locals interested in history. We have one of the most unique bridges in the country that spanned the Mississippi River bordering Dakota and Washington Counties south of St. Paul, built in 1894 by a bridge company in Pittsburgh. It was a double-decker bridge (with the lower deck carrying vehicular traffic and the upper deck carrying rail traffic) with seven Pratt truss spans, a Baltimore petit swing span and four Vierendeel truss spans (in the row from the Dakota side to the Washington side). It was closed to traffic in 1999 and was left abandoned until it was reduced down to a quarter of the entire structure in 2010- namely two Pratt spans on the Dakota side. It was then converted into a pier with welded trusses constructed as approach spans. In the eyes of many pontists and those knowing the bridge, while two spans were salvaged, the bridge is still considered a total loss, as cutting the spans up into blocks without finding other alternatives to using it for pedestrian use, combined with Washington County’s unwillingness to cooperate in the mitigation efforts resulted in a bridge altered to a point of no acknowledgement of its historic value.
Links: http://www.johnweeks.com/bridges/pages/ms02.html
http://www.bridgehunter.com/mn/washington/rock-island/

The Salvageable Mentioned:

The east spans of the Horn’s Ferry Bridge. Photo taken by the author in August 2011

Horn’s Ferry Bridge in Marion County (Iowa)
Located just below the Red Rock Dam over the Des Moines River 30 km south of Pella, the bridge was one of the longest vehicular bridges over the Des Moines River, let alone the state of Iowa. The bridge was built in 1882 and consisted of (from west to east) seven pony truss spans, one Camelback through truss span, one riveted Pratt through truss span and one riveted Warren pony truss span. While it was closed in 1982 when the new bridge, located upstream from the old one was open, it was open to pedestrians and cyclists for another 10 years until August 1992, when half the bridge fell into the river because one of the piers failed. After removing the wreckage and additional trusses, the remaining spans were salvaged and are now piers overlooking each other’s banks and adjacent campground. While the major superstructure, the first built over the Des Moines River in Marion County was a major loss, the county did an excellent job of saving what is left of the historic structure and is still a major attraction for tourists and campers.
Note: The author is looking for additional information and photos of the bridge before its collapse in 1992 for an article in the Chronicles as well as a book on Iowa’s truss bridges.
Links to photos: http://www.bridgehunter.com/ia/marion/bh49471/

The Worst Reason to Destroy a Bridge:
United States:
Fort Keogh Bridge near Miles City (Montana): This bridge is the rarest over the Yellowstone River as it consists of two Pennsylvania Petit through truss main spans and a pony truss approach span, built in 1902 by the Hewett Bridge Company in Minneapolis (the same builder responsible for the Salisbury Bridge in Minnesota). Yet floodwaters caused the pony truss bridge to partially collapse and one of the main spans to tilt by 10°. Natural solution: tear the whole structure down even though it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge cannot be saved says the state historical society, yet one has to look at examples of bridges in similar shape like this that were dismantled (with bridge parts fixed) and reassembled, as is the case with the State Street Bridge in Saginaw County (Michigan) If the bridge still stands at the time of the awards, one should contact Nathan Holth, Vern Mesler and Julie Bowers for options and an estimate.
Links: http://www.bridgehunter.com/mt/custer/fort-keogh/
http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_0a0be72c-60a0-57ff-8605-9712b4c0df5d.html

http://www.historicbridges.org/truss/state/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dave_mcmt/5947278628/in/set-72157624985190546/  (Collection of photos of the Ft. Keogh Bridge after the flood damage)

Honorably Mentioned: Drayton Bridge in Oslo (North Dakota): This story was rather tragic. One wants to see the 1950s style Turner truss bridge with an unusual design (endposts not supported by piers), only to be denied the chance twice- once by inclimate weather and the second time because it was removed right after the spring floods in May. Todd Wilson of Bridgemapper once commented “Why are some of the unique bridges gone before one wants to see it?” Ask the Minnesota and North Dakota Departments of Transportation, as I do not have a clue either; especially as the bridge would have been a centerpiece for a bike trail for the people of Oslo and along the Red River…..
Link: http://www.bridgehunter.com/mn/kittson/6690/

International:
The Bridges in Saalfeld (Germany): On an international scale, here is a stupid reason for demolishing a bridge: because of the lack of money to maintain it. The southern Thuringian city of 25,000 inhabitants received this award because of the plan to remove not one, but EIGHT bridges! Even more insane is the fact that they are all pedestrian bridges built in the 1970s and 80s- two over the main highways going through the city and six along the two tributaries feeding the Saale River, the main river passing through the community. While this solution may be a short-term fix to save money, in the long term, it will create headaches for many pedestrians and cyclists for they will have to bike to the nearest vehicular bridge to cross and many of these structures are not suitable for this type of traffic. Smooth move on the part of the city government who plans on executing this plan beginning in 2012. Sad part is the fact that other cities are thinking that same idea, including Zittau, located on the Neisse River at the German-Polish border, which plans on removing two of its bridges beginning next year for similar reasons.
Link (German): http://www.otz.de/web/zgt/suche/detail/-/specific/Rueckbau-der-Bruecken-minderer-Qualitaet-in-Saalfeld-beschlossen-556950036
http://www.mdr.de/sachsen/neissebruecken100.html

The Best Find of a Historic Bridge:

Approaching the bridge from the south hill side. Photo taken by the author in August 2011

Spring Hill Bridge in Warren County (Iowa)
Iowa has a number of truss bridges that have been sitting out of use for many years, but manage to find its place in the nature. Some of them, like the Bellefont and Evelyn Bridges along the Des Moines River and the Hardin City Bridge near Steamboat Rock have been documented and are awaiting reuse for recreation purposes. Perhaps this 1909 Clinton Bridge and Iron Company Parker through truss structure should belong to the ranks of the “diamonds in the rough needing attention and recognition.” The structure was found by the author by accident coming back from the Historic Bridge Conference in St. Louis in August of this year. Even though the bridge has been closed for at least 10 years, it appears that the structure spanning the South River is in good shape and is being used for recreational purposes by local residents living up the hill from the structure. The only caveat to this bridge is accessing it, as the south approach has eroded to a point where the road ends a half a mile from the bridge. Access from the north end is possible, albeit it is privately owned.
Link: http://www.bridgehunter.com/ia/warren/334580/

Photo taken by the author in April 2011.

Kluvensiek Draw Bridge near Rendsburg (Germany): This is one of a few places that still exists along the Old Eider Canal, the predecessor to the Baltic-North Sea Canal which connects Kiel (the capital of Schleswig-Holstein) and Heide (where the North Sea is located). The drawbridge, built in 1850 by a company in Rendsburg, only received minimal attention through magazines and local newspaper articles. However, given the fact that the iron ornamental towers- which was part of a double-leaf bascule bridge which was in service for 40 years until the canal was decommissioned- is still intact despite the canal being partially filled in and can be seen from the nearby highway, the bridge is definitely worth a stop for a photo opportunity. (Please see link where the bridge is mentioned:http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2011/07/28/touring-the-bridges-along-the-grand-canal-part-i/)

The Biggest Bonehead Story:
Thieves stealing an entire bridge in New Castle (Pennsylvania) for the price of metal:

With prices of metal flying sky high within the last five years and the economic conditions being unstable, one would actually show some restraint and not steal one’s personal belongings just to sell it for the price of a commodity, like scrap metal, right? Not with these thieves as a group of four people dismantled an entire 50 foot stringer bridge, sitting abandoned over a small creek, with blow torches, loaded them up onto trucks and took it to the steel yards for money. While they were eventually arrested for grand theft, the total loss for the bridge was over $100,000 and they set the precedent for others to follow, as reports of missing bridge parts were reported in Mississippi and at least six other states. Stupidity and desperation does have its rewards, but at the expense of others (including their lives), as this incredible act is on par with a story of an electrician’s attempts to steal copper from a live 200 volt transformer on an power line pole in Texas! I will not go into detail as to what happened there….. This story far outguns one’s attempts of crossing the Fryer’s Ford Bridge in Arkansas in May of this year- and dropping it into the river in the process- by over a mile and therefore receives the award outright.
Links:

Thieves Steal An Entire Metal Bridge in Pennsylvania
http://www.minyanville.com/dailyfeed/2011/10/10/thieves-steal-entire-bridge-for/
http://www.bridgehunter.com/story/1160/#Comments