BHC Newsflyer: 22 April, 2019

Nieblungenbrücke in its original form prior to World War II. Photo: WikiCommons

Podcast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-smith-966247957/bhc-newsflyer-22-april-2019

 

Article on the news stories in detail:

Key motorway bridge in Brazil collapses after a boat collision

Key Missouri River Crossing becomes history

Key Highway crossing in Pennsylvania to be replacedIncludes PENNDOT Bridge Marketing Profile

Nieblungen Bridge in Worms (Germany) to undergo Major makeover- main span to be replaced:Profile on the Bridge via wiki

Historic Bridge in Sonoma County, California to be replaced; trusses to be incorporated into new structure.

A 130-year old champaign bottle found in the rubble of a demolished historic bridge near Naumburg

Historic bridge in Frankfurt barely escapes a bomb in the River Main: Includes information on the Iron Bridge (not Alte Brücke as mentioned) where the bomb was found and detonated- here!

A historic bridge that survived the bombings of World War II in Hamburg to get a facelift and a new location.  Information on the Freihafenelbebrücke under the Bridges of Hamburg here.

And the second longest bowstring arch bridge in the world to be dismantled and stored until a new home is found.  Includes Facebook page on Relocating and Restoring the Kern Bridge

ALSO: Information and Petition to stop President Trump’s plan to shut down the National Register of Historic Places. Deadline is 30 April.

 

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Grain Truck Drops Historic Bridge in Iowa

Gillecie Bridge near Bluffton. Photo taken in 2005

143 year old Gilliece Bridge collapses after truck five-times its size tried crossing. Charges expected.

 

DECORAH, IOWA-  Almost a year and a half after a semi-truck drove across a historic bridge in Indiana, causing it to collapse, another incident, caused by a trucker ignoring a weight limit, has claimed a life of another historic bridge. Yesterday morning, a 15-ton grain truck tried crossing the Gilliece Bowstring Arch Bridge, spanning the Upper Iowa River at Cattle Creek Road, north of Bluffton, causing the bridge to collapse. According to multiple news sources, the driver of the truck ignored the weight restrictions posted on the 143-year old structure and tried to cross, going from east to west, causing the bridge to give way and the trailer to straddle the pier that used to hold the structure in place. The bridge had a weight limit of only three tons!  The driver of the truck, who works for Sinclair Milling Company of Parkersburg, survived the incident without injury, yet charges are pending for wreckless driving and disregarding the weight restrictions. According to Winneshiek County Highway Engineer, Lee Bjerke, in an interview with Decorah News, “When you see a weight limit on a bridge, we mean it. It’s there to keep you alive.”

The future of the bridge is questionable, given the damage to the structure. The curved upper chords are bent but can be straightened out, whereas the vertical and diagonal beams are either bent or broken in many places. Already hit by numerous tractors who had crossed it in the past, the upper bracings will need to be replaced, which will partially compromise the historical integrity of the bridge. Yet more details on the extant of the damage to the bridge will come as Julie Bowers of Workin Bridges, based in Grinnell, as well as other bridge restoration experts will examine the extent of the damage and determine its salvagibility of the bridge.

The Gilliece Bridge, which is also known as the Murtha or Daley, was constructed in 1874 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. It was one of over two dozen bridges that were built by the company in the 1870s and 80s, thanks to efforts of bridge agent George Winthrop, who worked with the county to secure deals for bridges to benefit landowners living in the hilly areas along the Upper Iowa and Turkey Rivers. The bridge was 151 feet long with a main span of 129 feet. It was rehabilitated in the 1990s which included reinforcing the stone piers with concrete ones, one of which the truck trailer was sitting on when the bridge collapsed. It was considered historically significant in surveys conducted by the late James Hippen and the State of Iowa and was subsequentially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Workin Bridges bought the structure with the intent to relocate it in the near future, allowing for the county to work on replacing it with a modern bridge.

The Gilliece Bridge was one of ten bridges on the county’s list for replacement. Yet with its collapse, combined with the inconvenience of the homeowners living near the bridge on both sides of the river, attempts will be made to expedite the replacement process. The  Upper Iowa River is currently closed off to canoeists so that the wreckage can be taken out of the river. With over a half dozen bowstring arch bridges that had been built in the county and a dozen built by Wrought Iron Bridge Company, Winneshiek County now has only one exemplar in both left, which is the Freeport Bridge. Yet unlike the Gilliece, this bridge, the second longest of its kind in the US, is serving pedestrians at a park east of Decorah, making it safe from careless drivers. Yet this incident serves as a reminder that compulsory education for math, vehicular driving and in particular, truck driving for those wishing to enter the profession is badly needed, so that people learn that careless driving can indeed cost lives, especially if people don’t pay attention to the laws of the road that exist for a good reason-

which is to respect the lives and property of others. This incident is another example of the disrespect to both, no matter how a person interprets it.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest regarding the Gillecie Bridge and the events that follow the incident.

Historic Bridges: Management, Regulations and Rehabilitation: Seminars in Texas and Oregon

State Highway 78 Bridge at the Texas-Oklahoma border

 

 

MADISON (WI)/ MINNEAPOLIS (MN)/ AUSTIN (TX)/ PORTLAND (ORE)- Historic bridges represent a significant portion of the history of American architecture and infrastructure. Its unique design, combined with the significance in connection with the bridge builder and/or other key events makes them valuable pieces of our landscape- encouraging people to visit, photograph and even learn about them. Yet when it comes to preserving them, many people don’t know the policies that exist, such as the Historic Preservation Laws (and in particular, Section 106), many ways to rehabilitate and repurpose them and avoiding adverse effects when they need to be remodeled to meet the demands of today’s traffic standards.

The National Preservation Institute, in collaboration with Mead & Hunt, and Departments of Transportation in Minnesota, Texas and Oregon are conducting two seminars this year to focus on ways of designating and preserving what is left of our engineering heritage.   Amy Squitieri (Mead & Hunt), Kristen Zschlomer (MnDOT), Amber Blanchard (MnDOT), and Steve Olson (Olson & Nesvold Engineers) are heading two interactive seminars, scheduled to take place on the following dates:

 

April 4-5, 2017 in Austin, Texas

September 12-13 in Portland, Oregon

 

In the seminars, one will have a chance to look at bridge history and typology, rehabilitation and preservation techniques used on historic bridges that meet current and historical standards, ways to avoid adverse effects when reconstructing bridges, finding alternatives and solutions to bridges slated for replacement, and navigating through the process of Sections 106 and 4(f) of the Historic Preservation Laws.

 

Those who have taken the seminar have benefitted from this in a substantial way, as you can see in the evaluation comments in the NPI page (here).  Participants of the interactive seminar include federal and state agencies dealing with transportation and historic properties, as well as managers and consultants preparing compliance documents under actions dealing with Section 106 and other laws, as well as those interested in learning about the policies and practices involving historic bridges.

 

Minnesota, Texas and Oregon are three of only a dozen states in the country that have a comprehensive and successful track record in statewide inventories and the preservation and management of historic bridges. Some examples of successful bridge stories in photos can be seen below.

Piano Bridge in Texas- This bridge was restored in 2013- when the truss bridge was dismantled, sandblasted and reassembled; known as in-kind restoration
Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter, MN: Restored in 2016
Portland Water Works Bridge in Oregon, prior to its relocation to a storage area in 2015, awaiting reuse. Photo taken by Michael Goff

Costs and discounts are available via link. You will receive a confirmation of the reservation as well as the venue and schedule of the events. For more information, please contact NPI via phone at (703) 765-0100 or send them an e-mail at: info@npi.org.

Mystery Bridge Nr. 79: How to Reconvert a Truss Bridge- Going from Deck to Through Truss in Oklahoma

15970350_1025414314231185_1777746673_n
Photos courtesy of Mark W. Brown

Our 79th Mystery Bridge takes us to Oklahoma; specifically to Whitesboro in LeFlore County and this bridge. Spanning the Kiamichi River at Township Rd. 4044C south of Whitesboro, this bridge is one of the most unusual through truss bridges a person will ever see in the United States. According to the data from Bridgehunter.com, the total length of the bridge was 270 feet with the largest span being 127 feet, the width of the bridge is around 13-14 feet and the vertical clearance is 13.3 feet. Yet despite the date of construction being ca. 1940, this bridge is unusual as it is a pinned connected through truss, thus bucking the standards of truss bridge construction. As many resources have indicated, most truss bridges built at this time had riveted or welded connections, making the structure sturdier and able to carry heavier loads. Pinned connections had a tendency of dislocating or even having the bolts connecting the beams to break off, causing bridge failure. This resulted in many of the structures being taken off the state highway system and relocated onto less-used township roads beginning in the 1920s and extending well into the 1950s, especially as the US was lacking materials and engineers as a result of World War II. Judging by the appearance of the bridge, it appears to have been built between 1910 and 1915 as this was the cut-off period for constructing truss bridges with pinned connections. It was congruent to the time standardized bridges were approved by the state governments, which included not just focusing on truss bridges with riveted connections and either Howe lattice or lettered portal bracings (namely, A, X, M and West Virginia framed), but also the key truss designs, which were the Pratt, Parker, K-truss, Warren, Polygonal Warren and in some cases, Pennsylvania petit.

15970772_1025414347564515_191691455_n

The Whitesboro Bridge features a Warren through truss, but looking at the structure further, it appeared that in its former life, it was a deck truss bridge that had many spans, totaling at least 500-600 feet. One can see how the overhead bracings were added, which consisted of thin cylindrical steel beams. Furthermore, there is no portal bracing, like other truss bridges, and lastly, when looking at the joint where the upper beam and the diagonal end posts meet, the upper beam appears to have been sawed off.  According to observation by fellow pontist, Mark W. Brown, the piers are 2-3 feet wider on each side and 1-2 feet higher, thus creating a slight slope when entering and crossing the structure. Two theories go along with the piers: either they were installed when the bridge was built or they were reinforced after the bridge sustained structural damage because of flooding.

15942088_1025414380897845_1677292719_n

It is possible that this crossing was the first to have been built as the town expanded because of the baby boomer population. But the expansion did not last as many people moved to bigger cities for job opportunities. As of the 2008 Census, the population of the town incorporated in 1908 and named after one of the founders is only 1298. The hunch is that the highest population of Whitesboro was about 3,400 by 1960.

15942278_1025414394231177_2138288738_n

The Whitesboro Bridge has a design that is not like any unusual designs developed by the engineers at all. It is neither a Pegram nor a Kellogg, now is it a Schaper truss, which you can see in many truss bridges built in Germany and other parts of Europe. This bridge is definitely a repurposed truss bridge, having gone from its previous life as a deck truss spanning one of the state’s greatest rivers, like the Red and the Canadian, to one spanning a smaller river but on whose width justified a through truss span.

15995334_1025414324231184_144781007_n

This leads us to the following questions:

  1. When exactly was this bridge built and was there a previous structure?
  2. Who was the mastermind behind this repurposing project and why did the engineer choose this?
  3. Where did the bridge originate from?
  4. When was this built and who was the bridge builder?
  5. Are there other remnants of that bridge left besides the one at Whitesboro?
  6. What do we know about Whitesboro aside the facts and figures presented in wikipedia?

15978418_1025414367564513_1878881793_n

Got any leads, please share in the comment sections here as well as in the Chronicles’ facebook pages. You can also contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the link here. As this bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, any information you have or can find will help build a solid case for its nomination, let alone preserving it for future generations. As Oklahoma is losing historic bridges in large quantities in the past 8 years, the time is ripe to preserve what’s left of its culture, especially when it comes to unusual designs like this bridge in Whitesboro.

 

Special thanks to Mark W. Brown for bringing this to the author’s attention and for providing some interesting pics of this bridge.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 79: How to Reconvert a Truss Bridge- Going From Deck to Through Truss in Oklahoma

15970350_1025414314231185_1777746673_n
Photos courtesy of Mark W. Brown

Our 79th Mystery Bridge takes us to Oklahoma; specifically to Whitesboro in LeFlore County and this bridge. Spanning the Kiamichi River at Township Rd. 4044C south of Whitesboro, this bridge is one of the most unusual through truss bridges a person will ever see in the United States. According to the data from Bridgehunter.com, the total length of the bridge was 270 feet with the largest span being 127 feet, the width of the bridge is around 13-14 feet and the vertical clearance is 13.3 feet. Yet despite the date of construction being ca. 1940, this bridge is unusual as it is a pinned connected through truss, thus bucking the standards of truss bridge construction. As many resources have indicated, most truss bridges built at this time had riveted or welded connections, making the structure sturdier and able to carry heavier loads. Pinned connections had a tendency of dislocating or even having the bolts connecting the beams to break off, causing bridge failure. This resulted in many of the structures being taken off the state highway system and relocated onto less-used township roads beginning in the 1920s and extending well into the 1950s, especially as the US was lacking materials and engineers as a result of World War II. Judging by the appearance of the bridge, it appears to have been built between 1910 and 1915 as this was the cut-off period for constructing truss bridges with pinned connections. It was congruent to the time standardized bridges were approved by the state governments, which included not just focusing on truss bridges with riveted connections and either Howe lattice or lettered portal bracings (namely, A, X, M and West Virginia framed), but also the key truss designs, which were the Pratt, Parker, K-truss, Warren, Polygonal Warren and in some cases, Pennsylvania petit.

15970772_1025414347564515_191691455_n

The Whitesboro Bridge features a Warren through truss, but looking at the structure further, it appeared that in its former life, it was a deck truss bridge that had many spans, totaling at least 500-600 feet. One can see how the overhead bracings were added, which consisted of thin cylindrical steel beams. Furthermore, there is no portal bracing, like other truss bridges, and lastly, when looking at the joint where the upper beam and the diagonal end posts meet, the upper beam appears to have been sawed off.  According to observation by fellow pontist, Mark W. Brown, the piers are 2-3 feet wider on each side and 1-2 feet higher, thus creating a slight slope when entering and crossing the structure. Two theories go along with the piers: either they were installed when the bridge was built or they were reinforced after the bridge sustained structural damage because of flooding.

15942088_1025414380897845_1677292719_n

It is possible that this crossing was the first to have been built as the town expanded because of the baby boomer population. But the expansion did not last as many people moved to bigger cities for job opportunities. As of the 2008 Census, the population of the town incorporated in 1908 and named after one of the founders is only 1298. The hunch is that the highest population of Whitesboro was about 3,400 by 1960.

15942278_1025414394231177_2138288738_n

The Whitesboro Bridge has a design that is not like any unusual designs developed by the engineers at all. It is neither a Pegram nor a Kellogg, now is it a Schaper truss, which you can see in many truss bridges built in Germany and other parts of Europe. This bridge is definitely a repurposed truss bridge, having gone from its previous life as a deck truss spanning one of the state’s greatest rivers, like the Red and the Canadian, to one spanning a smaller river but on whose width justified a through truss span.

15995334_1025414324231184_144781007_n

This leads us to the following questions:

  1. When exactly was this bridge built and was there a previous structure?
  2. Who was the mastermind behind this repurposing project and why did the engineer choose this?
  3. Where did the bridge originate from?
  4. When was this built and who was the bridge builder?
  5. Are there other remnants of that bridge left besides the one at Whitesboro?
  6. What do we know about Whitesboro aside the facts and figures presented in wikipedia?

15978418_1025414367564513_1878881793_n

Got any leads, please share in the comment sections here as well as in the Chronicles’ facebook pages. You can also contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the link here. As this bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, any information you have or can find will help build a solid case for its nomination, let alone preserving it for future generations. As Oklahoma is losing historic bridges in large quantities in the past 8 years, the time is ripe to preserve what’s left of its culture, especially when it comes to unusual designs like this bridge in Whitesboro.

Special thanks to Mark W. Brown for bringing this to the author’s attention and for providing some interesting pics of this bridge.

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Section 106 & Section 4(f) Exemptions from the Exemption

Back in October, I had a chance to interview Paul Loether of the National Register of Historic Places and Christopher Marston of HABS/HAER/HALS about the policies of designating and preserving places of historic places. The NRHP has a large database of historic places, categorized based on four criteria (see the interview here), whereas HABS/HAER/HALS deals with the documentation of places of interest, which includes historical and technical aspects (see that interview here). Some exemptions apply but based on special circumstances.

But what about freeways?  How historic are they and which parts should be designated historic places?  As Kaitlin O’shea documents in this column, freeways are much more difficult to document as much of them are modern. The Interstate Highway System was introduced in 1956, ushering in the use of freeways, using the system that existed in Europe before World War II, in particular, Germany and Poland.  While historic highways, such as Route 66, Lincoln Highway, Jefferson Highway and parts of the Pennsylvania Turnpike have received some historic designation in one way or another, the Interstate highway is much more difficult to document and designate because the model used in the 1950s is still being used today, including ramps, bridges, rest areas and the roadway itself. Furthermore, the majority of the Interstate highways have been built from the 1980s onwards.

This leads to the question of whether certain exemptions can and should apply. This is where her column comes in. Have a look at it and ask yourself how an agency can and should approach this carefully.

Exemption from the exemption? If you’re in the regulatory + infrastructure world, you’ve likely come across this. If you are not, step into our world for a few minutes. By law (the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966), all projects that receive federal funding are subject to review under Section 106. Review includes identifying historic […]

via Section 106 & Section 4(f) Exemptions from the Exemption — Preservation in Pink

A Tribute to Eric DeLony

Shaw Bridge at Claverack, New York. Photo courtesy of Jet Lowe of HABS/HAER

A gifted person provides society with a gift to make it better. A person with unusual talents shapes society to benefit all.

 

For Eric DeLony, a person with a passion for historic bridges not only leads efforts to save them but teaches and encourages bridge lovers and historians to love them and follow his lead. My first contact with him came in 2005 when I wrote my first documents for a Master’s class on American History at the University of Jena in Germany. For the next eight years, despite not being able to meet him in person due to time and travel expenses, I kept in contact with him and he provided some great insights to any topic pertaining to historic bridges, preservation and careers available. Eric was a walking encyclopedia and forefather of historic preservation. Graduating from Ohio State University in 1969, he had previously started working with industrial archaeology during his studies before landing his job as Director of the Historic American Builders Society/ Historic American Engineering Record, a job he held for over three decades while having collected vast arrays of experiences that led to the start in the program to document and preserve historic bridges in 1973, known as the Historic Bridge Program. He launched the Historic Bridge Symposium in 1983 as part of the annual Society of Industrial Archaeology Conference, which has been running successfully ever since. And lastly, he taught seminars on historic bridges and preservation. Thanks to his tireless efforts, many states have implemented their historic bridge preservation programs, which includes providing funding and incentive to local groups wanting to preserve historic bridges, marketing historic bridges and looking at techniques towards prolonging the life of historic bridges for traffic use. Indiana, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, New York and Vermont have been the leading examples in such policies which have saved at least half of the pre-1940 bridges that had existed prior to 1970. Cities, like Pittsburgh, Portland, Minneapolis and Chicago have a large swath of historic bridges preserved for use. In the face of progress, that effort is astounding if compared to the preservation policies of other countries, including some in Europe.

As we wind down our 2016 Ammann Awards and with that, the topic on 100 years of the National Park Service and 50 years of the National Register of Historic Places, we feel that Eric DeLony deserves to be honored for over 40 years of work in preserving historic bridges and guiding others like yours truly, Nathan Holth, Todd Wilson, Kitty Henderson, Kaitlin O’shea, Anne Miller, Jet Lowe and Christopher Marston to becoming successful preservationists, historians, teachers and bridgelovers. There is a reason for honoring him for Lifetime Achievement for his work.

But there is more to him than that. What got him interested in historic bridges and how did that play a key role in preservation policies in the US, which served as an example for other countries to follow?  Christopher Marston, who has worked for HABS-HAER since 1989, has known Eric for many years, both on the job as well as privately. He agreed to do a tribute to Eric as a guest writer for the Chronicles in response to a request for people to step forward in contributing to Eric’s legacy. His work includes a few important sections talking about Eric’s  career as a presevrationist and what he left behind for others to follow. Here is the guest column on Eric DeLony, which also includes a source section for you to find and read when you have some free time and are interested in knowing about this topic. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Eric DeLony doing preliminary field measurements on the 1870 pony truss Old Mill Road Bridge, Northampton County, PA, in 1985. The bridge was documented as part of the Pennsylvania Cast- and Wrought-Iron Bridges Recording Project in 1991. Photo courtesy of HABS HAER Collection

 

How you guys met
I started working for the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record in 1989, as an architect on a summer recording team in Homestead, PA, near Pittsburgh. My first project was to document and draw the 12,000 ton press (1893) at the U.S. Steel Homestead Works. I met Chief of HAER Eric DeLony in person the following summer, when I was working on the Duquesne Blast Furnace. The first bridge I documented for HAER was the 1839 Dunlap’s Creek Bridge in Brownsville, PA, the first cast-iron arch in the country, in 1992. After I joined the HAER office in Washington, DC, in October 1994, I worked directly under Eric as a project leader until he retired in 2003. Over my career, I’ve led HAER documentation projects of over one hundred individual historic bridges; parkway and railroad HAER projects included another hundred bridges.

Eric DeLony’s first HAER drawing of a bridge, as part of the Mohawk-Hudson Survey in 1969. This exploded isometric technique was used on several HAER projects to show how structures go together, especially cast- and wrought-iron bridges, Eric’s favorite. Whipple Cast & Wrought-Iron Bowstring Truss Bridge, HAER NY-4, Sheet 4, 1969.

What Eric did at HAER and elsewhere
Eric DeLony was a summer-hire architect on the very first field team of the Historic American Engineering Record, the Mohawk-Hudson Area Survey, in 1969. This ambitious project documented several sites in the Albany-Troy area, and Eric measured and created HAER drawings of the Troy Gasholder, the Whipple Bowstring Truss, and the Delaware & Hudson Canal, Delaware Aqueduct. After hiring Eric as its first full-time employee in 1971, HAER began recording a variety of other bridges as part of state surveys in Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, and Florida. HAER also photographed several large railroad bridges and viaducts as part of aerial surveys of the Baltimore and Ohio and Erie railroads from 1970-72. Several of these early surveys were done with teams of students working in schools of architecture, and cosponsored by the Smithsonian Institution through the leadership of Robert Vogel.
Working with longtime colleague Prof. Emory Kemp of West Virginia University, Eric started planning the HAER Historic Bridge Program in 1973, which would become the first comprehensive national program to protect historic bridges. Through Eric’s determination, HAER developed partnerships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and state historic preservation offices. The first goal of the program was to promote comprehensive historic bridge inventories in each state. When inventories were required by law in 1987, Eric’s initiative became a catalyst in making highway bridges the first class of historic structures to be nationally evaluated.

Freeport Bridge, one of several Wrought Iron Bridge Company structures that was preserved thanks to Eric’s efforts. Spanning the Upper Iowa River, this bowstring arch bridge, the second longest in the US, was relocated to Gunderson Park in Decorah, Iowa, where it now serves as a picnic area. Photo taken by the author in 2007

Eric recalled that when he first proposed the HAER historic bridges program, he initially received an adversarial reaction from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and state departments of transportation (DOTs). However, once DOTs realized that rehabilitation was an economical solution to maintaining bridges over replacement, and inventories revealed state’s wealth of historic bridges, some engineers were persuaded to appreciate their value. Inventories also helped states prioritize which bridges should be saved, and which older bridges could be replaced after documentation. The stipulation in the ISTEA legislation that 3% of funds go to preservation and amenities greatly helped fund the saving and rehabilitation of hundreds of historic bridges in the 1990s and 2000s.

Broadway Avenue Bridge in St. Peter, Minnesota. One of many bridges that has been rehabilitated for further traffic use. It was one of 29 historic bridges that are of interest of MnDOT and MinnHisSoc. Photo taken in 2013

After the preliminary state bridge inventories were completed, HAER partnered with state DOTs to undertake HAER summer documentation projects, collaborating with a combination of national and local experts and student engineers, architects and historians. Negotiating with a variety of partners from FHWA, DOTs, and other historic groups to secure funding, these HAER state bridge recording projects started with Ohio in 1986. David Simmons of the Ohio Historical Society served as a member of the team that completed the Ohio historic bridge inventory, and as an advisor to the 1986 and 1992 HAER Ohio Historic Bridge Recording Projects. He recalled that the HAER team set up offices at the architecture studios at The Ohio State University, and assisted Eric in training the students in how to read a bridge. The team documented over a dozen bridges (both on system and off) with large format photographs and histories, and completed measured drawings on roughly half of the bridges. HAER’s interest in many of these bridges helped save them from being replaced. An example was the Zoarville Station Bridge, which was preserved with support from local private citizens’ groups. From 1987 to 2001, Eric worked with several other states to document their historic bridges and add to the HAER Collection including: New York, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Iowa, Texas, and Illinois.

Zoarville Station Bridge in Ohio, the only Fink through truss bridge of its kind left in the US. This bridge was photographed by Nathan Holth in 2007 as it was undergoing extensive rehabilitation for reuse as a predestrian crossing

In addition to the nation’s highway bridges, the historic roads and bridges in the National Park system were also deteriorating from neglect and overuse. HAER developed a pilot project in the National Capital Region in 1988 to survey the historic and significant transportation-related structures and designed landscapes in various units of the National Park Service. With support from FHWA and NPS, this program expanded in 1989 and continued until 2002 to document national parks across the country. A sample of some of the parks where HAER employed large summer recording teams includes: Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Mount Rainier, Sequoia, Zion, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Acadia, Great Smoky, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller national parks; Skyline Drive, George Washington Memorial, Colonial, Rock Creek, Blue Ridge, Baltimore-Washington parkways; Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Gettysburg and Shiloh National Military Parks. HAER also partnered with Connecticut and New York State to record several historic parkways including: Merritt State Parkway, Taconic State Parkway, Bronx River Parkway, and the Henry Hudson Parkway.

Hogback Covered Bridge, one of thousands of covered bridges that have been preserved for use as a pedestrian crossing after a bridge was constructed alongside it. It is one of six bridges that are part of the Bridges of Madison County tour, soon to be expanded to include a couple additional metal truss bridges relocated recently. Photo taken in 2007

Eric DeLony was also vital in getting HAER involved with a third major initiative involving historic bridges and FHWA. Realizing that covered bridges were a beloved but endangered resource, Vermont Senator James Jeffords proposed legislation to identify and rehabilitate them. The National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation (NHCBP) Program was established by FHWA in 1998 through the TEA-21 transportation bill. Through Eric’s determination and foresight, HAER received research and education funding beginning in 2002 to survey and document the nation’s most significant covered bridges, as well as other educational initiatives including engineering reports, a traveling exhibition, national conferences, a national database, and nominating national historic landmarks. With the benefit of continued FHWA support, HAER National Covered Bridges Recording Project Leader Christopher Marston has continued Eric DeLony’s vision and is in the process of finalizing several research projects. This includes the publication, Covered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering, co-edited with Justine Christianson, and dedicated to Eric DeLony. Rehabilitation Guidelines for Historic Covered Bridges will be published later in 2017.
How he brought the historic bridges to the attention of the public esp. in terms of preservation and designating them on the National Register
Eric DeLony was involved in several organizations related to bridge preservation. Eric was an active member of the Society for Industrial Archeology (SIA) from its early years, and developed the SIA Historic Bridge Symposium beginning in the early 1980s. For these events, Eric would encourage his network of experts to share their research and experience with bridge preservation initiatives. He would typically introduce the symposium with his annual “State of the Bridge” address. These were more or less annual events from 1988 in Wheeling to 2003 in Montreal, the last year Eric attended as Chief of HAER. Eric returned in 2010-11 in Colorado Springs and Seattle with the co-sponsorship of Kitty Henderson and the Historic Bridge Foundation. HBF has continued the tradition biannually, and the 25th SIA Historic Bridge Symposium was held last year in Kansas City, MO.
He was also a committee member and friend of the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Historic Preservation and Archaeology in Transportation (ADC50) which included several professionals from state departments of transportation, SHPOs, and consultants involved in preservation issues on federally funded transportation projects. Research and best practices on preserving and maintaining historic bridges was always a major focus of the committee. As a subcontractor to Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eric co-authored with Robert Jackson, “A Context for Common Historic Bridge Types” for National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCPRP Project 25-25, Task 15) in 2005.
Not only was Eric interested in documenting historic bridges. He was also determined to see that as many structures as possible were saved and preserved. He followed through with DOTs and colleges to see that creative means could assure a bridge’s continued use. Some of these projects that Eric championed and encouraged included: the 1869 wrought-iron Henszey’s Bridge in Summerdale, PA; 1828 Blaine S-Bridge in Blaine, Ohio; the Aldrich Change Bridge in Macedon, NY, an 1858 Whipple Truss over the Erie Canal, among others.
Concurrent with the NPS Roads and Bridges projects, there was also a groundswell of interest in preserving historic roads, and related landscapes and structures. This initiative was championed by Paul Daniel Marriott, then at NTHP, and grew into the Preserving the Historic Road conferences, a biennial event that officially started in Los Angeles in 1998, with HAER as an original cosponsor. According to Marriott, “Eric appreciated that roads and bridges were intertwined. He was one of the first people to acknowledge that historic research and advocacy for historic roads. Eric DeLony was instrumental in establishing the historic roads movement.”
His involvement with HBs outside the US
As a Fulbright Scholar, Eric studied at Ironbridge with Neil Cossons in 1971-72. Eric always hired International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) foreign exchange scholars for his summer field teams beginning in 1984, which continued for approx. 25 years.
Eric was instrumental in getting HAER to collaborate with industrial archeologists and preservationists in Europe and other countries. He represented the United States at several meetings of the International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH). Another issue that Eric was involved with has finally shown dividends: after several decades, the U.S. delegation has finally agreed to nominate the Brooklyn Bridge as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Eric DeLony (left) and Dario Gasparini at the Guilford Pratt truss in Howard County, Maryland by Christopher Marston in 2013

What legacy he left behind
After Eric retired and moved to Santa Fe, NM in 2003, he continued to stay involved in historic bridge preservation. He ran a private consulting business for several years, and kept up an email list of his bridge contacts, which he called “the Pontists”. That list has evolved into the Pontists LinkedIn discussion group. He also published several articles on several historic bridge topics between 2000-2008.
In 2013, Eric bequeathed several of his rare books and technical reports to establish the “Eric N. DeLony Engineering and Bridge Collection” at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, MO.
Eric DeLony was truly a pioneer in the world of historic bridge documentation, preservation, and advocacy. The 2,000+ bridges in the HAER Collection, and hundreds of examples of preserved historic bridges across the country are all a testimony to Eric’s determination and enthusiasm for saving historic bridges.

 

Sources:
“Biographies of the Experts: Eric DeLony.” Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO website, 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080905093246/http://environment.transportation.org/center/tech_experts/bios/26677.aspx
Eric DeLony, Landmark American Bridges. New York: American Society of Civil Engineers, 1993.
Eric DeLony, “HAER and the Recording of Technological Heritage: Reflections on 30 Years’ Work,” IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology Volume 25, Number 1 (1999): 5-28.
“Eric N. DeLony Engineering and Bridge Collection.” Linda Hall Library website. http://libguides.lindahall.org/c.php?g=218603&p=1444349
Duncan Hay, “Eric DeLony: 2000 General Tools Award Recipient.” Society for Industrial Archeology Newsletter Volume 29, No. 2 (Summer 2000): 5-7. http://www.siahq.org/awards/generaltools/general%20tools%20award%20citations/2000_General_Tools_Award_-_Eric_Delony.pdf

 

 

Christopher Marston’s career at HABS-HAER and the benefits and setbacks towards preserving historic bridges can be seen through an interview with the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Click here for details. To him we have our thanks for his help. 🙂