And now, before we announce the winners of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards, I have a few favorites that I hand-picked that deserve international recognition. 2020 was a year like no other. Apart from head-scratcher stories of bridges being torn down, we had an innummeral number of natural disasters that were impossible to follow, especially when it came to bridge casualties. We had some bonehead stories of people downing bridges with their weight that was 10 times as much as what the limit was and therefore they were given the Timmy for that (click on the link that will lead you to the picture and the reason behind it.) But despite this we also had a wide selection of success stories in connection with historic bridge preservation. This include two rare historic bridges that had long since disappeared but have now reappeared with bright futures ahead of them. It also include the in-kind reconstruction of historic bridges, yet most importantly, they also include historic bridges that were discovered and we had never heard of before- until last year.
And so with that in mind, I have some personal favorites that deserve international recognition- both in the US as well as international- awarded in six categories, beginning with the first one:
Best example of reused bridge:
The Castlewood Thacher Truss Bridge in South Dakota:
One of three hybrid Thacher through truss bridges left in the US, the bridge used to span the Big Sioux River near Castlewood until it disappeared from the radar after 1990. Many pontists, including myself, looked for it for three decades until my cousin, Jennifer Heath, found it at the Threshing Grounds in Twin Brooks. Apparently the product of the King Bridge Company, built in 1894, was relocated to this site in 1998 and restored for car use, in-kind. Still being used but we’re still scratching our heads as to how it managed to disappear from our radar for a very long time…..
Built in 1866, this bridge was unique for its arch design. It was destroyed by floods in 2015 but it took five years of painstaking efforts to put the bridge back together again, finding and matching each stone and reinforcing it with concrete to restore it like it was before the tragedy. Putting it back together again like a puzzle will definitely make for a puzzle game using this unique bridge as an example. Stay tuned.
While it has not been opened yet for the construction of the South Park Gardens is progressing, this four-span arch bridge connecting the Park with the Castle Complex was completely restored after 2.5 years of rebuilding the 17th Century structure which had been abandoned for four decades. Keeping the outer arches, the bridge was rebuilt using a skeletal structure that was later covered with concrete. The stones from the original bridge was used as a façade. When open to the public in the spring, one will see the bridge that looks like the original but has a function where people can cross it. And with the skeleton, it will be around for a very long time.
This one definitely deserves a whole box of tomatoes. Instead of rehabilitating the truss bridge and repurposing it for bike and public transportation use, designers unveiled a new bridge that tries to mimic the old span but is too futuristic. Watch the video and see for yourself. My take: Better to build a futuristic span, scrap the historic icon and get it over with.
Demolishing the Pilchowicki Bridge in Poland for a Motion Picture Film-
Paramount Pictures and Tom Cruz should both be ashamed of themselves. As part of a scene in the film, Mission Impossible, this historic bridge, spanning a lake, was supposed to be blown up, then rebuilt mimicking the original structure. The bridge had served a railroad and spans a lake. The plan was tabled after a huge international cry to save the structure. Nevertheless, the thwarted plan shows that America has long been famous for: Using historic places for their purpose then redo it without thinking about the historic value that was lost in the process.
A one of a kind Thacher pony truss, this bridge went from being a swing bridge crossing connecting East and West Lake Okoboji, to a Little Sioux River crossing that was eventually washed out by flooding in 2011, to the storage bin, and now, to its new home- Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji. The owner had one big heart to salvage it. Plus it was in pristine condition when it was relocated to its now fourth home. A real winner.
Dömitz Railroad Bridge between Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg-Pommerania in Germany-
World War II had a lasting after-effect on Germany’s infrastructure as hundreds of thousands of historic bridges were destroyed, either through bombs or through Hitler’s policies of destroying every single crossing to slow the advancement of the Allied Troops. Yet the Dömitz Railroad Bridge, spanning the River Elbe, represents a rare example of a bridge that survived not only the effects of WWII, but also the East-West division that followed, as the Mecklenburg side was completely removed to keep people from fleeing to Lower Saxony. All that remains are the structures on the Lower Saxony side- preserved as a monument symbolizing the two wars and the division that was lasting for almost a half century before 1990.
Forest Fires along the West Coast- 2020 was the year of disasters in a literal sense of the word. Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought the world to a near standstill, 2020 was the year where records were smashed for natural disasters, including hurricanes and in particular- forest fires. While 20% of the US battled one hurricane after another, 70% of the western half of the country, ranging from the West Coast all the way to Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas dealt with record-setting forest fires, caused by drought, record-setting heatwaves and high winds. Hardest hit area was in California, Washington and even Oregon. Covered bridges and other historic structures took a massive hit, though some survived the blazes miraculously. And even some that did survive, presented some frightening photo scenes that symbolizes the dire need to act on climate change and global warming before our Earth becomes the next Genesis in Star Trek.
Demolition of the Historic Millbrook Bridge in Illinois-
Inaction has consequences. Indifference has even more painful consequences. Instead of fixing a crumbling pier that could have left the 123-year old, three-span through truss bridge in tact, Kendall County and the Village of Millbrook saw dollar signs in their eyes and went ahead with demolishing the entire structure for $476,000, coming out of- you guessed it- our taxpayer money. Cheapest way but at our expense anyway- duh!
Planned Demolition of the Bridges of Westchester County, New York-
While Kendall County succeeded in senselessly tearing down the last truss bridge in the county, Westchester County is planning on tearing down its remaining through truss bridges, even though the contract has not been let out just yet. The bridges have been abandoned for quite some time but they are all in great shape and would make for pedestrian and bike crossings if money was spent to rehabilitate and repurpose them. Refer to the examples of the Calhoun and Saginaw County historic bridges in Michigan, as well as those restored in Winneshiek, Fayette, Madison, Johnson, Jones and Linn Counties in Iowa. Calling Julie Bowers and Nels Raynor!
Collapse of Westphalia Bridge due to overweight truck-
To the truck driver who drove a load over the bridge whose weight was four times the weight limit, let alone bring down the 128-year old product of the Kansas City Bridge Company: It’s Timmy time! “One, …. two,….. three! DUH!!!!” The incident happened on August 17th 2020 and the beauty of this is, upon suggesting headache bars for protecting the bridge, county engineers claimed they were a liability. LAME excuse!
Located near the Göhren Viaduct in the vicinity of Burgstädt and Mittweida, this open-spandrel stone arch bridge used to span the Zwickau Mulde and was a key accessory to the fourth tallest viaduct in Saxony. Yet it was not valuable enough to be demolished and replaced during the year. The 124-year old bridge was in good shape and had another 30 years of use left. This one has gotten heads scratching.
Collapse of Bridge in Nova Scotia due to overweight truck-
It is unknown which is more embarrassing: Driving a truck across a 60+ year old truss bridge that is scheduled to be torn down or doing the same and being filmed at the same time. In any case, the driver got the biggest embarrassment in addition to getting the Timmy in French: “Un,…. deux,…… toi! DUH!!!” The incident happened on July 8th.
Consisting of vine bridges dating back hundreds of years, this area has become a celebrity since its discovery early last year. People in different fields of work from engineers to natural scientists are working to figure out how these vined bridges were created and how they have maintained themselves without having been altered by mankind. This region is one of the World’s Top Wonders that should be visited, regardless whether you are a pontist or a natural scientist.
This structure deserves special recognition not only because it turned 125 years old in 2020. The bridge is the longest of its kind on the South American continent and it took eight years to build. There’s an interesting story behind this bridge that is worth the read…..
For bridge tours on the international front, I would recommend the bridges of Schwerin. It features seven iron bridges, three unique modern bridges, a wooden truss span, a former swing span and a multiple span arch bridge that is as old as the castle itself, Schwerin’s centerpiece and also home of the state parliament. This was a big steal for the author as the day trip was worth it.
Geoff Hobbs brought the bridge to the attention of the pontist community in July 2020, only to find that the bridge belonged to a mansion that has a unique history. As a bonus, the structure is still standing as with the now derelict mansion.
The Bridges of Jefferson Proving Grounds in Indiana-
The Proving Grounds used to be a military base that covered sections of four counties in Indiana. The place is loaded with history, as not only many buildings have remained largely in tact but also the Grounds’ dozen bridges or so. Satolli Glassmeyer provided us with a tour of the area and you can find it in this film.
Now that the favorites have been announced and awarded, it is now the voter’s turn to select their winners, featured in nine categories of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards. And for that, we will go right, this way…… =>
This next mystery bridge takes us to New York; specifically, Fort Plain in Montgomery County and to this bridge. The structure spanned Mohawk River at River Street in the business district. The bridge features Phoenix columns and records indicated that the contractors, Dean and Westbrook of New York City as well as the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania were responsible for building the structure, which was between 130 and 180 feet. Yet it is unknown when the bridge was built. We do know that it was replaced in 1932 with a polygonal Warren through truss bridge with WV-portal bracings and riveted connections.
What is unknown and unusual is the truss design. When it comes to hybrid truss bridges, these bridges are hard to find for they serve traffic for a short period of time before they are demolished. The first bridge that comes to mind is the Philipp’s Mill and Crossing near Rockville, Iowa. It was a combination of Kellogg, Thacher and Warren through truss span that was a product of the Wrought Iron and Bridge Company. It was built in 1878 but replaced in 1958.
For this bridge, it appears to be a combination of Parker, Camelback and Pennsylvania Petit through truss bridge, which is unusual for a truss design. Yet others in the bridge community would have a better idea if this inquiry was posted……
….which is why I’m posting it right now. What kind of truss bridge was this bridge and when was the bridge built?
Feel free to comment. Additional information on the bridge’s history is more than welcome, especially as bridgehunter.com has no information nor photos on the truss bridge replacement built in 1932.
Our next Mystery Bridge takes us back to New York and features not only one bridge, but two. This came up on bridgehunter.com recently in a form of a post cardand features the two spans that cross a stream and a dam. The lower bridge featured a Howe pony truss span, most likely made of wood and used for pedestrian traffic. The upper bridge was a five span viaduct, built using stone piers with arches. Its decking was curved. It was a iron deck truss featuring Howe trusses that are subdivided.
The bridge was located on the former estate of motion picture Adolph Zukor. Zukor was born in Risce in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1873. He emigrated to New York in 1891 and after spending two years years working at a furrier, he started businesses selling fur products in Chicago and New York. In 1918, he bought property in New City in Rockland County from Lawrence Abraham (1872-1945), who had been the heir to the A & S Department Stores. The property had already featured a house and a nine-hole golf course; all in all, totalling 300 acres. It was here that the bridge had existed prior to Zukor’s purchase of the property, according to information by the Hudson Valley Ruins, which has a facebook page. Most likely the bridge must’ve been built made of iron before steel was introduced in bridge construction in the 1890s. Zukor later bought an additional 500 acres of land in 1920. There he built a night house, guest house, movie theater, locker room, greenhouses, garages, staff quarters and hired golf architect A.W. Tillinghast to build an 18-hole championship golf course. Today, Zukor’s estate is the private Paramount Country Club.
It was the same Zukor who founded the Famous Players Film Company in 1912, which after a merger with two other film and theater companies, eventually became the Paramount Pictures Corporation. Today, Paramount, now part of ViacomCBS, still produces motion pictures films from its studios in Hollywood. It has had a great track record with films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Star Trek (in all forms and types), Waynes World, films with John Wayne (like True Grit) and its latest release, Sonic: The Hedgehog.
Zukor himself occupied the estate until 1956 when he sold the estate and moved to Los Angeles permanently. It was the same year his wife died. He had two children from this marriage: Eugene, who became an executive at Paramount, and Mildred, who was married to another motion picture icon, Marcus Loew, who founded Loew’s Theatres and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio (MGM). He retired from the movie business in 1959 and lived out his days until his death at the age of 103 in 1976.
As far as the bridge is concerned, it is unknown what happened to it, except to say that in the picture at the beginning of this article is all that remains of the two bridges. The property was sold in two segments. The golf course portion was sold in 1948 and later became Paramount Country Club. The rest of the property including the mansion followed eight years later. It is possible that the bridge’s fate was met after the estate was sold, though we don’t know when that may have been the case.
Therefore, we have a big mystery to solve regarding this bridge. It is clear that the bridge existed before Zukor bought it with the property, which means we need to know who built the unique structure. Even more curious is the bridge’s fate at of after the time Zukor moved to California for good…..
This is where you come in. Good luck in the research. 🙂 Feel free to comment here or in the Hudson Valley Ruins facebook page which you can click here.
Please keep in mind that there will be a talk on the history of the Zukor Estate later this month. Info you will find on that page as well.
The 132nd mystery bridge takes us to Duchess County, New York and to the Hitchcock Estate near Millbrook. The estate was originally established through the purchase and consolidation of five farmsin 1889 by Charles Dieterich, a German entrepreneuer and acetylene gas mongul, who founded the Union Carbide Company in 1917. Addison Mizner designed the four-story 38-room mansion which Dieterich named “Daheim” (“Home”) in 1912. The mansion was characterized for being late-Victorian, interpreted for having Queen Anne style or Bavarian Baroque architecture by many critics. The mansion has turrets, verandas, and gardens, as well as large gatehouse, horse stables, and other outbuildings.The mansion changed hands many times before the Hitchcock Family (William, Thomas and Margaret (Peggy). It was later handed down to Timothy Leary, who was famous for the psychedelic movement in the 1960s. The complex has been sitting vacant for over four decades, yet it has a lot of surprises in terms of its history- not just in terms oft he architecture, but also oft he families who had owned Daheim.
And this takes us to one of the accessories of the Hitchcock Estate, the stone arch bridge. Geoff Hubbs found this postcard and posted it to bridgehunter.com recently, although another postcard with another view of the bridge can be found on eBay. It features a three-span stone arch bridge spanning a body of water that has long since been covered in soil and grass. It featured a guard house also made of stone. Judging by the angle of the bridge compared to the other postcards, the roadway and the arches seemed curved. The bridge has long since been removed but its missing history can be added to the mysteries that Daheim has in general.
When was the bridge built?
Who designed and constructed the bridge?
How long was it in service before it was torn down?
When was the bridge removed and why?
These bridge questions can be tied into the questions we have about the families that had owned the estate prior to ist abandonment, including their lifestyles, their backgrounds in business and the like, their role in the expansion and/or upkeep of the estate, etc. What we do know is a circumneutral bog lake (a spring fed calcareous body of water that usually supports the vegetation of both acidic bogs and calcareous marshes) was discovered by scientists in 2003 and efforts were being taken to preserve and restore it because of ist rarity. It is unknown how this is in direct relation with the estate and whether it plays a role in restoring the estate itself in the future. We do know that it belongs to one of the secrets that the Hitchcock Estate has to offer.
It’s doubtful that there is a connection between the Hitchcock Family and Alfred Hitchcock, the famous horror story producer. But we do know that the Hitchcock Estate- Daheim- would be a perfect scene for an Alfred Hitchcock film because of all the dirt it can dig up. The bridge itself is one of many examples of mysteries the estate has to offer……
New York City and its boroughs are well known for their iconic crossings which have stood the test of time. When people think of the largest city in the US, the first bridges to come to mind are the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges along the East River, the Triborough Bridges and the structures built by Othmar H. Ammann, including the Bronx White Stone, Bayonne, George Washington and the Verrazano Narrows, the last of which is still the longest suspension bridge in the US.
Yet going north away from New York is Westchester County. If there is one county that has a wide array of historic bridges spanning different bodies of water in the state, Westchester would be in the top five in the state. It’s well known for two of the crossings over the Hudson River- the Bear Mountain Bridge and the Mario Cuomo Bridge (which replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017). Little do people realize is that the county has several bodies of water where one can find many historic and unique crossings scattered all over the place. For starters, northeast of the Cuomo Bridge is Rockefellar State Park, where as many as six stone arch bridges spanning the Pocantico River can be found within a five mile radius of each other. There’s also the Croton River, a major source of water for the New York City area. There one can find a large batch of bridges along the river, including those along the New Croton Reservoir, like the AM Vets Memorial Bridge, Gate House Bridge and North COuntry Trailway. Also included in the mix are Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road Bridge at Muscoot Reservoir, which also belong to the Croton River crossings. Four historic bridges including Deans Bridge in Croton Falls round off the tour along the Croton River before the river crosses into Putnam County. As many as a dozen historic arch bridges built in the 1930s spanning historic parkways and four historic bridges along Annsville Creek round off the tour of Westchester County’s finest bridges, that feature as many as seven different bridge types and a span of over a century and a half of bridge building that started in the 1870s.
Sadly though, the number of historic bridges in Westchester County is dwindling. Many bridges that have been out of service for at least 20 years are scheduled to be removed. Three of them- Deans Bridge, Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road- are scheduled to be torn down by sometime in the next year. Each crossing has some unique characteristics and historic value that justify not only their listing on the National Register but also rehabilitation and reuse for recreational purposes. Goldens Bridge has a Whipple through truss design with Phoenix columns. Deans and Plum Brook have unique portal bracings that are rare to find in the state, let alone the US.
Yet the bridges in Westchester County are very popular among locals and one of them even produced a gallery of paintings of these unique structures. That with some facts fan be found in the Gallery of Paintings of Westchester County’s Bridges, available via link. A whole list of crossings, both past and present, can be found in the bridgehunter.com website- the link is found as well.
It is unknown whether these galleries will help preserve these structures, but by looking at them, it will bring attention to the readers who may want to visit them in the future. May through a visit and a tour will the interest in saving them for future use increase substantially, even in these hard times like we’re having at present.
So have a look at two sets of galleries and enjoy! 🙂
The Osborne County Hall of Fame Honors celebrates the Osborne County Sesquicentennial Year of 2021, marking the first 150 years of the county's existence. The "Honors" will present, recognize, and appreciate the various aspects of Osborne County, Kansas heritage and culture both past and present in a different manner than its parent organization, the Osborne County Hall of Fame. The series of lists that comprise the "Honors" will be revealed throughout the year on this site and via other social media. All Individuals already enshrined in the Osborne County Hall of Fame are excluded from the "Honors". Happy 150th Birthday, Osborne County!