This week’s pic of the week takes place on the cusp of the Great Spring Thaw, which is occurring at the time of this posting. Good thing I had a chance to capture this pic while there was still snow on the ground. This was of the Iron Bridge spanning the Zwickau Mulde north of Aue in the German state of Saxony. While the bushes covered one half of the two-span Parker through truss pedestrian bridge, this is the view of the other half, taken as the sun was setting, with very wintry setting. At temperatures at freezing, one could pull this one off as long as the snow was on the ground. A week from now it will most likely be gone with crocusses and other spring flowers set to take over. For now though, enjoy it while winter is still there. 🙂
This week’s pic of the week is also the 106th mystery bridge in the series. And while it is in the running for this year’s Ammann Awards in the category Mystery Bridge, it is also in the running for the Author’s Choice Awards for the Best Find of a Historic Bridge.
That is if this bridge is historic. It does look rather strange up close.
When driving along Crimmitschauer Strasse heading west and away from Pölbitz, a suburb of Zwickau in Saxony, one will see some housing developments along a small valley, where a creek runs through. Going by the name of Weissenborner Bach (or creek), there are dozens of small crossings for pedestrians and filled-in crossings for cars to enable access to the housing there, where the average age for the houses and flats there are no more than a decade old.
Yet during a drive most recently, I found a hidden arch bridge located just off the highway, tucked away in the trees. It was then I needed to pull off to have a look. From a distance, one can see a typical arch bridge that is closed spandrel, regardless of the color in the concrete. Yet getting an even closer look at the structure, it turned out to be anything but that.
The bridge’s main arch was not round but polygonal, resembling a Parker truss design minus the vertical and diagonal beams. The same applies to the outer two arches, albeit not as visible as the main arch. The bridge appears to be built using wooden boards that had been cut up, which would partially answer the question of why the arch is polygonal. The boards are slanted and when having a closer look at it, one can clearly see the pattern. Normally for arch bridges, they are made of concrete or brick, with the latter having vertical and horizontal patterns. When looking at the arches more closely, they are faux pa, meaning the bridge itself is a beam span, and the arches were added as decoration. When finding out that diagonal beams are supporting the bridge from inside the arches, one can conclude that the bridge is a kingpost deck truss that is flanked with faux pa, polygonal arches. The question is how old is the bridge, for given the condition of the wood, they appear to be not much older than 10 years.
Any ideas behind the bridge? And do you know of other polygonal arch bridges that exist? If you do, you know what to do. 🙂
The bridge was photographed right in the middle of Fall with the ground covered in leaves and the trees having a combination of red, yellow and light green. In Sepia form, it looks even spookier with the dark-colored bridge in the background. In either case, this pic of the week best fits with the season that is in full swing, even though we have had some warmer than usual weather- a sign of tough times to come.
After some time looking at the mystery bridges in the German state of Saxony, our next Mystery Bridge takes us back to the United States and the community of Salisbury in northwestern Connecticut. With a population of 3655 inhabitants, the town, incorporated in 1741, is part of the New York Metropolitan Region, which encompasses the entire state. Salisbury is laden with many historic buildings dating back to the time of its incorporation, some are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of its proximity to Mount Frissell in Massachusetts, the community is situated on the highest point in the state, with an elevation of 2380 feet above sea level. And lastly, the community has six lakes and several ponds. And with that come many bridges, although in high numbers.
And with the high number of bridges in the community, come the difficulties of finding rare structures and mystery bridges with missing information, like these two bridges in the postcard above.
Posted recently on bridgehunter.com by Dana and Ray Klein, one can see clearly that the bridge on the left was for pedestrians- on the right for horse and buggy and later, the Model T cars. The setting is around the turn of the century because of their design and appearance. Given the high number of trees and the given facts above, the twin bridges spanned a waterway connecting a pair of lakes and/or ponds. The question here is where exactly the bridge is located.
A closer look at the two bridges show that the material used for construction was clearly iron (most likely, cast iron), for two reasons:
The pedestrian bridge features a curved design, namely curved endposts, and appears to have some artistic designs on the trusses, similar to the ones found at Central Park in New York City. These bridges were built in various areas between 1865 and 1880. It’s unknown what exactly the truss type was given the transversal view in the postcard.
The vehicular bridge featured a Parker pony truss span, using the earliest design by C.H. Parker when it was patented in 1884. The connections were pin-connected, but unlike other regular Parker designs built after 1890, the upper chord consists of eyebar beams built in short lengths per panel with four or five put together. The vertical and diagonal beams are integrated into this mechanism and pins are used to connect all of them. In the picture, you can see how far apart they are, in comparison with conventionalpin-connections, whose vertical beams are inserted into the upper chord, and pins are used solely for the diagonal beams. When Parker introduced his design, wrought iron was already being used, even though it was being phased out in favor of steel because of its flexibility and tolerance to heat. From 1890 onwards, all truss bridges were being built using this material. Therefore, because iron was used for circular designs and ornaments, in comparison to steel used for other geometrical shapes, such as rectangular ones, the bridge was built between 1885 and 1890.
Both bridges are long gone, but it would be curious to know the following questions:
Where were the bridges located?
When were the bridges built? The Parker was most likely between 1885 and 1890, while the pedestrian span was built before 1885.
Who built the bridge?
What were the dimensions of the two bridges? For both, it appears to have the length of between 40 and 70 feet. The pedestrian span had a width of between 10 and 20 feet; the vehicular one, between 15 and 25 feet.
When were they removed? Most likely because of the progressive development of the infrastructure combined with population growth, they were gone before 1960 latest, unless they were relocated. If relocated, where could one see the bridge today?
Do you know about the bridges, then send the author a line or post the information on the Chronicles’ facebook page. You can also comment on bridgehunter.com, where the postcard came from. In either case, we would like to know more about the structures.
At 2,200 km in length, the Orange River, which goes by many names in different languages, is the longest river in South Africa. Starting in the Maloti Mountains in Lesotho, the river slices through the state before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay. The river is characterized by having steep valleys and wooded areas in a country that features a combination of mountains, savannas, lakes and deserts in general.
According to records, 32 crossings and three dams are reported to exist, even though the numbers may be a bit higher because of the river’s length and the towns it passes through, such as Preiske, Kakamas, Groblershoop, Hopetown, Douglas and Oranjemund. None of them have sufficient information on their length and history. This includes the Havenga Bridge, located between Vanderkloof and Orania, our mystery bridge profile.
Fellow pontist Ronel Le Roux Cilliers brought this bridge to the attention of the pontists in the Bridges facebook page, and with that to the attention of this author. While he has yet to visit Africa, this bridge is high on his places to visit list because of its unique features. First of all, the bridge features seven through truss spans. The center span is a Parker through truss with A-.frame portals whose bottom bracing is polygonal, like the truss design itself. The outer spans features three Pratt through trusses on each side of the center span. The weirdest feature of these spans are the portal bracings and endposts, where the top part features a trapezoidal beam design. The endposts are unusual as they are double-barreled with the inner portion featuring lattice bracing on the inner portion and the outer endposts are flat beamed. Normally for all truss bridges, endposts are single-barreled, like this bridge below:
Also more unique about the Havenga Bridge is the outer truss spans are much narrower than the center span. That span is estimated to be between five and seven meters (15 and 21 feet) wide, the outer spans a meter (3-4 feet) narrower. It is unknown how long the bridge is total, but it is estimated that the bridge is close to 500-600 meters (1500- 1800 feet) long total with the longest span being 50- 70 meters (150- 210 feet) and each of the outer spans being 40-50 meters (120-150 feet long. Exact measurements would be needed to confirm the bridge’s dimensions. Even more important is when the bridge was constructed, for the plaque on the north end of the bridge is believed to have been built in 1934. It is unknown who the contractor was, but given the fact that South Africa was once a colony ruled first by the Dutch and later the British thanks to the Boer Wars, it is possible that the bridge builder may have come from the British Commonwealth or the Netherlands, especially because the truss design and portal features are typical in the region. More information would be needed to determine the exact date of construction, why it was needed, and who was responsible for the construction of the structure. It is possible that the original spans were Parker trusses, but the outer trusses were replaced at one point. Some are speculating the replacement dates being in the 1990s, but these are only speculations that need to be supported with pure facts. It is known that the entire bridge has riveted connections, which was typical of bridge construction at that time.
The bridge presents a beauty that has to be seen when visiting South Africa as a touring pontist or a tourist with an interest in history. What is lacking is the history of the bridge, and this is where your help is needed. What do you know about the bridge in terms of its history and/or features? Place your comments below or send them to Jason Smith at the Chronicles using the contact info in the About page. It is hoped that we can collect enough information to solve the mystery of the Havenga Bridge, but more so to open the can of beans and explore the Orange River and the other bridges that exist. Many of them are either just as old or even older than this bridge. May the Havenga Bridge open the stage for more bridges to be profiled in the Chronicles and beyond.
Historic Bridges coming down in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Green Bridge meeting on December 16th, Bridgehunter and Flensburg Calendars for sale
Jack Kerouac, one of the well-known “road-hog” American writers of the post World War II era, crossed this bridge many times as a child and used it in his novel Dr. Sax. Now he’s wishing he was out of his grave to curse the people of his hometown Lowell, Massachusetts for destroying the bridge that used to be part of his childhood. The University Avenue Bridge, spanning the Merrimack River, a Pratt deck truss bridge that was built in 1895, was slated for demolition once the Schell Memorial Bridge was built. While a preservation group stood up to the government to hinder this progress, it recently stepped aside, thus giving the green light for demolition to commence in 2014. However, this bridge is not the only one on the chopping block, as the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is presenting its Newsflyer to focus on the bridges that were once a struggle to preserve it, but became bait for the bulldozers as the groups backed off. Yet this is not all, for some glimmer of hope for one Iowa bridge can be seen through the darkness and if you want a great Christmas gift for your loved ones, …
Well, here we go, without ado:
Schell Bridge Coming Down: Touted as the longest single-span truss bridge in Massachusetts and one of the longest Pennsylvania truss bridges in the country, this 1903 Connecticut River crossing was built by Edward Shaw and had been abandoned for over two decades. A preservation group tried to stop plans to demolish the bridge, yet they recently agreed to tear down and rebuild the bridge, using the metal from the old span and keeping the design. Reason: deterioration of the bridge decking although the steel superstructure was in normal shape. Apart from Kerouac’s Bridge in Lowell and Fitch’s Bridge in Middlesex County, this bridge is the third one this year where a preservation group once fought for preservation but retracted because of government pressure. The Schell Bridge is located in Franklin County, northwest of Northfield. More info can be found here.
Mercer County to wipe out eight historic bridges: Once touted as one of the most populous counties in western Pennsylvania, this county is on the road to becoming the county to have one of the least number historic bridges, especially after 2016. Some of the bridges that are on the chopping block include the following:
Clark’s Mill Bridge– Located over the Little Shenango River, this 1885 Penn Bridge Company bridge is one of the shortest Pratt through truss bridges in the county, with a span of only 82 feet. Unfortunately it is one of the most corroded bridges in the county, which explains the reason why the county wants to replace it beginning in 2014. Whether it is on a new alignment or at its original location remains unclear. The one thing that is clear is that the bridge’s days are numbered.
Sharpsville Bridge– Located over the Shenango River in northeast of Sharpsville, this bridge features two crossings with an 1897 Penn Bridge Company Parker through truss serving oneway traffic and a stringer replacement of 1946 serving another lane. Both have been closed since 2010 and are slated for replacement.
Carlton Bridge– Spanning French Creek at New Lebanon Road, this two-span iron through truss bridge features unique portal bracings and finials that are typical of the Columbia Bridge and Iron Works Company, which built this structure in 1892. While one of the locals upon my visit in 2010 claimed that the bridge would remain in its place, his assumptions are about to be wrong. Closed since 2011, the county plans to tear down and replace this bridge beginning next year, although the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A travesty? Yes, but typical of PennDOT and its behavior towards historic bridges.
Cochranton Bridge– Spanning French Creek outside Cochranton and carrying Hwy. 173, this two-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections was built in 1930 and has been carrying traffic with little incident ever since. Yet, PennDOT is not satisfied with the bridge’s restricted height clearance and width limits and therefore is planning its replacement span, which will take its place in 2015. This will cause headaches for a detour will be many miles long, adding more money wasted in gas and taxes to the proposed $7 million project.
Green Bridge in Des Moines the subject of important meeting: Already the campaign to save the three-span Pratt through truss bridge spanning the Raccoon River has reached new levels with over 860 signatures and over 1050 likes on its facebook page, with more needed. 5000 bikers have been informed and have thrown their support behind the 1898 structure, together with some big-time businesses in Des Moines. One of the climatic events will be the meeting on December 16th at Des Moines City Hall. There, the City Park Board will present their proposals on the bridge to the City Council, yet the meeting will be open to the public. If you are interested in voicing your opinion about the bridge, you are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting. Like to follow the developments involving the bridge, and do not forget to sign the petition if you have not done so yet. A link to the petition can be found here.
Calendars and other Items for Sale: Looking for a gift for your friends and/or loved ones? For the second year in a row, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column The Flensburg Files is selling calendars and other items. This includes the 2014 calendars featuring the historic bridges of Iowa and Germany. If you are interested in purchasing one, please click here to order. More information can also be found in the Bridgehunter Chronicles Shop page. Both are powered by Cafe Press.
Inspite the number of historic bridges being demolished or wiped away because of natural disasters, there are a few bright spots to consider. The Long Meadow Bridge in Bloomington, MN is one of them. Spanning the Long Meadow Lake arm of the Minnesota carrying Old Cedar Avenue, this 1920 structure, featuring five riveted Parker through truss spans with M-frame portal bracings has had a long history in itself. The current structure is the second crossing at this site where a major thoroughway used to exist. Originally connecting Minneapolis with the southern suburbs of Apple Valley, Bloomington and other smaller towns, Cedar Avenue used to be a major throughway back in the times where freeways did not even exist, with three major bridges carrying the major highway- Tenth Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, the Minnesota River Swing Bridge, and this one, located just to the north of the Swing Bridge. The Swing Bridge and this bridge were built at the same time in 1890, with the latter featuring trestle approaches a possibily a swing span as its main span. Evidence of this can be found in pictures, as shown by John Weeks, who has visited this bridge many times (click here for pictures). Yet for some reason, be it lack of boat traffic or flooding, the swing span and trestles at Long Meadow Lake were replaced with a series of fixed spans in 1920, which has not been altered since then. Both bridges served traffic crossing the island and providing access between the southern suburbs, the International Airport and downtown Minneapolis. This was until the bridges were rendered useless with the construction of the tied arch bridges in 1979, and Cedar Avenue (which had become Hwy. 77 in 1949) was rerouted to this freeway bridge. Sections of Cedar Avenue were eventually either rerouted or cut off with the construction of the Hwy. 62 Crosstown and I-494 Freeways, while the swing span over the Minnesota River was torn down shortly after the opening of the Hwy. 77 Bridge in 1980. Yet the Long Meadow Lake Bridge continued to serve traffic until it was deemed unsafe and was closed to cars in 1993 and later to all pedestrians and cyclists in 2002, fencing it off and removing 30 feet of decking on each side of the bridge. Despite the construction of a pedestrian bridge south of the bridge over the Minnesota River, there has not been any access to the airport, Mall of America (built in 1991) and the rest of the Twin Cities from the south.
But that is about to change!
For years, officials from several aspects of government, including the City of Bloomington, the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Preserve, and the state government have been wrestling over the future of the bridge, with the majority of the Bloomington City Council wanting to see the bridge torn down and replaced with a berm or a new crossing, and the federal agencies wanting the bridge to be kept as it is part of the national wildlife refuge which includes 35 miles of wildlife along the Minnesota River starting at Ft. Snelling State Park south of St.Paul. With the fight lingering, it seemed that there would be no end in site, and the bridge would eventually become part of naturing, decaying slowly but surely.
But recent decisions made this month has given the Long Meadow Bridge new life. This is thanks to Representative Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, who had been fighting to provide funding for the reconstruction of the structure. How she successfully accomplish this task though required some clever thinking and some support from House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL- Minneapolis and Governor Mark Dayton, DFL. The scoop: The Mall of America. Built in 1991 as the largest mall in the country at that time, officials wanted to expand the facility to include more shopping, lodging, gambling and parking possibilities, a project worth over $1.5 billion. State legislators on 22 May agreed on a proposal to provide $250 million towards the project and additional $9 million for the bridge. There was a catch though, which was no cent would be spent unless the City of Bloomington agreed to reconstruct the bridge. While the city breathed a sign a relief that funding is available and were very forthcoming on the proposal, they had another catch to the plan: officials cannot tear down and replace the bridge!
10 days ago, the Long Meadow Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its association with the type of bridge used during the 1920s, when the era of standardized truss bridges with riveted connections and heavy steel to accomodate traffic was in full motion. It was also part of the history of the Old Cedar Avenue and for many residents, the history of Bloomington itself. With its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge will receive new life as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge as it will undergo extensive rennovation to reopen the important link between the southern suburbs and the airport and the Twin Cities.
How this bridge will be rehabilitated remains unclear. Judging by the author’s visit in 2011, combined with inspections done by the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation, the major problems contractors will be facing will be the decking portion of the bridge, as many floorbeams and cross beams have corroded away to a point of irreparability and will have to be replaced. Yet if lessons are learned from three other examples, the Merriam Street, Washington Avenue and 4th Avenue Bridges, it is most likely that the Long Meadow Bridge may be set into a concrete bridge, which will function as the main bridge with the truss bridge being the ornament. On the other hand, if wood decking is needed, than new steel beams will be needed to support the deck and to function as a standing structure. The superstructure itself appears to be in great condition despite the rust but will most likely be repainted so that it is protected against weather extremities. While it is unclear what the condition of the piers are, learning the lessons from the collapse of a railroad bridge in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) because of flooding, it is most likely that they will have to be inspected for scouring and be reinforced and or replaced. And lastly, the old highway will need to be cleared of downed trees and other vegetation which had taken over since 2002. The road does not necessarily need to be replaced as it still retains its historic character, yet some touch-ups will be needed to ensure that safety and aesthetics go together like bread and butter.
The hill will be steep to climb regarding rehabilitating the bridge, but one can use $9 million wisely to make the bridge what it was before it was closed to all traffic and return the bridge to its original form- as a piece of history connecting three key points. Thanks to Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, the wish of restoring the bridge and opening it up again will become a reality. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on this bridge.
You can see a gallery with photos taken of the bridge by the author with some details and explanations here.
Major Truss Bridge Collapses in Washington, another Ohio River Truss Bridge Doomed, another Iowa Truss Bridge’s future in Limbo, Hope for Minnesota Bridge?
On the eve the upcoming SIA Conference in Minneapolis/ St. Paul this weekend, one would think that the tornado that wiped Moore, Oklahoma off the map (and with that, half of the Newcastle Bridge) would be the top theme to talk about, as people are cleaning up and questions remain on how to rebuild the infrastructure that is a twisted mess.
However, some other news has popped up in the past couple days have for some reason taken over the limelight, as some major historic bridges have been in the news- one of them in Washington state has rekindled the debate on the usage of truss bridges as means of crossing ravines from point A to point B. Here is the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ second Newsflyer in three days’ time:
Major Interstate Highway Bridge Collapses in Washington
Located between Mt. Vernon and Burlington over the Skagit River, the 1,120 foot long bridge featured a Warren through truss (with subdivided beams) with West Virginia portal and strut bracings and riveted connections. The 1955 structure was supposed to be sound, as it carried Interstate 5, a major route running along the West Coast from Vancouver to San Diego. However, last night at 7:15pm local time, the northernmost span of the truss bridge collapsed while commuters were making their way home from work. Numerous cars were in the water, and there is no word on the official number of casualties as of present. The collapse has taken many people including transportation officials by surprise, as the most recent National Bridge Inventory Report gave this bridge a structural rating of 57.4, which is above average. The bridge was considered structurally obsolete but not deficient, meaning it was capable of carrying massive amounts of traffic. Yet this may have to be double-checked, as officials are trying to determine the cause of this tragedy. There is speculation that an oversized truck stuck in the portal entrance of the bridge may have caused the mishap. But evidence and eyewitnesses have to be found in order to prove this claim. I-5 has been rerouted to neighboring Riverside Drive, which runs through Mt. Vernon and Burlington, respectively, and will remain that way until further notice. The collapse will also rekindle the debate among engineers and preservationist alike of whether truss bridges are the right bridge type for roadways to begin with; this after many preservation successes, combined with the construction of bridge replicas, like at Sutliff and Motor Mill Bridges in Iowa, defying the critics of this type in response to another earlier disaster in Minneapolis in 2007. The Seattle PI has pictures and information on the Skagit River Disaster, which can be seen here.
Trestle Bridge in Texas Burns and Collapses
If the term “NO WAY!” is applicable to another bridge disaster, it would be this bridge. Spanning the Colorado River a mile north of US 190 and east of San Saba in central Texas, the 1910 bridge featured a 300 foot long wooden trestle and a through truss main span. While the bridge was still in use by trains to carry agricultural goods and oil products, the railroad company owning this bridge will have to either spend money on a new bridge or find alternatives, as fire broke out on the wooden trestle spans on Monday. In a spectacular video taken by fire and transportation officials, seen here, the entire burning structure collapsed like a domino. In the video, one person reacted to the collapse in three words: “There she goes!” Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the fire and destruction.
Ohio River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois to be Replaced
The Cairo Bridge, spanning the Ohio River carrying US Hwys. 51 and 60 between Cairo, IL and Wickliffe, KY, is one of the most popular structures along the Ohio River and one of the best examples of bridges designed by Ralph Modjeski of Modjeski and Masters (with the help of the Mt. Vernon Bridge Company). In fact, the 1938 structure opened to traffic two years before the Austrian engineer’s death in Los Angeles. It is one of the key landmarks of the city of Cairo, especially because of its four tall towers that can be seen for 20 miles. Now, the City of Cairo will have to look at a new structure that will stand in its place. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has already started the Environmental Impact Survey to determine the impact on the surroundings when the cantilever truss bridge is dismantled and replaced in favor of a new modernized structure, whose bridge type to be used is left open. This will result in the Section 106 Policy to kick in, even though transportation officials have ignored the alternatives thusfar, and the recent disaster in Washington will support the KYTC’s claim that the bridge’s days over the Ohio River will soon be numbered. Photos of the bridge can be found here, as with the history of Modjeski and Masters, which includes a biography of Modjeski himself, who also built the Quebec Bridge in 1919, still the longest cantilever truss bridge in the world.
To Replace or Not to Replace: The Cascade Bridge Story
One of the hair-raising stories we will be watching this year is the fate of the 1896 Baltimore deck truss bridge, spanning Cascade Ravine at Dankward Memorial Park in Burlington, Iowa. The City wants to demolish the bridge because it is a liability. Engineering surveys conducted by Shuck-Britson and Klingner and Associates recommended replacement as the most feasible alternative. Yet both surveys have been attacked because they were not sufficient. This includes the usage of photos only by Shuck-Britson instead of doing on-site research, which state and federal agencies consider not sufficient. The majority of the citizens in Burlington do not want the bridge replaced because of its historic significance combined with safety issues a new bridge would have. And now Iowa DOT is coordinating a public survey to determine who is in favor of replacing the bridge in comparison to who is on favor of remodeling the bridge for reuse. Here are the factors that are important to note:
a. The cost for total replacement ranges from $3.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson) to $6 million (according to Klingner). The cost for rehabilitating the bridge: between $2 million (according to Workin Bridges based in Grinnell) and $8.5 million (according to Shuck-Britson).
b. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the environmental and mitigation surveys need to be carried out before making a decision on the future of the bridge. In addition, it is part of the Great River Road, meaning it is one of the key tourist attractions along the Mississippi River.
c. The bridge, built by a local engineering firm based in Cedar Rapids with help of the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Company, was closed to traffic in 2008 due to structural concerns on the 464 foot long structure- namely deterioration of the concrete abutments and rust on the bridge joints.
d. Most importantly, the City Council is dependent on a referendum that would introduce a franchise fee, to help pay for the Cascade Bridge Project. Without the fee (which appears to be dead on arrival), the project would be one of the first to be on the chopping block because of lack of funding.
Nevertheless, the future of this rare structure remains in limbo and it is a matter of time before a decision will have to be made. One fact is certain, the bridge will be visited by many enthusiasts during the Historic Bridge Weekend in August. Perhaps this might bring this matter to one’s attention on a larger scale. Please see the link with a copy of the article photographed by Julie Bowers upon request to read the details.
Rehabilitate or Replace? The Cedar Avenue Bridge Story
Another piece of good news, pending on one looks at it, comes from the City of Bloomington, Minnesota, which is trying to rid itself of an important historic landmark, considered a liability in their eyes. As part of the $1.5 billion plan to expand the Mall of America, the state tax committee on Wednesday granted $259 million to be granted to the City of Bloomington, which owns the venue. $9 million will go directly to the Cedar Avenue Bridge Project. Yet the city has to approve the plan before receiving the money. While the Chronicles has an article coming on this story, a brief summary: The bridge was built in 1920 and features five spans of riveted Parker through trusses, crossing Long Meadow Lake. Together with a swing bridge over the Minnesota River, it used to carry Minnesota Hwy. 77 until an arch bridge built east of the span was built in 1978. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1996 and has been fenced off since 2002. Discussion has been brewing whether to restore the entire structure and reopen it to regular traffic, or tear it down and replace it with a new structure. As the bridge sits in the National Wildlife Refuge and is listed on the National Regsiter of Historic Places, federal officials want the bridge restored. The majority of the City Council favor a brand new bridge. And like the Cascade Bridge, figures for replacing vs. restoring the bridge have been flying around, with no idea of which option or how the bridge will be restored. Thanks to $9 million on funding available, discussion will be intense and the Chronicles will follow the story as it unfolds. In the meantime, have a look at the photos here to determine what to do with the bridge.
Tornado destroys large bridge in Oklahoma, Bridge lost to flooding in Indiana, Future of Kentucky Bridge in question
The month of May was supposed to bring flowers, warm weather and fun to families and friends, especially because of the fact that in many countries, like Germany, May has the most number of holidays, including Mother’s Day, Father’s Day (in German: Maennertag), Pentecost and the last holiday coming up on 1 June, Children’s Day. In the United States, many schools are either out or will be out soon because of summer vacation.
Yet this month has been unkind to many families, whose lives have been turned upside down because of weather-related disasters. One of those was the Pentecost weekend storms, which generated yesterday’s two-mile wide tornado that destroyed Moore, Oklahoma and devastated many neighborhoods in the outskirts of Oklahoma City. CNN has a page on the disaster with videos which you can view here. And with the tornadoes and other natural disasters this month came many structures that have fallen prey to these storms, including a multiple-span truss bridge in Oklahoma, which collapsed in yesterday’s storm.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has a short summary on the fallen bridges, plus a couple other historic bridges that survived unscathed but are facing another enemy, the wrecking ball- and in one case, against the will of residents who don’t want a new bridge there to begin with. Hence, today’s Newsflyer:
Newcastle Bridge collapses- gas pipeline leak noticeable
The 1923 Missouri Valley Bridge Company structure spanned the Canadian River, carrying US Hwy 62, SE of Oklahoma City. It was one of the longest bridges to span a river or ravine in the state, and when it was bypassed by an expressway bridge 30 years ago, the bridge received new life when a natural gas pipeline went across the structure. Unfortunately, like the suburb Moore, the bridge was directly in the path of yesterday’s tornado and two of the 10 Parker through truss spans were knocked off its foundations. Other spans received substantial damage, but even more alarming was the fact that the natural gas pipeline was severed when the spans went down. While clean-up is underway, plans will be in the making to determine the fate of the rest of the bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While parts of the structure may be saved, the danger is that the bridge may be damaged beyond repair and may have to be taken down. But that has to be determined through the Section 106 Process, which will be carried out once the clean-up begins.
Ancient Aquaduct in Indiana lost to flooding
The Illinois and Michigan Canal ran 96 miles (154 km) from the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago on the Chicago River to LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, on the Illinois River. It was finished in 1848 and it allowed boat transportation from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The canal enabled navigation across the Chicago Portage and helped establish Chicago as the transportation hub of the United States, opening before railroads were laid in the area. Its function was largely replaced by the wider and shorter Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900 and it ceased transportation operations in 1933.- James Baughn
The Nettle Creek Aqueduct was one of the structures that carried water along this canal from 1847 (when it was built) to the time it was converted to bike and pedestrian traffic in the 1980s. The stone arch bridge that carried a steel trough was rebuilt multiple times including the time it was converted to recreational use, and was one of the key features of Gebhard Woods State Park. Sadly though, flooding on 7 May undermined the east wall of the arch bridge, causing the structure to collapse. A series of photos courtesy of Steve Conro shows the bridge before and after the disaster. According to the information from locals, flood waters rose to the top of the bridge railing prior to the structure giving way. It is unknown when and how the aqueduct will be rebuilt.
Kentucky Historic Bridge to be Replaced; Residents to Protest to the Courts
“The people that live there now won’t be there 100 years from now,” and, “Whatever we do here, we are going to affect the future.” Those are the comments made by Russell Poore County Magistrate of Logan County, Kentucky in a newspaper interview regarding the decision of the county officials to tear down a historic bridge. The Logan Mill Bridge, an iron Pratt through truss bridge spanning the Red River west of Adairville has been a target of controversy as the county has been pursuing the replacement of the bridge, whereas residents along a two mile stretch of road demanded that the bridge be left alone. As many as six families living near the bridge would like to see the crossing rehabilitated and open to pedestrians. But if the county has it their way, the bridge, considered a piece of scaffolding in their eyes will be replaced by a concrete structure at a cost of $1.36 million. Already the county has voted 4-3 in favor of using the funds for this project. Yet many residents, who felt that their opinion was not heard, will not give up the fight and will take the matter a step further to ensure they have it their way, claiming that the project would be a waste of money and that it would be another “Bridge to Nowhere.” Already the county has offered the bridge up for sale under the conditions that it will be relocated, yet residents near the bridge do not want increased traffic and would rather see the bridge remain for pedestrians only. More will follow on whether the residents will win the fight for the bridge.
Ohio Historic Bridge Relocation to start soon.
Spanning the Olentangy River in Liberty Township in Delaware County, Ohio, this 1898 truss bridge, going by the name Orange Road, built by the Toledo Bridge Company had been closed since 2007 when a new bridge was built alongside it, and was sitting in its rightful place…. until now, that is. If enough funding is made, the bridge will be dismantled, moved to Liberty Twp. Park and reerected over Wildcat Run. The cost for the project including maintenance will be $657,000. Yet this does not include the cost for some rehabilitation work that is needed given its structurally stability that has been in question according to county inspections that were undertaken prior to its closure and has been brought up ever since. While it is unclear when the relocation will start or how long the project will take to complete, the plan has given Ohio a better light on historic bridge preservation, for it had been following Pennsylvania’s footsteps in eliminating as many historic bridges as funding permits it. While it had preserved many structures, there are still many more out there that is in need of attention, including one at Bellaire. More information on the Orange Road Bridge will follow.
Tama Bridge Celebration
It is rare for a bridge in the United States to have a celebration of its own, for such celebrations are common in Europe. Yet in this small Iowa town, located 45 miles west of Cedar Rapids, the celebration is the norm. This past weekend, the 34th annual Tama Bridge Festival took place, celebrating the 98-year old bridge, built in 1915 by Paul Kingsley as part of the Lincoln Highway. The festival featured a 5km run and a parade through downtown Tama, and lastly a midway at the bridge site. This year’s festival is special for it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway that connected New York with San Francisco. While the highway has been bypassed by many US and interstate highways, including US Hwy. 30 which bypasses the town, many reminants of the bridge still exist today, including this bridge, whose railings christen the name Lincoln Highway. The Tama Bridge will be one of the bridges on the HB Weekend tour that will be visited in August. It is a must-see for many bridge enthusiasts.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and sister column The Flensburg Files would like to send our heartfelt prayers and support to the people affected by the Moore and Oklahoma City Tornado that destroyed vast amounts of homes and livelihoods. Please make it known that you are not alone and we’ll be ready to build new bridges to help you start over, clean up so that you can rebuild your lives, and stand together so that we can be a stronger family, supporting, caring and loving each other. Here is are some links for you to help:
Here’s a quiz for you: How many of you had either a set of Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, or something similar to that, when you were a child growing up? And if so, what kinds of things did you build with your set? I remember when I was growing up, I used to build human beings with my set of Tinker Toys and covered bridges and telephone poles with Lincoln Logs. But like many engineers and bridge enthusiasts, I was different from those who were supposed to build log cabins and other skeletal structures, as was directed on the package. Yet if we go back 100 years, many engineers and bridge designers referred to the Erector Set to get their imagination going. It was a set of steel beams with nuts and bolts, which allowed them to spend hours perfecting their ideal building- or bridge.
Perhaps the person who built this bridge in California used the combination of the three to design and patent this truss bridge. The Dinkey Creek Bridge is a jewel that was found by one fellow pontist two years ago while hiking through the Sierra Nevada National Forest. Built in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this bridge spans the creek which snakes its way through the forest from neighboring Fresno, in Fresno County. It is one of the most unique examples of bridges that were built during the era, where President Franklin Roosevelt encouraged bridge designers and builders- most of them out of work because of the Great Depression- to build something that will attract tourists and last forever. And for this bridge, it is something that is worth seeing. It was the first bridge to be built using Redwood trees and the first to use steel, split-ring timber-connecting devices, which enabled the bridge to handle heavy traffic, which was rare in this area when it served traffic. Yet the truss design can be confusing, for when looking at the pictures provided by Craig Philpott, it appears to be a Parker Truss because of its polygonal shape, even though the State of California considers it a bowstring arch bridge. While there are some examples of bowstring arches that have a polygonal-like shape, 90% of all bowstring arch bridges were built with the top chord creating an arch, like a bow and arrow, as seen with the Turkey River Bridge in Winneshiek County, Iowa (now extant). In addition, it is unknown who designed this unique bridge, let alone oversaw the construction of the bridge, even though a couple workers have been honored recently for their work.
This leads us to two questions about the Dinkey Bridge, our Mystery Bridge:
1. Is this bridge a bowstring arch bridge or a Parker truss bridge? Please ignore the fact that the bridge is a through truss.
2. While the CCC was responsible for the construction of the bridge, who designed the bridge and utilized the steel connectors? And who oversaw the whole process.
Have a look at the pictures and let the author know, using all the channels available. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now a pedestrian bridge serving a local inn. It’s one of the bridges in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that is a must-see when passing through.
Special thanks to Craig Philpott for allowing the author to use the photos.
In spite of the gloom and doom that we have seen with historic bridges lately, there is a glimmer of hope for some that did receive a new life. For the Big Four Bridge, spanning the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, the bridge received a new lease in life after being abandoned for almost 45 years. Consisting of the cities of Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis, the Big Four Railroad owned the railroad bridge, consisting of six spans of steel through truss bridges, which the company abandoned in favor of progress. Jonathan Parrish, a fellow pontist who lives near Louisville, had the opportunity to visit the bridge when it was reopened to pedestrian traffic on 7th February of this year, and as guest columnist, is providing you with some background information on one of the relicts of Big Four’s past as well as some impressions of the bridge during its grand opening.
February 7th, 2013 Louisville, KY:
The bridge was built in 1893 for the Big Four, B&O, and C&O railroad as the main crossing over the Ohio River. In 1927, the Big Four bought out the interest owned by the C&O Railroad. Two years later, the Big four decided to move from a bridge with pin connections to one that is riveted and therefore, the current bridge was built around the old bridge so that railroad traffic could continue to use the bridge. One year later, the New York Central Railroad took over the Big Four and the bridge carried traffic for almost 40 more years, before it was finally closed to traffic.
After 1969 the approaches were scrapped and the main trusses were allowed to sit, the bridge became known as the bridge to nowhere due to the inability to access the bridge. But that of course has changed as close to 1,000 people were lined up that morning to at the bottom of the ramp for the soft opening of the Big Four Bridge. The grand opening will be this spring once the Jeffersonville approach is finished. After some speeches were finished by the mayors of both towns and the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, the noses of a railroad crossing started across the PA system. You could hear a steam engine and the bells from the crossing, and the opening was official when the railroad crossing gates were lifted. I could personally see no better way to open the bridge.
Closed since 1969 when the Penn Central Railroad decided to route traffic away from the structure, the bridge gained a new life when it reopened at 11am on February 7th as the center piece of waterfront park. This project has been years in the making and has been looked upon with great anticipation.
The youngest to the oldest made their way up to the bridge and started the little under 1 mile hike across to last truss. You could hear the grandparents their grandkids talking about the bridge when it was opened and all alike were amazed by the structure. As someone who has been following the opening of this bridge since 2007, I was not only relieved by its opening, but I was a like a child who had just walked in to a toy store. Later that evening I revisited the bridge figuring the hype would have died down, only to find the bridge was as busy as when I left 3 hours earlier. I have to congratulate the state of Kentucky and Indiana for getting together on this project and completing it. Along with the people who run waterfront park. The bridge is beautiful and looks to stand and carry people for the foreseeable future. If you happen to be in Louisville be sure to come check out the bridge it is worth every moment. The views are outstanding and the bridge will just blow your mind.
Author’s note: According to Parrish, the Indiana side of the bridge is scheduled to have a new approach ramp added in the near future and when completed, it will serve as a major thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists, connecting Louisville with the neighboring communities on the opposite end of the Ohio River. More information will come as soon as construction on the approach ramp is completed. In the meantime, the bridge serves as a semi-ramp, crossing the Ohio River but ending in mid-air on the Indiana side.
The author would like to thank the guest columnist for the article and the photos included which can be seen below:
Note: More photos of the bridge can be found in the Bridgehunter website, which can be seen here.