HB in Polk County, Arkansas For Sale: Any Takers?

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MENA, ARKANSAS- Polk County, Arkansas has a historic bridge for sale. Built in 1915, the structure has a riveted steel Pratt pony truss design, with timber stringers and a  wooden deck. The parameters of the bridge is 72 feet long and 11.67 feet wide between the trusses. It has been closed for several years, but the structure can be found on Polk County Road 50 near Old Sale Barn in Potter.  Takers of the bridge must take it as is, and it must be removed and transported by licensed contractor with commercial general liability insurance. This is part of the plan to remove the truss bridge and replace it with a new structure. How the truss bridge is repurposed is dependent on the new owner.


Sealed bids will be accepted prior to the auction at 9AM on November 25, 2019 in the basement of the Polk County Courthouse. The courthouse is located at 507 Church AVE, Mena, AR 71953. Bids should be delivered in a sealed envelope and clearly marked “Polk County Road 50 bridge”. The bidder with the acceptable amount will retain responsibilities for the truss bridge, including relocation, restoration and repurposing. Funding may be available to offset the costs.  Inquiries should be made to Polk County Judge, Brandon Ellison at 479-394-8133.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 119: The Pony Trusses From Nowhere?

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Photo taken by James McCray

HOLBROOK, ARIZONA- Fellow pontist James McCray had an interesting found that was brought to the attention of the readers via bridgehunter.com. During his recent trip in Navajo County in Arizona, he found six pony trusses alongside a road west of Holbrook. They are near I-40 and US Highway 180 which used to be Route 66 before it was decommissioned by 1980. The trusses are double-intersecting Pratt with riveted connections, which pins the construction date to the earliest 1900. Each one is between 40 and 60 feet long. The question is where did they originate from? Were these spans part of a multiple-span crossing? Even a Route 66 crossing?

Click on the link here to get the coordinates and additional information including photos. Feel free to comment on them or even express interest in taking them. Currently they are in storage, standing side-by-side, awaiting relocation.

Happy Bridgehunting. 🙂

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Historic Truss Bridge in Chemnitz to be torn down

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The Bridge at Eckstrasse in Chemnitz. Photo taken in December 2016

CHEMNITZ, GERMANY- Located in the central part of the German state of Saxony, Chemnitz, with a population of 245,000 inhabitants, is the third largest city in the state. It also has one of the largest number of historic bridges in the state, competing with the likes of Dresden, Leipzig and even some smaller communities, like Plauen, Glauchau, Rochlitz and Waldheim, just to name a few.   Among the historic bridges, Chemnitz has five truss bridges, half as many as the city’s arch bridges. This includes the Chemnitz Viaduct, the railroad overpass near the Central Railway Station, and in the photo above, the bridge at Eckstrasse in the northern part of the city center.

Spanning the River Chemnitz, this 25 meter long span is a bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge with riveted connections. The vertical beams are V-laced and there are parallel diagonal beams. Although there are no records about its builder, the bridge was constructed in 1893 and survived two World Wars and the Cold War unscathed, which is in contrast to the buildings that had once stood before the bombings in February and March 1945. Sadly the bridge was also the subject of neglect as there were no repairs or rehabilitations done with the structure. It was closed to motorized vehicles in 2006 and was voted Germany’s worst bridge by the automobile association ADAC, a year later.

After years of neglect, the bridge’s days are officially number, according to the Chemnitz Free Press in connection with the city council’s decision. Beginning 13 August 2018, the bridge will be permanently closed to all traffic including cyclists and pedestrians. At the cost of 30,000 Euros, the construction crews will remove the truss structure in its entirety. No replacement is expected, which means cyclists and pedestrians will be forced to use the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge. A map below shows you the three bridges:

The project is expected to take two weeks to complete. The reason behind the decision to remove the bridge does not have much to do with the cost for rehabilitating the bridge but more on the practicality of doing it, for many structural elements on the truss bridge is kaputt. Even during the visit in December 2016, one of the first impressions was the rust and corrosion on the truss superstructure itself. That went along with the rough decking with dips and cracks. These were issues that could have been fixed at the time prior to its closing in 2006, yet lack of funding may have played a role in delaying the rehabilitation process, eventually to a point of no return in the end. With over two dozen bridges over the River Chemnitz, with four bridges in the north of the city center, the Eckstrasse crossing was considered expendable because of the nearest crossings at Shoe Bridge and Müller Bridge, each were approx. 250 meters apart from this bridge.

The Eckstrasse Bridge will leave the cityscape with two opposite impressions. On the one hand, it will leave as one of the rarest historic bridges in Saxony that withstood history and the test of time. Yet it will be relieved of the humility of being the most neglected bridge that, if there had been expertise and financial resources, it could’ve been rehabbed and reused. Sometimes one has to follow the Indiana rule, which is if the bridge cannot carry vehicular traffic, it is rehabbed right away instead of being abandoned first. 80% of historic bridges in the Hoosier state were preserved that way. And while it is too late to save this rare jewel in Chemnitz, the state of Saxony should be put on notice should another historic bridge be put under the knife for structural deficiencies.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 73: A “Suspension” Bridge Near Altenburg, Germany

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Side view of the Gardschutz Bridge spanning the River Pleisse near Lehndorf, south of Altenburg. Photos taken in August 2016

After a brief break due to non-column commitments, we will have a look at the next mystery bridge. Not far from the last mystery bridge profiled and in the vicinity of Altenburg, in eastern Germany is this bridge. Located over the River Pleisse just north of the town of Lehndorf, the bridge is located at the Gardschutz Mill, consisting of a ranch and restaurant. It’s easily seen from the main highway on the eastern bank as well as the road going to Selleris (which also carries the Pleisse bike trail to Leipzig). The bridge resembles a suspension bridge because of its two towers and its main span. Yet its lack of support cables combined with rather modern trusses resulted in my stop at the bridge during my tour along the Pleisse from Gössnitz to Leipzig.

Examining the bridge from the outside, one could assume that the bridge is between 20 and 25 years old, for it appears to be quite modern. The arched towers appear to be quite modern, made of concrete and featuring steel roofing that is in two layers. The truss span features a bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge with welded connections and outer wings that have a 75° angle from the main truss. The diagonal bracings cross the railings in a way that the former cuts into the latter. Unique is when the truss is embedded into the towers, resulting in the towers supporting the span without the cables. The reason for the bridge being at least 20 years old is the fact that the truss span itself has already dealt with wear and tear, as moisture and weather extremities have already started to eat away at the trusses. Normally for modern pedestrian bridges built 5-10 years ago, a person does not see such deterioration right away. Even with a coat of paint, one can see the markings of a bridge that is becoming worn like a 50-year old truss. It is unknown when it was built for during the Cold War period, bridges were rarely built and if so, only with the bare materials that were enough for cars to cross, not bikes. Many of these 50-60 year old bridges are due for replacement because they can no longer handle increasing traffic. The further east one travels, the more bridges one will see with weight restrictions allowing only light-weight vehicles to cross and the most likely these bridges will appear in the newspapers with the title: to be replaced.

It is unlikely that this bridge was built before the Reunification of Germany. The question is when it was built and by whom?  The bridge continues to serve pedestrian and bicycle traffic, providing access to Gardschutz Mill and Restaurant. The bridge is a cable-less suspension bridge with a Pratt truss main span over the Pleisse. That’s it for information.

Anything else about this bridge? You know what to do. 🙂

 

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Age is showing in the truss and railing…
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View of the towers
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Oblique view
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View of the truss span
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Welded connections
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Diagonal trusses cutting into the railing

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Mystery Bridge 46: The Disappearing Bridge in Nicollet County, Minnesota

Photo courtesy of MnDOT

Just recently, as I was looking for some information on some historic bridges for a book on one of the rivers in Minnesota, I happened to stumble across this bridge by chance. Located over the Minnesota River south of Fort Ridgely State Park, the only information gathered from an inventory of all bridges constructed in Minnesota revealed that the bridge was built in 1905, carried a township road, and was 259 feet long.  I bundled that bridge (known to locals as the Hinderman Bridge) in with my other bridge inquiries to MnDOT, only to receive this black and white picture from 1941. As you can see in the picture, the bridge was a two-span Pratt pony truss with pinned and eyebar connections.  According to information from MnDOT, with the construction of the MN Hwy. 4 Bridge to the northwest and a new bridgeat County Highway 13 in 1987, it was determined that the truss structure was rendered useless and was therefore abandoned, taken off the road system and most likely ended up in the back yard of a private farmstead.  Using Googlemap, it is revealed that the bridge no longer exists, as it was removed at a certain date, even though it is unknown when that took place, let alone why it happened to begin with.

The Minnesota River is laden with lots of information on bridges, both past and present, much of which have been documented for public availability at local museums, the state historical society and even online. Yet there are many questions that have yet to be answered with regards to this bridge. First and foremost, we have the issue of location. Many historic maps in the early 1900s had revealed that the bridge no longer existed with the exception of the canoe map provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, leading to the question of what type of service the road served before it was closed along with the bridge.  This was one of the findings that fellow pontist John Weeks III thought was odd, during his visit to the bridge in 2008. Yet the Hinderman Bridge does have some history behind it as Weeks discovered while researching about this bridge:

The bridge was named after Captain Hinderman and was once a popular ferry, connecting Ridgely Township in Nicollet County and the village of Home in Brown County. In 1905 the state appropriated $1,800 for a new crossing to replace the ferry, and the bridge was later built under the direction of Captain Hinderman and William LaFlamboy on the Nicollet side and Hans Moe from Sleepy Eye on the Brown side.  It is unknown where the steel was fabricated and who the bridge builder was, but it is likely that Hinderman and local residents may have ordered the structure from the bridge builder and it was shipped to the location to be assembled.  Information from a source with relation to the Hinderman family revealed that the bridge was washed out by flooding in 1951 but was later rebuilt at the exact location. But more concrete information came from the great-granddaughter of Captain Hinderman in 2012, who revealed that the bridge had been in service for 82 years before it became a liability for Brown County (which had own the bridge) because of a weight limit of three tons and was later closed to traffic in the fall of 1987.  More information about the bridge can be found through John Weeks’ website here.

This was all the information that was found about the Hinderman Bridge. All that is left of the bridge is wood pilings and the road approaching what is left of the bridge from both sides. A center pier in the middle of the Minnesota River, which revealed a two-span structure was knocked into the river by flooding in the 2000s. Yet it still does not answer the following questions:

1. Who provided the steel and was contracted to build the bridge?

2. When was the bridge removed and why?

3. When was Hinderman’s Ferry in service, and how long did the village of Home exist?

Any information about the bridge would be much appreciated, so that we can close the book on the story of this bridge that had once been an important crossing but became an unknown memory after 1987. The article and information about the bridge are available through bridgehunter.com, where you can place your comments in the section by clicking here. Yet, you can contact the Chronicles and John Weeks III using the contact details provided both in the Chronicles page here as well as here.

The author wishes to thank Peter Wilson at Minnesota DOT for providing some important information and photos of this bridge. 

Another Des Moines Historic Bridge slated for the dumpster?

Waterworks Park Bridge. Photo taken by John Marvig in August 2013

Waterworks Park Bridge targeted for replacement with a larger bridge. Plan not yet finalized.

As the fight has started to save the Green Bridge at 5th Avenue over the Raccoon River, the days of another historic bridge located upstream may be numbered. If rumors hold true, the Waterworks Park Bridge, located at the park bearing its name, is being scheduled for demolition and replacement with a wider and bigger bridge. As mentioned in the third part of the series on Des Moines’ bridges, the two-span Pratt pony truss was built in 1922 but was converted to a bike trail crossing in 1999 and has since been serving as one of the key points in the park as well as along the Grey Lake bike trail which runs along the Raccoon River in the southern part of Des Moines. It is unknown whether the truss spans used to serve as a vehicular bridge or if they were relocated from outside. But judging by the photos recently submitted by John Marvig (and can be viewed by clicking here), the bridge’s main spans as well as the approach spans appear to be in great condition. Should there be any concern regarding the bridge, then most likely with the steel piers for they were repaired and reinforced with additional steel to ensure that the structure stays in place inspite of the ice jams and flooding. Yet, most of these problems can be solved by replacing the piers with those that are sturdier, mainly a combination of concrete and steel.

If a bigger bridge is to take place of this truss bridge, then the City will be mistaken if they think that the structure requires minimal maintenance. There is no such thing as a zero-maintenance bridge unless a person wants to replace it every ten years at the expense of tax-payers’ dollars because of structural concerns that were neglected . For any bridge, maintenance is expected to assure the bridge’s long-lasting lifespan, and given the condition of the Waterworks Park Bridge, all it takes is some cosmetic and structural work and the truss bridge will last another 50-60 years. It is highly doubtful that a modern structure, as proposed by the City, can do that, let alone make the park look nicer than it is right now.

While work on saving the Green Bridge is already in full gear, it will not be long until another movement to save this bridge gets going. So stay tuned for the developments.

 

Mystery Bridge 19: The Holliwell Truss Bridge

Photo taken in December 2007
Holliwell Covered Bridge (as reference)
Built in 1880

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s note: This is a follow-up on yesterday’s article about the Bridges of Madison County, Iowa. For more information, please click here.

There are many features that make visiting the Holliwell Bridge, located over the Middle River on the road bearing its name, worth visiting. One has the historic features, as mentioned in the article on the bridges of Madison County, being a covered bridge built in a unique fashion that one will rarely see by a local bridge builder who left a mark in the county. It is located in the wooded valley, making it a grand location for fishing and picnicking. And as a bonus, located to the east of the historic covered bridge is yet another historic structure.
Comprising of a pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge, this structure was relocated to the site from an unknown location many years ago, and nobody knows where it originated from and how it got there. It is clear that when it was relocated to its present site, it was erected on a concrete floor and remained there as a marker with no name and no history. Judging by the way the bridge was assembled that it was built in the 1880s or 1890s, long before truss bridges were standardized to feature riveted connections.

Madison County had built hundreds of truss bridges in addition to the covered bridges that makes it the most populous and famous in the state of Iowa, still to this day. Half of the truss bridges that were constructed between the 1880s and the 1940s were pony truss bridges.

However, there may be a lead to this bridge that is in connection with the film “The Bridges of Madison County,” starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Street, based on the book by Robert J. Waller.  In the scene where Robert Kincaid (the photographer played by Eastwood) meets Francesca Johnson (the housewife played by Streep) for the first time, they both took a trip to the Roseman Bridge. On the way there, they crossed a pony truss bridge resembling the similarities of the one located at Holliwell Bridge.  While it may be a bit naive to assume this because many pony truss bridges like the one at the site have been decimated due to a lack of information on their history and significance to the communities they served, it is possible that the pony truss used in the film was saved from destruction and was relocated to the present site. A clip of the scene in the 11th minute will show you how Kincaid and Johnson crossed the bridge enroute to the bridge, and eventually into four days of life-altering romance that lasted a lifetime. Yet comparing that scene with the photo, it may be that the one in the clip is a bit shorter than the picture.

One can make many assumptions as to how the truss bridge at the Holliwell Covered Bridge site managed to be preserved in a way that it is giving Madison County a pristine reputation towards preserving historic bridges, or one can find out more about how the bridge’s history and replace the theories with facts and stories about it. If you know more about this bridge that will help solve this intriguing mystery, please leave your comments at the end of the article or contact the author at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles helps solve mysteries of historic bridges like this one in order to preserve them for future generations to come.