BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 61

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This week’s Pic of the Week is in connection with a “Never say never” moment regarding a historic bridge that is hard to get to, unless you fight through weeds, rotten wood and potholes on abandoned roads to get it what you want.

This was one of them. The Filzwerk Truss Bridge is located on the south end of Hof at the junction of Ascher Strasse and Hofer Strasse. Like the Alsenberg Truss Bridge seen in another Pic of the Week article (see here), the bridge is a Pratt through truss with welded connections, approximately 35 meters long and spanning the same river- the Saale. Both were built between 1900 and 1920, but we don’t know much about the two…..

Or do we?

This bridge is located on the south side of the Filzwerk factory, a company that produced textile products until its closure a couple decades ago. It was since that time, half of the company was converted into a cultural events center, which garners tens of thousands of visitors to Hof every year. The other half is still in operation but has seen better days with empty buildings and lots, all of which are fenced off to the public.

Even when walking to the bridge from the north side, outside the fenced area and through the weeds and thorns that are waist high, you will be confronted by security guards and told to leave for trespassers pose a security threat in their eyes.

On the south side, however, you can access the bridge at the junction of the aforementioned streets. Even though the intersection is officially a T, it used to be a cross-road junction with the road leading to the factory and the truss bridge. The road is no longer passable by car as it is chained off. Yet you can go by foot as you cross three steel beam bridges- each with a length of 10-15 meters- before turning right and going directly onto the through truss span! You will be greeted with trapezoidal portal and strut bracings as you go across. Yet the north portal side has been fenced off by the factory to keep trespassers from entering the complex on the bridge end. The best photo shots can be found at either the oblique or portal views as a side view may be impossible to get unless it’s in the winter time.

Unlike the Alsenberg Truss Bridge, the Filzwerk Bridge appears to be in a lot better shape with its wooden decking intact, and there is a potential to reuse it in the future, but at a different location. However little is known about the bridge’s history nor are there any concrete plans at the present time for the bridge, for three other structures in and around Hof are either being replaced or rehabilitated. Therefore the bridge will most likely sit in place for long time until there is potential interest for the structure.

And it is probably a good thing too. The bridge is one of those potential hideouts kids can use, as long as they are careful and the bridge is not harmed in anyway.

 

Do you know more about this bridge (or even the Alsenberg Truss Bridge), send us a comment and other information using the contact details by clicking here.

 

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Call to Action to Save the Route 66 Gasconade Bridge

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Photo courtesy of James Baughn

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HAZELGREEN, MISSOURI- The days of the Gasconade River Bridge, which used to carry US Hwy. 66 near Hezelgreen may be numbered as it faces demolition scheduled for Spring of 2020 unless a new owner can be found.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) has placed the 95-year old bridge under a 30-day public review and comment period which is halfway through its time and is scheduled to be completed by July 5th.  The historic bridge was built in 1924 by MODOT and consists of (from west to east) one 8-panel Warren pony truss with alternating verticals, two 8-panel Parker through trusses and one 6-panel Pratt through truss, all totaling a length of 526 feet. The structure is elgible for the National Register of Historic Places because of its design that was in connection with the standardized bridge movement that started in 1910. It is also in connection with Route 66 and its history, as the Highway, connecting Chicago with Los Angeles via Tulsa and Santa Fe was in operation from 1926 until the last segment of the highway was decommissioned in 1979. Interstate 40 had suplanted the stretch of highway where the bridge is located a years earlier.

Currently, the bridge is closed to traffic and a replacement bridge is being built alongside the historic structure, which will carry a frontage road running alongside the interstate once it’s completed next year. The Gasconade Bridge used to carry that road before its closure in 2015.

Attempts to find an owner for the new bridge and restore the structure to its original glory have not been successful due to differences in planning and realization combined with lack of funding for purchase and restoration. Yet the Gasconade Bridge Facebook (click here) has garnered support from over 1200 Followers and many more who are not on the social media scene. There have been rallies and fundraisers lately and a page where you can donate to save the bridge (click here).

Still the clock is ticking and with the resources and options running out, “only a public outcry expressing significant concern and a desire to save the bridge from demolition might help,” according to a statement on the Gasconade Facebook Page. If you would like to help in convincing government officials to save the bridge, here are the contact details you Need to know before you address your support for the bridge:

E-Mail: STIPcomments@modot.mo.gov

Phone: 1-888-275-6636

Mail: Transportation Planning, Program Comments, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO. 65102.

Identify the Gasconade River Bridge in Laclede County, MO. Give them your name and where you live and most importantly, why this bridge is important and is worth saving. It must be personal; all letters copied and pasted will not be acceptable.

To provide you with an incentive to convince MODOT, here’s an interview I did with Rich Dinkela about the bridge a few years ago. Click here to view.  A pair of YouTube videos of the bridge can be found below:

If you have any suggestions to help save the bridge or are interested in buying it, please contact the Group on their Facebook page. A link to their website you will find here.

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 108: The Dale Bend Bridge in Arkansas

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Transportation

This 108th mystery bridge provides us with what is left of a historic bridge that should never have been destroyed. As of 30 January, 2019, this bridge is no more. During the night, a truck driver was using his GPS device which took him to this bridge: The Dale Bend Bridge.

What do we know about this bridge?

It spanned the Petit Jean River on the same road bearing the bridge’s name, approximately 12 miles north of the nearest town of Ola, in Yell County, Arkansas. The bridge was a pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings and V-laced vertical beams. According to the records, the 120-foot long structure was built in 1930 by the Vincennes Bridge Company in Indiana. Yet the date of 1930 seems to be a common number used to describe the bridge date, when in all reality, the structure is much older. Research has proven that pin-connected trusses, characterized by its beams being fastened by bolts, were phased out in favor of riveted or even welded truss bridges by 1915, for reasons that all state transportation departments created standardized truss designs, which were supposed to be sturdier and better able to carry increasing traffic in numbers, size and volumes. That means, truss designs with pinned connections were considered obsolete for reasons that they would no longer able to fulfilled the aforementioned standards. Yet during the 1930s, existing pinned connected truss bridges that used to serve main highways but still had some use left were relocated to secondary roads which were less traveled. There, they would serve a “second” life until they were considered obsolete and were either replaced or converted into recreational trails.

The Vincennes Bridge Company existed from 1898 until its reorganization in 1932, when the name was changed to Vincennes Steel. It continued to operate until it was folded into the Wabash Steel Corporation in 2006. The plaque on the bridge’s endpost had the following inscription: Built by the Vicennes Bridge Company, Vicennes, Ind.

Ibid.

That means between 1898 and 1915, the Dale Bend Bridge was built, originally. The question is where? And when was this truss bridge relocated to its current spot?

While we won’t know now because of the destruction of the bridge, it would be a benefit to provide a closure to the fallen structure so that a memorial plaque is constructed at the site where a new bridge will soon be built.

Photo by Trisha Holt/ Galla Rock Fire Department

Note: The Dale Bend Bridge collapsed on the night of 30 January, 2019 at around 8:00pm. A truck driver drove his semi-truck across the bridge until the trailer was lodged into the truss span itself and the structure collapsed completely. He escaped unhurt but was later cited for reckless driving and destruction of property. Both the truck and the bridge were considered a total loss. The bridge had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for eight years prior to the tragedy.

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 107: The Buckatunna Truss Bridge

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Historic Bridge Collapsed after over a half of century of abandonment

MOBILE, ALABAMA/ BUCKATUNNA, MISSISSIPPI-  A historic bridge that was a local piece of history in a small town in Mississippi is no more. The Buckatunna Truss Bridge, located over Buckatunna Creek on Millry Road collapsed last week on the 16th of January after having sat abandoned for over a half century. The collapse was a result of high water undermining the lally columns, one pair of which was leaning against the trees along the shoreline. Furthermore, the bridge had been without a decking system and lower chord for many years. This is vital to ensure the truss structure is intact and together. No one was around when the collapse happened.

The Buckatunna Truss Bridge was a three-panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings, supported by subdivided heel supports. The overhead strut bracings were beam-shaped. According to history papers, the bridge was built in 1905, although it is unknown who built the structure, let alone if there had been a structure that existed before the truss bridge. Records indicated that the bridge was replaced on a different alignment in 1957 and had sat abandoned in the decades prior to its downfall. Passers-by had stopped to photograph the bridge because of its natural surroundings, which was left untouched, according to newspaper sources.

Plans are to remove the collapsed span once the floodwaters recede, however, to provide a proper closure, we need to know more about the bridge in terms of its date of construction and its life in a rural Mississippi setting. If you know more about it, leave a comment in the Chronciles page and tell us about the bridge’s story from your perspective.  We’ll be happy to read more about it. A map is enclosed below to show its location.

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Gasconade Bridge Relisted for Sale: Any Takers?

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MoDOT has Route 66 Crossing  for sale after failed attempt to buy the bridge. Deadline is March 15, 2019. Bridge will be demolished if no one claims it.

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HAZELGREEN/ JEFFERSON CITY/ ST. LOUIS- One month after Workin Bridges withdrew from the Gasconade River Bridge project, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is looking for a new owner of the bridge that used to serve Route 66. Between now and March 15, 2019, you have an opportunity to claim this prized work- a four-span truss bridge featuring two Parker through trusses, a Pratt through truss and a Warren pony truss span, totaling 525 feet. According to the information on the MoDOT Bridge Marketing Page:

“The Gasconade River Bridge was constructed under State Highway Department project 14-38. The contract for the project was awarded on December 30, 1922 to the Riley & Bailey Construction Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Route 14 was being developed as a diagonal highway connecting St. Louis and southwest Missouri. The highway, designated under the Centennial Road Law passed in 1921, was funded by State Road Bonds, and connected the county seats and major towns between St. Louis and Joplin. In 1926, Route 14 was designated U. S. Highway 66.”

In addition, the bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under criteria A and C for its significance in transportation and engineering, according to the website.

Parties interested in preserving the structure must have a commitment and a plan as to how to go forward with saving the bridge, as the structure has been closed to all traffic since December 2014 because of structural concerns. This includes restoring the bridge for reuse as a recreational crossing, even in its current place. Proposals are being accepted between now and 15 March, 2019 from one or more parties.  In a statement made by MoDOT:

“Due to liability issues and limited funds, we will have to remove the bridge unless an outside entity steps forward to take ownership of and maintain the bridge,” said MoDOT Central District Engineer David Silvester. “We know that’s not what folks want to hear, but it’s the reality of the situation. We are hopeful some entity will step forward with a proposal to preserve the existing structure.”

This setback will not affect the plans for building a new bridge on new alignment adjacent to the existing structure. Bids for building the new bridge will be opened in April, and the project is scheduled to be awarded to a contractor in May. Construction is set to start in July, and MoDOT is expecting to have traffic on the new bridge by the fall of 2019.

Anyone interested in taking ownership of the old bridge can contact Karen Daniels, Senior Historic Preservation Specialist, at 573-526-7346 or Karen.Daniels@modot.mo.gov.

Information available here: http://www.modot.org/freebridges/Gasconade_River.htm

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 88: The Bridges of Davis City, Iowa

Photo provided by Hank Zalatel

The next mystery bridge actually features two structures located only 500-600 feet from each other. One of them was a railroad bridge, the other was a wagon bridge of the bygone era that has now been supplanted by the current structure. Both are located over the Grand River in the small town of Davis City in Decatur County, Iowa. The difference between the two in terms of appearance are the trusses originally built and rebuilt at different times. With the wagon bridge, there were two different truss spans, each one having been built by a different bridge builder. Each crossing had different truss designs and as they were both overhead truss bridges, they had different portal bracings. While both of these bridges are long gone and the railroad crossing has been removed since the early 1980s, a lot of questions about the structures remain open, especially as to the bridges’ dimensions, the builders and the dates of construction, although one needs to be clear that Davis City was established in 1854 with the railroad coming to town in 1879, the time of the arrival of the Chicago-Burlington and Quincy Railroad (known here as the Quincy Line), according to information from local historical resources. Using that date as our starting point, let’s take a look at the profile of each crossing, whose mysteries need to be solved

 

The 1911 Wagon Bridge. Photo courtesy of the Decatur County Historical Society.

Wagon Bridge:

 

Spanning the Grand River at present-day North Bridge Street, US Hwy. 69 and River Bank Park, this bridge used to carry the Jefferson  Highway, the first north-south intercontinental highway that was established in 1915, connecting Winnepeg with New Orleans with stops in Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, Memphis and Vicksburg. The current structure was built in 2011, replacing a concrete slab bridge that had existed since 1931. While the 1931 structure was considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places according to research by the late James Hippen and officials at Iowa DOT, its predecessor would surely have been listed had it remained standing. According to local historical resources, including the county historical society and town records, the two-truss span was built in 1911, yet although the spans featured pin-connected Pratt trusses, the portal bracings indicated that they were built by two different bridge builders. One span features a 3-rhombus Howe lattice portal bracing with 45° angled heels, a protocol that had existed since the late 1890s. The older truss had Town lattice portals with heel bracings, BUT with ornamental features on each of the top chord portal entrances plus a builder’s plaque, located on the top of the portal.  Two theories come to mind when looking at this structure: 1. The older truss was one of the original ones of a 2-3 span crossing, and it was subsequentially replaced by the newer truss to replace one of the spans that collapsed or was destroyed in a flood. 2. There was a covered bridge or even an iron structure that had existed prior to 1911 and the town petitioned the county to build a new bridge. The spans came from two different places and replaced the original one built when the town was founded. In order to prove one or the other, one needs to find out when the first crossing was built and by whom. Then we need to find out the events that led to the replacement of one or both spans of the bridge, when the replacement span was built and which bridge builder was responsible. Should the two different spans were put together in 1911 to replace the earlier spans, where did the bridges originate from? And lastly, why did the bridge last for such a short time (only 20 years) and when the concrete bridge was built, what happened to the truss spans? Were they scrapped or relocated? Only by answering these questions will we be sure about the short history of this crossing.

The Quincy Line Whipple truss bridge. Photo courtesy of the Decatur County Historical Society.

Quincy Railroad Bridge:

Located 500-600 east of Wagon Bridge at the site of Mill and Maple Streets, the Quincy Railroad Bridge featured two different truss bridges yet they were single span crossings with trestle approaches. The first crossing was a Whipple through truss bridge with pinned connections and Town Lattice portal bracings. The length of the truss span was between 160 and 180 feet long, about three quarters as long as the length of neighboring Wagon Bridge, yet with the trestle approaches, the total length was between 400 and 450 feet. The bridge was built in 1879 at the time of the railroad coming through Davis City, even though there is no information regarding the bridge builder. The rail line was supposed to connect Leon with Mount Ayr and points to the southwestern part of Iowa. The bridge existed until about the time of the replacement of the Wagon Bridge in 1911 although when exactly this happened is unclear. It is known that the replacement bridge was a Pratt through truss bridge with V-laced portal and strut bracings and riveted connections. The length of the main span appeared to be between 130 and 150 feet with the total length being 300 feet.  Riveted truss bridges were being introduced around 1910 for both railroad and highway crossings because of their sturdiness. Therefore it is logical that the Quincy Line needed a stronger crossing to accomodate the needs of the customers along the way. The question is whether the Whipple truss bridge was replaced at the same time as the Wagon Bridge. If so was it because of a natural disaster that affected Davis City or was it circumstantial? If not, when was the railroad bridge replaced? Judging by the postcards in the geneology page (click on the names of the bridges for more information), the Whipple truss bridge existed well beyond 1905 with the last photo having been taken in 1907. The question is when was it replaced and by whom? While the Quincy became part of the Burlington Northern (and later the BNSF) Consortium, the line through Davis City was abandoned sometime during the 1980s, and the bridge was subsequentially removed. All that is left is a small section of what is used to be a rail line to the north of the town.

 

Raymond and Campbell- Council Bluffs, Iowa

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Moscow Mills Bridge Photo taken by James Baughn in 2008

 

Another bridge builder worth mentioning and listing in the Bridge Builder’s Directory is a company based in Council Bluffs, Iowa named Raymond and Campbell. While only one bridge example remains which is credited to the name of the firm, multiple newspaper sources claimed that dozens of bridges were built  by this company during the last two decades of the 19th century, with more claimed to have been built by the company’s primary agent, George C. Wise, who later established his own business with his brothers. This included the bridges in Jackson County, Minnesota, one of the bridge builders’ primary customers. According to research done by the author for a bridge book on this topic, from 1883 until 1907, between 10 and 17 bridges were credited to the company’s name and to that of George C. Wise. This includes all but four crossings along the West Branch of the Des Moines river as well as those along the Little Sioux River. By 1955, all of them were replaced with current structures.

Yet the question we still have is what other counties and states did Raymond and Campbell do business with and how many bridges were built?  Before opening the question for forum and adding some examples to this article, let’s have a look at the history of the company and its primary agent, George C. Wise:

Little has been written about the company partly because there are only a few records of its existence.  However, the company was unique for the founders originated from the northern third of North America and migrated to Iowa to make their living there. E.W. Raymond (1842-?) originated from Lockport, NY and made his way down through Illinois, before settling in Council Bluffs in 1868. Charles Edward Henry Campbell (1850-1902) was a Canadian from Prince Edward Island, who immigrated to the US in 1867, eventually settling down in Omaha, located across the Missouri River from Council Bluffs. Together, the gentlemen founded the bridge building company in September 1874. It is unknown how long the company stayed in business, except the fact that Raymond and Campbell, during the 1880s, had employed about 50 workers and made over $200,000 worth of business.[1]  Apart from Mr. Wise, Raymond and Campbell did have an agent for a short time, who would later reach his fame in bridge building through constructing magnificent bridges and patenting his own truss bridge design. That gentleman was John Alexander Low Waddell, and much of his work still exists today. (Click on this link to see his profile)

As for the company’s primary agent,  George C. Wise, Raymond and Campbell hired him in 1875 as an agent for the upper Midwest. Born in Huntingdon County, PA in 1851, Mr. Wise served in the Army for five years, was involved in many military conflicts with Native Americans in Nebraska and Wyoming, as well as serving as an escort for the peace commissioners in brokering a truce with Sitting Bull and his Northern Sioux tribe in the Black Hills in July and August of 1875. Shortly after the peace agreement was signed, he was honourably discharged from the Army and emigrated to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he worked for Raymond and Campbell. According to the Pottawattamie County history books, Mr. Wise worked there until he established his own bridge building accounts and worked independently in 1883. He oversaw the construction of crossings in Minnesota and other places and even had his brothers join the business, some of whom continued the business after he retired from the business in 1907. George spent the rest of his life involved in public affairs in Council Bluffs until his death in 1916.

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Moscow Mills Bridge. Photo taken by James Baughn in 2016

The only known bridge that is still standing today is the Moscow Mills Bridge. Built by Raymond and Campbell in 1885, this Pratt through truss bridge with a three-layered combination of Town Lattice and X-frame portal bracings and pinned connections has a length of 214 feet (the main span is 177 feet). Closed for over a decade, the bridge is sitting idle with overgrowth covering the portal bracings and part of the top chord. Yet plans are in the making to convert this bridge into a recreational crossing in the future, as county officials would like to utilize the bridge as part of a city park. Before doing that though, the bridge will need to be rehabilitated and a new deck. This bridge is located over the Cuivre River on the east end of Moscow Mills in Lincoln County, Missouri.

 

Other examples of bridges built by Raymond and Campbell but no longer exist include the following (this is an ongoing list as more examples will be added here.)

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North Bridge in Jackson, MN  Photo courtesy of the Jackson County Historical Society

State Street (a.k.a. North) Bridge in Jackson, MN:  Spanning the West Fork Des Moines River at State Street and Ashley Park, this bridge has had its own history which could easily be written into a booklet and sold at the County Historical Society. The bridge was unique because it was the first structure built over the river in Jackson. It was rebuilt seven times over the course of 150 years, counting the current structure. Three of which were credited to Raymond and Campbell and especially to George C. Wise, who was the county’s primary provider of bridges. The first structure was built during the winter of 1866/67,  using oak pile and hewn wood courtesy of Welch Ashley. It lasted only a couple months as it was destroyed in an ice jam. It was rebuilt later that year and lasted 12 years until a contract was awarded to Raymond and Campbell to build a new structure in 1879. The iron structure measured 194 feet and had a width of 22 feet. It survived less than two years as flooding and an ice jam took out the structure in March 1881. It was one of several bridges along the river that was destroyed that spring. The county contacted Wise again for a fourth structure, which was built later that summer. The structure only lasted 15 years and Wise was asked to build a stronger structure in 1896, which upon its completion, featured a Pratt through truss with M-frame portal bracings and pinned connections. The bridge was a permanent fix, providing access to the east and north of Jackson for 58 years. The bridge used to carry two primary highways (US 71 and 16) until it was realigned through a new crossing at the junction of Springfield Parkway and Third Street (near the now demolished St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church) in 1924. That bridge eventually was relocated to the site of the last Wise structure in 1955, after city officials revealed that the bridge was no longer able to carry traffic because of structural issues. The North Bridge was the site of many accidents and stories involving floods and ice jams, yet inspite of its checkered history, it was only one of a few rare stories of bridges built either by Raymond and Campbell, George C. Wise or both. This one clearly belongs to the third category, especially as Wise continued to have Jackson County as its primary customer until his retirement in 1907.

 

 

 

Source page:

[1] Waddell, Dr. John Alexander Low and John Lyle Harrington. “The Principal Professional Papers of Dr. J.A.L. Waddell” unpublished manscript. Downloaded from Google Books Online 10 November, 2008; Keatley, John H. “The History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa.” Council Bluffs, IA, 1883, p. 50  Downloaded from Google Books Online 10 November, 2008. Stewart, James: E-mail correspondence, 10 November, 2008,  Roenfeld, Ryan of the Pottawattamie County Historical Society: E-mail correspondence 29 October, 2008.

[2] Roenfeld, Ryan of the Pottawattamie County Historical Society: E-mail correspondence 29 October, 2008; Stewart, James: E-mail correspondence, 10 November, 2008; George C. Wise obituary Pottawattamie County Genealogy. Obtained on 3 November, 2008.

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