BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 91

PW

Looks can be deceiving in this week’s Pic of the Week. This photo was taken in August 2011 and showed a car that wanted to cross this historic through truss bridge, only to be stopped by a Road Closed sign and a bunch of weeds. A tunnel view shot with some colorful reactions from the driver, which starts with …………

You finish the sentence.  😉

About the bridge itself, the Pratt through truss structure spanned the East Branch of the Des Moines River just off US Hwy. 169 north of the Humboldt-Kossuth County line. It was built in 1895 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was one of only a handful of bridges left in the state of Iowa that was built directly by Zenas King. His son George E. King established his bridge building company in Des Moines and was responsible for dozens more, many of them are still standing today.  Closed in 2010, the structure was removed during the Winter 2016/17.  More information and photos of the bridge can be found here.

 

BHC 10 years

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 85

PW

The 85th Pic of the Week takes us to a lone relict of history in the State of Iowa. The Kirby-Flynn Bridge is the only bridge of its kind that is left in Palo Alto County in north central Iowa. The six-panel Pratt through truss bridge features A-framed portal bracings and pinned connections. The truss span itself is 121 feet with the total length being 161 feet. The bridge was built in 1883 but was relocated here in 1919 as part of the project to dredge and rechannel the West Branch Des Moines River. At that time, as many as 20 bridges had spanned the river and its snake-like flow. As flat as the county was, vast areas at and within a 10 mile width of the river had been prone to flooding. This bridge was one of an additional 14 spans that were needed to span the new channel, whereas an undisclosed number of original bridges- namely wooden and iron crossings were either replaced or removed.

When I first visited the bridge in 1998, the truss span was in very bad shaped with missing and/or broken wooden decking, damages to the stringers and railings and lots of rust. My original prediction had been that the structure would eventually have been removed due to damage or neglect. In fact, a fire caused by fireworks in 2006 surely would have sealed the bridge’s fate.

However, fast forward to 2010 and one can see that Kirby Flynn is still standing. The bridge was given a thorough make-over, which included new decking, new steel columns for the endposts, new painting and a clearance bar to ensure that no trucks would cross. The project lasted a year, and the bridge was reopened in April 2010.

This photo was taken during my visit in August 2010. I was revisiting some of the bridges I had photographed 12 years earlier and was taken aback at the work that was done at this bridge. The photo was taken in the late afternoon with no cloud in the sky. This scene was symbolic for two reasons: 1. A movement towards preserving and restoring many historic bridges was in full swing, as a response to the increase in the demolition of bridges that were unwanted in the name of progress yet there were louder responses from those wanting to save them for future generations. While the movement to save historic bridges started by Eric Delony and company in the 1970s, it didn’t really gain as much momentum until the early 2000s, thanks to the rise of information technology, especially the internet but also later social media. With that came the exchange of information and preservation techniques that made restoring bridges easier to do.

This brings us to number 2. The Kirby Flynn as a poster boy of what can be done if there are enough expertise and interest in saving it. One could cleanse the county of all the bridges and have bland pieces of concrete in their places. Yet many in the county wanted this bridge because of its history. It’s an artefact that is part of the county’s history and one where a field trip with some stories behind the bridge’s history, let alone the restoration is worth it.

Even in my visit to this bridge, the structure shone brighter than it did during my visit in 1998 which made it and the photo taken worth it. Sometimes a quick stop off the highway for the purpose of a photo opp. will bring you surprises you would least expect it.

And like the visit to the bridge, the surprises you encounter and the education behind your discoveries and observations are well worth it.

Learn more about this bridge by clicking here: http://bridgehunter.com/ia/palo-alto/brushy-bayou/

 

BHC 10 years

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 61

img_20190704_211848825

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.

 

bhc est 2010a

 

Call to Action to Save the Route 66 Gasconade Bridge

312737-l
Photo courtesy of James Baughn

bhc newsflyer new

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.

 

bhc-logo-newest1

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.

 

bhc-logo-newest1

 

Mystery Bridge Nr. 107: The Buckatunna Truss Bridge

bhc newsflyer new

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.

bhc-logo-newest1

Gasconade Bridge Relisted for Sale: Any Takers?

Gasconade1

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.

bhc newsflyer new

 

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

bhc-logo-newest1