Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Rehabilitation Project Being Launched

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Photo taken by James Baughn

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HAZELGREEN, MO-  The North Skunk River Greenbelt Association (NSRGA)/ Workin’ Bridges has been given the green light by the Missouri Department of Transportation(MoDOT) for a conceptual agreement to begin the fundraising efforts to actually restore the Gasconade River Bridge at Hazelgreen, Missouri. A new by-pass bridge has been designed and will be constructed in 2018 which left the historic bridge at risk for demolition. The Rte 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians have lead the effort for preservation and MoDOT agreed to let the efforts begin to find the funding required. Let me be clear, the historic bridge is still at risk for demolition unless sufficient funding for restoration can be acquired in the next fourteen months.

The four spans of the Gasconade River Bridge include two Parker Trusses, one Pratt truss and a Warren Pony Truss, built in 1923 and designed by MoDOT engineers. A current engineering estimate by MoDOT estimated repair work at over $3 million dollars. The Workin’ Bridges qualified engineers and craftsmen will assess the bridge for possible phased options and costs that may differ from MoDOTs assessment. These real numbers, captured as Scope of Work and Estimates are required so that informed decisions can be made, for potential grants. Work with MoDOT on a risk management plan for their new bridge and the Interstate 44 bridge is being negotiated. We have proposed a Trust Account that would be in place for a catastrophic event, as well as utilizing the interest for future biannual inspections and site and security.

Developers are also being sought for this property and any design ideas are welcome. Route 66 has always been a mecca for travelers worldwide and with this bridge repaired the potential for crossing on special event days may still be an option as engineering will return the bridge to its former function. For more information on how the bridge was saved and how we are moving forward together check out Workin’ Bridges: Route 66 Bridge Rehab on Facebook

Our goal is to raise $10,000 in funds. Those funds are for engineering and planning. Jacqueline (Jax) Welborn has been designated the Project Manager. She will undertake the outreach for donors to help with the immediate engineering and planning needs for the bridge. Contact Jax at rte66bridgerehab@gmail.com or call her at 573-528-1292.

Then our efforts will turn to finding the pledges, grants and in-kind donations necessary to reach our $3.5 million dollar goal by December 31, 2018. That money will go to repairing the piers and abutments that hold the spans up, the stringer and roadway replacement, floor beam repair. The deck, or at least a portion of the deck will be removed by MoDOT using their demolition funds for that purpose. The lead paint abatement solution is still to be determined.

Those efforts are currently underway. NSRGA has begun the process to become a legitimate nonprofit corporation in Missouri, then the bank accounts will be procured. In the meantime you can still donate at Workin’ Bridges: Route 66 Bridge Rehab on Facebook. Your donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Other questions, please contact Julie Bowers at jbowerz1@gmail.com or 641-260-1262. Check out this project and others on Facebook at Workin’ Bridges, www.workinbridges.org and become a Save Our Bridge (SOB) action figure today.

This is a press released by Workin Bridges, who granted permission for reposting. A detailed interview about the Gasconade Bridge was done with the Chronicles and can be found here.

 

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Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Rehabilitation Project Being Launched

312736-L
Photo taken by James Baughn

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HAZELGREEN, MO-  The North Skunk River Greenbelt Association (NSRGA)/ Workin’ Bridges has been given the green light by the Missouri Department of Transportation(MoDOT) for a conceptual agreement to begin the fundraising efforts to actually restore the Gasconade River Bridge at Hazelgreen, Missouri. A new by-pass bridge has been designed and will be constructed in 2018 which left the historic bridge at risk for demolition. The Rte 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians have lead the effort for preservation and MoDOT agreed to let the efforts begin to find the funding required. Let me be clear, the historic bridge is still at risk for demolition unless sufficient funding for restoration can be acquired in the next fourteen months.

The four spans of the Gasconade River Bridge include two Parker Trusses, one Pratt truss and a Warren Pony Truss, built in 1923 and designed by MoDOT engineers. A current engineering estimate by MoDOT estimated repair work at over $3 million dollars. The Workin’ Bridges qualified engineers and craftsmen will assess the bridge for possible phased options and costs that may differ from MoDOTs assessment. These real numbers, captured as Scope of Work and Estimates are required so that informed decisions can be made, for potential grants. Work with MoDOT on a risk management plan for their new bridge and the Interstate 44 bridge is being negotiated. We have proposed a Trust Account that would be in place for a catastrophic event, as well as utilizing the interest for future biannual inspections and site and security.

Developers are also being sought for this property and any design ideas are welcome. Route 66 has always been a mecca for travelers worldwide and with this bridge repaired the potential for crossing on special event days may still be an option as engineering will return the bridge to its former function. For more information on how the bridge was saved and how we are moving forward together check out Workin’ Bridges: Route 66 Bridge Rehab on Facebook

Our goal is to raise $10,000 in funds. Those funds are for engineering and planning. Jacqueline (Jax) Welborn has been designated the Project Manager. She will undertake the outreach for donors to help with the immediate engineering and planning needs for the bridge. Contact Jax at rte66bridgerehab@gmail.com or call her at 573-528-1292.

Then our efforts will turn to finding the pledges, grants and in-kind donations necessary to reach our $3.5 million dollar goal by December 31, 2018. That money will go to repairing the piers and abutments that hold the spans up, the stringer and roadway replacement, floor beam repair. The deck, or at least a portion of the deck will be removed by MoDOT using their demolition funds for that purpose. The lead paint abatement solution is still to be determined.

Those efforts are currently underway. NSRGA has begun the process to become a legitimate nonprofit corporation in Missouri, then the bank accounts will be procured. In the meantime you can still donate at Workin’ Bridges: Route 66 Bridge Rehab on Facebook. Your donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Other questions, please contact Julie Bowers at jbowerz1@gmail.com or 641-260-1262. Check out this project and others on Facebook at Workin’ Bridges, www.workinbridges.org and become a Save Our Bridge (SOB) action figure today.

This is a press released by Workin Bridges, who granted permission for reposting. A detailed interview about the Gasconade Bridge was done with the Chronicles and can be found here.

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 68: The Pedestrian Bridge at Schkopau

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In connection with the series on Saxony-Anhalt through sister column, The Flensburg Files, we have another mystery bridge to solve. This one is between Grosskorbetha (where the railroad overpass is located) and the city of Halle, in the town of Schkopau. Located along the Saale River north of Merseburg, the town has 10,900 inhabitants, located along the Saale River, and has a castle dating back to 1177. It is sandwiched between the natural wildlife refuge of the Saale and Elster Rivers to the north and the chemical district of Leuna to the south, both of which are easily accessible by rail line and light rail between Halle and Leipzig via Bad Durremberg.  Before the viaduct north of town was completed in 2014 to accomodate ICE-trains between Erfurt and Leipzig/Halle, there were only two rather unknown bridges in Schkopau: the railroad bridge and this overpass.

The overpass spans the rail line which connects Halle and Naumburg via Merseburg and Grosskorbetha and features a 10-panel pony truss bridge with riveted connections and a curved connection between the end post and the top chord. Judging by its appearance, with little rust as it has, the bridge appears to originate from the East German period, having been built after the close of World War II by the Soviets. What is interesting is the fact that the approachs feature inclined concrete arches that appear older than the truss span. Furthermore, even though the span accommodates pedestrians, it only crosses one set of tracks and not both. It only provides access from the west side of the track to the platform which separates the two tracks. According to Googlemap, the rail line splits the town into two. This leads to speculation that there once was a bridge or two bridges that crossed the entire track, but one of them was removed.

If that is the case, then when, and what did the bridge look like before it happened? Any information on the bridge’s history would be useful. You know what to do there, right?

Happy bridgehunting! 🙂

Test yourself on your knowledge of Saxony-Anhalt by clicking here to try out the Guessing Quiz. Answers will come very soon. 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 57: Havenga Bridge in South Africa

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Havenga Bridge over the Orange River. Photo taken by Ronel Le Roux Cilliers, used with permission

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.

Close-up of the portals of the outer truss spans
Close-up of the portals of the outer truss spans

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:

Upper Paris Bridge in Linn County, Iowa. Photo taken in August 2011

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.

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Newsflyer: 9 December, 2013

Clark’s Mill Bridge in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken in August 2010

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.

Answers to the Park Complex Questions

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Photo taken in August 2011

After a brief absence due to other column items to cover and to allow people to be curious about the park, here are the answers to the Quiz provided in a post a couple weeks ago on the FW Kent Park in Tiffin (west of Iowa City) and the rooftop truss bridge. Before mentioning about the bridges and F.W. Kent Park in the quiz, some interesting facts you need to know include the fact that the park was named after two well-known people. The first was Frederick Kent, a photographer who took pictures of life on and off the campus of the University of Iowa, located in Iowa City, for over 4 decades, including his role as the college’s professional photographer between 1915 and his retirement in 1962. He was an avid birdwatcher and published a book on this topic in 1975. Plus he was a walking encyclopedia on Johnson County, which earned him many local and state accolades. He died in 1984 at the age of 90.  The other person was Ron Dunlap, who was a member of the Johnson County Conservation Board from 1970 until his unexpected death in 2010, and spearheaded efforts to restore the bridge brought into FW Kent Park during the 1980s and 90s, with the last bridge being imported in 2003. The Dunlap trail, which crosses all seven restored historic bridges, was named in his honor.

Keeping these facts in mind, here are the answers to the bridge quiz, however, there are many questions that are left open which will be answered through interviews with people who worked with these two gentlemen and posted later in the Chronicles. But in the meantime, here are some facts that will make you curious to know more about the park and the bridges….. 🙂

1. The FW Kent Park is younger than the Historic Bridge Park near Kalmazoo, Michigan. True or False? 

False. The FW Kent Park has been in existence since the 1960s with the name being carried since 1967, honoring Frederick Kent, who was a locally renowned photographer for the Iowa City region. The bridges did not come until the 1990s, with the last one being installed in 2003. The bridges at the park in Michigan were in place between 1996 and 2006, with more scheduled to be imported. Note: The Historic Bridge Park in Michigan is located just southwest of Battle Creek, home of the Kellogg’s cereal company.

2. Which of the following truss bridge types can NOT be found at FW Kent Park?

a. Pratt        b. Warren        c. Whipple     d. Queenpost

Whipple truss bridges are nowhere to be seen at the park.

 

3. The origin of the Rooftop truss bridge was a building that was demolished in Iowa City. Can you name the building and when it existed?

The trusses came from a car dealership in Iowa City that had existed from the 1930s until the building was dismantled. Yet the name of the dealership is unknown.

4. How many bridges can be found at FW Kent Park?

a. 8   b. 10   c. 11  d. 13  e. 15

Eight bridges can be found in the park. Of which, seven are historic bridges that were restored, while the eighth one, a Warren pony truss, is a new bridge built of wood, connected with steel plates. In terms of truss designs, apart from the new Warren pony truss span, the park features two Pratts (one through and one half-hip pony), one V-shaped Pratt pony truss, two Queenpost pony trusses, one bowstring arch and the rooftop truss span.

5. At least one bridge was airlifted to the Park. True or False?

True. One bridge, a through truss span, was airlifted by helicopter to the park in 2003 and placed on new abutments, but not before retrofitting the bridge’s width.

6. All of the bridges brought in were the ones that served traffic in Johnson County.  True or False?

True. All seven historic bridges were crossings over small creeks, including Old Man’s, Deer, Dirty Face and Eagle. Sadly no bridges came from the Iowa River, which slices the county into two, let alone the Cedar River, where the Sutliff Bridge east of Solon is located.

7. How was the Rooftop truss bridge assembled?

After finding the trusses in a road ditch outside Iowa City, workers tried successfully to refit the trusses so that they support the roadway as railings. Additional exterior truss bracings were added to keep the bridge intact. In other words, the roadway is a bridge supported by trusses.

 

8. What activities can you do at the park, apart from photographing bridges?

a. swimming   b. hiking   c. fishing   d. biking   e. all of the above

In addition, you can do some bird and insect watching as many species of birds as well as butterflies and dragonflies can be found in the park. Also one can find some turtles and other wild animals at the park, but beware! Hunting is not allowed.

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Here is the guide to the bridges you can see at the park (click onto the names to go to the website)

Maier Road Bridge (Through Truss Bridge)

Rooftop Truss Bridge

Otter Creek Queenpost

1920 Queenpost

Bowstring arch bridge

Bayertown Road V-shape Bridge

Buck Creek Pratt Half-hip bridge

Wooden Warren Truss Bridge

Don’t forget to read more about F.W. Kent and the park’s history to understand how the park came into being. You can click here for more details.

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Iowa Transportation Heritage Quiz II: The answers to the historic bridge questions

After providing the answers and some interesting facts about Iowa’s transportation heritage, part II features the answers to the questions dealing with the history of Iowa’s bridges, the state’s bridge builders and the engineers who left their mark in the state.Without commenting any further, here they are!

 

Which bridge is in the picture above?

Green Bridge in Waverly

Ft. Atkinson Bridge near Decorah

Red Bridge in Des Moines

Rusty Bridge near Spencer

The Kate Shelley Viaduct, located in Boone was named after a girl who was famous for this heroic deed?
She stopped a train from falling into a flooded creek
She rescued the brakeman and engineer from the train that had fallen into a flooded creek
Both a & b -> both deeds occurred on the same night in 1881. She later became station agent for the train station in Moingona, the site west of where Kate crawled across the Des Moines River bridge and where the bridge was washed away and the train fell into the creek.
She became president of the Chicago and Northwestern Railways.

Photo by John Marvig

Where was the first railroad bridge built over the Mississippi River located?
Dubuque
Keokuk
Quad Cities -> The wooden Howe through truss bridge was completed in 1856 and was located in Moline, at the site of the present-day Arsenal Bridge
Burlington

Which of the following Iowa communities did NOT have a bridge building company
Okoboji -> Okoboji was a tourist community and never had a bridge builder
Ottumwa
Oskaloosa
Des Moines

The Melan Arch Bridge, located in Rock Rapids, was the first of its kind to be built using reinforced steel rods. Its designer and inventor Josef Melan originated from which European country?

Austria -> Melan originated and spent his life in Vienna. His student, Frederik von Emperger, who built the bridge in 1894 originated from Bohemia.
Bohemia (now Czechia)
Prussia (now part of Germany)
France

Zenas King, who built many bridges in Iowa under the name King Bridge Company in the 1880s and 90s had a nephew (not son), George, who started his own bridge building business in which Iowa community?
Council Bluffs
Corning
Des Moines -> George E. King established this business in 1889 and ran it until ca. the 1930s
Davenport

Note: Zenas King did have a son who took over his business after his death in 1892. James A. King was president of the company from 1894 until his death in 1922. The company ceased operations within a year after his death and with that a 50+ year family-owned business where many of Zenas’ children and extended family members were all part of the business. More information can be found here.

Which bridge type was not developed and experimented in Iowa?
Kellogg Truss
Thacher Truss
Marsh Arch
Pratt truss  -> First patented in 1844 two years before Iowa was established as a state.

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Source: Library of Congress

Iowa was the first state in the country and the first in the world to invent and construct this bridge type?
Bowstring arch bridge made of steel
Steel girder bridge made of aluminum -> It was built in 1958 over I-35/80 at 86th Street in Urbandale. Served traffic until its replacement in 1994.
Parker truss bridge made of metal
Marsh arch bridge using recycled concrete

Close-up of Thacher Truss

Edwin Thacher patented the first Thacher truss bridge, a bridge with an A-frame in the center panel, in 1884, and the first bridge of its kind was built where?
Independence -> Built in 1884 to serve rail traffic over the Wapsipinicon River.
Rockford
Estherville
Lake Park

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Which Iowa river has the most number of steel railroad viaducts in the state
Big Sioux River
Little Sioux River
Skunk River
Des Moines River -> as many as 10 railroad viaducts still cross the river today, including the Kate Shelley, Ft. Dodge, Armstrong and Madrid Viaducts. The Kate Shelley and Ft. Dodge Viaducts are the longest and second longest along the river, respectively.

Murray Bridge sv
Murray Bridge spanning the Des Moines River in Humboldt County. Built in 1905 by A.H. Austin. Photo taken in September 2010

 Which Iowa bridge builder later made a career as a school board president?
A.H. Austin  -> He was active in the Webster City school council including his tenure as president.
Lawrence Johnson
George E. King
James Marsh

 

Author’s note: Another Iowa bridge quiz is in the making and will come soon. The state has the third highest number of (historic) bridges in the country. With that comes several categories one could write about. This is just an introduction. 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 26: Unusual Truss Bridge in Iowa

Portal and overhead view. Photos taken by John Marvig

Have you come across an unusual bridge while travelling or bridgehunting? If so, what did the bridge look like, and did you do some research to determine what bridge type it was? Many engineers came up with rather unusual bridge designs during the age of industrialization between 1850 and 1920 which were experimented on roads and railroads. While most of them were used rarely and have long since been extinct, like the Kellogg truss bridge which was used on the Philips Mill Bridge in Floyd County, Iowa, there are some unusual bridge types that were used and whose examples still exist today, like this bridge.

The Muchakinock Creek Bridge, located in Mahaska County, Iowa between Oskaloosa and Eddyville, carries the Union Pacific line on a single track and is one of a handful of through truss bridges whose design is rather unique for a short-span crossing. Built in 1901 by the Phoenix Iron Works Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, the bridge features a V-shaped truss design that is subdivided diagonally and for the center panels, horizontally. It is classified as a Warren through truss, though when looking at it closely, it could be perceived as a Pratt through truss with subdivided connections. Even weirder is the upper chord of the through truss span, where instead of featuring sway bracings resembling a Howe truss design, it features bracings resembling the subdivided kingpost truss bridge, similar to the one located at Schonemann Park south of Luverne, Minnesota.  A diagram produced by John Marvig shows the unusual configuration:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of the four known bridges that are built using this unusual truss configuration are located along this line. The other two are located over Miller Creek in Monroe County along an abandoned railroad. It is obvious that this truss type was used for short crossings as each bridge averaged four panels and 110 feet in length. But it is unknown not only how many were built between 1890 and 1920 and how many more exist beyond the ones found in Iowa so far.

Example of a bridge of a similar design that existed near Manly in Worth County, Iowa. Photo courtesy of John Marvig

The fabricator, Phoenix Iron Works was famous for its unusual bridge designs, as it constructed the longest viaduct in the world using another unusual truss type, the Fink truss, over Lyon Brook in Chenango County, New York, in 1869. The 830 foot long bridge survived only 25 years and was known infamously for deaths and other haunted stories that occurred there. It was also famous for truss bridges built using the Phoenix column, end posts were built using octagonal sides, as shown in this picture. This contributed to the company producing a spin-off in the Phoenix Bridge Company, which existed from 1883 until 1962 and was responsible for building many key bridges, including the Manhattan Bridge in New York City and the Walnut Street Bridge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Iron Works has ceased production in Phoenixville since 1984 but the facilities are being transformed into other uses including designating some as historic sites.

For many reasons, the Chronicles needs your help. If you know of any bridges that feature similar designs like the ones found in Iowa as well as the dates of construction, etc., please send a line and provide the information. These unusual bridge types are important parts of the history of America’s infrastructure and many of them have a chance to become a historical landmark, as well as a key component to bike trails that will be developed over the next few years, including the crossings along Miller Creek in Monroe County.  Send your info and comments to flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com or drop them off in the Comment section as well as on facebook. History is important and many of these artefacts deserved to be recognized for their unusual designs and the builders who developed them in the first place. That is what the Chronicles is there- research, preserve and teach to future generations about bridges and their role in architectural and transportation history.

Newsflyer 8 July, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas historic bridge estranged by county officials, Fitch receives new bridge, Viaduct in Indiana demolished, Vertical Bridge on US 1 to come down soon

There is a small informal trend that was started on the Bridgehunter.com website a couple years ago, where a historic bridge that was replaced or torn down would receive the Little Brown Barf Bag because of the senseless excuses for tearing them down to begin with. It is unknown how often the LBBB has been used this year (or who has used them), and most importantly whether the supplier has any left in stock, but the regular customers may have to find an alternative if there’s none left, especially as we have some bridges in this Newsflyer that are target for the wrecking ball. One of them has a new bridge in place, and while bridge fans have been finding the next available restrooms, others are shaking their heads and asking “Why this bridge? It’s really ugly!”  Here are the bridges making the Newsflyer:

Stranger Creek Bridge demolished despite its pristine condition.

Located southeast of Tonganoxie in Leavenworth County, this elegant Pratt through truss bridge with M-frame portal bracings is one of the tallest bridges in the county and one that can be seen along the Kansas Turnpike (I-70). That will no longer be the case by the middle of this week, as crews are working to demolish the bridge as it is rendered useless because of another crossing on Metro Avenue, located north of the bridge. No replacement is being planned for this structure. The bridge was closed to traffic in April even though when looking at the photos here, the structure seems to be in great condition. Why Leavenworth County spent $150,000 to remove this bridge is beyond the logic of many who think that money would best be spent for other projects or at least converting this bridge into a recreational area with the county conservation board owning it. However, given the plan by the county to replace as many as 20 bridges in the next few years, this estranged behavior towards historic bridges makes sense. Word of advice to those travelling through the county, take a half day to visit the remaining bridges, including those along Stranger Creek where this bridge used to be located, for they will be gone soon.

Fitch receives new bridge, much to the dismay of many

“You guys can have your bridge!” as many have said about this bridge near Lowell, Massachusetts. As reported a few months ago, Fitch’s Bridge was removed after being abandoned for over 40 years, leaving the bridge to decay with nature. Without looking at options for rehabilitating the bridge, the city and park district opted to remove and dismantle the bridge with the usage of cranes and welders and replace it with a half-pony/half deck truss bridge that is of Pratt design. Have a look at the photos here and judge it for yourself. The choice is questionable to many who believe a replica of the 1899 bridge would have been the more logical choice, but if the majority favor a mail-order welded truss bridge, then what can a man do but shake his head and ask why…

Viaduct in Indiana removed

Located north of Owasco over Wildcat Creek in Caroll County, the Owasco Viaduct, built in 1893 and served the Chicago-Indianapolis line until its abandonment in 1992, was one of the longest bridges in the state as well as along the line, with a total span of 1278 feet. Yet flooding in 2004 caused one of the piers to shift more than 10 feet over, making the deck plate girder trestle look like the letter ‘S’ instead of being a straight-line bridge. Many people were fearing that the viaduct would not last long afterwards. It stood for nine years until more recently when the demolition crew finally took the bridge down for safety purposes. Says Tony Dillion, who is one of the experts on Indiana’s historic bridges, “Surprised it stood as long as it did.” More on this bridge can be found here.

Three Maine Bridges to be replaced or removed.

This state used to have a large number of historic bridges, just as many as New Hampshire and Vermont, Maine that is. Now the state has joined the race with its western neighbor and Pennsylvania to see how many historic bridges can be demolished to cut costs, for two of its bridges will be replaced and another one, a double decker bridge will have its bottom deck removed. With the Waldo-Hancock and Memorial Bridges gone, the state is on track to being the state with the worst track record regarding historic bridge preservation, with the exception of New Hampshire. Here are the bridges highlighted below:

Sarah Mildred Long Bridge:

Located over the Piscataqua River on US Hwy. 1 in Portsmouth, the vertical lift bridge was one of two located in the region before the Memorial Bridge was torn down, yet it featured a deck truss with a highway span on top and the railroad span at the bottom of the truss. Yet, despite being built in 1940, both Maine and New Hampshire are competing for a grant to proceed with the demolition and replacement of this unique truss bridge. How unique is it? Its lower deck can be slid inwards to allow ships to pass through in addition to the 227 foot long vertical lift span (the bridge has a total length of 2800 feet). Yet as this bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, even if the two states obtain the TIGER Grant, construction would have to wait until the environmental and cultural impact surveys are carried out. A long battle is in the making to save this bridge under the war cry “Remember the Memorial!” More information can be found here.

Cassidy Point Bridge to become a railroad grade

While this bridge is 43 feet long and carries Danforth Street in Portland, it spans a railroad and owners of the line want the bridge removed. Not to worry. MaineDOT can help you, but it will come at the dismay of car drivers who will have to wait for long 3-mile long trains carrying double-decker coaches and wagons for many minutes. That is the general plan at the moment as the railroad plans to increase traffic on its line through Portland and the bridge to them is a burden to their plan. It is unknown when the project will start but word has it that it will begin soon. More information here.

Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge in Brunswick

Spanning the Androscoggin River in Brunswick, this two-span Baltimore through truss bridge, built in 1909, carrys rail traffic through the city on the top deck, but local traffic on the bottom deck, which is supported by a set of Warren trusses with pin-connections. Going by the name Free Black Bridge, the Pennsylvania Bridge Company structure made the news as Maine DOT, in cooperation with the bridge’s owner, Maine Central Railroad, plans to remove the road deck while leaving the rail truss in use. It is not surprising of the action, for despite the road deck seeing 6-7 cars a day, MaineDOT does not want to have another liability in their hands, which justifies this action.

Free Black Bridge in Brunswick, Maine. Photo taken by HABS-HAER

Registration for Historic Bridge Weekend due 15 July

For those wanting to register for the evening dinners and Kate Shelley tour portions of the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend in eastern Iowa, you have another week until registration comes to a close. You can register for the HB Weekend via facebook or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles as flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. You can also contact him if you want to join the bridgehunting tour only or if you have any questions pertaining to the HB Weekend between now and 31st July.

 

 

 

Motor Mill Bridge near Elkader, Iowa Part 1

Motor Mill Bridge in its original form. Photo provided by Hank Zaletel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a round of critics who claimed that truss bridges are obsolete and cannot be used for today’s highway standards, especially because they are fracture citical, meaning if one part fails, the rest of the bridge fails. This echo was first started in response to the Minneapolis Bridge Disaster of 2007 and reinforced because of the collapse of the I-5 Skagit River Crossing. If that was really the case, then there are two questions that the critics should try and answer:

1. Why are truss bridges still being built today to serve vehicular traffic and

2. Why are bridges like this one presented here, being replicated?

The Motor Mill Bridge, located over the Turkey River on Galaxy Road southeast of Elkader in Clayton County, Iowa maybe considered one of the finest examples of how truss bridges like this can be built, let alone how bridges lost to a disaster can be replicated to almost the finest details.  The two-span pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge was built in 1899 by a local contractor, A.C. Boyle, whose bridge company was located in MacGregor (along the Mississippi River south of Prarie du Chien) and who was responsible for constructing many small crossings in northeastern Iowa at the turn of the century. This bridge, which features a 7-rhombus Howe Lattice portal bracing with heel bracing served traffic for 93 years before the floodwaters knocked out the southern span in 1991. While the northern span survived the 1993 flood, it finally fell to nature’s rath in 2008. This was when the people of Motor Mill took action, and four years’ of tireless efforts paid off with a replica built late last year, which is now open to traffic.  I had an opportunity to interview the people at the Mill about trials and tribulations behind rebuilding the bridge and had two people provide some details of this massive artwork that was reconstructed, literally from scratch. This article will feature a Q&A session with Tim Engelhardt while the next one will feature a summary provided by the Motor Mill Foundation:

1.What factors motivated you to embark on the bridge restoration project?

 

The motivation was the south span of the two span bridge was washed out in 1991.  Since that time, the Clayton County Conservation Board pursued a variety of means to replace the span.  The public seemed to want the bridge replaced, the county road system was fine with not replacing it but the Conservation Board felt the bridge was important to the Motor Mill Site for access.  We kept running into the historical nature of the structure to prevent the replacement of the south span.  At one point, we were told the only way it could happen if we built a pedestrian bridge within the remaining span.  At an estimated cost of $1 million dollars, there was no way the residents of Clayton County would like spending that much money for a bridge they could not drive across.

After the flood of 2008, which washed out the remaining north span the situation changed.  The bridge replacement then became a FEMA project with the “right” historical person involved.  Through a variety of conversations, proven planning, completion of several other projects at the site and several people helping we were able to get the project approved to replace the north half of the structure.  We had preserve the stone work on the north and south abutments and the center pier.  No longer did we need to preserve the bridge structure itself. 
 Supplemental question: Why restore a bridge whose one span was destroyed in 1991 and the other in 2008?

The public seemed to have wanted the bridge replaced.  Access to the site was 7 miles of gravel road of which the last couple of miles was a dead end.  We had developed the Motor Mill Foundation, which had done a lot of work at the site with replacing roofs, flooring and having the mill open for tours on weekends.  The bridge access would allow only 2 miles of gravel and better security.

 

2. What is the general history behind the mill and bridge?

 Instead of writing this out, there is a section about the bridge on the motor mill website you may read here: http://motormill.org/

 

3. Who did the construction of the bridge?

 VJ Engineering designed the bridge and Minnowa Construction, Harmony MN did the actual construction of the bridge.

 

4. How did the construction of the bridge replica influence its National Register of Historic Places listing (bridge was listed until 2008)? Did you receive this status back?

The status on the bridge structure itself was dropped as soon as the north span went underwater.  The stone work is still listed along with the rest of the site.  The new bridge is not part of the National Register of Historic Places.  As part of a mitigation project for another FEMA project at Motor Mill, the site is being expanded on the current listing.

 

5. How did you gather enough funding for this project? Who was all involved?

 FEMA funded part of it, we received a REAP Grant through the state of Iowa, received funding from the Iowa Great Places Grant, and a local grant through the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation and private donations.  90% of the funding was through grants.

Author’s note: REAP stands for Resource Enhancement and Protection and information on this can be found here.

 

6. Looking at the Sutliff Bridge (whose easternmost span was washed away by floods in 2008), there was a lot of criticism regarding how the bridge was restored and that it was not original. Did you receive any criticism from anyone regarding the reconstruction of the bridge?

 

No criticism.  The public is excited to have the bridge back in place. 

 

7. Referring to the comparison of the two bridges, in your opinion, do you think truss bridges are making their way back to the scene as a structure of choice for vehicular traffic?

 

 My expertise is not that large.  We wanted the Motor Mill Bridge to look like the historical pin connected Pratt through truss bridge.

Author’s note: This will justify a question for the larger forum to be presented after the Historic Bridge Weekend in August.

 

8. How has the public received this finished piece of artwork?

 

We have had one marriage proposal and a set of prom pictures taken on the bridge in the first 5 months of the bridge being open.  I believe this speaks for itself.

Author’s note: One note is the fact that many bridge enthusiasts will be visiting the bridge in August during the Historic Bridge Weekend, specifically on Friday the 9th of August between 2:00 and 2:30pm. If interested, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles or just stop there at that time.

 

9. If one wants to see the bridge, how to get there from Elkader?

  From Elkader head south on Hwy 13, turn left onto Grandview Rd.  Then a left on Hazel, a left on Galaxy to the Motor Mill site.  The Park is well signed from Hwy 13.

You can also find the info and GPS coordinates here.

The replica version of Motor Mill Bridge. Can you see the differences between the one photographed by J.R. Manning and the original provided by Hank Zaletel?