During my recent field trip with some students to visit the Saxony Parliament in Dresden, one of my students found a good vantage point worth getting a photo. It was the view of the River Elbe and the Augustus Bridge, with the historic Old Town, featuring the Church of Our Lady, the Semper Opera and the Zwinger in the background and all towards the right. As a bonus, this was taken in the morning. As we were walking along the river towards the Parliament, I took a few shots of other bridges along the way before she pointed this one out. Needless to say it was a vantage point not to be missed….. 🙂
……in addition to a day trip through the Old Town, a good meal and some entertainment with some others…… 😉
This week’s belated Pic of the Week has its own slogan “Go your own way.” This can be seen as a motorcyclist is travelling around the curve at a relatively fast pace under a viaduct. Can you imagine what the cyclist was thinking about?
This pic was taken in the Fall of 2018 at the Steinpleis Viaduct, spanning the River Pleisse at the Dreieck Steinpleiss. There the rail line from Dresden and the one from Leipzig meet to head to Bavaria and its terminus in Nuremberg. The Dreieck has another viaduct in the direction of Leipzig approximately 600 meters away. Both viaducts were built in the late 1840s when the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistral and the Leipzig-Werdau lines were being built.
The tour guide on the Bridges of Werdau will feature these two in addition to a few other key structures.
But for now, go your own way and have a nice weekend! 🙂
With 2019 and the second decade of the third millennium over and done, we’re now going to reflect on the key events in the area of historic bridges and feature some head-shakers, prayers, but also some Oohs and Aahs, jumps of joy and sometimes relief. Since 2011, I’ve presented the Author’s Choice Awards to some of the bridges and bridge stories that deserve at least some recognition from yours truly directly. Some of the bridges from this edition are also candidates in their respective categories for the Bridgehunter Awards.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the winners of the Author’s Choice Awards in their respective categories starting with the unexpected finds:
Best Historic Bridge Find (International):
2019 was the year of unique bridge finds around the globe, and it was very difficult to determine which bridge should receive the Author’s Choice Prize. Therefore the prize is being shared by two bridges- one in Germany in the state of Saxony and one in Great Britain in the city of Bristol.
Rosenstein Bridge in Zwickau (Saxony), Germany:
Our first best historic bridge find takes us to the city of Zwickau and an unknown historic bridge that had been sitting abandoned for decades but was discovered in 2019. The Rosenstein Bridge spans a small creek between the suburb of Oberplanitz and the bypass that encircles Zwickau on the west side and connects Werdau with Schneeberg. The bridge is a stone arch design and is around 200 years old. It used to serve a key highway between the Vogtland area to the west and the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) to the south and east, transporting minerals and wood along the main road. It later served street traffic until its abandonment. The name Rosenstein comes from the rock that was used for the bridge. The rock changes the color to red and features its rose-shaped design. A perfect gift that is inexpensive but a keeper for your loved one.
Close-up of the bridge’s tubular railings. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Brunel Swivel Bridge in Bristol, UK:
The other bridge that shares this honor is That Other Bridge. Located in Bristol, England, the Swivel Bridge is very hard to find, for the structure is underneath the Plimsol Bridge, both spanning the River Avon. While Bristol is well known for its chain suspension bridge, built over 150 years ago and spans the deep gorge of the Avon, the Swivel Bridge, a cast iron girder swing span, is the oldest known bridge in the city and one of the oldest swing bridges remaining in the world, for it is 170 years old and one of the first built by I.K. Brunel- the suspension bridge was the last built by the same engineer before his death. Therefore, the Swivel Bridge is known as Brunel’s Other (Significant) Bridge. The Swivel is currently being renovated.
“S-Bridges” were one of the oldest bridge types built in the US, featuring multiple spans of stone or concrete arches that are put together in an S-shape. It was good for horse and buggy 200-years ago, especially as many existed along the National Road. They are however not suitable for today’s traffic, which is why there are only a handful left. The Fox Run Bridge in Ohio, as documented by Satolli Glassmeyer of History in Your Backyard, is one of the best examples of only a few of these S-bridges left in the country.
Royal Springs Bridge in Kentucky:
The runner-up in this category goes to the oldest and most forgotten bridge in Kentucky, the Royal Springs Bridge. While one may not pay attention to it because of its design, plus it carries a busy federal highway, one may forget the fact that it was built in 1789, which makes it the oldest bridge in the state. It was built when George Washington became president and three years before it even became a state. That in itself puts it up with the likes of some of Europe’s finest bridges.
We had just as many bonehead stories as bridge finds this year. But a couple of stories do indeed stand out for these awards. Especially on the international level for they are all but a travesty, to put it mildly.
Tournai Bridge in Belgium:
Sometimes, bigger is better. Other times less means more. In the case of the senseless demolition of the Pont des Trours (Bridge of Tears) spanning the River Scheldt in Tournai, Belgium for the purpose of widening and deepening the river to allow for ships to sail to the River Sienne from the Atlantic, one has to question the economic impact of using the boat to get to Paris, let alone the cultural impact the demolition had on the historic old town. The bridge was built in 1290 and was the only bridge of its kind in the world. Its replacement span will resemble an McDonald’s M-shape pattern. In this case, less means more. Smaller ships or more trains to ship goods means better for the river (and its historic crossings) as well as the historic city. In short: Less means more.
Runner-up: Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke) in Saxony.
Residents wanted to save the bridge. There was even a group wanting to save the bridge. The politicians and in particular, the Saxony Ministry of Transportation and Commerce (LASUV) didn’t. While the 150-year old stone arch bridge over the Zwickau Mulde near Aue was the largest and oldest standing in western Saxony and was not in the way of its replacement- making it a candidate for a bike and pedestrian crossing, LASUV and the politicians saw it as an eyesore. While those interested wanted to buy the bridge at 150,000 Euros. Dresden wanted 1.7 million Euros– something even my uncle from Texas, a millionaire himself, would find as a rip-off. Supporters of the demolition are lucky that the bridge is not in Texas, for they would’ve faced a hefty legal battle that would’ve gone to the conservative-laden Supreme Court. The bridge would’ve been left as is. But it’s Saxony and many are scratching their heads as to why the demo against the will of the people- without even putting it to a referendum- happened in the first place. As a former member of the Friends of the Rechenhausbrücke, I’m still shaking my head and asking “Why?”
This story brings out the true meaning of “Half-ass”. The Gregon Street Overpass, which carries the Norfolk and Southern Railroad (NSR) is an 80-year old stringer bridge that has a rather unique characteristic: Its vertical clearance is 11 feet 8 inches (3.56 meters). It’s notorious for ripping off truck trailers, driven by truck drivers who either didn’t see the restriction signs, traffic lights and other barriers or were unwilling to heed to the restrictions because of their dependency on their GPS device (Navi) or their simple ignorance. In October 2019, NSR wanted to raise the bridge to 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 meters) to reduce the collisions. The standard height of underpasses since 1973 have been 14 feet (4.3 meters). End result: the collisions have NOT decreased. Epic fail on all counts!
My suggestion to NSR and the NCDOT: If you don’t want your bridge to be a truck-eater, like with some other bridges that exist in the US, like in Davenport and Northhampton, make the area an at-grade crossing. You will do yourselves and the truck drivers a big favor.
Not far behind the winner is this runner-up. A truck driver carrying 42 tons of beans tries crossing a century-old pony truss bridge, which spans the Goose River and has a weight limit of three tons. Guess what happens next and who got short-changed? The bridge had been listed on the National Register because of its association with Fargo Bridge and Iron and it was the oldest extant in the county. Luckily the driver wasn’t hurt but it shows that he, like others, should really take a math course before going on the road again.
This one gets an award for not only a spectacular disaster that destroyed a multiple Bailey Truss- as filmed in its entirety- but also for the swiftest reply in rebuilding the bridge in order to reopen a key highway. Bailey trusses have known to be easily assembled, regardless of whether it’s for temporary purposes or permanent. Cheers to the inventor of the truss as well as the New Zealand National Guard for putting the bridge back together in a hurry.
No bridge is safe when it comes to flash flooding. Not even concrete arch bridges, as seen in this film on the century-old Chania Bridge in Greece. Flash floods undermined the bridge’s piers and subsequentially took out the multiple-span closed spandrel arch bridge in front of the eyes of onlookers. The photos of the destroyed bridge after the flooding was even more tragic. Good news is that the bridge is being rebuilt to match that of the original span destroyed. But it will never fully replace the original, period.
This category was a real toss-up, for the US went through a series of what is considered one of the biggest wrath of natural disasters on record. In particular, massive amounts of snowfall, combined with extreme temperatures resulted in massive flooding which devastated much of the Midwest during the first five months of the year. The hardest hit areas were in Nebraska, Iowa and large parts of Missouri. There, large chunks of ice took out even the strongest and youngest of bridges along major highways- the most viewed was the bridge near Spencer, Nebraska, where ice jams combined with flooding caused both the highway bridge as well as the dam nearby to collapse. The highway bridge was only three decades old. Even historic truss bridges, like the Sargent Bridge in Custer County were no match for the destruction caused by water and ice. While the region has dried up, it will take months, if not years for communities and the infrastructure to rebuild to its normal form. Therefore this award goes out to the people affected in the region.
Runner-up: Close-up footage of the destruction of the Brunswick Railroad Bridge.
Railroad officials watched helplessly, as floodwaters and fallen trees took out a major railroad bridge spanning the Grand River near Brunswick, Kansas. The railroad line is owned by Norfolk and Southern. The bridge was built in 1916 replacing a series of Whipple truss spans that were later shipped to Iowa for use on railroad lines and later roads. One of them still remains. The bridge has since been rebuilt; the line in use again.
The world’s first cast iron bridge got an extensive makeover in a two-year span, where the cast iron parts were repaired and conserved, new decking was put in and the entire bridge was painted red, which had been the original color when the bridge was completed in 1791. The jewel of Shropshire, England is back in business and looks just like new.
King Ludwig Railroad Bridge in Kempten, Germany:
The world’s lone double-decker truss bridge made of wood, received an extensive rehabilitation, where the spans were taken off its piers, the wooden parts repaired and/or replaced before being repainted, the piers were rebuilt and then the spans were put back on and encased with a wooden façade. A bit different than in its original form, the restored structure features LED lighting which shows the truss work through the façade at night.
Longfellow Bridge in Boston:
This multiple-span arch bridge with a draw bridge span underwent a five-year reconstruction project where every aspect of the bridge was restored to its former glory, including the steel arches, the 11 masonry piers, the abutments, the four tall towers at the main span and lastly the sculptures on the bridge. Even the trophy room underneath the bridge was rebuilt. All at a whopping cost of $306 million! It has already received numerous accolades including one on the national level. This one was worth the international recognition because of the hours of toil needed to make the structure new again.
The runner-up is a local favorite but one that sets an example of how truss bridge restoration can work. The Winona Bridge went through an eight-year project where a new span carrying westbound traffic was built. The cantilever truss span was then covered as it went through a makeover that featured new decking, sandblasting and repairing the trusses and lastly, painting it. To put the icing on the cake, new LED lighting was added. The bridge now serves eastbound traffic and may be worth considering as a playboy for other restorations of bridges of its kind, including the Black Hawk Bridge, located down the Mississippi.
And with that, we wrap up the Author’s Choice Awards for 2019. Now comes the fun part, which is finding out which bridges deserve international honors in the eyes of the voters. Hence, the Bridgehunter’s Awards both in written form as well as in podcast. Stay tuned! 🙂
Century-old trestle to be removed with no plans for a new structure. Abandoned since the 1980s
LEIPZIG, GERMANY- With close to 600,000 inhabitants, Leipzig is the fastest growing city in Germany, with the population expected to reach 1 million by 2030. And with the growth comes cracks in the city’s infrastructure that are an average of 50 years old and in dire need of replacement. This includes numerous bridges that are even two times older than some of Leipzig’s key federal and state highways, and they have existed since the 1980s.
With many older bridges, come some that have been abandoned for years and its decaying process has presented a hazard for pedestrians and motorists. This is where the Lunabahn Trestle comes in. This bridge is located at Auensee, in the northwestern part of Leipzig, sandwiched between the Rivers White Elster and Neue Luppe. The trestle is made of concrete and has 17 spans in total. The piers are arched and have a semi, A-shaped design. Built in 1914, the trestle was originally used for the 6-gauge rail line known as the Lunabahn, which connected the main restaurant with the main entrance to the Park Am Auensee (at present-day Gustav-Esche-Strasse) and ending at the beach (near present-day Elsteraue). The trestle basically dissected the northwestern part of the lake. The line continued until the mid-1930s, when the bridge was converted to pedestrian and car use. The line would later be revitalized in 1951 and to this day, it encircles the entire lake. The trestle lost its functionality by the 1980s and was subsequentially closed to all traffic before the Fall of the Wall in 1989.
After being abandoned for almost four decades and having lost its functionality, the City of Leipzig voted to tear down the structure, which began on January 6th. Crews will remove the ca. 160-meter long bridge at a cost of 150,000 Euros. The project is expected to be completed by February 14th. The bridge’s deteriorating condition made it impossible to consider the option of restoring the structure for pedestrian use. There are no plans for a new bridge at this current site. For photographers and bridge enthusiasts, Leipzig will lose a unique structure, whose fitting background with the natural surroundings of Auensee will be missed and whose historic association with the Lunabahn will be gone forever. One of the close-ups of the photo can be seen via link here.
Links to the bridge, the lake and the historic railroad can be found below:
Our first pic of the new year- let alone the new decade- takes us home. Home where one will find a historic bridge where you at least expect it. This was the case with this railroad bridge, the Schafteich Bridge. Spanning the River Zwickau Mulde, the bridge is located only two kilometers west of the train station in Glauchau. It serves the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magristal Route and was one of the original structures that still serves traffic to this day, having been built in the 1860s and rehabilitated a couple of times in its lifetime. Speaking from experience (as you can see in the tour guide of Glauchau), the Schafteich Bridge is one of the most difficult to photograph, for the best photo can be taken from the north side, where the trucking firm is located, but only with a good camera and a good height over the fence. Yet when winter sets in and the leaves are all from the tree, one could sneak a shot from the southern side, where the textile factory is located. There one can photograph the structure either through the trees, like in this pic, or by climbing down towards the river. Because of the cold, I chose the first option and it made a world of difference.
Reminder:You still have time to vote for the 2019 Bridgehunter’s Awards. Deadline for voting is January 10th at 11:59pm, your local time. You can click here to go to the ballot. Reminder, there are two parts. The votes will then be tallied and the results will follow. The Author’s Choice Awards, where the author chooses his best and worst bridge stories is being put together and will be presented before the winners of the Bridgehunter’s Awards are announced on January 12th. Stay tuned.
The next pic of the week takes us to London. At about this time of year, the English capital on the Thames is famous for its fog that covers not only the areas along the main river, the Thames, but also the city’s Communist-era high-rise buildings, dating back to the 1960s. This was the case with this scene with the Paradiesbrücke. These pair of photos were taken last week during a fog spell that is typical of London. The fog was thick enough that it covered much of the background landscape, including the Communist-era buildings that were only 150 meters away as seen in the pic below. The end result was bringing the bridge to the foreground but having the black and white features of a structure sitting in pea stew. As a bonus, the oblique angle view of the bridge in the picture above makes the scene rather mysterious. One could make a story out of the two scenes, be it a murder mystery or romance.
Oh by the way: Did I forget to tell you the pictures were taken not in London but in Zwickau? In Saxony? In Germany? On the River Mulde? 😉
The next pic of the week presents us with a word of advice for bridge photography: If your bridge photo is dark enough that you cannot see the features but light enough because of the background, try using the Seppia format. The format has a grey background with a shady, brown background and when used, the photo looks like one that was taken over a century ago.
This one was taken at a crossing in Meissen. It’s a Luten arch span that crosses the River Triebisch; the last one before it empties into the River Elbe, 60 meters away. In fact, it was taken along the shores of the Elbe facing the historic old town. It was close to dusk with a dark blue background with lights illuminating from the adjacent buildings on each end of the bridge. The structure carries Hwy. 6 between Dresden and Torgau and is the primary throughfare not only for Meissen but also along the River Elbe. In fact, over 200 kilometers stretch along the Elbe into the Czech Republic, providing travelers with gorgeous mountainous landscapes and many beautiful bridges.
The bridge was widened to accomodate an increasing load in traffic thus providing restrictions pertaining to a side view of its arch. In fact, even though the bridge can be seen from the opposite bank of the river, it would have been impossible to get a sniper’s shot with the camera, even if the sun was to shine directly on the bridge because the shadows would have covered the arch.
The seppia experiment was done improvisionally because it was getting dark and it had rained earlier in the day. Basically it took a close-range shot from the banks of the Elbe followed by some extreme editing, which included brightening it as far as possible without losing the object and then applying the seppia. All of this can be done via Instagram, but one can try other photo programs to make it work.
The end result- a finished product that looks like one produced over a century ago! Not all bridges photographed qualify for that finish. Sometimes you have to experiment from different angles of a chosen bridge in order to have the perfect product. But after all the time invested, it will be worth it. While this bridge may have been rebuilt a while back, the arch and the historic buildings in the background warrants such experiments, even done with improvisation. And sometimes even the best pics come when they are unexpected and when one experiments.
Note:Meissen is also well-known for its Christmas market. To learn more about it, check out the Flensburg Files’ Christmas market guide on this historic town by clickinghere.
Australian Traveller that loves to "Roam" our globe, creator of ENDLESSROAMING.COM sharing the experience through word and photography. Currently residing in my home of Newtown Sydney but hope to be back on the road late 2020. Feedback / questions are more than welcome, happy travels