BHC Bridge Pic Nr. 18

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The next pic of the weeks keeps us in Glauchau, but provides us with a golden opportunity to see the inside of a covered bridge. Covered bridges provide shelter from rain and snow, views of the river through its trusses and windows and lighting when it is dark, just like in this picture. This one provides a gold-like coloring of the trusses and flooring, making it not only a beauty to cross but also safer. This one was taken at the covered bridge at Zimmerstrasse, spanning the Zwickau Mulde behind the Werdigt School.

The bridge even looks pretty from the outside, even at night time, as you can see in the pic below:

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The Rehab of the Hirschgrundbrücke in Glauchau: A Wine Glass Half-full or Half-Empty?

GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- The construction projects in and around the Castle Complex in Glauchau, which has been in motion since April (as a whole), is like eating in an exclusive restaurant: No matter what the menu offers, including drinks, there’s a lot to eat and a lot to discuss at the table.   The main course, which features lamb chops, is the front yard that leads to the gates of the castle. This is the meat of the project which one will find to the south of the city center, just a three minute walk from Market Square. This was once filled with lucious trees and bushes but also home to the ice skating rink that had occupied the area; it is being torn up in favor of a multi-complex featuring picnic areas, a pavilion and bike racks. This despite opposition from those who preferred to keep the area all green and in its natural form. A comment by one of the opponents, an architect, during a conversation on facebook recently, says it all.

Then we have the natural bridge, crossing the deep ravine connecting the castle’s south side and its adjacent park, sitting idle for many years, closed to all because of safety reasons and now blocked off to the castle park. This stone arch crossing is no more except for the pylons and the outer arches!

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The Hirschgrundbrücke has been the “vegetarian” main dish for dinner and conversation for many years for many reasons: 1. How to renovate the bridge after sitting idle for 40 years, 2. What is the real name of the bridge: Hirschgrund or Hirschgraben, and now this: Is this bridge a complete renovation/ rehabilitation or a complete tear-down and rebuild?

There are many ways of describing how the bridge is being put under the knife. Yet to better understand how this project is being carried out, I had a chance to talk to the city engineer who showed me the plans of rebuilding the structure during my frequent visits to the City Administration Building. He was also the engineer in charge of overseeing the design and construction of The Wave near Wernsdorf in 2017.  During my interview in March, he mentioned that the bridge was going to be stripped down to the bare bones, leaving the outer arches and the stem of the pylon that used to hold the center arches. The plan to leave them in place was based on an agreement with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage of Saxony (Dt.: Denkmalschutz) in order to keep the bridge listed in the Cultural Heritage Book (Denkmalschutzbuch), similar to what Americans have with the National Register of Historic Places. The old materials would (for the most part) be discarded, while some will be reused together with new materials made of sandstone and other rock-based materials to rebuild the structure to make it resemble its original form, when it was built in the 1700s. The project was announced in the Free Press in April and it is expected to be completed by November 2019.

During my most recent visit in Glauchau, I decided to have a look at the progress of the bridge and found some observations worth noting:

Film and commentary on this bridge:

This was filmed from the castle side with my newly-acquired Motorola moto 6 out of Pittsburgh. Incredible phone/camera and Glauchau was an incredible place for “target practice.” 😉

My observations of this project is best compared to a glass of wine that is half-full; half-empty. One can technically consider this project a total rehabilitation, where the bridge is stripped down to its arches, the original materials reused for the rebuilding process. This has been done on thousands of bridges of this kind throughout Germany, including the bridges in Erfurt, Dresden, Magdeburg, and Berlin, just to name some examples. It is similar to the coined-term “in-kind” restoration but with arch bridges, not truss structures.  However one could call this a total replacement because 90% of the original structure is completely gone; the materials used for the structure recycled and being replaced with similar materials that are used for other arch bridges. From an American modernist’s point of view, when a superstructure is replaced but the approach spans or even the original piers remain, it is a complete replacement, regardless of how you look at it.  Leaving the outer arches and the pylon stems in place kept the bridge from being completely destroyed and replaced, something that had been considered given its condition of being on the verge of collapsing, as you can see in Glauchau’s bridge tour guide.

So to sum up, this rehabilitation  project is one that is considered a wine glass that is half-full and half- empty. It is half-full because some of the important historic elements are being left in place, to be used as a foundation for the new materials that will come on top of it to retain its historic appeal. It is however half-empty because much of the original materials are not being used for the rebuild. Nonetheless, the bridge will retain its historic status in the books, yet my question I have, which will be answered through photos and commentary  during the course of this project, will be whether the bridge- the vegetarian main dish- will be the same as before? Or if it will be totally different, just like with the new multi-complex at the entrance to the Castle Complex- the main course dinner with lamb chops?

In simpler languages: will the architect be right about the changes not conforming to the castle surroundings, or will the people embrace the new form of history which features a cosmetic makeover but keeping its original historic form?

Stay tuned! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 17

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Every photographer has a place to use for target practice, experimenting with light and vantage points, and sometimes doctoring them up to make them appear unique. In my case, Glauchau (Saxony), Germany seems to be my place to do such things. Daytime and night, there is a charm of a quiet town, combined with lighting and landscapes that makes it a very attractive place to take some shots.  This includes many of the city’s dozen (historic) bridges, half of which do NOT span the city’s river, the Zwickau Mulde.

The Scherberg Bridge is one of them. The bridge crosses Talstrasse, which recently underwent major reconstruction. In an earlier pic in Instagram (and can be seen in the city’s bridge tour guide), the street was torn up due to the installment of pipelines. When this was taken, instead of yellow sodium lighting, there was LED. And instead of cobblestone, it was pavement. Therefore, instead of dark blue, I tried grey. And here is the result……

And you wonder why I love experimenting in Glauchau. 😉  You can find more in my Instagram page here. Enjoy and have a great weekend! 🙂

 

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Mystery Bridge 103: A Hidden Gem near the Mall

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The 103rd mystery bridge takes us back to the state of Saxony, but this time to Zwickau. In 2016, I did a tour guide on the city’s bridges because of its history and unique design. This tour guide can be seen here. Regrettably, I missed a few bridges most recently, which may mean an update. This bridge was one of them.

I found this bridge by chance during a bike tour to explore the city. Zwickau is the city that I’m planning on moving to with my family next summer, so it was my duty to find a good place to re-establish the household, not to mention my business of the Chronicles. The bridge is located at Außer Schneeberger Strasse just south of Breithauptstrasse, just behind Glück Auf,  the largest shopping area in Zwickau and the Zwickauer Land region (which includes Aue, Schneeberg, Kirchberg, Glauchau, Stollberg and Hohenstein-Ernstthal). The bridge currently spans a pipeline and runs parallel to an abandoned rail line between the central station and Pöhlau.

Next to the bridge is a steel plate girder span that appears to have been built in the 1970s. The bridge we are looking at is a Town Lattice truss bridge, which appears to have been built in the 1880s. There are three such spans, all of which are supported by stone piers. Each span is about 40 meters long and about 7 meters wide. The truss spans appears to have been painted recently in order to prevent rust and corrosion. The steel span is about 20 meters longer, twice as wide, and appears to have had two tracks at that time. The question we have here is whether the Town Lattice truss bridge was used first as a railroad crossing before it was converted to its current function as a pipeline crossing. This in addition to finding out when exactly it was built and who the builder way.

The map is enclosed below. Do you know more about the bridge? If so, it would be much appreciated if you can share some info. This bridge is easy to miss, yet by foot one should take some time to visit it. Let alone find out more about this missing gem…… 🙂

 

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Saving the Bockau Arch Bridge Day 8: Update and Marketing Ideas

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It has been a few weeks since my last posting about the Bockau Arch Bridge and the fight against time and the elements to save the 150-year old structure. But as you can see here as well as on the Facebook page (click here), progress is being made in leaps and bounds to have the new structure, built on alignment, ready to go by next year. Already the piers and the concrete decking are in place, and a barrier is in place, permanently blocking access to the old bridge on the north end. Many have written off the old Bridge, however…..

….it’s not over yet. The decision regarding whether the state government will accept our petition and decision to allow for time to claim ownership of the structure before it is demolished in mid-2019 is still out. We’re looking at 4-6 weeks before Dresden decides.  Another petition going one level up further is in the making, an alliance to create a bridge association is being formed, and there is ever growing support for keeping the old structure in place, this despite the claims by the communities nearby that they will not take ownership once the new bridge is open.

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The author displaying the T-shirt with Pittsburgh’s bridges at our last Meeting at the Bockau Arch Bridge and Rechenhaus Restaurant

And then we have this marketing strategy, one of many that are being sought. 🙂

A friend of mine from Pittsburgh gave me this T-shirt containing all of the city’s bridges along the Allegheny,  Monongahela and Ohio Rivers before leaving for Niagara Falls during the road trip through the Great Lakes and the Committee Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge would like to have a Shirt similar like this, but with the bridges along the Zwickau Mulde River.

That’s right! We have 40 bridges to choose from, ranging from the Jähn-Brücke at Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz (named after the lone East German astronaut, Sigmund Jähn) to Paradiesbrücke in Zwickau; The Wave in Glauchau to the Göhren Viaduct in Lunzenau; The Bridges of Rochlitz to the Suspension Bridge in Grimma. But the question is which ones deserve to be on the T-shirt?

From now until September 15th, you have the chance to vote which bridge along the Zwickau Mulde deserves to be on the T-shirt. Go to the link provided below, which will take you to the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ Facebook page and its photo album. Look at the photos selected and like the ones that are your favorite. If there is a bridge that is not listed but you want it on there, comment on it. The votes will then be tallied and the top 10-16  bridges liked on facebook will be placed on the T-shirt.

Link to the photo contest here.

For those who don’t facebook and still want to vote, you can also here:

The winners will be announced on the 17th of September. The T-Shirts will be designed similar to the one on the bridges in Pittsburgh, yet the colors will be different, reflecting on the region in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) as well as along the river. Right now, blue, green and white/grey are being considered, but we are open to other color combinations. Please send an E-Mail if you have a suggestion in colors that you would like to see appear on the T-shirts. Furthermore, as the Zwickau Mulde has one of the highest number of castles, competing with the likes of the Rhine and Rhone Rivers, each bridge will feature a place of interest in the background that is typical of the community. 

Once the design is complete and the T-shirts are available to the market, orders will be taken with proceeds going toward the Bockau Arch Bridge. You will be notified once the project is completed and available for sale.

In addition, postcards, coffee cups, a film about the Bockau Arch Bridge, another one on the bridges along the Zwickau Mulde and a book on the bridges in the region are being considered, but unlike the postcards and coffee cups, which are easy to do, the rest will need some time and planning for them to be realized. But we are starting to like this approach with the T-shirt. While more details are coming, you should really go out and choose your favorite bridges for the T-shirt project.

Good luck! 🙂

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 102: An Ancient Bridge near an Ancient Steel Factory

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Photos taken in August 2018

Our 102nd mystery bridge keeps us in Saxony but takes us deep into the mountains and further into history. The Frohnau Hammer is one of three iron hammering facilities left in operation in Saxony and the first historic site to ever be declared a state historic monument. Dating back to the 15th century, it was an iron mill that operated during the iron rush before it was converted into mills producing flax, oil, copper products and even scissors. Yet its return to glory came in 1621 when it became an iron hammer mill, producing sharp tools made of the abundant resource. It was very popular during the 17th and 18th centuries before closing in 1895. It was the first historic site declared by the state in 1907 and today, a tour of the facility can be given. A museum across the road used to be a manion that was owned by the blacksmith running the facility. A 230-year old linden tree also occupies the faciity and is protected by law.

And this leads us to the mystery bridge. This rather small stone arch bridge, approximately 20 meters in length, spans the River Flöha, carrying the road connecting Frohnau and the Annaberg portion of Annaberg-Buchholz (AB). One needs to keep in mind that even though AB was officially declared a city in 1949 and has remained a joint community legally ever since, the double-community has existed since the 15th century and even had villages of Frohnau, Geyersdorf and Kleinrückerswalde that belonged to the conglomerate. This would explain the engravings of AB on the west side of the arch at the keystone. On the railings, the western side is all made of stone, decorated with iron street lamps. On the eastern side of the bridge we have a different set of markings worth noting. For instance, we have the railings with the letters A and F. One needs to assume that they stand for Annaberg and Frohnau, respectively, and the bridge served as a border crossing between the two villages. Why A instead of AB as seen in the keystone is unclear. But in the keystone on the eastern side, the building date is 1805, which was directly in the period of high productivity at the Hammer.

The question is whether the blacksmith ordered the bridge to be built, or he constructed it himself with the help of his workers. Or did the community order it to be built, and the Hammer had no involvement but benefited the use of the crossing because the previous one was no longer feasible due to age?

This is one that require some research to solve this case. Look at the pics below and if you know anything else about the bridge, then send a comment. If anything, the bridge deserves to be mentioned as part of the tour complex of the Frohnau Hammer. Good luck and looking forward to your findings! 🙂

 

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While we are still on the topic of bridges and Saxony, the Flensburg Files recently completed a three-part quiz on the German state of Saxony, designed to test your knowledge on the history and culture of this unique state, starting with part 1 on Sächsisch, part 2 on the general facts and part 3 on the inventions that we have Saxony’s  creators to thank. To access them, go to this page and scroll down to Saxony. Good luck! 🙂

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Historic Truss Bridge in Chemnitz to be torn down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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