Following up on my last Pic of the Week post, we have this week’s pic which is symbolic. With this bridge, I completed my series on historic bridges that were built along the Motorway 72 between Hof (Bavaria) and Chemnitz (Saxony). Consisting of the Koditz, Pirk, Pöhl, Reichenbach, Wilkau-Hasslau and this last bridge, the Friesenthal Viaduct located in the south of Plauen west of the exit Plauen-Ost, all six bridges were built between 1935 and 1940, of which half of them were left uncompleted for many years and it wasn’t until 1990, when the Motorway 72 was fully restored that it became a fully-functional throughway, where to this day, tens of thousands of cars, trucks and other utility vehicles use this mainly four-lane expressway, crossing these six viaducts and dozens of overpasses daily.
This last bridge I photographed has a unique story and some primary concerns on top of that. To better explain the bridge’s story, I produced a video with some commentary, which you can listen and watch here:
The 57th pic of the week takes us to the second to last bridge I photographed along the original Motorway A 72 between Chemnitz and Hof (the last one will come in the next pic). This one is located east of Plauen and has a unique history. The Pöhl Viaduct is a seven-span stone arch bridge that was built from 1937 until its completion in 1940. The 232-meter long viaduct once spanned the valley of the River Pöhl near the village that bore that name, as well as the neighboring villages of Altensalz and Neuensalz. What was once a viaduct spanning a valley became a viaduct spanning a lake, as the Pöhl Reservoir (in German: Talsperre Pöhl) was created in 1964. The project took seven years and included the relocation of residents from Pöhl, the dredging of the valley and lastly, the construction of the dam on the north side of the reservoir as well as two dams and locks at Alten- and Neuensalz. This pic was taken from a boat, as we were on a boat tour along the Reservoir. The viaduct is difficult to photograph due to a lack of access from land. Therefore, it is recommended to spend 13 Euros and enjoy the boat tour that lasts an hour and gives you a brief look at what a person can find along the Reservoir. After all, one will never get an opportunity to photograph a bridge crossing emerald green water.
By the way, where did that emerald green water come from, anyway? 🙂
: The Reservoir Pöhl can be accessed by exiting either Treuen or Plauen-Ost. The area provides great opportunities to go swimming, (sail-)boating or hiking. There are many campgrounds nearby where one can camp while enjoying the views.
The next mystery bridge takes us further towards the Czech Republic, right into the town of Olbernhau. With a population of 11,000 inhabitants, the community is known as the City of Seven Valleys, because of the valley of the River Flöha and ist six other tributaries that meet there. Because of that, the community has many historic bridges that one needs plenty of time to visit, even though the length of the crossings are short enough to equal either one 50 foot pony truss span or one arch span of between 15 and 20 meters.
Nevertheless, our focus of this mystery bridge is the longest of the spans, a railroad bridge spanning the River Flöha on the far eastern edge of town, right at the Czech Border. Its exact location can be found in the map below. The bridge is easy to find for when heading east, you cross both the railroad tracks and the bridge before turning right. The railroad bridge is on the right-hand side.
The railroad bridge is one of the most unusual of truss bridges in Europe and beyond. The 68-meter long crossing features a skewed span, where the truss panels are placed parallel of each other along the tracks but in a slanted position at around 60°. That means the truss panel on the left side starts first and after 20 meters, the right one. While there are no portal bracings that support the two truss panelings, the horizontal strut bracings- five panels of them- hold the trusses together. The struts consist of the system of Pratt-heel bracings angled at 15° with the center portion being M-framed. The truss bridge itself is a camelback Lattice truss design with riveted connections, yet they are not the typical truss designs used for the bridges. These have stiffened connections similar to the designs patented by Claus Köpke, an engineer responsible for the construction of the Blaue Wunder Brücke, Marienbrücke and the Alberthafenbrücken all in Dresden as well as a railroad bridge in Riesa. Köpke started his career as a bridge engineer, building bridges from 1872 until his death in 1911. And while he left his mark in the greater Dresden area and parts of Thuringia, it is unknown whether he built many crossings in the Ore Mountains, let alone at this location.
The bridge was built in 1895, according to historic records and is the longest of the bridges, not only in Olbernhau but also along the rail line and the River Flöha. The construction of the bridge was part of the extension of the rail line from Olbernhau to Neuhausen, running along the Czech border. The crossing is part of the rail line that connected Pockau-Lengenfeld and Neuhausen, where the line was completed at Olbernhau in 1873, and 12 years later, extended to Nauhausen. The line was shut down in 2001 due to structural issues along the tracks and other infrastructure, yet was reactivated in 2011 after years of campaigning on the part of the mayor of Olbernhau combined with renovating the line, its train stations, and the crossings along the River Flöha. Today, the Deutsche Bahn Regional Services operates the line as it terminates in Flöha.
The bridge is listed as a German heritage site and has been since 1998, yet still its historical significance is unknown. Did Köpke oversee the construction of the bridge as part of the rail project? If not, was he responsible for the design and another bridge builder took to the task? If neither that nor that, who was the genius behind this design? This question remains open for both the readers and bridge fans, as well as the locals in and around Olbernhau. If you have any information on the bridge builder behind this bridge, please contact the Chronicles. Whatever information is useful will be added here and the Office of German Heritage (Büro für Denkmalschutz) will be able to add this to the file that exists to this day. Whatever you can find will be much useful for the region and its enriched historic heritage.
In other words, your contribution will be of utmost use. Thank you for your support.
Call for help to save a historic bridge in Missouri; A city in Saxony to receive three new bridges; Man pees off of bridge onto ship; A historic bridge gets a new home at a park in Indiana and at a church in Massachusetts; Changes to take place for the Chronicles.
Calls to Halt MoDOT’s plan to demolish Gasconade Bridge
Hazlegreen, MO:The future of the Gasconade Bridge near Hazlegreen is in the balance. Between now and July 5th, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is collecting information from residents concerning the multiple-span through truss bridge that was built 95 years ago but has been closed to traffic since 2015. A replacement span is being constructed on a new alignment to carry a frontage road which used to be Route 66. Should the majority favor keeping the bridge, then it will be up to MoDOT, who had built the structure, to find a way to keep it out of the hands of the wrecker. Information on how you can help can be found by clicking here.
Flöha to Receive Three New Bridges
Flöha (Saxony), Germany-Eight months after a fire destroyed the Apfelsinebrücke (Orange Bridge) near the city center, the city council approved a deal to construct a new bridge that spans the River Zschopau near the City Park Baumwolle. Unlike the previous structure, which was built in the early 1980s, this one will be lower and without steps thus allowing for cyclists to cross. The cost will be 800,000 Euros. It is one of three bridges that the city is looking to replace. The others include replacing the Kirschenbrücke (Cherry Bridge) at Augustusstrasse, which spans the same river. The 120-year old two span arch bridge will be replaced with a beam structure with no center pier in the river. Originally, the arch bridge was supposed to be rehabilitated, yet floodwaters in 2013 caused extensive damage that made even rebuilding the bridge to its original form impossible due to costs deemed exorbitant. The 2.3 million Euro project includes rebuilding the street approaching the bridge. The third bridge to be replaced is a wooden through arch bridge located near Niederwiesa. Built in 2006, the bridge is deemed unsafe due to deterioration in the wood. Its replacement structure will be a steel through arch bridge with truss features. It will still carry the Zschopau Bike trail connecting Flöha and Frankenberg. All three projects are scheduled to start this fall and is expected to last a year.
Man Pees off Historic Bridge onto Tour Ship in Berlin- 4 injured
And lastly, some changes are coming to the Chronicles. After two years in Schneeberg, its main office is being moved to Glauchau, located 10 kilometers north of Zwickau in western Saxony. The city of 24,000 is the center point between the cities of Jena and Erfurt to the west and Chemnitz and Dresden to the east. The move is ongoing and is expected to last through August. The Chronicles will have some pauses in between due to the move. Furthermore, the Chronicles no longer is available on Skrive, for the platform was shut down on June 15th. However, it is pursuing other social media platforms to provide coverage, which will include the use of Spotify and other podcast apps, as well as some local platforms for better coverage in the US and Europe. The project is expected to last until the end of August. To give you an idea of the move, check out the Chronicles’ on Instagram, which has a series on Moving Art.
The next pair of pics will take us to the Oblernhau/Marienberg Region, deep in the heart of the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) in south central Saxony. As a general rule, if you can master the tough terrain of steep hills, going up and down like a roller coaster, very sharp curves- mostly combined with bumps and cracks, cobblestone roads that have the potential of being slick when wet and lastly, wild boar running in front of you like a school of raccoons, then you can manage anything. And even more so, some surprises may await you.
In this case, I found one by accident. It’s a multiple-span stone arch bridge that spans a bumpy and curvy cobblestone Highway B 171, a hilly and bumpy road, a deep gorge which also has a river running through. All of it is located in the town of Zölbitz in the district of Rittersberg. The bridge is very difficult to photograph, and because of many cars racing underneath- breaking the 50 km/h speed limit in the process- it is rather dangerous to photograph, no matter at which angle. This was my experience when I photographed this structure. Even with the tree obstructing the view, the bridge presents a nice green and hilly backdrop that is typical for the Ore Mountains. The locals call the bridge Kniebreche not only because of the name of the road, but also because of the way the road is shaped like a bending knee. If one adds the driving portion to the mix, then the trip is definitely a knee-breaker if one is too careless driving in the mountains.
While the bridge looks rather abandoned because of many cracks and plus its dark brown color and vegetable overgrowth on the decking, the Kniebreche Bridge is indeed still in use. The 145-year old structure, measured at a length of 63.4 meters, is still part of the rail line that connects Marienberg with Flöha. In the past it had stretched to Reitzenhain at the Czech border. Yet as of today, the line ends in Marienberg, and the rest has been abandoned with the rails removed and plans of converting the former rail route into a biking and hiking trail with the goal of connecting the latter with the Kammweg Trail, an international route that connects Germany with points in the Czech Republic, Poland and elsewhere. That route runs through Blankenhain, where the Selbitz Bridge is located and the two suspension bridges are scheduled to be built.
Back to the railroad’s history, the line was built between 1872 and 1875. The Chemnitz- Chomotau Railroad Company was in charge of the project but contracted out to a company in Berlin. Given the narrow valleys along the Black and Red Pockau Rivers, bridges, viaducts and dams were built to accommodate two tracks but only one of them was used. The Kniebreche Viaduct was one of them. The line was the most difficult to build, not only because of the steep narrow valleys but also because of the financing. The financial crisis of 1873 forced the contractor in Berlin to liquidate, and the railroad company itself, which did the planning and layout of the railline, to finish the job.
The Kniebreche Viaduct is located in that area where two-track bridges were built even though the purpose was for having a one-track line. It’s location against the steep cliffs of the valley represent a classic example of the struggles the railroad company had in constructing the line. Given as many curves as the highway has, it is not a surprise that the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) have been using the “red worms” for regional service and leaving the long-distance trains, such as the ICE-trains off the tracks. These types of trains are better off for the long-distance routes, especially between Dresden and the cities of Chemnitz, Erfurt, Leipzig and Prague, for the landscape is flatter and the two-track lines more manageable.