Mystery Bridge Nr. 132: The Bridge “Daheim”

Photo by Geoff Hobbs

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The 132nd mystery bridge takes us to Duchess County, New York and to the Hitchcock Estate near Millbrook. The estate was originally established through the purchase and consolidation of five farmsin 1889  by Charles Dieterich, a German entrepreneuer and acetylene gas mongul, who founded the Union Carbide Company in 1917.  Addison Mizner designed the four-story 38-room mansion which Dieterich named “Daheim” (“Home”) in 1912. The mansion was characterized for being late-Victorian, interpreted for having Queen Anne style or Bavarian Baroque architecture by many critics. The mansion has turrets, verandas, and gardens, as well as large gatehouse, horse stables, and other outbuildings.The mansion changed hands many times before the Hitchcock Family (William, Thomas and Margaret (Peggy). It was later handed down to Timothy Leary, who was famous for the psychedelic movement in the 1960s. The complex has been sitting vacant for over four decades, yet it has a lot of surprises in terms of its history- not just in terms oft he architecture, but also oft he families who had owned Daheim.

And this takes us to one of the accessories of the Hitchcock Estate, the stone arch bridge. Geoff Hubbs found this postcard and posted it to bridgehunter.com recently, although another postcard with another view of the bridge can be found on eBay. It features a three-span stone arch bridge spanning a body of water that has long since been covered in soil and grass. It featured a guard house also made of stone. Judging by the angle of the bridge compared to the other postcards, the roadway and the arches seemed curved. The bridge has long since been removed but its missing history can be added to the mysteries that Daheim has in general.

In particular:

  1. When was the bridge built?
  2. Who designed and constructed the bridge?
  3. How long was it in service before it was torn down?
  4. When was the bridge removed and why?

These bridge questions can be tied into the questions we have about the families that had owned the estate prior to ist abandonment, including their lifestyles, their backgrounds in business and the like, their role in the expansion and/or upkeep of the estate, etc. What we do know is a circumneutral bog lake (a spring fed calcareous body of water that usually supports the vegetation of both acidic bogs and calcareous marshes) was discovered by scientists in 2003 and efforts were being taken to preserve and restore it because of ist rarity. It is unknown how this is in direct relation with the estate and whether it plays a role in restoring the estate itself in the future. We do know that it belongs to one of the secrets that the Hitchcock Estate has to offer.

It’s doubtful that there is a connection between the Hitchcock Family and Alfred Hitchcock, the famous horror story producer. But we do know that the Hitchcock Estate- Daheim- would be a perfect scene for an Alfred Hitchcock film because of all the dirt it can dig up. The bridge itself is one of many examples of mysteries the estate has to offer……

 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 131: A Small “Forgotten” Bridge in a Small Forgotten Village

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LAHR (BW), GERMANY- The next Mystery Bridge takes us to the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg and to the city of Lahr. The community of 44,000 inhabitants is located near the cities of Offenburg and Strassbourg along the River Rhine and is easily accessible by the motorway (A 5), train and boat.  The mystery bridge at hand can be found to the north of the city, near the town Friesenhaim and Heiligenzell, along the creek Leimbach.

Towards the playground in Heilizenzell on a small path running parallel to the main street one will cross the Leimbach. The crossing is full of bushels of reed and poison ivy on each side of the path. One will not notice the historic crossing unless you cut away at the vegetation and see the arch.  Yet one may perceive it as a modern-day culvert. Yet when looking at it more closely……

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……one will see the inscription on the arch and the stone spandrels, making this crossing definitely an arch bridge. Looking more closely, we have the inscriptions of I K 8 8 1 4- the first 8 is larger and resembles a letter S spelled backwards with an I down the middle.

This is our mystery bridge. Its design is just as unique as its history. Its history is linked to the history of Heiligzell and the disappearance of the town’s predecessor. At the site of the crossing was the village known as Leymbach. According to the history books, the village was first mentioned in the first Century, AD. It was large farm and trading post that was owned by the Romans during the time of the Empire. Evidence of that comes from a well that was built five meters deep. This was discovered in 1979 by gardener Klaus Schwendemenn and was restored by the neighboring community Friesenheim.

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The well and the remaining foundations from the Roman times. Photo taken by Andreas Loegler

The village was later mentioned by the Lahr registry books in 1356 but it was last mentioned in 1535. Afterwards, Leymbach disappeared from the map. Historians have speculated that the town’s demise had to do with pests, fire and warfare which led to the residents fleeing to safer places. But more research is needed to confirm. Leymbach had a district of Hovestadt, yet it was only mentioned once in the 1500s. What’s left of Leymbach are two farm field border markings with the names “Auf der Steinmättle” and “Hinterem Steinmättle”

The town of Heiligenzell was first mentioned in the 10th Century AD when the farm/ trading post was given to the Monestary by Emperor Heinrich II. It was christenen Heiligenzell by the 14th Century. It was an important trading post during the Middle Ages. It was destroyed during the Geroldsecker feud during the 15th Century, and it is possible that it was the same feud that devastated Leymbach. Heiligenzell was later rebuilt and it is possible that Leymbach folded into its neighboring post. A castle was built during the 1500s to protect the residents. Two churches were added- a monestary and later a Catholic Church in the late 1800s.  Heiligenzell had a coat of arms that resembled the number 8, which was the same coat of arms found on the keystone of the bridge.

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Coat of Arms of Heiligenzell

The coat of arms and the number is much larger than the other inscriptions, which means the bridge belonged to Heiligenzell. Interestingly enough are the other inscriptions. The first are the initials for the person who built the bridge, which was I. K. The second is the fact that the letter K has the same function as the number 1, according to the history books. Normally a Roman number 1 would have the same function as the letter I. Therefore we can conclude that the bridge was built in 1814 by a person, whose name starts with I for the first name and K for the last. Otherwise it would contradict the history books regarding the founding of Heiligenzell.

The Leimbach was rerouted to run along the path in 2014, and this was when the bridge was discovered. It has received lots of media attention because of its unique design and a history that has a place in the puzzle on the history of Heiligenzell, including its former neighboring village of Leymbach. It is a foregone conclusion that the bridge’s predcessor used to connect the two but we don’t know what it looked like  before this structure was built. We do know that person I.K. built the bridge but we don’t know who that person was and if he had built other arch bridges nearby.

Therefore the search for the history of the bridge and its connection with Heiligenzell’s own history is open to the forum. It is open to locals who have a lot of knowledge of the history of Lahr, its suburb of Friesenheim and Heiligenzell and the Black Forest region of Baden-Wurttemberg. It is also open to those who know a lot about Roman history and the role of the Romans in Baden-Wurttemberg. But it is also open to all who are interested in the research on the bridge, and everything else that goes along with that. The Chronicles did a podcast on this on June 20th. Now come the details and photos.

The rest falls to those who are interested. Good luck and let the author of the Chronicles know what you find. Thanks! 🙂

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Author’s Note: Special thanks to Ekehard Klem for the photos and the background information on the bridge and the surrounding area.

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Waldcafé Bridge in Göhren to be Replaced

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Photos taken in 2017

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Over 115-year old crossing over the Zwickau Mulde will be torn down beginning June 6. Replacement Bridge to be completed by End of November

LUNZENAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- One can see the bridge from the Göhren Railway Viaduct. The structure and the viaduct itself were once a photographer’s dream, especially because of its unique setting along the River Zwickau Mulde. Now the historic Waldcafé Bridge will become a memory.

The Waldcafé Bridge is a single span stone arch bridge with open spandrels resembling mini-arches. It was built in 1904 and has a total length of 60 meters and a width of 7 meters. The bridge carries State Highway 242. The bridge was recognized in the book Steinbrücken in Deutschland (Stone Bridges in Germany), which has a short summary on the historic structure. It was also listed as a technical monument by the Saxony Ministry for the Protection of Historic and Cultural Places (Denkmalschutz).

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Workers are prepping for the removal of the historic bridge and replacing it with a more modern structure. After installing a temporary footbridge over the river, the bridge will fall victim to the diggers. The project to replace the span will last from now until the end of November, pending on the situation with the weather and the Corona Virus.  The footbridge will provide direct access to the Waldcafé from the parking area on the southern end of the bridge, which will be a relief for business owners who had already taken a hit from the loss of customers because of Covid-19 but also the cyclists who otherwise would have been forced to detour via Lunzenau or Wechselberg. The cost for the whole project is estimated to be at approximately 220,000 Euros.

When work on the new bridge is finished, tourists and commuters will see a modern bridge that is wider and safer for use. Yet its historic flavor will be missed, Especially if one sees the new structure from the viaduct.

 

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Amrutanjan Bridge Demolished

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189-year old arch viaduct from the British era imploded.

LONAVALA, INDIA- A piece of history from the British era in India has fallen. Crews of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) brought down the Amrutanjan Bridge on April 7th, using explosives.It took no more than 10 seconds for the eight arches to come down in sequential order, as seen in the video above.  Construction of the brick arch bridge started in 1829 and was completed less than a year later in November 1830. It is unknown who had directed the construction of the viaduct. The bridge was over 300 meters long and 20 meters high. The viaduct was integrated into the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in 2002, but was put out of service a decade later.

The viaduct became a traveller’s worst nightmare with as many as 15-20 traffic jams stretching for dozens of kilometers were reported per month, due to its narrowness. Furthermore, accidents were reported on and at the viaduct with many people photographing the bridge and the scenery at Khandala Ghat, a heavily forested region in western India.

The Raigad District Collector provided the MSRDC the green light to proceed with the demolition, taking advantage of the Indian government’s Corona Virus lockdown order that is currently in place through May 3rd.  It had been slated on the condemnation list since 2017 because of its deteriorating state.  Nevertheless, there are still countless of ancient structures left belonging to the former British colony that had ruled India until its independence in 1948.

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Plaka Bridge in Greece Restored

Photo taken by C. Messier for wikiCommons in 2014

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ARTA, GREECE- It took a few seconds to bring down the largest bridge of its kind in the Balkans Region. Flash flooding from the Arachthos River washed away the Plaka Bridge in February 2015, an 1866 stone arch bridge built by Constantinos Bekas.

Five years later, the bridge has been rebuilt and it looks like nothing happened. Over 300 crews worked around the clock to rebuild the arch bridge, using the same technology that had been used when the structure was originally built. As many as 9000 stones with a measurement of 70 by 40 by 10 cm were hewed and wedged together carefully without the single use of metal skeletal support for the bridge. In fact the only metal used was temporary scaffolding to hold the pieces of the bridge in place. “The result is a bridge which is more than a twin of the first one, it is a bridge with the same DNA,” says Dimitris Kaliabakos, Professor of Metallurgy and Mine Engineering at the National Metsovio Polytechnic in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

With the bridge, or shall we say its “twin” back over the river and the scaffolding now gone, crews are going to observe the bridge closely to see how well it can survive the extreme weather conditions, such as flooding and other storms, the same extremities that destroyed the original structure. Afterwards, it will be reopened to the traffic and the Katsanohoria villages in the region of Epirus will reclaim ownership of this unique structure. When the Plaka Bridge finally reopens to traffic remains unclear.

The Plaka Bridge is located at the borders of Arta and Ioannina prefectures, spanning the River Arachthos. With its arch of 40 metres (130 ft) width and 17.61 m (57 ft 9 in) height, it is the largest single-arch stone bridge in Greece and the Balkans. It is also the third largest bridge of its kind in Europe. The central, monumental arch also has two small auxiliary arches on either side, each measured at six meters wide. Like with the reconstruction, it was the most difficult bridge ever built.

The bridge will be in the running for the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards in the category Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge.

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Hirschgrundbrücke in Glauchau- Update as of October 5, 2019

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Current status as of 5 October, 2019:

The roadway and concrete curb of the Hirschgrundbrücke is completed and is just a question of time before the approaches on both ends (the park side to the south and the castle side to the north) are constructed. With rainy weather we’ve been having, typical of fall weather here in Saxony, it would not be surprising if we have another delay and workers have to wait until they are added, together with the railings.

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Furthermore, the concrete facade, which youu can see in this pic sandwiched between the scaffolding and the concrete, is almost finished as well. The facade, as mentioned in a previous post, is broken up stone that had been on the original structure before it was demolished in July 2018. In this pic, the is about a meter’s worth of layering left before the bridge is like its previous form. And this will lead us to the following question:

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When will the scaffolding come down so that we can finally see the finished product? We know it will open to pedestrians in November, but we’re getting anxious to see her in use again. 🙂

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To be continued……

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 58

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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:

 

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One of the bridge’s uniqueness comes from the various colors of bricks used for building (and reconstructing the bridge. Any ideas what type of brick was used (from which minerals)?

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Pic of the Week Nr. 55

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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.

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Royal Springs Bridge in Kentucky- the oldest; the most forgotten of historic bridges?

Photo taken by James MacCray in 2013

A History in Your Backyard Documentary.

GEORGETOWN, KENTUCKY (USA)- The best historic bridges are the ones that are the most hidden, the most unrecognizable and in this case, the most heavily traveled bridge. The Royal Springs Bridge is located in Georgetown. It spans the creek bearing its name carrying Main Street and US Hwy. 460 near the university. Although the bridge was built in 1800, records indicated that it was constructed in 1789, the same year George Washington was elected the first president of the US. The engineer was Elijah Craig.This makes it the oldest bridge in the state.

Yet there are some more interesting points about this bridge. Here are some more in a documentary produced by History in Your Own Backyard:

 

Further information about its history can be found here via bridgehunter.com.

This bridge is a classic example of a bridge that is a forgotten one unless you make a stop with the camera and get a few shots. Especially if the structure is listed as a technical heritage site. 🙂

 

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Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Last week in the Chronicles’ Instagram page, there were a pair of photos of the progress that is being made with the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a multiple-span arch bridge spanning the ravine at the castle complex south of Glauchau’s city center. As I’ve been reporting up until now, the original bridge dating to the 1700s is being rebuilt after having sat abandoned for over four decades and having been in danger of collapsing under its own weight. With spring in the air, I took an opportunity to get a closer look at the bridge, apart from my usual vantage points, which were from both ends of the bridge. With all the scaffolding that has “encased” the bridge, this was the closest way to find out how it has progressed since my “sniper” shot of the red arches taken in the fall on the eve of a concert at St. George’s Church.

Then:

Now:

And with that I found a couple observations worth noting:

  1. The bridge was being layered with slabs of concrete, bit by bit, filling in the arches and making its way up.
  2. There was a pile of stones that are on the eastern side of the bridge- assumedly salvaged from the old structure and waiting to be reused and
  3. More curiously, vertical posts were sticking out between the arches.

With number 3, I wanted to find out what they were used for, so I got ahold of the city and one of the engineers for an inquiry. This is what I received for an explanation per e-mail (after having it translated):

The load-bearing system of the bridge consists of transverse walls on the piers and self-supporting longitudinal walls, which are then veneered. The inside of the bridge is filled with lightweight porous concrete.

In simpler languages, the newly-rebuilt bridge will have a skeletal system featuring horizontal slabs supported by the vertical piers planted between the arches. All of them will be covered in layers of concrete and then masked to make it appear historic like its original form. Should this be the case, it would not be the “in-kind” restoration of an arch bridge, meaning building it beginning with the arch and then in layers, stone-by-stone and then filled in to make sure the structure is stabilized. Yet it would represent the modern form of restoring the bridge, as it has been seen with some of the bridges restored in Germany, including those in Thuringia, Berlin and Bavaria. That would still make the arch bridge historic but with “braces” to ensure it lasts longer and is able to withstand the increasing weight and number in traffic. With the Hirschgrundbrücke itself, when reopened, it will serve pedestrians, connecting the castle complex and the park across the ravine.

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The future of the original stones from the bridge is unknown.

While there is no concrete date as to when the project will be finished and when the grand “re-opening” will take place, there are some other curious facts that will be mentioned in a tour that is scheduled to take place this weekend. On May 11th at 10:15, 11:00 and 11:45 there will be a tour of the construction site with many questions and photo sessions available. This is all part of the informational Meeting at the Castle Complex that will include what has been completed and what will be the next phases in renovating the castle- namely the grounds and the park. All of which will start at 10 and be finished after 12:00. A link to the page can be found here.

In either case, more updates on the Hirschgrundbrücke will come in the Chronicles. Stay tuned. In case you haven’t taken a look at Glauchau’s Bridge tour guide, check out this and others by clicking here.

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