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 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.
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. 🙂
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.
And with that I found a couple observations worth noting:
The bridge was being layered with slabs of concrete, bit by bit, filling in the arches and making its way up.
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
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.
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.
Our 46th pic of the week you will find on the Chronicles’s facebook page. With a setting like this on the eve of spring with leaves blossoming and all, this structure definitely deserves some attention, especially given the fact that it has come off a fresh rehabilitation.
The structure is located at Floßplatz and Heidelbach at the mill and dam, spanning the River Zschopau between Warmbad and Wolkenstein. It was built in 1828 using sandstone and other minerals and is a one-span arch bridge. Flood damage in 2013 forced its closure and it wasn’t until 2017 when the bridge was finally restored, but at a steep cost of 2.2 million Euros. The structure is open to traffic but only one lane and preferrably with anything OTHER than a car for one can make it on the other side but just barely.
Nevertheless, the bridge has several backdrops where one can photograph from different angles. I have a couple more to back this up. The bridge is a real diamond in the rough if you pass on by going from Chemnitz to the Czech border and beyond. One will need a good bike tour to catch this beauty in full. 🙂
This entry starts with a little bit of irony. The bridge was supposed to be torn down beginning the 14th after the organization Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge was unable to purchase the historic stone arch bridge for 1.7 million Euros- a price that was considered too high and the figure to fictitious to anyone’s liking. Because of a massive snowstorm that brought life in Saxony and parts of Germany to a complete standstill, it was pushed back to the 21st. As of this entry and visit to the bridge on the 23rd, the old stone lady is still standing, with no digger, no crane, no driller, no construction worker. At temperatures well below zero Celsius, it makes the planned demolition impossible. And with more snow and cold in the forecast, chances are very likely that the planned work may not even commence until sometime before Easter.
And that is a long ways away. However, this may be that window of opportunity that we need to turn it around and pull off an upset- a hat trick that is even bigger than the bunny the Ministry of Finance and Transport pulled. Already suggestions from nearby communities in Saxony indicate that people don’t want to part ways from this historic bridge just yet. In the newly consolidated Aue-Bad Schlema for example, there was a proposal to divert funding for renovating a club to go to purchasing and renovating the bridge. In Beiersfeld near Schwarzenberg, one official suggested at least leaving the bridge piers so that a wooden bridge is put in its place. If covered, it would be a first in over 150 years. And even in Berlin, the petition to save the bridge is being examined as the federal government still owns the bridge and the highway that crosses it, although it’s crossing a new bridge on a new alignment. So in other words, while the state is dead set on removing the structure, attempts to pull an upset is in the works. And as long as Old Man Winter hovers over the Ore Mountain region, there is still some hope to pull this off.
But how to do it?
We’re looking for any ideas to halt the demolition process. Rallies are possible, for we’ve seen this at many historic bridges in the US and Canada. Concerts as well. There is a possibility to donate to the group Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge. But more importantly, we need some sources and people willing to step in and save a piece of history, one that can be used as a crossing for cyclists and pedestrians, fishermen and photographers, anybody who would rather see a piece of history in tact as is, and not in rubble. The old bridge has potential, and is stable enough for use. We need some ideas and your help…..
….as long as the snow is there and no green.
You can send your suggestions here, but you can also contact the following representatives of the Friends of the Bockau Arch Bridge (Freunde der Rechenhausbrücke) using the e-mails below:
Ulrike Kahl <email@example.com>, Hermann Meier<firstname.lastname@example.org>, Günther Eckhardt <email@example.com>
Please note that you should have your German language ready for use!
To close this, I would like to use a Cree Indian quote but adapted in this context, which goes like this:
Not until the the decking has been taken out
Not until the arches have been removed
Not until the piers are imploded
Not until the materials are hauled away
Not until we realize what we’ve done to our local history
That it cannot be replaced with memories.
We will fight until the last brick leaves Rechenhaus.
For those who joined the Chronicles via Skrive, you can collect the information on the bridge by clicking here, and then following the updates so that you get a bigger picture and perhaps help.
Check out our facebook page here for photos and other information. You are free to follow and join in the conversation, regardless of language.
As the year is slowly but surely coming to a close, we’re starting to see some developments in Saxony, pertaining to the bridges; especially along the Zwickau Mulde as it had been a work zone for much of the year but . Some are good, but others just want to make a person scratch his head. In either case, this Newsflyer focuses on the bridges in the region, most of them are updates.
New Arches for the Hirschgrund
GLAUCHAU- Four months after razing all but two of the outer arches of the Hirschgrund Bridge at the Castle Complex in Glauchau, the bridge is being rebuilt, bit-by-bit. According to observations made by the Chronicles on Buß und Bettag (The Day of Prayer and Reflection), four new arches have been installed, thus reestablishing connection between the south entrance to the castle and the park across from the ravine. The arches have a red lining as they are made of brick, thus making it one of the first signs that the bridge will have a different face come time of its reopening in the Fall 2019. The next part is building up the spandrel to make the crossing more even. Chances are though that due to wintry conditions to come, the reconstruction will commence in the spring.
Almost Done with the Röhrensteg
ZWICKAU- Work is almost finished with the Röhrensteg, a 500-year old covered bridge spanning the Zwickau Mulde. Work started dismantling and repairing bridge parts in May, yet the project was delayed substantially because of the delay in the shipment of a special wood that was used to build the covered bridge. Furthermore, many parts needed to be replaced because they no longer could be used due to age, wear and tear and as a result, cracks and other creases that developed. The pedestrian bridge is scheduled to be reopened by year’s end. However, based on observations, the structure will look totally different than it had been in the years before the much-needed makeover. How different? An article will be produced and one can see the difference for himself.
Going Up in Schlunzig
SCHLUNZIG/GLAUCHAU/ZWICKAU- When travelling north on Highway B-93 from Zwickau to Meerane, one can see from the distance at the Mosel exit a tower that is growing by the day. That is because the Schlunzig Cable-Stayed Bridge and its tower is being put together bit-by-bit. Already, two 21-ton pylons, measured at 8 meters tall and 3.1 meters wide were hoisted onto the concrete tower by crane and fastened together, thus creating an H-shaped pattern. From there, 24 cables measuring between 28 and 55 meters will be hung and stiffened from the 32-meter high pylon, which will support the roadway. The deck will be built in segments beginning next year. The 7 million Euro bridge over the Zwickau Mulde will replace the concrete beam bridge dating back to 1964 that is still open, allowing drivers to see the new bridge. That bridge, which suffered irreparable damage due to the 2013 floods, will be removed once the bridge opens in the Summer 2019.
Cainsdorf Bridge as a Pedestrian Bridge?
CAINSDORF/ ZWICKAU- Another hot debate on the horizon is with the Cainsdorf Bridge. Located six kilometers upstream, the 1929 deck plate girder bridge has reached the end of its useful life and construction is planned to build a new bridge. The question is whether it should be 300 meters to the north of the bridge, reported earlier in the year or whether it should be at the same spot as the present structure, whose weight limit of 3 tons has reduced access to just cars. Both options have been met with opposition because of the disadvantages. Opponents for the first option claim that having two bridges would mean a waste of money. Even talks of restoring the bridge for pedestrian and bike use instead of for cars are being met with hefty criticism for that key reason. By the same token tearing down the bridge and rebuilding on the spot will cut off key access between Reinsdorf (and other areas to the east) and the southern suburbs of Zwickau (especially the Planitz area), especially as there is a high school, churches and housing nearby. This would be an inconvenience to the residents as well. The debate between convenience/logistics versus money will continue to be a hot topic as the city council will be discussing this before reaching a decision come the end of this year. By that time, one will take advantage at the expense of the other.
Stone Arch Bridge to be rehabilitated in 2020?
LUNZENAU- The forms have been filled and sent. Talks have concluded. Yet no action has been taken. Why? This is the issue facing the residents of Lunzenau and the future of its bridge. The Stone Arch Bridge spans the Zwickau Mulde and was built in 1863 replacing a covered bridge that dated back to the 13th Century. It was rebuilt after the floods in 1954 and a temporary bridge was built over the original decking in 2011. The bridge is now going to be rebuilt, bringing its original charm back to the community, but work will not start before 2020. Reason: A temporary bridge is needed to allow for traffic to pass while the arch bridge is being restored. The cost for that alone is EUR 770,000 of the 2 million that is needed for rebuilding it. That needs an extra approval. The temp bridge is needed for the next crossing is eight kilometers away in Göhren for cars. For pedestrians, the Küblers Bridge is two kilometers away from the town center. It is concluded that the arch bridge needs to be restored. Once the approval is received, work can start next Fall.
Bridgehunter Online Shop now open
ZWICKAU/ GLAUCHAU/ AUE- The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles now has an online shop, opened just in time for the holiday season. For the first time since 2015, the Chronicles is selling products pertaining to historic bridges in the US, Europe and elsewhere. While there are no calendars for sale for 2019 (it is being planned for 2020, though), the shop’s main features include the bridges along the Zwickau Mulde River and its cities, Glauchau and Zwickau, which can be found in the apparel. The images produced by the author are based on a questionnaire that was conducted in August 2018, where voters were to decide which of the 40 bridges along the river should be on the T-shirt. In the end, it was decided that three different designs were to be made. A fourth one on the bridges in the Lunzenau region is being considered should the sale be a success. There are also other items with photos and designs on there where a person can purchase for use, including Christmas cards. Click onto the link below, feel free to shop around, and if you find the right gift for that particular person, feel free to order online. More products will come later, so stop by every often.
Check out the photos and other updates on the Chronicles Facebook page, as there will be many Posts to come. In the meantime, happy bridgehunting and don’t forget: The Deadline for submissions of Bridge photos and the like for the 2018 Ammann Awards is 5th December. Details here.