The Bridges of Connersville, Indiana

Willowbrook Country Club Bridge. Photo taken by Ed Hollowell in 2018

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Film clip

Located on the Whitewater River in southeastern Indiana, Connersville, with a population of 13,200 inhabitants, may be considered a county seat of Fayette County and a typical community located deep in the plains of Indiana. The town was founded by and named after John Conner in 1813 and much of the historic downtown remains in tact to this day.

Yet little do many realize is Connersville was once home to one of the longest covered bridges in the state, a Burr Arch Covered Bridge that had once spanned the Whitewater. It has a restored covered bridge at Roberts Park and an aqueduct that had once provided water to the community.

Lastly, it had been served by a passenger railroad company, the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Traction Company (ICT), whose existence lasted for only three decades due to financial issues, but whose bridges still exist in and around Connersville.

This tour guide shows you which bridges you can see while visiting Connersville. It features a film from HYB on the bridges by ICT which includes the railroad’s history.  It also includes a tour guide of the other bridges, courtesy of bridgehunter.com.

So sit back and enjoy this film clip. 🙂

 

You can click onto the link which will take you to the bridges of Connersville below:

http://bridgehunter.com/category/city/connersville-indiana/

Information on the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Traction Line bridges are here and the company itself here.

 

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Kassberg Bridge to Be Rehabilitated

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150-year old historic bridge to be closed until Fall 2019 for renovations.

CHEMNITZ, GERMANY-  When travelling through Chemnitz in central Saxony, one will be amazed by the architecture the city has to offer. Be it from the age of industrialization, the Communist era or even the present, the city has a wide-array to choose from, which will please the eyes of the tourists, making them want to spend time there in the third largest city in the state.  Chemnitz has over 100 historic bridges that are a century old or more, most of them are arch structures made of stone, concrete or a combination of the two. But each one tells a story of how it was built and how it has served the city.

Take for instance, the Karl-Schmidt-Rottluft Bridge, on the west side of the city center. Spanning the Chemnitz River and Fabrikstrasse carrying the Ramp leading to the suburb of Kassberg, this bridge has a character in itself. The dark brown-colored stone arch bridge has been serving traffic for over 150 years, running parallel to the Bierbrücke located just to the north by about 80 meters. The five-span arch bridge features variable sizes of the arches to accomodate the ravine: two of the largest for the river, one of the widest for Fabrikstrasse and the narrowest for pedestrians, all totalling approximately 120 meters- three times as long as the Bierbrücke. The bridge was named after Karl-Schmidt-Rottluft, an expressionist painter during the (inter) war period.

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Despite its services over the year, the City of Chemnitz plans to shut down the bridge beginning in the Spring 2018 allow for extensive rennovations. The 2.8 million Euro project ($4.3 million) will include extensive work on the retaining walls and stairway connecting crossing and Fabrikstrasse below. Furthermore, repairs to the arches and renewing the decking and railings will be in the plans. The State of Saxony provided two million ($3.2 million) for the project as part of the initiative “Bridges in the Future”, which was started in 2015 and is designed to restore many of the state’s historic bridges while replacing many in dire need and beyond repair. The City of Chemnitz needed to cover the rest of the cost. The project is scheduled to be completed by October 2019.

Despite the inconvenience people will have to deal with during the 1.5 year closure, the renovation is a must, based on my many visits since the beginning of this year. Many cracks were showing in the arches and attempts to shore up the spans using concrete made the under half of the arch appear derelict. Furthermore, debris on the stone materials made the bridge in general appear dirty. Then there is the multiple spider webs hanging from the bridge, making the structure really spooky, as seen in the picture below.

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Yet on hindsight, the bridge and the nearby pub, bearing Kassberg’s name, have a unique setting which warrants such a project. While many engineers and planners have evicted owners from their businesses because of new bridges to be built, the planners for this project ensured that this will never happen, especially as the pub crafts its own microbrew, hosts many cultural events and even has a museum focusing on the district. For this bridge, it is a blessing that it will be restored to its natural beauty, while ensuring that it will continue to safely provide services to drivers and pedestrians alike.

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From a historian’s point of view, this bridge warrants more information on its history. If you have some to share, please use the contact details here and write to the author. A tour guide in English will be made available in the next year, in connection with the city’s 875th anniversary celebrations.

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Source: Chemnitz Free Press

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 84: An Ancient Bridge Over a Small Waterfall

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ERFURT, GERMANY- This Mystery Bridge article takes us back to my old battleground for bridges and teaching English: the city of Erfurt in the German state of Thuringia. As mentioned in the tour guide series five years ago, the capital has a population of 240,000 inhabitants and has over 240 bridges spanning the River Gera, the Diversion Canal Flutgraben, as well as several creeks and highways. This includes over two dozen arch bridges in the city center as well as along the Flutgraben.

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Pförtchenbrücke spanning the Flutgraben at Pförtchenstrasse southwest of Erfurt Central Station Photo taken in July 2017

And while the authors have done research on the bridges in Erfurt for two books, the latest was released in 2012, they probably have seen this bridge many times, but have crossed this bridge without noticing it just as many times as well……

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Beautiful waterfall on the southeast end of Pförtchen Bridge as the creek empties into the Flutgraben. However, when climbing up the rocks and going underneath the bridge that serves a bike path, I found another bridge, or something looking like a bridge…….

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Judging by the features of the arch strutcure, this may be the oldest infrastructure that existed in the city of Erfurt, as the bridge is made of stone, but the keystone features resemble a monster spewing out water as it flows into the mouth of the canal:

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Judging by the length of the bridge, it is no longer than 10 meters and is no more than 1.5 meters above the water.  No plaLittle is know about this bridge except for the fact that the area used to be part of the Steigerwald Forest before it was occupied with houses in the 1860s. In fact, the Pförtchen Bridge itself was once a wooden bridge built in 1875 and having served horse and buggy as a gateway to the walled city. The bridge was then replaced by the current structure in 1897 when the canal was built and the older structure was removed. It is possible that this bridge was a key crossing going to the forest, but when the first bridge was constructed, it was filled in, converting it to a pipeline which still serves the waterway. This is most likely the case as there is no known data that can prove that the pipeline was made with stone arches, unless there was a canal serving residents in the southern part of Erfurt. But even then, it would have to have been made with brick or concrete, or even lead.

But never say never, when it comes to civil engineering. When engineers have a creative idea and/or will, they will carry it out, for the purpose of experiment, aesthetics and especially, functionality. 🙂

And so, it’s your turn. What do you think and/or know about this bridge? Is this an original crossing or a pipeline? How old do you think this bridge is?  Your help with comments and information would be of great help. You can provide your thoughts and comments here or via e-mail.

 

While you are at it, check out the updated version of Erfurt’s Bridge Tour Part 1, which features bridges in the outskirts. This includes maps and additional information as well as additional information via Instagram. Click here to view. Part 2 of the city center’s bridges will follow in the fall.

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The “Recycled” Bridges of Doniphan County, Kansas

Duncan Creek Bridge near Blair. All photos courtesy of Robert Elder.

Located along the Missouri River west of St. Joseph, Doniphan County, Kansas has a rather unique set of historic bridges. Unlike the standard designs that were used during the renaissance of bridge construction between 1880 and 1930, many of the bridges found in this county were built using unusual designs that were considered absurd in the eyes of bridge engineers and politicians alike, but considered a work of art in the eyes of historians and preservationists today. Also unique are the fact that these bridges were recycled and reused in locations that are still sparesly used today. It does not necessairily mean that they were relocated per se. Some of these bridges were rebuilt, using steel parts taken from other  bridges that were dismantled and scrapped. Reason for this is due to a lack of financing for hiring contractors to build bridges, using steel from mills from the east, the county commissioners during that time found creative ways of reusing the steel parts to construct “new” used bridges. While they have not been considered eligible for the National Register just yet, due to a lack of information on their history, they will surely be considered in the coming years, when local authorities and the Kansas State Historical Society will relook at these bridges and determine which ones are historically significant.

Six bridges are being profiled in this tour guide article. Five of them are located within 10 miles’ distance of US Hwy. 36, which slices through the county.  One of them is a railroad bridge over the Missouri River at St. Joseph. The sixth bridge is located 20 miles south of St. Joseph along the tributary of the Missouri, just west of its confluence with the second longest river in the US. Only one of the six bridges profiled here has been replaced. While there are four other pre-1920 steel truss bridges and a half dozen wooden stringer bridges still in use in the county, these six are the créme dela créme because of their unique design and their construction, using recycled steel parts. We’ll start off with the first bridge:

Duncan Creek Bridge (see photo above)

Location: Duncan Creek at Randolph Rd. near Blair. 3 miles north of Hwy. 36

Bridge Type: Pin-connected Parker through truss with four panels

Date of construction: 1935

Status:  In use.

Comments:  The Blair Bridge is perhaps the smallest of any Parker through truss bridges built in the history of bridge building in the US, with the main span of only 86 feet (the total length is 91 feet) and only four panels. Normally one would find four panels on a pony truss bridge. Yet looking at the pinned connections, the portal and strut bracings  as well as the V-laced bracing on the bridge’s top chord, it appears that the bridge was assembled using parts from a bridge dismantled before the date of construction. It is clear that the date of construction is not accurate. It is possible that either the bridge was relocated to this place or it was put together on sight using parts from a pre-1900 structure(s). Evidence is pointing to the latter because of its unusual appearance, which would have violated the standardized truss codes put in place by the state when they introduced 7+ panel Parker trusses with riveted connections in ca. 1915. Whoever was the genius behind this bridge has yet to be discovered through research. In either case, the bridge still retains its original form today and is open to traffic.

 

Cottonwood Creek Bridge

Cottonwood Creek Bridge

Location: Cottonwood Creek on Larkinburg Rd., 3 miles west of Hwy. 7, 4.6 miles SSE of Bendena and 12 miles S of Hwy. 36

Bridge Type:  Pin-connected Pratt through truss, with A-frame portal bracings and a shortened middle panel

Date of construction: Before 1900

Status: Still in use on a minimum maintenance road

Comments:  At a total length of only 75 feet, the Bendena Bridge is one of the shortest Pratt through trusses built in the history of bridge building. While the bridge has a total of five panels (typical of a 100-foot through truss span), the middle panel is only a third of the length of the other four panels. This leads to the question of whether this bridge was rebuilt using parts from another bridge or if it was relocated here but the panel was shortened in length to accomodate the crossing over a small creek. It is clear that the bridge originated from a period up to 1910 for pinned connections were popular during that time.

Doniphan Bridge

Doniphan Bridge

Location: Tributary of Missouri River on Monument Rd., 1.2 miles E of Doniphan and 0.3 miles W of the Missouri River

Bridge Type:  Waddell Pony Truss with riveted connections

Date of Construction: ca. 1920

Status: In use

Comments:  The Doniphan Bridge represents an example of an earlier use of welded and riveted connections. It is considered a Waddell truss because of the subdivided connections which are not found in a kingpost pony truss design. Yet how it was resembled is unusual because of the use of steel I and H-beams that were bolted and welded together. It is possible that this bridge was assembled using steel parts from a building or a bridge. Given the excessive use of steel for heavier crossings and sturdier buildings, it is possible that this bridge was constructed between 1915 and 1940. More information is needed to determine its construction date. In either case, the unusual appearance of the bridge makes it eligible for some accolades on the state level, at least.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Creek Bridge

Location: Charlie Creek at 190th Rd., 3 miles south of Hwy. 36 and 2.3 miles west of Hwy. 220

Bridge Type: Stone arch bridge with 35° skew

Status: Replaced with a concrete culvert

Comments: The Charlie Creek Bridge was a unique crossing for two reasons: 1. It was a stone arch bridge that was built before 1920 and 2. Despite having a total length of 30-40 feet, the bridge was built oin a 35- 40° skew, thus allowing the creek to flow freely underneath the road. This was something that the county engineer kept in mind, when this bridge was replaced with a concrete culvert crossing in 2010, as it too has a skew similar to the old one.

 

 

Old Hwy. 36 Bridge

 

Old Hwy. 36 Viaduct

Location: Old railroad grade on Old US Hwy. 36, 600 feet south of US Hwy. 36, three miles E of Troy.

Bridge Type: Concrete through girder with Art Deco design

Status: Open to traffic

Comments: Before the highway was straightened out 20 years ago, the original highway presented curves and stops through even the smallest of communities. The viaduct, which crosses a once-used railroad line connecting Troy and St. Joseph, was once part of the original highway, which had a sharp double curve going over the tracks. With the realignment of the highway to eliminate this dangerous curve, the highway was relegated to a county road and the bridge became the responsibility of the county engineer. Today, the bridge, built using the textbooks standardized bridge designs in the 1920s, is still in use, carrying a gravel road. It can be seen from the new alignment just to the south.

St. Joesph-Elwood Railroad Bridge

St. Joseph and Elwood Missouri River Railroad Bridge

Location: Missouri River 0.4 miles north of Pony Express (US 36) Bridge between Elwood (KS) and St. Joseph (MO).

Bridge Type: Pennsylvania Petit (3 approach spans) and Polygonal Warren Through Truss Swing Span.

Built: 1906

Status: Still in use but plans include abandoning the line and crossing.

Comments:  This railroad crossing is the second span at thus location between St. Joseph and Elwood, carrying the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge. It is one of three remaining swing bridges and one of only six movable bridges left over the Missouri River, plus one of two that are still in operation. Yet plans call for the line and the bridge to abandoned, thus triggering an initiative to convert this crossing into a rail-to-trail line. If successful, the bridge will share similar stories with Poughkeepsie Viaduct in New York and the Booneville Bridge in neighboring Missouri, the latter of which appears to have their dream of a bike trail crossing come true. More on the project to follow as information is revealed.

To summarize, the Doniphan County bridges may be ordinary because the county is one of the more sparsely populated in Kansas, yet their historical and aesthetic value make them jewels found in an empty and highly weeded field. The bridges are worth hundreds of photos and many hours of research to determine how the county found ways to make use of old parts into fancy srtuctures. Especially with the ones in Blair, Bendena and Doniphan, their construction history and designs will definitely make them candidates for the National Register. And this apart from the nomination by the Chronicles for the 2014 Ammann Awards for Best Kept Secret in the field of Tour Guide.

The Author wishes to thank Robert Elder for the use of his photos for this article/tour guide and for providing some interesting facts in the bridgehunter.com website. You can click on the title of the bridges to go to the individual bridge pages for more info and to contribute to the discussion forum 

Yosemite Valley Bridges among the 11 most endangered.

Yosemite National Park. Located in eastern California between Lake Tahoe and Sacramento, this park is known for its seven mile long Yosemite Valley, The Half Dome, El Capitan and the 740 meter tall Yosemite Falls. It was the first park that preserved its natural scenery when the park opened in 1864. It is also famous for its eight rustic stone arch bridges, most of them were built over the Merced River and five of which were built in 1928 (the rest were constructed between 1921 and 1932). Four million people visit the park every year and in order to maintain the sustainable growth of tourist in the region, the National Park Service recently unveiled a management plan for the Merced River valley. Unfortunately, it may come at the expense of three of the stone arch bridges, as they would be removed.
Yet there is hope for the stone arch bridges. Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation nominates eleven of the most endangered historic places in the United States and its territories with a goal of providing support and offering alternatives to protect these places for generations to come. The bridges at Yosemite National Park were one of the 11 historic places considered most endangered for this year’s award. The eight bridge examples represent a major problem with managing the structures while at the same time, sustain the growth of tourism in the region. The goal with these bridges is to find a way to protect them from alteration as part of the modernization plan, while at the same time, raise awareness of how to protect these structures that are part of the National Wild and Scenic River Way.
To provide you with a better description of what the bridges look like, here is a summary of the eight bridges that one can see at Yosemite and hopefully will see in the future, should the National Park Service cooperate with other parties and organizations in preserving all of them:

The Yosemite Creek Bridge is the oldest, carrying the North Road and spanning Yosemite Creek below Yosemite Falls. Built in 1922, it spans 50 feet (15 m) in a single arch of reinforced concrete faced with granite. The bridge is 24 feet (7.3 m) wide, and was built at a cost of $32,000. The bridge originally featured lanterns on the buttresses at either end of the bridge.It replaced an earlier bridge, referred to as “the little red bridge.”

The Ahwanee Bridge was built in 1928 across the Merced with three arches, one spanning 42 feet (13 m) and the others spanning 39 feet (12 m), for a total length of 122 feet (37 m). The bridge is 39 feet (12 m) wide with a 27 feet (8.2 m) roadway, a 5 feet (1.5 m) sidewalk and a 7 feet (2.1 m) bridle path. It carries the Mirror Lake Road, framing a view of Half Dome for eastbound traffic. Cost was $59,913.09.

The Clark Bridge was also built in 1928 with a single 75.5-foot (23.0 m) semi-elliptical main span flanked by two round-arched subways for horse-and-rider traffic, 7 feet (2.1 m) wide by 11 feet (3.4 m) high through the bridge’s abutments. Cost was $40,061.22. The bridge carries the 27-foot (8.2 m) Curry Stables Road, a 5 feet (1.5 m) sidewalk and a 7 feet (2.1 m) bridle path.

The Pohono Bridge (1928) spans 80 feet (24 m), carrying the 27-foot (8.2 m) El Portal Road and a 5 feet (1.5 m) bridle path, at a cost of $29,081.55.

The Sugar Pine Bridge (1928), also historically known as the Kenneyville Bridge No. 2, spans 106 feet (32 m) at a five-degree skew across the river, with a 27-foot (8.2 m) roadway, a 5-foot (1.5 m) sidewalk and a 7-foot (2.1 m) sidewalk. It carries the Mirror Lake Road. The longest span of the eight bridges, the cost was $73,507.44. The bridge was named for a large sugar pine that grew to the north of the east bridge abutment.

The Tenaya Creek Bridge (1928) spans Tenaya Creek with a single 56.75-foot (17.30 m) arch at a 25-degree skew on the Happy Isles-Mirror Lake Road. The bridge carries the standard roadway, bridle path and sidewalk. Cost was $37,749.16.

The Happy Isles Bridge on the Happy Isles Road was built in 1929 with one span of 75 feet (23 m) and two equestrian subways in its abutments similar to those of the Clark Bridge, its near twin. The bridge’s total length is 126 feet (38 m). Cost was $46,673.03.

The Stoneman Bridge (1933) resembles the Clark and Happy Isles bridges, with a 72-foot (22 m) main span carrying a 27-foot (8.2 m) road and two 6-foot (1.8 m) sidewalks. The equestrian subways in the abutments were slightly enlarged in width to 8.5 feet (2.6 m) and were extended out from the surface of the wing walls for greater emphasis. It is located at the Camp Curry intersection. Cost was $71,675.08.The bridge replaced a wooden bridge that had carried the former “Royal Arch Avenue” to the Stoneman Hotel, which had been demolished by the 1920s. Construction on the bridge was built by Sullivan and Sullivan of Oakland, California, but was terminated when the Bureau of Public Roads lost confidence in the contractor’s ability to carry out the work. The bridge was completed by the Portland, Oregon firm of Kueckenberg & Wittman.

Note: Information courtesy of wikipedia. More details can be found here.
The Bridges of Yosemite are not the first bridges to be placed on the 11 Most Endangered List. Here is a list of past bridges that were listed as well as the report of what has happened to them.

Memorial Bridge at Portsmouth, New Hampshire:  This vertical lift bridge was nominated in 2009 but  was demolished in February 2012 to make way for a replica of the bridge. Completion is expected in 2013.

Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge at Atchinson, Kansas: This continuous bridge was named after the first female pioneer pilot and was nominated in 2003. Sadly, this bridge is due to be demolished and replaced this year.

Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Florida: This unique bridge was nominated in 1997 as the bridge deteriorated to a point where demolition became an option. However, the citizens rallied for support for saving the bridge, which happened in 2011 through six years of extensive renovation.

Stillwater Bridge in Stillwater, Minnesota: A jewel for the city on the St. Croix, the bridge was nominated in 1997 which resulted in a resolution to convert the bridge into a pedestrian bridge upon completion of the new Stillwater Bridge 5 kilometers south of the city in 2016. A win-win situation for the city and its neighbor Houlton, Wisconsin.