The Bridges of Grimma (Saxony), Germany

Poppelmann Bridge at Volkshausplatz and City Center. Photos taken in August 2021

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Located on the River Mulde between Leipzig and Dresden is the city of Grimma. With a population of 28,700 inhabitants, Grimma is geographically located at the junction of the flat lands to the north and the hills and lakes region to the south. The name is of Sorbian origin and means a region that is at or below sea level, surrounded by water. The city has had its share of flooding in its 1000+ year history, but for each disaster it faces, it emerges bigger and better than before. It has survived six floods plus the bombings of the second World War only to become a more attractive community for people to live. Much of Grimma’s architecture today either originates from the Baroque period or mimick’s that because the original was destroyed. Grimma’s city center has many small shops in historic buildings that are over two centuries old. The historic city hall is one of them. The largest building in the city is the St. Augustin, a combination of high school and chuch located along the Mulde. To the south of the city near the dam is the castle, where the Margraves of Meissen and the Electors of Saxony once resided.  Grimma is the largest city along the River Mulde in Saxony and is a major stop for cyclists riding along the Mulde. In terms of land size, it’s the fourth largest in the state of Saxony. And when it comes to bridges, Grimma has a storied history behind two of the city’s most popular attractions.

Eight bridges within a radius of 10 kilometers can be found in Grimma, including the Motorway 14 Bridge and a bridge south of Grimma at Grossboden, all but two spans the River Mulde. Yet the most important of the city’s bridges are the Grimma Suspension Bridge and the Poppelmann Arch Bridge because of its history of being rebuilt after each disaster and also because of their unique designs. These two bridges, plus an arch bridge along a former railroad line, the arch bridge at Grossboden and the Mill Run Bridge will be featured in the Top Five Bridge Pics when visiting Grimma. The other bridges will be mentioned in one way or another in reference to the bridges profiled here in this tour guide.

So without further ado, let’s have a look at the bridges in Grimma and find five bridge reasons to convince you to visit this fine community.

Poppelmann Arch Bridge

Location: Mulde River at Volkhausplatz and Muldenufer

Type: Stone arch bridge with tubular steel arch main span. Five arch spans exist.

Built: 1719 replacing earlier spans dating back to 1292. Rebuilt seven times, the last being in 2012

Length: 143 meters, 7.3 meters wide

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The Poppelmann Bridge has perhaps one of the most storied histories of bridge building not only in Saxony, but on the international front. Its first crossing dates back to the 13th Century. Counting the reconstruction in 2021, it has been rebuilt at least ten times in over 900 years of its existence. It was built and rebuilt using at least five different bridge types: arch bridge, covered bridge, metal truss bridge, suspension bridge and modern beam bridge. It is also considered one of the most ornamental bridges in Saxony, as today’s bridge is covered with ornamental lighting, and has a Baroque-style shield representing Saxony. To go into detail about the bridge would require a separate article but there is a book that was written about this bridge that was published in 2017.  But to give you some facts about this bridge:

The ornamental monument with the seal of Saxony, constructed with the bridge in 1719. Source: Joeb07, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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The bridge in its current form was constructed in 1719 by Mathias Poppelmann. It was the fourth crossing at this location as the previous ones were destroyed either during warfare or flooding. For almost a Centruy before Poppelmann built this bridge, there was no crossing and attempts to garner support had failed. Mr. Poppelmann had left his signature in bridge building in Saxony, which included not only the construction of the Augustus Bridge in Dresden, but also the Poppelmann design, where the covered bridge is the main span and the approach spans are made of red stone arch. Dozens were built in Saxony during his time as bridge engineer, yet sans covered bridge, only two of his examples exist today, here and in Waldheim. The Poppelmann Bridge in his current form had existed for over 170 years with the covered bridge having been rebuilt in 1816, three years after it was destroyed during the war with Napoleon.

In 1894, in response to the increase in traffic, the bridge was rebuilt. The covered bridge was replaced with a Schwedler pony truss span while the arches were strengthened. It was in service until the span was imploded by the fleeing Nazi troops on 15 April, 1945. It was rebuilt with an improvised suspension bridge right after the war, but was replaced with a deck truss bridge two years later. The bridge was extensively rehabbed in 1972 which included a permanent deck truss span. It remained in service until 1996 when the bridge was rehabbed again, this time with a concrete deck arch center span. At the same time, a taller span was constructed, located 100 meters north of the structure, which has been serving traffic ever since. The historic bridge was reopened in 1999 but little did the City of Grimma realize that a flood of biblical proportions would cause massive destruction to much of the city and this bridge.

The Poppelmann Bridge after the 2002 Floods. When this was taken in 2009, two additional arches were removed. Source: Joeb07, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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On August 13, 2002, massive floodwaters caused extensive damage to the bridge. The newly built center span was dislodged from the bridge and was washed away. The two arches that had supported the main span was damaged to the point that they were not salvageable. The bridge was rebuilt from the bottom up, rebuilding the arches that could be saved and removing the ones that were not. A new center span, featuring a tubular arch design, was chosen as its replacement. On August 12, 2012, after a three-year project, the bridge was reopened to pedestrians and cyclists. It survived the 2013 floods unscathed, while other areas to the north of Grimma was affected the worst.

Today’s Poppelmann Arch Bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists and is conveniently located next to the parking lot that accommodates visitors to the shopping center and sports complex. The Poppelmann Bridge is the best accessory to Grimma’s city center as it presents a backdrop to the historic buildings that exist on the western side of the river, including the St. Augustin and the historic City Hall.

More on the bridge, including historic photos and the like here: http://www.poeppelmannbruecke.de/

Grimma Suspension Bridge

Location: Mulde River at Colditzer Weg and Bärenburg Castle

Type: All-steel wire suspension bridge

Built: 1924, rebuilt in 1949 and again in 2004

Length: 80 meters

The Grimma Suspension Bridge can be easily accessed by both car as well as through the Mulde Bike Trail as both run along the river. The bridge itself is the longest suspension bridge in Saxony and is one of six suspension bridges along the Mulde/ Zwickau Mulde. The suspension bridge is a photographer’s paradise as it presents a beautiful backdrop from both sides of the river. On the west side of the river is Bärenburg Castle located on the hill. Two eateries and a hotel are located nearby. On the east end is nothing but nature as the city park and forest cover much of the eastern side of the Mulde. The bridge is located 30 meters from the dam and one could find a perfect side view from that area, with or without the dam.  The bridge is unique as the entire structure is all built using steel. The roadway is supported by Warren trusses which even curves around the western entrance. The cables and suspenders are all wired and pin-connected.  The towers have three different portals with a V-laced bracing at the top, followed by vertical beams and lastly an A-frame portal bracing whose bottom endpost extends to the bridge deck. It’s one of the most ornamental of bridges in Saxony, competing with the likes of neighboring Poppelmann Bridge, the Blue Miracle Bridge in Dresden and the Paradiesbrücke upstream in Zwickau.

The bridge has survived a bombing attack before the end of World War II as well as several flooding events, among others, in 1954, 2002 and 2013. It has been rebuilt twice: in 1949 and again after the flood disaster in 2004. Repairs were made in response to the flood damage two years earlier and the bridge reopened again in 2015.  Located near the dam, a memorial was erected in 2006 that was dedicated to the Great Flood in 2002 with people who risked their lives to save many others, some of which were profiled in newspapers and magazines.

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Source: Falk2, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Rabenstein Railroad Bridge (now extant)

Location: River Mulde south of the Grimma Suspension Bridge at the Rabenstein Observation Point

Type: Metal Through Truss Bridge

Built: 1876 (first crossing); replaced in 1931; destroyed in 1945; removed afterwards

When biking south along the Mulde bike trail, one will find  piers and abutments of a bridge that once existed. The Rabenstein Bridge was built as part of the construction of a rail line that connected Grimma with Grossboden. The original railroad station was located adjacent to the market square. The original span, built in 1876, featured a two-span Schwedler through truss with skewed portal bracings. How the portals looked like remains unclear, but post card photos reveal how the end posts are skewed at the piers.

Source: Brück & Sohn Kunstverlag Meißen, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because of the increase in rail traffic and the structural weakness of the bridge, the spans were replaced by multiple-span Warren through truss bridges in 1931, built with riveted connections and with I-beam portal bracings supported by heels. All but the easternmost span were imploded in April 1945 by the Nazis in an attempt to slow the advancement of Russian and American troops from the east. Grimma came under Soviet control and eventually became part of East Germany by 1949. Because of chronic material shortage, rail lines and bridges deemed expendable were removed with the steel recycled and reused for other purposes. That was the case with the rail line as it was relocated to the western side of the Mulde and up the hill making the original line useless. A new station at Leipziger Strasse near the city center was constructed which still operates to this day.  The tracks of the old line and the remaining span were both removed in the 1960s, though when exactly it happened is unknown. The Mulde Bike Trail now uses the track remains along the eastern side of the river.

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Mulde Bike Trail Arch Bridge

Location: Small hiking path near the Grimma Dam and Suspension Bridge

Type: Stone Arch Bridge

Built: 1876

This bridge is hard to find, unless you happen to hike the trails in the city forest on the eastern side of the River Mulde. It is unknown who was behind the design and construction of this short crossing, which is no longer than 10 meters long and 3 meters high, but it was once part of the railroad line that had passed through Grimma until 1945. It’s now a rail-to-trail that is part of the Mulde Bike Trail. When going under the bridge towards the dam, one must pay attention to the mud that exists, partially because of the water run off from the hills into the river, 30 meters away.

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Kössern Bridge

Location: Mulde River near Grossboden

Bridge Type: Eight-span stone arch bridge

Built: 1887-88

Dimensions: 142.5 meters long, 22.5 meters wide

As a bonus, one should drive 6 kilometers south along the Mulde to this bridge. This bridge is easy to photograph as there is plenty of grass land on the eastern side of the river which makes it perfect for a photo with a heavily-forested background. The bridge is located only two kilometers from the train station in Grossboden, which serves train traffic to this day between Leipzig and Freiberg via Grimma and Wurzen. The bridge is the first roadway crossing over the Mulde north of the confluence between the Zwickau and Freiberg Mulde at Sermuth. Not far from the bridge is an abandoned railroad bridge made of girder spans.

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Fazit:

Grimma is a quick stop for a visit, with many possibilities to satisfy travelers for a good hour or so. If you are a pontist, the city has two historic bridges with a storied history in the Suspension and Poppelmann Bridges and three more bridges whose history belongs in the books and are worth a visit. It’s a junction between a well-traveled bike trail and some well-travelled highways. Speaking from experience of spending a couple hours there with my family, Grimma is worth the stop no matter where you go. 🙂

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Author’s Note: A Biography on Mathias Poppelmann will appear in the next year as the author is currently collecting some bridge examples that were built by the engineer, namely the Poppelmann Bridges with the combination covered bridge with stone arch approaches. If you know of some postcards, photos and other information on these bridges, feel free to use my contact form (here) and send it over. Thank you for your help in this matter. 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 155 Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week series paying tribute to James Baughn takes us to Beaver, in Caroll County, Arkansas and the Golden Gate Bridge. Many of us think of the Golden Gate Bridge as the big red suspension bridge, the symbol of San Francisco and the largest masterpiece designed and built by Joseph Strauss that took five years to be built before opening in 1937. No one has considered the fact that there is a mini-version located in Arkansas, spanning the White River at Table Rock Reservoir.

This bridge was built in 1949 by the Pioneer Construction Company of Malvern, which was one of Arkansas’ largest bridge builder during that time. Thomas Behrends was a project manager for this bridge. He had already established a reputation for the area, having oversawn a dozen bridges during the time this bridge was built. The Beaver Bridge was named after the nearby town that was named after its founder, Wilson Ashbury Beaver (1851-1915), who bought 348 acres of land in the area to create a small community. The 600 foot long bridge is one of the longest in the area. The bridge gets the nickname Golden Gate because of the color of paint. Literally, the steel towers (all laden with riveted lattice connections), the decking and even the cables are painted in gold. Therefore it is not named after a strait as is the case with the more popular and beloved monument of San Francisco, which was the backdrop for Starfleet in the Star Trek films and TV series.

Though the little Golden Gate Bridge in Arkansas was a focus of an incident on October 18, 2018, where two busses crossed the bridge, causing the decking to sag. Had the bridge given out, there would have been a catastrophe of monstrous proportions not only because the bus drivers disobeyed the weight limit sign but also there were dozens of tourists on the two busses.

Unfortunately, there was no information on the operator of the bus firm yet it shows that education is needed in terms of maths and laws. The bridge has a weight limit of 10 tons. Weight limits mean no vehicle exceeding the limit are allowed to cross. And lastly, to make sure it never happens, GPS and other maps should be made to ensure that something like this never happens. In practice however, we still keep seeing ignorance and lack of education ruling the roads. And while the Beaver Bridge was spared with only minor damages, ignorance and stupidity will reveal its ugly face at a cost of another bridge in the near future.

And while you can’t fix stupidity, you can cure it with hard labor behind bars and a year’s worth of money (or two) taken away by the state. Perhaps that is what we need to put an end to this madness, not just with bridges but with other aspects on the road.

Remember: laws save lives. Math matters. And common sense is the god of mankind.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 152: The Jay Bridge in Maine- The Oldest Cable-Stayed Bridge Ever Built?

This next mystery bridge article presents a riddle to be solved. It has to do with the suspension bridge versus the cable-stayed bridge. Before we start with this article, a question for the forum:

Which bridge type came first- the cable-stayed or the suspension bridge?

 Both types first appeared in the 15th century, but the oldest suspension bridge in the world to exist can be found in Tweed in Scotland with the Union Chain Bridge, built 201 years ago. In the US, it’s the Cincinnati-Covington Ohio River Bridge, which was built in 1869 by John Roebling, 14 years before his masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.  And while the first oldest cable-stayed bridge going by modern standards was built in 1817 in the UK, the oldest existing bridge in the world can be found in Texas, with the Bluff Dale Bridge, built in 1890.

This leads to the question of when the first cable-stayed bridge was built in the United States. We know that the first suspension bridge in the country was built in 1855 at Niagara Falls– built by the same engineer, Roebling. However this post card of a bridge in Maine may not only be the first cable-stayed bridge in the States, but the first bridge on the North American continent, whose roadway was supported by cables hung on towers.

The information dates the Jay Bridge back to 1835. The bridge spanned West Channel Androscoggin River and featured three towers supporting cable-stays that may have been built out of concrete or wood. Looking at the pic more closely and how the roadway was warped, the best bet was that it was a wooden structure. Supporting the deck were pony arches that were attached to the towers. This bridge had served traffic until it was replaced in 1914 by the Pine Island Arch Bridge, a two-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge that was built by the Cry Brothers. That bridge is still in use. There used to be three bridges connecting the shores on both side of the river with the island. Today, only the Pine Arch Bridge remains, whereas a modern bridge bypasses the island as it crosses the river into the town of Jay.

If the records are proven correct, then the Jay Bridge was the oldest bridge of its kind built in the US. It could be possible that the bridge was built later and the markings were written in by accident. This has to do with the fact that cable-stayed bridges were once built using chain and wire. Concrete was not considered the norm for materials used for bridge construction. Wood was plentiful, yet for someone to design a bridge like that would require an artist who focused on the bridge’s aethetics. The oldest wooden arch bridge known to exist is the Wan’an Bridge in China, built 1000 years ago, yet the arches are more trapezoidal than curved. The technology needed to build arches out of wood came much later in the late 19th Century.

This leads to the question of the validity of the claims that the Jay Bridge was indeed built in 1835. If the information is correct, then who was responsible for designing such a bridge and what materials were used for the bridge construction?

That plus the first question can be discussed in the Comment section below…….

Happy Bridgehunting, Folks! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 78

As we close out the year, which is also the last day of the second decade of the third millenium, we would like to take you back to 2014 and this bridge, theI-74 Bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Bettendorf and Moline in the Quad Cities. The twin spans that are literally identical, were built in 1935 and 1961, respectively and are still one of two twin suspension bridges of its kind that exist in the States. The other is the twin set at Wilmington, Delaware. Sadly, the twins are in their last year of their operational lives. To the east a new set of twins are being built, consisting of basket handle tied arches. The project, which includes rebuilding much of the I-74 corridor has been going on since 2017. Next year, the twin spans will be completed and all of I-74 traffic will be rerouted onto the new spans. The original spans will then be removed, and the bridge will be nothing more than a memory.  While you still can, you might want to pay homage to this bridge and get as many pics as you can. By 2022, it will be a memory.

More on the I-74 Bridge project can be found here:https://i74riverbridge.com/

 

And with that ends 2019 with a bang for the Chronicles, even though voting for this year’s Bridgehunter Awards is still ongoing and will conclude on January 10th with the winners to be announced on the 12th. If you still haven’t had the chance to vote, click here and do so. There are two ballots, each page representing a ballot. Your vote, however many bridges and times you cast, matters.  🙂

2020 will not only usher in a new decade- and hopefully one more promising than this one. It will mark the 10th anniversary of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column The Flensburg Files. Some events marking the celebration are in the making and will be presented during the year. The Bridgehunter Awards (originally known as the Ammann Awards) will enter its 10th year as well. Stay tuned and subscribe to follow up on the latest as we celebrate 10 years of success and many more to come.

We wish you and yours all the best as we say good-bye to the old (including the bhc logo) and ring in the new. Happy New Years!  Cheers!  🙂 ❤

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Historic Suspension Bridge Collapses: two dead

Photo taken by Webduc [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D
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1931 Suspension Bridge over the River Tarn Collapses after Overweight Truck Crosses It. Many People Missing

TOULOUSE, FRANCE- Police investigators are looking into the causes of the collapse of a suspension bridge, which spanned the River Tarn between the towns of Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessières, located 18 miles (35 kilometers) north of Toulouse in southwestern France. The collapse happened yesterday morning at around 8:35am, sending at least two vehicles into the rushing waters of the Tarn. A 15-year old girl was killed on the wreck, her body was found downstream from the wreckage. She was the passenger of the car driven by her mother, which fell in. The mother was pulled out of the wreck by locals.  Also killed was a 39-year old truck driver, who was also on the bridge at the time of the collapse.  Five people were reported injured; three of which during the rescue operations. Officials still fear many more missing and search crews are scouting the scene to find potential bodies, etc.  Eyewitnesses saw the bridge collapse shortly after an overweight truck had crossed the structure. The 155 meter long suspension bridge had a weight limit of 19 tons and the latest inspection reports (2017) revealed no structural defects. Charges against the driver of the truck are pending.

A video below shows the wreckage of the bridge and the rushing waters of the River Tarn. Basically, the suspender cables, which connected the main cables with the trussed roadway snapped, sending the roadway into the river.

The suspension bridge itself was built in 1931 by the engineering firm Baudin Chateauneuf, which specialized in constructing viaducts and major crossings in France. Its predecessor was an 1800s suspension bridge with arched towers. It was destroyed in a flood in 1930. Like its predecessor, the suspension bridge has wired cables and used to have suspenders that supported the roadway. The decking was supported with subdivided Warren pony trusses. It was last renovated in 2003. The bridge was a local favorite for the communities and was a key crossing, yet concerns came about regarding its stability because of increasing numbers of vehicles crossing it, some of which exceed the 19 ton weight mimit. The roadway was only 7 meters wide (20 feet).

It’s unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt. It’s currently blocked off on both sides and an inspection report will need to be carried out to determine its salvageability. More details to come in the Chronicles via its facebook and twitter pages.

 

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World’s Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge to be Built

A rendering of the Lohbach Valley Bridge from the Lichtenberg side. The design and construction will be similar with the Höllentalbrücke. Source: Landkreis Hof/ OTZ

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Hof District Council Members vote unanimously for the 23 million Euro project.
Construction to start immediately; to be completed by 2022

HOF (BAVARIA)/ SCHLEIZ (THURINGIA), GERMANY- There is an old religious saying: As I walk in the valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for the Lord will be here with me, helping my way through. Apparently, the Lord did find a creative way at the Thuringian-Bavarian border near the village of Lichtenberg to guide people through the valley (known as the Selbitz) but in mid-air.
The district council of Hof voted unanimously yesterday in favor of the project that will
feature the longest suspension bridge of its kind in the world. The vote count was 35 for and 15 against. Construction is expected to start very soon and is slated to be completed by the beginning of 2022 at the latest- a span of ca. 18 months.
As wide and steep as the valley of the Selbitz is, the project will feature two pedestrian
suspension bridges: one that will be 380 meters and suspended by cables, supported by two pylon towers, one of which will be anchored at the castle ruin Burg Lichtenberg. That will span the Lohbach Valley. The second suspension bridge will careen the valley of the Selbitz, eventually crossing it enroute to the Thuringian border near Blankenberg. Known as the Höllentalbrücke, the span of 1030 meters will break the record set by another suspension bridge in Germany, located in the Harz region in Saxony-Anhalt (see article here). That bridge was built in 2017. Both bridges will be built using solely steel and will feature spans resembling the letter „S“. A video depicting what the suspension bridges will look like can be seen below:

 

News on the Decision and the Opposition:

In addition to that, a tourist information center at Lichtenberg and viewing platforms will be erected to allow for tourists and hikers to enjoy the view of the forest from high above. The cost for the project is estimated to cost 23 million Euros- 14 million will be allocated to the two bridges, while the rest will be used for the platforms, the tourist information center, marketing strategies and lastly but most importantly, the protection of the natural habitat and the historic castle ruin at Lichtenberg- two major areas of concern that opposers of the project demonstrated at meetings, rallies and the like, prior to the vote yesterday. The costs will be financed by the Bavarian government (80%) and local municipalities (20%). This doesn’t include the cost for accessing the suspension bridge from the Thuringia, for the town of Blankenstein will have to shoulder, according to the OTZ-Newspaper.

 

Discussion on the Proposal:

 
With the project given the official go, the new suspension bridge will provide not only the visitors a chance to see the heavily forested and mountainous Franconian Forest, with a chance to see the Fichtel Mountains, the Länderdreiecken, the cities of Hof and Bayreuth on the Bavarian side as well as the Saaletal region where Lobenstein, Saalburg and Schleiz from the air.  It will also provide direct passage through the valleys, where „evil lurks“ by walking on air. That was the Lord’s plan to begin with and for many, it will be a blessing.  🙂

 

Map of the proposed bridges:

 

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1.  The Länderdreiecken refer to two points where three states meet. One is near the village of Prex (Bavaria), where the German states of Saxony and Bavaria as well as the Czech Republic meet. The other is near the village of Mödlareuth, where the three German states of Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria meet. At both areas the former East-West German borders once separated Bavaria (American zone) from the Communist regions, where Saxony and Thuringia once belonged to East Germany (GDR), and the Czech Republic, which was once the western half of Czechoslovakia. That country existed from 1919 until the Velvet Divorce in 1993.
2. The District of Saale-Orla is considering many options to provide access to the suspension bridges from Blankenstein. One is providing E-service, but there may be more options on the table. Discussions with the Thuringian government has not yet begun as of this posting.

3. The Europa Suspension Bridgenear Randa in Switzerland, opened in late 2017, now holds the record previously set by the suspension bridge in the Harz Region, with a span of 494 meters.
4. The suspension bridge project is the second project along the former East-West German border that is in motion. The bike trail, which extends from the Dreieck near Prex to Blankenberg is also being built with vast stretches going along the route formerly known as the Death Zone. Much of it has been completed and open for use. This includes going through the village of Mödlareuth, where a museum devoted to the former border is located. More on that via links:

https://www.esterbauer.com/db_detail.php?buecher_code=ICTN3- Deutsch/Deutsch Radweg

https://www.merkur.de/reise/radtour-entlang-innerdeutschen-grenze-gruenem-band-zr-3653724.html

Deutsch-Deutsch Museum Mödlareuth: http://moedlareuth.de/

 

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BHC Pics of the Week 12

Moin moin! Servus! Guten Tag! Hallo! Hi! And Cheerio everyone! 🙂

After a long but much-deserved vacation, I’m back at my desk where I’m about to start penning some loving odes to historic bridges as well as other adventures I encountered with my family during our road trip through all five of the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada. In the coming weeks, some articles will appear about the bridges along the route that started in Pittsburgh, went through Niagara Falls, then onto Michigan and then terminating in Minnesota, a span of over 1300 miles by car. This will include some tour guides and an interesting boat tour, tied in with a civil engineering conference.

To give you an idea of what you will get from this road trip: A set of pictures of the Mackinac Bridge, the crossroads between land and water. Built in 1957, it spans the strait that connects two of the five lakes, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsula. It is the third longest suspension bridge in the US, behind the Golden Gate and Verrazano Narrows Bridges but is the best known work by David Steinman, who had previously tried to make his name with the Golden Gate but was outdone by Joseph Strauss. The bridge is the most popular attraction of all the bridges in Michigan, with over a dozen books written about it- more than any on a city’s bridges, like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Hamburg (Germany)- a poem was written by the same engineer, and signs leading to the bridge along I-75 and US Hwy. 2 extend for over 150 miles in one direction.

But what is unique about the Big Mack is the many possible ways to photograph it. No matter from which side of the peninsula or even the lake, one cannot go wrong with photographing it, even by ship as I got all but one of the six shots of it. The last one was from the side of Mackinaw City. A big splash for you to enjoy as the Chronicles gets underway after a long absence. Here you go and enjoy! 🙂

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This Stride Into Our Solitude (Humber Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire / North Lincolnshire, UK) — The Beauty of Transport

This guest column looks at the Humber Bridge, located near Kingston upon Hull in England. Built in 1981, the bridge has a span of over 4626 feet long, surpassing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City by almost 400 feet. The 1964 bridge is still the longest suspension bridge in the United States. The Humber Bridge remained the longest suspension bridge in the world until the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan surpassed it in 1998. It still remains the longest in the UK and the European Union. Have a look at the preview of the article which features a story to it. The link will lead you to the full article in detail. Enjoy! 🙂

There aren’t so many bridges about which a poem has been composed by one of the country’s most famous poets. Yet such an accolade has been afforded to the Humber Bridge, one of Britain’ finest, if most overlooked, modern bridges. Bridge for the Living was written by Philip Larkin, himself a resident of nearby Hull […]

via This Stride Into Our Solitude (Humber Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire / North Lincolnshire, UK) — The Beauty of Transport

Wolkenburg Suspension Bridge: A Unique Cable-Stay Along the Mulde

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Wolkenburg (Saxony)/ Limbach-Oberfrohna/ Glauchau- The last of the three bridges profiled here that is debuting along the Zwickauer Mulde is the Wolkenburg Suspension Bridge. Before going further with this bridge, we need to clarify what this bridge looks like as well as its aesthetic value. The current structure, open since May Day this year is actually a cable-stayed suspension bridge, a bridge type where suspenders actually support the roadway from the tower. When looking at them from an American’s point of view, cable-stayed bridges are bland in appearance, ranking them up there with concrete slab/girder bridges that represent a sour taste to the land-/ or even cityscape. This can be best exemplified with two bridges that come to mind: The Fort Steuben and the Russell-Ironton Bridges. Both of them spanned the Ohio River; both of them have the characteristic A-frame tower, whose cables support the roadway; both of them replaced historic bridges that had a lot of characteristic and aesthetic appeal but were neglected by the department of transportation in a successful bid to have them replaced. Both of them have been demolished, leaving nothing but documentation on websites owned by James Baughn and Nathan Holth, respectively. Both bridges are prone to having problems in the short-term involving the cables and the roadway because, like other modern bridge types, there is too much (heavy) traffic using it. We’re even seeing it with a pair of bridges in Germany, which will be mentioned later on.

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But while these cable-stayed bridges are being looked down upon like the other concrete spans in America, pursued by Donald Trump and Elaine Chao with some statues of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and a new quasi-national flag of the US (sorry, I have to be sarcastic with this analogy), cable-stayed bridges in Europe, from an outsider’s point of view, can be viewed as a treat, especially for pedestrians and cyclists using them while on the bike trail. One in three cities in Germany has at least one of this type. And while there are some standard examples that exist, most of the cable-stayed bridges we find here are designed in such an unusual way, that they are screaming for people to stop by to pay homage; whether it is because of tilted towers, curved or even rounded roadways, ….

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or in the case of this bridge, a single tower that is leaning outwards towards the river bank, whose primary cables- all draped over a pointed tower- are supporting the deck. The deck itself has a pony girder approach span with a Warren pony truss main span that crosses the Zwickauer Mulde.

 

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The bridge replaced a century-old structure that consisted of a wire suspension bridge, going by the textbook guidelines that were created by another German engineer, John Roebling. Roebling’s concept was strands of thick wire that were spun together to create the main cables that were anchored between the towers and the ground anchors on shore. The best examples of his design were the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge (1869) and the Brooklyn Bridge (1883, though he died during its construction). The original Wolkenburg Bridge featured heavy cables  combined with vertical suspenders that supported the narrow walkway. The walkway itself was fenced with heavy wire but not trussed like one will see in many suspension bridges today, such as the Golden Gate Bridge or the suspension bridges in New York designed by Othmar H. Ammann.

 

Flooding in 2013 caused extensive damage to the bridge’s roadway and cables to a point where officials in Limbach-Oberfrohna, where Wolkenburg is part of the conglomerate, as well as local officials decided to demolish the bridge, including the tower, which was arched and made of concrete. It took more than three years, combined with lots of money and politicking before the conglomerate let the contract to the firm of Iroplan, based in Chemnitz, and its architect, Klaus Lenz, to build a new bridge at the site of the old one.

 

Construction started in 2016 with the leaning tower and foundations. The roadway was assembled offsite, featuring sliding and welding connections, judging by the author’s observations during his visit. The roadway was lifted into place by crane in November that year, and after attaching the cables between the tower and the roadway, the bridge was completed. What was not completed at the time of the visit in March were the roadway leading to the bridge, the dike to keep the water in the river, and painting the bridge. The bridge was still grey and silver.  The cost for constructing the 80 meter long and two meter wide cable-stayed bridge was 1.2 million Euros.

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After many delays and headaches, people have their bridge back. At the May Day opening, where many people participated, mayor Jesko Vogel led the opening with a bang, as cannons were fired and a historic theater group from Glauchau were on hand for some entertainment. Refreshments were provided by the fire department. While the suspension bridge will forever be in the memories of many who live in Wolkenburg, this bridge reopens a connection between Eichenwald Forest and the mill area, both are northeast of the historic city center. The bridge will be a new icon  for Wolkenburg, providing a picturesque view from the historic city center and its churches and castle on the hill. And contrary to common belief regarding cable-stayed bridges, the Wolkenburg Suspension Bridge serves as an example of a bridge of this kind that, if designed with a good aesthetic taste, can be used for any form of traffic,

 

even if this bridge is open for pedestrians and fishermen only.  😉

 

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Wernsdorfer Welle Brücke Open To Bike Traffic

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Photo taken at the opening by Glauchau City

Vital link between Wernsdorf and Glauchau Restored with one of the most unique crossings along the Zwickauer Mulde

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY)- The closing of the link between Glauchau and Mosel via Wernsdorf because of a bridge that was no longer usable due to flood damage was a hindrance for bikers using the Mulde Bike Trail. Construction of the bridge, which included the bridge’s removal took longer than expected due to unfavorable weather conditions and the reconstruction of the bike trail approaching the bridge. Despite all the complaints and confusion, even at the grand opening, the wait was worth it.

Dozens of people gathered on June 20 at the grand opening of the Wernsdorf Wave Bridge. The bridge spans the Zwickauer Mulde, approximately a half a kilometer west of the village of Wernsdorf, and three kilometers south of Glauchau. This is the third crossing in its history at the site, but one whose aesthetical value will cause bikers and bridge-lovers to stop for a break or even a photo opportunity. The bridge features a three-span suspension bridge, but one that is unlike any suspension bridge built to standards. The roadway is draped over the pylons, creating a wave-like setting when crossing the structure. Only a handful of these bridges exist in Germany, the nearest example being the Dragon Tail Bridge near Ronneburg, 30 kilometers west of Glauchau in eastern Thuringia.

From the top of the pylon to the bottommost part of the dip has a height difference of up to 2 meters. The entire length of the bridge is 110 meters with the width of the roadway being 5 meters. Because of the dimensions, no cars or other motorized vehicles are allowed to cross, which has caused some dismay for those wishing to access the neighboring towns of Dennheritz and Schlunzig, among them, seniors ages 65 and over, which represents the majority of the population of Wernsdorf and Dennheritz as well as nearly half of Glauchau’s population.

Yet despite this, having the Wernsdorf Wave Bridge will mean that cyclists will no longer have to share the road with automobile drivers between Schlunzig and Glauchau, especially in areas in and around the Reservior, where a lot of recreational activities are taking place during the summer, including swimming, hiking and many forms of sports activities including soccer. Furthermore, with the construction of the new Mulde crossing at Schlunzig, car drivers will have better access between Dennheritz and Wernsdorf, and places in the southern end of Glauchau. This is probably the reason behind the decision of Glauchau’s mayor Peter Dresler to designate the Wave Bridge for bikes, walkers and even equestrians!

But while that plan for autos is in the making, people driving past Wernsdorf will have a chance to see an attraction which is hoped will become one of the key signatures of not only Glauchau and Wernsdorf, but also along the Mulde. With the Wave Bridge being the third crossing open this year behind one at Lunzernau (near Penig) and Wolkenburg, the Mulde Bike Trail will have three new bridges in use, each one presenting a unique design that will not only cause many to stop and awe, but will change the landscape of the ccommunities they serve. The Wernsdorf Wave Bridge is one that brings three communities together, even if it is for recreational use. 😉

Click on the highlighted links in the text to look at photos of the ribbon cutting ceremony as well as some comments, courtesy of the Chemnitz Free Press and the tourist group Glauchau City. The map with the location of the bridge is below.

 

As for the other two bridges…….. 🙂

 

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