Our next Endangered Truss article takes us to Salem County, New Jersey and to the New Bridge. Spanning Alloway Creek between Elsinboro and Quinton on the former County Road 623, this unique through truss bridge used to function as a swing bridge until the 1960s before it became a fixed crossing. The bridge is one of only three structures left that were built by the New Jersey Bridge Company and is considered elgible for the National Register. Yet the bridge has been closed to all traffic for three decades. Even though it is still accessible by foot, the bridge is being taken over by the remnants of time, for vegetation is covering the trusses and the bridge has become a focus for graffiti. Still, it has a potential for being a recreational crossing, if repairs are made to prolong its life.
Journalists from New Jersey.com, the state’s largest newspaper, have done a documentary on the state of the bridge, providing both video coverage of the bridge (inside and out) as well as an essay. While one could reinvent the wheel with their quotes, it’s simply appropriate to simply provide you with the video below as well as the link to the article, which you can click here to read. Structural facts about the bridge can be found here, which includes a link to the HABS/HAER structural report on the bridge.
So sit back and enjoy the video on The Old and Abandoned: The Story of the New Bridge.
This short film documentary takes us to Avoyelles Parish, and this bridge, located out in the country. The Sarto Swing Bridge was built in 1916 by the Austin Brothers Bridge Company of Dallas, Texas at a cost of over $5200. The structure, spanning the Bayou des Glaises, was the first bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places, when it was nominated in 1989, the year after it was closed. Dave Baker of KATC-TV provides you with a quick glimpse into the bridge’s history and what you can see at the bridge site. The bridge is open to pedestrians.
Our next mystery bridge takes us to Rock Valley, Iowa, located along the Rock River in Sioux County, and this bridge, located on the west end of town. Locally known as the Kiwanis Bridge, my discovery of the bridge dated back to 1998, where during a Spring Break trip from college, I took my Ford F 250 pickup and went along the Rock River from Pipestone County all the way to its confluence with the Big Sioux River north of Hawarden. The Kiwanis Bridge was one of a dozen pre-1945 bridges I found during that time. When walking across it for the first time, I noticed that the wooden trestle approach spans on the east end was much older than the piers holding the Pratt through truss span in place across the river. Also interesting to note was how the trusses were configured. Consisting of riveted and pinned-connections and Howe Lattice portal and strut bracings, the end posts on the outer ends of the truss spans have a 60° angle, whereas the middle pier in the main span consists of vertical end posts that do NOT meet. One of the first impressions I had was that the bridge was relocated from elsewhere, but was altered to accommodate the spans over the Rock River. At the time of the photos, the river was running wildly with march areas on both sides of the river.
I wrote a letter to the City of Rock Valley and received a confirmation by William Van Maanen, a city council member at that time, that the bridge was indeed relocated to Rock Valley. His father Gerrit had been involved in the relocation efforts in the early 1920s and noted that the original railroad crossing, owned by the Milwaukee Road (Chicago, Milwaukee and Pacific Railroad), consisted of wooden trestle spans, and the truss spans were brought in to replace the ones that were obstructing the flow of the river, causing flooding upstream.
Fast forward to 2015, where the author is residing in Germany, but another pontist, John Marvig, is also looking for some information on this bridge. During his visit in December 2015, he found that the marsh area along the Rock River has been converted to residential areas with sidewalks and all. The bridge is still there, but the mystery of where the bridge came from is still open. The Milwaukee Road museum provided the building date of 1913, the time when standardized truss bridges with riveted connections were being introduced, but the hunches are that the bridge used to be a swing span, only to be altered when being put into place.
This leads to the following questions to be resolved:
Where was the bridge originally located and when was it relocated here?
Who was the bridge builder?
Was the bridge originally a swing span or part of a major crossing?
We must keep in mind that according to William Van Maanen based on the accounts of his father as well as his own personal experience, the Milwaukee Road abandoned the line in the late 1950s and efforts were made to buy the bridge in an attempt to preserve it. The question here is when this happened and when were the renovations made? The bridge was named after the Kiwanis Club in Rock Valley, which bought the bridge and spearheaded efforts to convert it into a recreational crossing. A job that was well done and one that will keep the bridge in service for a very long time, especially as more people reside on the west side of Rock Valley.
If you know of any further information on the Kiwanis Bridge and would like to help answer the questions, please do. The channels are open on the part of the Chronicles as well as John Marvig’s Railroad Bridge Photography website and Bridgehunter.com. Your help and photos would be very much appreciated, as many people would like to know more about the bridge’s history. A gallery of photos of the bridge are below, but there are more via link, which you can click here to view. Happy Bridgehunting and Researching! 🙂
Here’s a pop quiz for you readers, with regards to this mystery bridge:
1. When was the oldest swing bridge in the US ever built and
2. When was the first time a bridge was ever relocated in the US?
This Mystery Bridge takes you to Florida and in particular, this bridge. Located over the Suwannee River at the Lafayette and Suwannee County border, the Drew Bridge features a swing bridge with a Warren through truss design. The name Drew comes from a family that consisted of George Franklin Drew, who governed Florida from 1877 to 1881, and his sons, George L. Drew and Franklin Drew, who operated a lumber business near the site of the bridge and purchasd a large segment of the Suwannee and San Pedro Railroad in 1899 and extended the line to Mayo, to accomodate their business. They purchased this bridge, located somewhere in Brazil, in 1900 and was put into service after being transported to its current site in 1901. It served traffic until the railroad was abandoned due to competition in 1921. Since that time, the bridge has been sitting abandoned in an open position. The bridge was named after the elder Drew, who died in 1900.
Nathan Holth visited the bridge earlier this year and is looking for some information as to the date of the construction, the bridge builder, and whereabouts is the bridge located. The reason for this (and one can see it through the information and photos he took on the trip) are the features of the bridge- both in terms of portal and strut bracings as well as the way the bridge was constructed, both in terms of materials used as well as the how the bridge parts were assembled (and reassembled upon its relocation. It is clear that the bridge has been in its current location for 113 years. However, the inscriptioions on the steel, combined with the design have it being pointed to the construction date of between 1870 and 1885. More information can be found via link here:
If you have any information that is important to the research on this bridge, please contact Nathan Holth using the contact information on his website. You can also place your comments here for readers to read.
Because of its unique design and history, the Drew Bridge is one of the candidates for this year’s Ammann Awards in its respective category. 🙂
The next Mystery Bridge takes us down to Mississippi and to this bridge: the Silent Shade Swing Bridge. The bridge is difficult to find for it is located over the Yazoo River, 25 migratory miles north of Yazoo City between US Highways 49W and 49E at the Humphreys and LeFlore County border. The bridge is visible from Silent Shade Road, located to the east of the river. The reason for its lack of visibility is because of the fact that the bridge has been abandoned for at least two decades. Yet the bridge has a lot of history that needs to be excavated, especially as it has been a subject of debate among historians and pontists. According to the data provided from the state of Mississippi, the bridge has a total length of 394 feet, 274 feet of which features a swing through truss span with a Warren design. The roadway width is 14.4 feet. The NBI data indicated that the bridge was built here in 1927, and this is where the debate starts.
If one looks at the picture more closely, there are two main factors that one has to look at. The first is the connecting trusses. While the bottom connections are riveted-meaning that the beams are slid together and welded shut like one wearing a pair of gloves- much of the truss is pin-connected, meaning the beams are bolted together like the elbow connecting the upper and lower arm of the human body. Pin-connected trusses were phased out in favor of riveted trusses as part of the standardized bridge plans introduced between 1915 and 1920. This brings up the next factor, which is the bridge’s portal and strut bracings. The Silent Shade Bridge has Howe lattice portal bracings with curved heel bracings, while the strut bracings also have heel bracings. This is not typical of truss bridges built in the 1920s, for through truss bridges featured portal bracings resembling the alphabet, like the A, WV, W and even X frame portal bracings, as shown in the examples below:
With these two flaws in mind, one has to ask himself whether the Silent Shade Swing Bridge was relocated to this spot from its place of origin and if so, where. It is clear that unless the bridge builder was so stubborn that he bucked the standardized bridge plans provided by the state, that the Silent Shade Swing Bridge was built before 1900. The author’s guess is between 1880 and 1895 with the bridge builder being one of the 28 that eventually became part of the American Bridge Company Conglomerate, which was established in 1901. The question is how far from the truth is he off and therefore, your help is needed.
The bridge community would like to know the following:
1. Whether the bridge was originally built here or relocated and if the latter, where was its place of origin?
2. If the bridge was relocated, when was it originally built?
3. Who was the bridge builder who built the structure and/or relocated it to its present site?
4. When was the bridge discontinued and left abandoned?
Because the bridge is so unique because of its truss design and the use of a rare bridge type over a less-travelled river in comparison to the Mississippi, the bridge will most likely receive some accolades in the future, such as a National Register listing, and eventually be used as a bike trail crossing, assuming it can be swung back into place from its open position. But you can help by solving the mystery of this bridge. Send your comments and data to the Chronicles or post them on the Chronicles’ facebook page or the comment page of bridgehunter.com, which has some info of the bridge’s location and photos here.
Nathan Holth commented that if the bridge was built in 1927, then he was president of the US. If it actually was built in 1927, then perhaps he should be sworn in as US president. After all, the history of a bridge like the Silent Shade is full of surprises, much of which will help rewrite the history of American architecture and transportation.
Author’s Note: Special thanks to Craig Hanchey for allowing his photo to be used for this article.
Also: The bridge is located approx. 70 miles east of the Mississippi River and Greenville as well as 120 miles north of the state capital of Jackson.
University Avenue Bridge in Lowell already gone. Schell Memorial in Northfield, Salem Street Overpass and South Canal Bridges in Lawrence to follow.
Massachusetts- not officially the first state in the union, but the first to make history. The Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620 and together with the Wampanoag Indians, celebrated their first Thanksgiving a year later. The first shots of the Revolutionary War went off at Concord, sparking an eight-year struggle that ultimately resulted in the Colonist’s winning the war for independence and the British being expelled. The state became one of the first 13 states to create the United States thanks to the ratification of the Constitution, four years later.
Massachusetts was also one of the key laboratories for experimenting with truss bridges, as various structures were built, resembling a stark contrast to the bridge types we still see today in the US and Europe. One of the first Parker truss bridges was built in 1871 at Fitchburg, despite not being patented until 1882. An unusual truss bridge built using a combination Parker and Thacher designs can be found over the Powwow River at Amesbury. Lenticular trusses are more plentiful in the state than in Connecticut, despite the design originating from there and the fact that almost all of them were built by Berlin Iron Bridge Company. And an unusual combination cantilever and Pennsylvania petit truss bridge, known as the Schell Memorial Bridge, was built in Northfield in 1903.
Sadly that bridge will soon become history- as with numerous other bridges- unless MassDOT widens its horizons and looks at other ways to preserve its historic bridges. While other bridges, like the Big Four Railroad Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky, were revitalized for recreational use, despite being abandoned for over 40 years, the state has considered many abandoned historic bridges as eyesores and have used tactics to draw enough support to demolish them, despite the potential to restore them at a fraction of the cost. This tactic worked wonders with Fitch’s Bridge in Groton last year, as the group working to reopen the 1885 double-intersecting Warren through truss bridge, backed a proposal by the city to replace the structure– one of the oldest riveted truss bridges in North America- with a welded pony truss bridge. While the group took pride in this achievement, the plan sparked outrage throughout the country by many who claimed that despite its abandonment since 1965, the bridge would have served many more years with restoration and a new roadway. But this bridge is not alone as the Chronicles’ has a preview of four historic bridges that are about to meet the cutting torches and cranes and one that has already been torn down to the dismay of many locals. Without further ado, here are four bridges that represent the reasons to overturn the decisions to tear these structures down before it is too late and one reason to cuss and swear at politicians for letting one go already.
History is about to repeat itself with the Schell Memorial Bridge, scheduled to come down this year. Built in 1903 by the New England Structural Company of East Everett using the design by Edward S. Shaw, the bridge was originally built to connect the chateau of prominent resident and patron Francis Schell and the train station. It spanned the Connecticut River with a length of 515 feet and its portal bracings resemble similar Corinthian arches. The 22-panel Pennsylvania through truss bridge has two Wichert trusses supporting the concrete piers in the river, and all connections are riveted. Masonry approach spans are on the southeast end of the truss bridge. The bridge was in service until its closure in 1985 for structural concerns. Despite plankings being placed on each portal entry to keep everyone off the bridge, the people of Northfield still wanted the bridge saved and a group was formed to push for rehabilitating and restoring the bridge for pedestrian use. Things were working out well until late last year, when MassDOT presented the cost difference between restoring the bridge (which was $20 million) and complete bridge replacement ($5 million). The group responded by supporting replacing the bridge, using elements from the 1903, and replicating the span. This has caused some confusion for there is questions about the origin of the mathematics behind the costs. More so is why the group was so swift in deciding in favor of replacing the bridge at the cost of several thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money. And lastly, despite having its website on the bridge and its fundraising efforts for preserving the bridge, no current information as to the plans of building the new bridge were presented. An act of bribery with a spice of cowardice on the part of the Schell Bridge group? Perhaps, but more will most likely be revealed once the bridge is dropped into the river with dynamite this spring. More so is when we find out how much of the old bridge parts will be reused for the new bridge, or whether the bridge will really look alike or totally like an ordinary mail-order welded truss bridge, as was seen with Fitch’s Bridge. More will come when the information is revealed, but this bridge is early in the lead for Nathan Holth’s Wall of Shame Awards for 2014, let alone the Chronicle’s Author’s Choice Award for the Worst Example to Restore a Historic Bridge- if one can say “restoration” for this unique artwork that has been sitting abandoned for almost 30 years but will now be sentenced to the dumpster….
Sometimes, an abandoned bridge needs minimal maintenance so that it does not serve as a hazard for pedestrians and people passing underneath the structure. The South Canal Bridge, spanning the South Canal at Access Road represents a bridge that has not received any sort of treatment and therefore, been put out of sight, out of mind. End result, the riveted Pratt pony truss structure, a product of the Boston Bridge Works Company, has partially collapsed for the bottom chord has corroded away to a point where it no longer holds the decking. The outermost panel of the decking has sagged with the rest of the planks set to collapse at the next flood, unless the thick layers of snow from this past winter season has done the trick already. Good news: The bridge will be replaced this year as part of the City’s plan to reopen Access Road. A sad ending for a bridge with potential to be reused again, even if it was integrated into the new bridge as an ornament instead of a functional truss.
The logic behind the demolition of the double-barrel quadrangular through truss bridge, spanning the railroad tracks is questionable. The 1928 structure, another example of a bridge built by the Boston Bridge Works Company appear to be in pristine condition, with some minor rusts that can be fixed, according to on-field research done a couple years ago. Even the lower truss chords would warrant rehabilitation and the decking to be replaced. But instead, the Salem Street Bridge will be removed beginning in 2015 and replaced with a concrete bridge, despite the fact that concrete bridges cannot withstand massive traffic crossing it and trains passing underneath it as well as steel bridges, like this one. An illogical decision that needs to be clarified before the work begins.
Construction has been in the works for this bridge, spanning the Merrimack River in Groveland. Originally a six-span iron swing bridge with a double-intersecting Warren through truss design and A-frame portal bracings, the bridge was replaced one-by-one over the span of 132 years. Fire destroyed three of the eastern spans in 1913, and they were replaced by fixed Pratt through truss spans with riveted connections. Boston Bridge Works, which had originally built the bridge in 1882, replaced those spans. In 1952, the American Bridge Company replaced the remaining spans with two riveted Pratt truss spans and a pony girder span that functions as a bascule bridge. By the end of June 2014, that bridge will become a memory as a fixed span, constructed alongside the old span, will open to traffic rendering the old bridge as useless. Whether there is a chance to save at least one of the spans for reuse or not is doubtful.
Jack Kerouac is rolling around in his grave. Many people are scratching their heads in bewilderment. A piece of history, built in 1896 is now gone. The University Avenue /Textile Memorial Bridge, spanning the Merrimack River and featuring three spans of pin-connected Pratt deck trusses, was demolished a couple weeks ago with crews removing the trusses from the piers and placing them on barges, to be dismantled. Currently, the old stone abutments are being removed. This all in the name of progress, as a new crossing opened to traffic in December. Despite the doom and gloom, the bright side to the bridge replacement is that the new structure features a blue-colored cantilever deck truss design. A rarity considering the fact that these bridge types are disappearing in vast numbers. The project to remove the Textile Memorial Bridge and improve the area for university students is scheduled to be completed by September.
How many more bridges in Massachusetts will fall prey to progress, depends on the narrow-mindedness of politicians in Boston and the MassDOT. Perhaps these examples will serve as a reminder of how important these relicts of history are to the state. If not, there are some examples of bridges that still exist and are not threatened with demolition but deserve to be restored or at least recognized for their importance. Two of them will be mentioned in the coming articles. Only when the state recognizes these bridges will they then do something about them in the name of preservation. This includes looking for more concrete facts that will justify the actions, working together with preservation groups to save their bridges, and setting examples for other states to follow.
Author’s Note: Click on the links in the paragraph to learn more about the history of these structures. Special thanks to Nathan Holth for use of his photos and Steve Lindsey for keeping the Chronicles up to date on the developments involving some of the mentioned bridges.
It has been a few months since writing a review on a bridge book due to many commitments. But this first book review fits nicely with the topic on the Bridges of Lübeck in northern Germany, for it focuses on a landmark that should have been standing, but is no longer extant.
Located 6 kilometers north of the city in the suburb of Kucknitz, the Herrenbrücke has a history that is unique for the region and Europe. Located over the Trave and once hailed as the last bridge over this river before it empties into the Baltic Sea in Travemünde, only ten kilometers away, the Herrenbrücke was the only bridge in Germany that featured two single-leaf bascule bridges per roadway- four single leaf bascule spans all in all! Each span was 70 meters long. The height of the span over the Trave is over 50 meters tall. If one adds the approach spans, the total length of the bridge was over two kilometers. All in all, the Herrenbrücke was the largest bridge in Europe when it was bult in 1963 and opened to traffic at the beginning of 1964. Yet the 1964 span was the second crossing it this site. The very first crossing dates back to 1902 when a two-span swing deck truss bridge, using a Pratt design, was built. It was partially destroyed in a collision with the Swedish ship in 1909 and was rebuilt afterwards. In 1916, the bridge was electrified, allowing streetcars to cross the bridge providing a key connection between Siems and Kucknitz. The service was discontinued in 1958 and three years later, the suburbs and the City of Lübeck signed off on a contract to build the Herrenbrücke. Shortly after the new bridge was open to traffic, the steel truss swing bridge was removed.
But why did the bridge last for such a short time and had to be removed? Rainer Wiedemann, who lived near the bridge, documented the entire history of the bridge in his book, “Die Letzte Klappe: Abschied von der Herrenbrücke” (German for: The Last Word/Span: Farewell to the Herren-Bridge), which was published in 2011 and is available for ordering here. Mr. Wiedemann, who was born and raised in Lübeck and was a school teacher, documented the entire bridge prior to and during the removal process in 2005-06, which included detailed photos of the bridge, research into the bridge’s history (which included records of the bridge construction, old photos and postcards) and interviews with locals, city council members, and people who designed and built the Herren-Tunnel, the replacement of the Herrenbrücke which has been in service since 2005. Through this research, Wiedemann was able to look at the Herrenbrücke from all angles, including the reason why the Herrenbrücke had to be replaced after a short period in operation. The book is comparable with other books that were written about giant, popular crossings, such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge (75th anniversary book published in 2007), the Verrazano-Narrows and Brooklyn Bridges in New York City (former published in 2003, latter in 2013) and the Firth of Tay and Firth of Forth Bridges in the United Kingdom (published in 1991), where several aspects were combined into one- technical, sociological and historical- and formulated in a way where there is an equal balance of photos and text that is simple to understand, and even the reader who is a non-native speaker of German can follow the progress on the bridge’s history from start to finish.
This explains the reason behind the decision of the City of Lübeck and the suburbs to replace the Herrenbrücke with the Herrentunnel, which Wiedemann found substantial amounts of information on the bridge’s problems which dated back to shortly after the opening in 1964. In a nutshell, despite its popularity among its residents within a 20-km radius and beyond, the bridge was nothing but trouble for the city council. Technical problems resulted in a bascule span to not work resulting in a complicated detour. Traffic jams being 5-10 km long. But what doomed the bridge were the amount of cracks and corrosion on the bascule spans as a result of gas emitted from passing ships, weather extremities and salt used on the roadways. Despite undergoing rehabilitation on the bridge in 1981 to strengthen the concrete approaches and sandblast the bascule spans, it only delayed the inevitable, which was decided in 2001 in favor of a tunnel, financed solely by the private sector. Yet the process came at a price: many residents were displaced as their houses at the site of the tunnel were razed. Businesses were bought out, including the ship-builder Flender-Wirft, which was in business for over a century until it was bought by private investors in 2002. Almost immediately after the purchase, diggers and wrecking balls brought down the almost 400 square facility, reducing the warehouses and manufacturing buildings to a pile of rubble. This company was near the site where the 1902 swing bridge was located.
After the Herrentunnel was completed in July 2005, the Herrenbrücke was given its last hurrah on 26 August, 2005 the same time as the opening of the tunnel. Afterwards, it was demolished starting with the removal of the basule spans, then the approach viaduct spans and lastly the abutments and control tower- a process that took over two years to complete. There is almost nothing left of the bridge except for a pair of green cranes that have been placed there.
The author’s title is the subject for debate, depending on how the reader looks at the information. The Letzte Klappe could mean the last span, meaning the bridge stood the test of time, despite all the problems it had, and it stood to the very end, although its life was cut too short. Yet it could mean the last word, meaning the decision was final to get rid of the bridge, even if it was at the expense of more houses and businesses. But from the author’s standpoint, it could also mean the last word in terms of memories of the bridge and the area that is all but a ghost town. Siems and Kucknitz were affected by the bridge in a way that it became a key point that was replaced by the tunnel. But the tunnel came at the price of memories of the bridge and the businesses that once served the communities. As Wiedemann mentioned, Siems is almost non-existent, whereas Kucknitz has not fared better because of the tunnel. But progress can also bring its advantages, and perhaps the tunnel was for the best for commuters and tourists alike. Still to this day, people are trying to cope with the change, which will take getting used to.
And eventually people will adapt to the change, but the memories of the bridge and the region that once existed will remain, even through this book, which has become a must-buy for locals and pontists wanting to know about the Herrenbrücke, its rise and fall, and its legacy that will forever be part of Lübeck’s history as well as that of Schleswig-Holstein’s and Germany’s.
Grade: A+ (1,0)- for a well-detailed work on an iconic landmark that is comparable to other key bridges in Europe and the US. For engineers in Germany, a head-start for learning German! 🙂
Lübeck, Germany. The home of marzipan. The home of Medieval and Baroque architecture. Situated just west of the historic boundaries that had once separated East and West Germany but is today Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Pommerania, the city of 230,000 inhabitants, the second largest city in the state behind Kiel, is home to two universities, and is a magnet for tourists, as it is only 15 minutes by train south of the Baltic Sea on the Trave River. As it has three rivers and a pair of man-made canals in and around the historic Old Town (declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), it is not surprising that the city has one of the most populous bridges in Germany, ranking up there with Hamburg, Berlin, Erfurt and Nuremberg, just to name a few. As many as 230 bridges are known to exist in Lübeck as well as the neighboring beach community of Travemünde. 19 of them are located in and around the historic Old Town, spanning the Trave River as well as parts of the harbor and the Lübeck-Elbe Canal, which tangents the Old Town to the southeast before going south towards the Elbe at Lauenburg, 80 kilometers south of the city. That canal was built between 1895 and 1900 by Peter Rehder, whose bridge in Lübeck is named after him.
Just recently, I had an opportunity to visit these bridges as part of our tour through Lübeck with my wife and daughter. Many of these bridges can be seen via boat while others are within 5-10 minute walking distance inside the Old Town. Many of these structures have survived the onslaught of World War II, where 30% of the center was destroyed by air raids. Others were built in a fashionable way 15 years ago. In either case, this tour will take you through the old town and to each of the bridges and their histories. Photos of the bridges can be viewed by clicking on the name of the bridge. One of the bridges, the Herrenbrücke, is featured in a separate article, for a book was written on the double-bascule bridge, which has been replaced by a tunnel. Click here to read the book review. Click on the highlighted words and you will be led to the photos and other information on Lübeck’s bridges.
We’ll start with the Canal Crossings before going to the Trave River ones.
Hub Bridges:The first crossing along the Canal is located at the mouth leading into the Trave River. The bridge features three different crossings, each measuring between 42 and 45 meters in length. Two of them are hydraulic vertical lift spans, each featuring riveted Parker truss spans. The river side of the bridge used to serve rail traffic which ran along the river before it was discontinued in the 1980s. That crossing was later fixed in an elevated form and left there to allow ships to continue passing through. The center portion of the bridge is open to vehicular traffic and connects Unter der Trave with Hafenstrasse. This still functions as a hydraulic vertical lift bridge today and, as you can see in the video here, one can see the span be hoisted in 2-3 minutes’ time from the neighboring Burgtorbrücke. The pedestrian bridge on the canal side is a steel through arch bridge with portal and strut bracings similar to the now extant Fort Keogh Bridge in Montana (USA). That crossing is the only fixed span built when the three crossings were built between 1896 and 1898. Rehder and C. Hoppe were the contractors for the three crossings as they were built as part of the five-year project to canalize the city. Despite the railroad bridge being decommissioned, the crossings are clearly delegated to pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers to ensure their safety in crossing the structures. The tower located next to the three bridges serves as the control station for the center span. Its fancy Baroque design matches that of the architecture one can see in Lübeck.
Here are the links to the photos of the three crossings:
Burgtorbrücke-At 210 meters, the deck cantilever truss bridge using a Pratt truss design, is the only bridge in the city’s history to originally be built to span the Wakinitz River before the Canal was built in 1898. The original bridge was supposedly built in 1806 connecting the Old Town at Burgtor with the northern part of the city where Gustav Radbruch Platz is now located. The span was later replaced in 1898 with a cantilever suspension bridge that was three times the length of the original span and with the same height as the present-day structure. That bridge was replaced in 1910 with the present structure and since that day, has continued serving traffic on the east side of the city, connecting the Old Town with Travemünde and points to the north and east. The nearby Gustav Radbruch Platz is the eastern hub for all bus services serving the city and beyond. The concrete lion statues, conceived by artist Fritz Behn in 1913, were placed at the northern portals of the bridge in 1931 and are a site not to miss, together with the concrete ornamental railings and the Burgtor Gate that is located right next to the bridge to the south.
Klughafen Pedestrian Bridge- In an earlier article posted on the Chronicles (click here), we had a pop quiz to ask you when the bridge was built and whether this bridge is movable or not. The answer to these two questions took even the author by surprise, given the nature of how the boat tour guide told the story. While the trusses may have indicated that it was built 100 years ago and it was rehabilitated 15 years ago, it was actually built in 1994. And while the vertical beams holding the center span indicate a potential vertical lift bridge that would have been one of a kind, it only serves as a way of keeping the span from falling into the canal. Hence the comment that the bridge “was a decoration” serving pedestrians. Yet the almost 20-year old is beset by problems to be addressed by the city council, and that is vandalism by spray-painting. Instead of the pine green color it presents, the bridge is covered with various colors and shapes, some of which are deemed inappropriate. It will not be surprising if this pedestrian bridge receives a makeover in the coming years ahead.
Hüxtertorbrücke- No German city is not complete without this type of bridge: a steel arch bridge whose upper chord represents Pratt trusses curving from one end to another. One can find this bridge in cities like Munich, Berlin, Leipzig and Cologne (the last city is famous for its Hollernzollern Bridge). Plus there were some that had existed in places, like Kiel, before they were razed in favor of more modern bridges. The Hüxtertor Bridge, named after the gate that was destroyed in World War II and is now dominated by the Discothek, is one of the smaller of these bridge types. It was built in 1927 and is a pony arch bearing a pale lime green color. It features typical 1920s style lighting supported by concrete towers. The bridge carries Hüxterdamm, connecting the city center with Falkenplatz and its adjacent Volkshochschule (Institute of Continuing Education).
Rehderbrücke: Located next to Hüxtertorbrücke on Krähenstrasse, this bridge was named after the man who built the canal but was built in 1936. The bridge type is deck plate girder with cantilever features, and the black bridge’s typical feature are the rollers on the concrete piers. These not only support the bridge itself, but they serve as devices for expansion (during the warm months) and contraction (during the cold months).
Mühlentorbrücke:Apart from the Burgtorbrücke, this bridge is one of the most ornamental bridges built of steel that had existed in Lübeck before World War II. The bridge was built at the time of the construction of the Canal (1899-1900) and featured finials on towers that included ornamental lighting on it. The bridge itself is unusual in three ways: 1. The towers are supported by prefabricated curved steel beams which is also hold the vertical suspenders that attach to the road. It is not an eyebar suspension bridge, like the Three Sister Bridges of Pittsburgh, for these steel encased cables are stiff providing more tension to the top part of the bridge. 2. The roadway supported by the steel beams is diagonal to the towers that are built parallel to the riverbank. With the exception of the Swinemünde Bridge at Gesundbrünnen Station in Berlin (which is cantilever), the Mühlentor Bridge is one of the rarest suspension bridges that has such a unique feature. 3. And while there is no horizontal beam supporting the towers, like other suspension bridges, this bridge also features cantilever deck trusses as the support for the decking, rendering the towers and encased cables as useless. Henceforth this bridge is unique in itself and will most likely be considered a national landmark if it has not happened already.
Possehlbrücke- The last bridge along the canal is the Possehlbrücke. Built in 1956, the bridge is a prestressed, and pretensioned concrete girder bridge serving Possehlstrasse between the Old Town and points going southwards. The bridge represents a classic example of concrete bridges that took too much vehicular traffic resulting in cracks in the concrete superstructure and other structural issues. Albeit restricted to traffic up to 7.5 tons since 2012, the bridge’s days are definitely numbered. Earlier this month, the city council voted unanimously to demolish the structure in favor of a new structure. Construction will start in Spring 2014 and will take over a year to complete. Tourists travelling by boat will be seeing cranes and diggers at the site in the coming year instead of the picture the author took.
Wipperbrücke- Spanning the city arm of the Trave River as the first crossing entering the river, this 1744 structure is the only one that is built using brick, the same material used on much of the infrastructure in Schleswig-Holstein (and much of Lübeck). The first crossing was a pedestrian bridge built in 1644 before it was widened to accommodate horse and buggy and later automobiles. The bridge is located 200 meters south of the Lübeck Cathedral and can be photographed together when travelling by boat. An even closer shot of the church can be made after passing underneath the structure and going 100 meters further. Both are a must
Wall Bridge- Spanning the tributary connecting the Trave and the Stadtgraben carrying Possehlstrasse near the Wipperbrücke, this closed spandrel arch bridge was built in the 1920s but was widened to accommodate traffic. It serves as a connecting point between the Old Town and Possehlbrücke.
Dankwärtsbrücke- Spanning the Trave River at Dankwärtsgrube, the Dankwärtsbrücke is one of three pedestrian bridges spanning this river in Lübeck’s Old Town. It holds the title of being the only wooden bridge in the city, and one that has a lot of charm and is still being visited by thousands of people each day. The crossing is the second one in use and follows the original construction of the bridge built 200 years earlier but was replaced in 2004 due to structural issues.
Professor’s Bridge- Located between Dankwärtsbrücke and Holstentor, the pedestrian bridge was the work of Peterson and Pörksen, architects whose office is located in Lübeck and neighboring Hamburg. Built in 2007 as part of the plan to convert the Trave into a tourist boating port, the concrete bridge features a beam span supported by V-shaped piers which creates a trapezoidal shape with the point in the center of the bridge. This is important to allow boats to pass. The churches can be seen by this bridge.
Holstentorbrücke- Despite its length of 30 meters and being a single span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge, this bridge is perhaps the oldest that ever existed, located at the world renowned Holstentor Gate, the most used landmark of the city in terms of marzipan, paintings, souvenirs and the like. The bridge was first mentioned in 1216 when it was built as a wooden bridge. It was destroyed by flooding in 1320, and between that time and 1516, the bridge was rebuilt three times, with the third crossing being a stone arch bridge. The next bridge resembled the Rialto Bridge in Venice and lasted over 300 years before it was replaced in 1853 by a short span crossing that accomodated both rail and horse-traffic. While the rail line, originally connecting Lübeck Railway station and the harbor was discontinued in the early 1930s, vehicles continued using the bridge, hence the widening of the structure in 1934 to its current shape and form.
Beckerbrücke- Spanning the Untertrave, the pedestrian bridge connects the Lübeck Convention Center with the Beckergrube and provides a direct link to the center of the Old Town with its churches and shopping area. A person needs only seven minutes between St. Jacob’s Church and the Convention Center. The bridge was built in 2004 and features a beam span supported by a set of two-column piers.
Drehbrücke (Swing Bridge)– Spanning the Untertrave at Willy-Brandt Allee between St. Lorenz and the Old Town, the bridge is one of only a couple swing bridges left in Schleswig-Holstein that is in operation. The bridge features a curved Howe pony truss, where there are three trusses, the center one of which separates two lanes of traffic. Built in 1892, it is the third oldest bridge left in operation and features a swing mechanism where a combination of rollers and hydraulics are used to swing the bridge open at a 60° angle, allowing ships and boats to pass through the crossing. A video shows the bridge closing after the boats pass through (click here).
Originally used for rail traffic connecting the train station and the harbor ports to the north via Hub Bridges, the bridge was converted to vehicular use in the 1980s and has operated for 121 years with little repairs done on it. The bridge is located next to a famous fish restaurant where a person can dine on some of the city’s specialties with a glass of wine and watch the ships pass through as the bridge swings open and close. The bridge is located next to another railroad bridge approximately 200 meters away. The Warren pony truss span with riveted connections spans part of the harbor and can be seen from the train station. It has been sitting abandoned for over a decade, awaiting reuse.
Eric Warburg Bridge- Losing the Herrenbrücke was a blow that the City of Lübeck did not want. Fortunately, the Eric Warburg Bridge was built at the time the 1964 two-span drawbridge was being demolished because of the tunnel. Yet this bridge had been in the planning phases for over a century, starting off with the plan by Peter Rehder to build it closer to the Old Town along the Lübeck-Elbe Canal. Yet the plan was tabled due to opposition from the citizens, as well as the two World Wars. Yet in 2004, the need to establish the connection between the Old Town and St. Gertrud justified the need for a single-leaf draw bridge, which took four years to build. The bridge features a blue-colored steel beam bridge with a center span that opens at regular intervals, controlled by the grey shaped control tower. A video shows you how the bridge works (click here). Since the Herrenbrücke was removed in 2008, the bridge is the last crossing over the Trave before emptying into the Baltic Sea 10 kilometers to the north at Travemünde.
The bridge also has a history involving a prominent citizen. Eric Warburg, a banker from Hamburg, was of Jewish origin and contributed a great deal to saving many lives during World War II. After emigrating to the US in 1938, he served the American army and helped many people escape the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and his killing machine aimed at exterminating the Jews before and during the war. After Lübeck was heavily damaged during air raidson 29 March, 1942, in which 20% of the historic Old Town was destroyed, Warburg knew of the plan for another series of air raids that would eventually destroy the rest of the city and informed his cousin Carl Jacob Burckhardt, president of the International Red Cross about it. Together, the city was declared a neutral zone and a port where humanitarian aide would enter Germany. The plan was successful and not only was Lübeck spared, but it was declared neutral governed by the Red Cross until the end of the war in 1945. For his work as well as his engagement in German-American relations, the Emil Warburg Prize was introduced in 1988 and given to people who performed great deeds for keeping the German-American relations sound. Among those receiving the prize were Richard von Weizsäcker (German president from 1984 to 1994), Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State under Richard Nixon) and former US President George HW Bush.
The last bridge on this tour is a must-see if you are a pontist or love history. The Bridge of Statues spans the Stadtgraben providing the lone important link between Holstentor and the Old Town to the east and Lübeck’s Railway Station and Bus Depot to the west. The bridge’s history dates back to the 1700s, when the bridge was built using wood. Yet the stone arch bridge was first constructed in 1773 and widened to accomodate traffic in 1907. The bridge features eight different sandstone sculptures on the railings, which includes the statue of the Woman of Peace, which is the answer to the question posed in an earlier article (click here). Each statue represents either a god or a different symbol, which was described further in detail by René and Peter van der Grodt and can be viewed here. These statues were made by Dietrich Jürgen Boy and P.H. Gnekow in 1774 and had been in place until 1985 when they were replaced by replicas and the originals were taken to the St. Anna’s Museum where they can be seen today but under protection from pollution. The bridge also features four different seals called reliefs, each located on one corner of the spandrel of the bridge, representing Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. Those can be seen from boat or by climbing down to the shoreline of the Stadtgraben.
After touring through the Old Town and visiting each of the bridges mentioned here, which will take a day to complete when walking by foot and a couple hours by boat, one should not forget to try the marzipan products, including the marzipan pie provided by the family owned but world renowned Niederegger candy and restaurant, while at the same time, listen about the history of another bridge that used to exist in the city but a tunnel had taken its place. A book was written about this bridge and its history and in the second part on the series, we will have a look at the rise and fall of the Herrenbrücke, located north of Lübeck in the village of Siems, once an industrial port but now a faded memory.
This bridge in the city-state of Suffolk, Virginia is another example of an appealing swing bridge that has long since been demolished. Judging by the picture submitted by Nathan Holth, this bridge appears to have been built of iron and has one of two designs: 1. A pair of kingpost truss spans supported by a central panel consisting of two pairs of vertical towers with light weight diagonal beams holding the trusses made of heavier iron together or 2. a Camelback truss bridge whose center panel is thinner and lighter than the two outer panels. In either case, the bridge was a hand-powered swing bridge, used to allow boats to pass. It is similar to another photo that was submitted by the same person but located at Reed’s Ferry in Virginia.
The problem with both bridges is threefold. First of all, while the designs are similar to each other, it is unknown who designed and built the bridges, let alone when they were constructed, except to say that for the last question, it appears that the period between 1875 and 1895 would best fit for iron was used often for bridge construction before it was supplanted by steel after 1890.
Also unknown is the location of the swing bridge, for in the top picture, it was claimed that it was located in Everet’s, whereas in the bottom photo, it was located at Reed’s Ferry. It should be confirmed that Everet’s was located in Nansemond County, which was subsequentially absorbed into the city-state of Suffolk in 1974. While Suffolk has a total population of 1.7 million inhabitants as of present (including 87,000 in the city itself), its land size is the largest in the United States and is larger than the German states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen, as well as the Vatican City and Monaco combined! Given the village’s absorption, it is unknown whereabouts it was located when it existed prior to the 1970s.
Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that many streams in the city-state were dammed and henceforth, lakes were created as a result. While the Nansemond River flows through Suffolk, as many as five lakes and reservoirs were created, which meant that bridges like this one were either removed before the projects commenced, or were inundated and the bridge parts have long since rusted away. In either case, there are many questions that need to be resolved for this unique bridge, namely:
1. When did Everet’s and Reed’s Ferry exist?
2. When were the bridges in their respective communities were built and who built them? When were they removed?
3. When was the Nansemond River dammed and the lakes created?
All information on the two bridges should be directed in the Comments section of James Baughn’s Bridgehunter.com website by clicking on the name Everet’s Bridge. You can also add any information on Reed’s Ferry Bridge in the Comment section if you have any that will be helpful.
The Nansemond County portion of the city-state of Suffolk has a unique history of its own, as it was named after Nansemond, a native American tribe who lived along the river at the time of the arrival of the English colonists in Jamestown in 1607. Under the name of New Norfolk County, it became one of the oldest counties in the US, having been established in 1636. After being divided into Upper and Lower Norfolk in 1637, the Upper portion became Nansemond County in 1646 with the county seat later being Suffolk (it was established in 1742 and was a county seat eight years later). It remained a county seat until Suffolk and Nansemond became a city-states in 1972. Interesting note was the fact that Suffolk had been an independent city from 1910 up to then. Subsequentially Nansemond became part of the city-state Suffolk two years later. A city-state in this case means that even though it is part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is an independent city, having its own government and laws as well as responsibilities for its infrastructure, education system, and the like. Virginia still supports Suffolk with funding, but has little influence on the activities of the city-state, making it similar to the aforementioned city-states, as well as the Spanish state of Catalonia, which is much larger than Suffolk.
Inspite the number of historic bridges being demolished or wiped away because of natural disasters, there are a few bright spots to consider. The Long Meadow Bridge in Bloomington, MN is one of them. Spanning the Long Meadow Lake arm of the Minnesota carrying Old Cedar Avenue, this 1920 structure, featuring five riveted Parker through truss spans with M-frame portal bracings has had a long history in itself. The current structure is the second crossing at this site where a major thoroughway used to exist. Originally connecting Minneapolis with the southern suburbs of Apple Valley, Bloomington and other smaller towns, Cedar Avenue used to be a major throughway back in the times where freeways did not even exist, with three major bridges carrying the major highway- Tenth Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, the Minnesota River Swing Bridge, and this one, located just to the north of the Swing Bridge. The Swing Bridge and this bridge were built at the same time in 1890, with the latter featuring trestle approaches a possibily a swing span as its main span. Evidence of this can be found in pictures, as shown by John Weeks, who has visited this bridge many times (click here for pictures). Yet for some reason, be it lack of boat traffic or flooding, the swing span and trestles at Long Meadow Lake were replaced with a series of fixed spans in 1920, which has not been altered since then. Both bridges served traffic crossing the island and providing access between the southern suburbs, the International Airport and downtown Minneapolis. This was until the bridges were rendered useless with the construction of the tied arch bridges in 1979, and Cedar Avenue (which had become Hwy. 77 in 1949) was rerouted to this freeway bridge. Sections of Cedar Avenue were eventually either rerouted or cut off with the construction of the Hwy. 62 Crosstown and I-494 Freeways, while the swing span over the Minnesota River was torn down shortly after the opening of the Hwy. 77 Bridge in 1980. Yet the Long Meadow Lake Bridge continued to serve traffic until it was deemed unsafe and was closed to cars in 1993 and later to all pedestrians and cyclists in 2002, fencing it off and removing 30 feet of decking on each side of the bridge. Despite the construction of a pedestrian bridge south of the bridge over the Minnesota River, there has not been any access to the airport, Mall of America (built in 1991) and the rest of the Twin Cities from the south.
But that is about to change!
For years, officials from several aspects of government, including the City of Bloomington, the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Preserve, and the state government have been wrestling over the future of the bridge, with the majority of the Bloomington City Council wanting to see the bridge torn down and replaced with a berm or a new crossing, and the federal agencies wanting the bridge to be kept as it is part of the national wildlife refuge which includes 35 miles of wildlife along the Minnesota River starting at Ft. Snelling State Park south of St.Paul. With the fight lingering, it seemed that there would be no end in site, and the bridge would eventually become part of naturing, decaying slowly but surely.
But recent decisions made this month has given the Long Meadow Bridge new life. This is thanks to Representative Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, who had been fighting to provide funding for the reconstruction of the structure. How she successfully accomplish this task though required some clever thinking and some support from House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL- Minneapolis and Governor Mark Dayton, DFL. The scoop: The Mall of America. Built in 1991 as the largest mall in the country at that time, officials wanted to expand the facility to include more shopping, lodging, gambling and parking possibilities, a project worth over $1.5 billion. State legislators on 22 May agreed on a proposal to provide $250 million towards the project and additional $9 million for the bridge. There was a catch though, which was no cent would be spent unless the City of Bloomington agreed to reconstruct the bridge. While the city breathed a sign a relief that funding is available and were very forthcoming on the proposal, they had another catch to the plan: officials cannot tear down and replace the bridge!
10 days ago, the Long Meadow Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its association with the type of bridge used during the 1920s, when the era of standardized truss bridges with riveted connections and heavy steel to accomodate traffic was in full motion. It was also part of the history of the Old Cedar Avenue and for many residents, the history of Bloomington itself. With its listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge will receive new life as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge as it will undergo extensive rennovation to reopen the important link between the southern suburbs and the airport and the Twin Cities.
How this bridge will be rehabilitated remains unclear. Judging by the author’s visit in 2011, combined with inspections done by the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation, the major problems contractors will be facing will be the decking portion of the bridge, as many floorbeams and cross beams have corroded away to a point of irreparability and will have to be replaced. Yet if lessons are learned from three other examples, the Merriam Street, Washington Avenue and 4th Avenue Bridges, it is most likely that the Long Meadow Bridge may be set into a concrete bridge, which will function as the main bridge with the truss bridge being the ornament. On the other hand, if wood decking is needed, than new steel beams will be needed to support the deck and to function as a standing structure. The superstructure itself appears to be in great condition despite the rust but will most likely be repainted so that it is protected against weather extremities. While it is unclear what the condition of the piers are, learning the lessons from the collapse of a railroad bridge in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) because of flooding, it is most likely that they will have to be inspected for scouring and be reinforced and or replaced. And lastly, the old highway will need to be cleared of downed trees and other vegetation which had taken over since 2002. The road does not necessarily need to be replaced as it still retains its historic character, yet some touch-ups will be needed to ensure that safety and aesthetics go together like bread and butter.
The hill will be steep to climb regarding rehabilitating the bridge, but one can use $9 million wisely to make the bridge what it was before it was closed to all traffic and return the bridge to its original form- as a piece of history connecting three key points. Thanks to Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, the wish of restoring the bridge and opening it up again will become a reality. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on this bridge.
You can see a gallery with photos taken of the bridge by the author with some details and explanations here.
The Osborne County Hall of Fame Honors celebrates the Osborne County Sesquicentennial Year of 2021, marking the first 150 years of the county's existence. The "Honors" will present, recognize, and appreciate the various aspects of Osborne County, Kansas heritage and culture both past and present in a different manner than its parent organization, the Osborne County Hall of Fame. The series of lists that comprise the "Honors" will be revealed throughout the year on this site and via other social media. All Individuals already enshrined in the Osborne County Hall of Fame are excluded from the "Honors". Happy 150th Birthday, Osborne County!