The Bridges of Flensburg, Germany

Author’s Note: This is a throw-back to an article I wrote for the blog version of the Chronicles in 2012. The difference here is this article features a map with a guide to the location of the bridges, so that you have an opportunity to visit them. In addition some articles about Flensburg are to appear in sister column The Flensburg Files soon, as some stories coming from there are worth having a look at. 

The Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border at Wassersleben. Photo taken in 2011

Flensburg, Germany: the city with lots of character. There are many factors that make the city, located at the German-Danish border unique. Given its proximity to the border, the city of 90,000 has the highest number of Danish minority living there with one in four having Danish blood. One will find many Danish stores in the city center and places to the north towards the border. The city prides itself on its local brewery, the Flensburger Beer with its 12 different flavors, which celebrated its 125th birthday this year. The city is the birthplace of rum, as the likes of Pott, Johannsen, Jensen and the like made their mark here, many of which can be seen by touring the Rum-Sugar Mile. One can tour see and learn about the ships that were built in Flensburg, let alone travel the Alexandra, the lone coal-powered ship still in operation. And if one is interested in sports, there’s the handball team, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, one of the premiere powerhouses in the Bundesliga.

And lastly, if one looks even closer, one will find some historic bridges, whose history has long since been hidden from view. In the three times I’ve travelled up there for vacation, one cannot get enough of the city’s history, especially with regards to that aspect. The bridges are scattered throughout the city, spanning all kinds of ravines, and ranging from girders, arches and even a wooden truss. This tour guide takes you to seven bridges that make Flensburg unique in itself. A couple of the bridges have been mentioned in previous articles as there is potential to find substantial information on them. And for some, it required some great effort as the photographer had to battle through a bed of thorns and Rotweiler dogs to get to the bridges. So without further ado, here is the guide to the bridges in the Hölle Nord:

Schleswiger Strasse Brücke- When getting off the train at the station, this is the first bridge you will see. Spanning the railroad line connecting Flensburg with the key points to the north and south, the two-span arch bridge is the second crossing at this site, for the first bridge was built in 1854 when the rail line was first constructed. This bridge was built in 1926 and still retains its original form. One should not be mistaken by the fact that the bridge is brand new. It has shown some wear and tear especially on the inner part of the arches. But overall, the bridge is in excellent shape and is in the running for being declared a historic landmark by the city.

Peelwatt Viaduct- Spanning the railroad line connecting Flensburg and Kiel, this viaduct was built in the early 1900s and is the tallest and longest bridge in Flensburg. The bridge is about 70 meters long and 30 meters deep, carrying Kaiserstrasse. This bridge was difficult to photograph given the number of thorns that had to be dealt with, in addition with being chased by a large Rotweiler owned by a couple having an “open air concert” during my visit in 2011. Unless you’re Nathan Holth and want to deal with scratches and bruises, this stunt should not be attempted. While the bridge had seen its better days because of cracks and falling debris, the structure was recently rehabilitated in a way that a new roadway and railings were built, making it safer for cyclists to cross. Since finishing the work this year, the bridge has been serving as an important link between the campus of the University of Flensburg and the City Center.

Angelburger Brücke- Located at the junction of Angelburger Strasse and the main highway Sudenhofendamm, this bridge has a history in itself that required a lot of researching. When I visited the bridge in 2010, the first impressions that came to mind was that it was just a girder bridge with some ornamental railings resembling an X-shape. Underneath the bridge it features V-laced truss framing that is welded together with gusset plates.  But beyond the engineering facts, if one looks more closely at the abutments, one can see the remnants of a bike shop encased into the bridge’s north abutment because of the old German lettering and a wheel resembling an old-fashioned bike from the 1930s. As the nearest bike shop was up the hill at Hafenmarkt, I sent an inquiry about this bridge after writing a mystery bridge article about it. The response was an interesting one. The shop inside the bridge was indeed a bike shop owned by the Kraft family, which housed not only bikes, but also a repair shop. That remained in business through the 1960s before being replaced with a store that sold used books and comic booklets. It was owned by Emma Voss. Shortly before its abandonment in ca. 2000, a used furniture store took its place. After sustaining damage through broken windows and other forms of vandalism, the windows were bricked shut and a bilboard took their place. However, according to the Petersen Bike Shop, who provided the information, the city is looking at revitalizing the Bahndamm which would include remodelling and reusing this unique store space. Whether and when this will be realized remains to be seen. The bridge was built in 1919 as part of the Bahndamm line connecting the harbor and the train station. It is used next to never these days. But with the revitalization plan on the table, that might change as well.

Bahndamm Bridges:  Located at the junction of the Hofenden and Hafendamm, the 1919 bridges feature not only one, but two bridges built next to each other. Each one carries a rail line just west of the split with each one caressing the harbor. Once used to transport goods from ships to the main land, both lines appear to have been abandoned for a couple decades or have seen little use. The bridges themselves are plate girder with V-laced bracings at the bottom. Its future however seems uncertain as they pose a hazard to vehicular traffic. A traffic light is right after the bridge and the lanes have become a problem, even though the city council has tried to fix it most recently.

Bridge of Friendship:  This bridge is the northernmost structure, as it is located at the German-Danish border at Wassersleben, carrying a bike trail which leads to Kursa. It is also one of the most unique structures in Schleswig-Holstein for it is not only made of lumber, but the truss design is unusual- a Queenpost deck truss but designed in a manner similar to a Queenpost pony truss- the diagonal beams connect the piers with the decking without meeting at the center. Built in 1920 but reconstructed in 2003, the BoF has symbolized the connection and friendship between Germany and Denmark, which has been that way since the 1950s. Yet up until World War II, the relations between the two countries were not always the best, as they fought each other over the lands extending from Schleswig up towards Kolding- the region known as Angeln. Yet the Battle of Dybol (near Sonderburg) in 1864 decided the border in favor of German empire, with Flensburg becoming a border town. With the exception of World War II, when Hitler invaded and conquered Denmark, the border has remained the same. Between 1945 and 1995 Danish and German guards stood at the bridge, ensuring that people can cross without incident, especially as each country had its own set of laws. Yet after the Shengen Agreement, the border bridge became a free crossing and has remained so ever since. One can see the empty border patrol station still in place today when crossing into Denmark.

Bahnhofstrasse Brücke:  Located just north of Carlisle Park on the road heading to the train station, this 1919 railroad bridge features similar lattice bracing as the Angelburger Bridge but in the form of a snowflake. The bridge was part of the rail line connecting the train station with the harbor but has been unused for the most part for a couple decades.

Tarup Railroad Bridge:  While this bridge may look like a typical deck plate girder, this 1903 bridge is located in the rural village located 8 km east of Flensburg. Interesting to note that there is a restaurant located 300 meters away from the bridge with the date saying that the railroad was in service from 1903 to 2000. Yet the information seems to be mistaken, for the bridge carries a rail line between Flensburg and Kiel, with trains running on the hour. It is possible that the train station in Tarup was discontinued in 2000 forcing many to board at either Flensburg or Husby, but more research is needed to prove that.

Lautrupsbachtal Viaduct:  The last bridge on this tour is this one. Built in 2009, the bridge spans the Lautrup Creek and several other smaller streets and a bike trail in the village of Lautrup in the eastern part of Flensburg. Despite a debate about the construction of the bridge, the it has served as a blessing, carrying traffic around the eastern end of the city, reducing the congestion, which is still a recurring problem in the city center. The bridge is the longest, measuring 500 meters, and presenting a curve. The railings also serve as a noise barrier- 10 meters tall, resembling the Ecu Viaduct in Geneva, Switzerland. A video of the crossing is presented here.

There are some more bridges that are worth visiting but could not be put on this page. Yet another bridge photographer, Fritz Wissemborski also took a tour through Flensburg in 2003 and has a set of pictures you can view here. It pretty much sums up how important the bridges were to the city of Flensburg, for it contributed to the development of its infrastructure over the years. And because talks are underway to convert the former rail line to a bike trail connecting the harbor with the train station, one will have an opportunity to see these bridges reused again, as more and more people will take to the bikes and leave their cars in the garage. This way people will know more about these structures and come to appreciate them even more than they did in the past, providing another reason to visit Flensburg apart from the rum, beer, boating and handball.

Click on the highlighted bridges to gain access to the photos. Some of which were photographed by the author and can be found on his facebook page. 

Google Map: A guide to the bridges in and around Flensburg you can find here: 

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zcTmPZtqubT0.kLBfVOG_8Xr8

bhc new logo jpeg and FF new logo1

Europabrücke in Rendsburg Coming Down

Underneath the Europabruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011
Underneath the Europabruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

bhc new logo newsflyerCo-produced with sister column

FF new logo

 

 

 

RENDSBURG, GERMANY- It’s one of the longest and highest bridges in Schleswig-Holstein: 1457 meters long, 30 meters wide and 50 meters high above the Baltic-North Sea Canal. The Europabrücke, locally known as the Rader Hochbrücke, is one of the most heavily travelled bridges in northern Germany, carrying the main artery connecting Flensburg and all points in Scandanavia to the north and Hamburg and all points to the south, the motorway A7. Built in 1972, the cantilever deck bridge has reached the end of its useful life.

Unlike the April Fools joke involving neighboring Rendsburg High Bridge in 2013, this is a serious matter.

According to sources from shz.de, plans are in the making to replace the bridge with a wider and sturdier structure with plans to have the structure replaced in 12 years’ time. Two factors influence the decision by the Ministry of Transportation in Berlin and the state authorities in Kiel to replace the 43-year old bridge. First and foremost, inspection reports revealed wear and tear on the bridge’s deck, caused by extreme weather conditions, salt and debris from the canal it spans and lastly, too much traffic on the bridge. The bridge was closed for several weeks in 2013 because of spalling cracks in the concrete that needed to be patched. This resulted in chaos for travellers needed to detour through the tunnel in Rendsburg, the transporter portion of the Rendsburg High Bridge in order to get across or even the ferries near the city, just to name many alternatives.  The second factor for the bridge replacement is because the motorway is being widened from its present four lanes to six lanes, between Hamburg and Flensburg. Already underway is the stretch between Neumünster and Quickborn, the widening process will include replacing over four dozen bridges built in the 1950s, widening the present lanes and adding one additional one in each direction to ensure that travelling this stretch is safer than before. This stretch of A7 has been notorious for several accidents and traffic jams, especially near Hamburg. The bridge replacement will be part of the next stretch of highway to be widened.

While the design-phase is in its infancy, the plan is to build one half of the replacement span wide enough for four lanes of traffic. After shifting traffic onto the new span, the old span will be torn down and replaced with the second half of the replacement span. The plan is to have the bridge completed by 2027.

Yet pressure is being applied by German Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt to start construction of the new bridge as soon as possible, giving designers up to 18 months to complete the process before construction starts. The project is being considered for federal support by officials in Berlin. How long the designing process and the impact surveys will take place as well as when construction will start remains open. But given the critical situation of the bridge and the motorway, the bridge will most likely move up the priority ladder quickly so that work can start at the latest next year.

Judging by the bridge’s modern appearance, from the photographer’s and pontist’s  point of view, the bridge appeared to be functioning great and its sleak design makes it one of the crossings worth seeing while biking aling the Grand Canal. However, looks can be deceiving when looking at the cracks in the concrete. Given the recent bridge collapse in Cincinnati a few weeks ago, politicians and engineers are wasting no time getting the project moving forward in Rendsburg.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest with the bridge. Together with sister column The Flensburg Files, a series on projects in Schleswig-Holstein is being produced to give travellers an idea what to expect in the coming months.

Oblique view of Europebruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011
Oblique view of Europebruecke near Rendsburg. Photo taken in May 2011

Author’s notes:

A series on the Bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal was produced by the Chronicles. The Europabrücke is found here.

The Flensburg Files is doing a quiz series on the 16 German states as part of the country’s 25th anniversary celebration. The first one on Schleswig-Holstein you can find here. The answers will come on 24 March.

And like the Files, The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is currently undergoing an upgrade to internet status. Articles will continue to be posted during the construction proces, which is expected to take a few weeks to complete. So stay here and enjoy the articles to come.

 

 

Berlin: The Bridges and the Wall

 

Oberbaum Bridge and Viaduct spanning the Spree in Berlin. Photo taken in June 2010

and 

 

This is a joint article with sister column The Flensburg Files and is part of the Files’ series on the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and German Reunification. For more information on this series, please click here for details.

Berlin: The capital of Germany and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. With 3.5 million inhabitants, the city is the cultural center and a major tourist attraction for people to see. A person can take a morning boat tour along the Spree, have lunch at a Christmas market at Alexanderplatz, see the entire city from the TV Tower (Fernsehturm), take in a concert with the city’s philharmonic orchestra at Gendarmen Market, visit the museums along Unter den Linden, consume and buy tons of books at Dussmann in Mitte, and lastly, eat a Vietnamese meal at a restaurant at Prenzlauer Berg. This is a typical day for a tourist visiting Berlin. With children, it would be crime not to visit the Zoo and Tiergarten in Charlottenburg.

Yet Berlin (like the rest of Germany) for almost five decades had been a chessboard for conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. The City was divided into four sectors in accordance to the Yalta Agreement signed on the eve of the end of World War II, yet instead of helping the Germans in the eastern sector rebuild their livelihood, the Soviets erected the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961, keeping the easterners from fleeing to West Berlin. For 28 years the Wall became the symbol of a divided Germany with each half having a different government and different mentality. This held true until 1989, when protests by the hundreds of thousands, resulted in the fall of the East German dictator, and subsequentially, the fall of the Wall. The first border opened on 9 November, 1989 and by the beginning of 1990, the Wall was but a memory and Berlin, reunited.

The 40+ kilometer long Berlin Wall not only surrounded West Berlin and closed off any possibilities to escape, it also blocked access to the bridges that spanned many of Berlin’s waterways, whether it was the Spree, the Teltow Canal or Wannsee. Many of the important crossings became the bridges to nowhere for 28 years, until the Wall fell and the crossings were reopened for the first time. Some of the bridges became the point of exchanges of Soviet and western agents, others allowed only westerners to visit East Berlin but not the other way around. But nonetheless, all of the crossings are open today, and people can use the bridges without having to show the border guards their passports, let alone fear for being arrested and charged of espionage.

The Chronicles will feature six well-known crossings that had once been either closed off by border guards or walled off completely, to show how important they were both during the Cold War as well as at the time of the Fall of the Wall, and to compare their relevance then to today, as Berlin celebrates its anniversary of the revolution that ushered in a new and peaceful era. A couple of these crossings have recently been torn down but not before leaving a historical marker indicating their importance in connection with one of the most painful times Berlin and the world faced.

One of the restored towers at the central span

Oberbaumbrücke and Viaduct

Location: Spree River at Am Oberbaum between Friedrichshain and Kreuzburg

Built: 1896; rebuilt in 1948 and 1995

Description and History:  The Oberbaumbrücke is one of Berlin’s prized treasures. The bridge features two levels of brick arch spans- the lower deck has six arches plus a steel beam center span to allow for ships to pass. That serves vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The upper deck features brick arches creating an arcade below for people to walk underneath. The center span features a steel deck arch span. The outerriver spans feature steel deck trusses that cross the streets below. Since 1995, the upper deck has served subway traffic. The bridge is highly ornamented with gothic towers, using the tower of the Mitteltorturm in Prenzlau (located 90 km north of Berlin) as a reference. The largest of the two are located at the center span of the bridge.The total length of the bridge is 150 meters not counting the steel truss viaducts on the Kreuzburg end. The  bridge suffered substantial damage in World War II with the gothic towers being destroyed and the upper deck being damaged to a point where no vehicles could cross. Although it remained in place, it was closed to traffic with the completion of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Yet with the fall of the Wall in 1989, plans were undertaken to restore the bridge to its original form. This was done between 1992 and its completion in 1996 with the steel center arch span being built by world famous architect, Santiago Calatrava.  Since then, the bridge has retained its original features, although remnants of the Cold War can be seen- the watch tower and portions of the Berlin Wall can be seen at the bridge, serving as a reminder of a divided Berlin during the 28-year period of the Wall. Since 1991, the boroughs of Friedrichshain and Kreuzburg have been a joint community and since 1998, festivities have occurred on the bridge, including a water fight between residents of the two communities as well as an art festival.

Former East German watch tower now an elevator to the subway stop at the bridge’s top deck

Oblique view of the arches

 

 

 

View of Glienicker Brücke from Babelsberg Park. Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glienicker_Br%C3%BCcke#mediaviewer/File:Glienicker_Br%C3%BCcke.JPG

 

Glienicke Bridge

Location: Havel River at Bundesstrasse 1 between Berlin- Wannsee, Babelsberg and Potsdam

Built: 1907 (current bridge); rebuilt in 1947

The 128 meter long Glienicke Bridge is located at the very southwest portion of Berlin. Built in 1907 by the Hakort Bridge Company of Duisburg under the direction of Eduard Fürstenau, this steel cantilever Warren truss bridge is the third crossing at this site, with the first crossing made of wood being built in 1670 followed by a stone arch bridge replacing it in 1834. Despite protests by residents of Potsdam and Berlin, that bridge was demolished in 1904 as part of the plan to expand the Teltow Canal. Construction on the new bridge began two years later. The bridge became the key link between the two cities afterwards, with the federal highway 1 crossing it. It was widened to accommodate traffic in 1937 and was the most traveled highway until it was partially destroyed at the close of World War II in 1945.

It was rebuilt in its original form two years later but became the dividing point between the Soviet Zone and that of the US and later its allies. When the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961, a barrier  and border control area was constructed at the Potsdam end to prevent East Germans from fleeing into West Berlin. Up to 1989, only one escape attempt was successfully made, which was a Trabant car smashing through the wall in 1988, smuggling three people across the border into West Berlin.  If there was a bridge where Soviet and Western Spies were exchanged often, this bridge was the place. Between 1962 and 1986, three exchanges of spies took place, based on agreements made between the US and Soviet Union. A video of the “Bridge of Agents”, as coined by many, can be seen below.

 

 

After the Wall fell in 1989, the bridge was reopened and later restored to accommodate traffic between Berlin and Potsdam, and to this day, the key link between the two cities has been reestablished. Despite dismantling the wall and the border areas, a memorial and museum dedicated to this key crossing, was built near the stone columns on the Potsdam side. It is open daily for those wanting to visit the bridge and learn about its unique history.

 

 

Bösebrücke at Bornholmerstrasse. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berlin_-_B%C3%B6sebr%C3%BCcke_am_S-Bahnhof_Bornholmer_Stra%C3%9Fe_(7592723062).jpg

 Bösebrücke

Location: Railroad and Light Rail Lines at Bornholmerstrasse between Prenzlauer Berg and Gesundbrunnen

Built: 1916

The Bösebrücke is 320 meters long and features a steel through arch design, with the upper chord and approach spans being a Warren truss design. The bridge was one of a few that survived World War II but was even more unique for it was the first border crossing to be opened on the night of 9-10 November, 1989, allowing people to cross between East and West Berlin. A video of the event can be seen below. Several memorials can be found on or near the bridge commemorating this historic event, for the bridge served as an example of how a border literally became a bridge. Other border crossings followed and within 48 hours, the border crossings were open, and the Wall came tumbling down, piece by piece. The bridge still serves as a key crossing today, although its significance has diminished since 1989. The Bösebrücke does not necessarily mean “Bad Bridge,” it was named after Wilhelm Böse, who was one of many opponents of Adolf Hitler that led a resistance movement in an attempt to bring him down. Unfortunately he failed and was subsequentially executed on 21 April, 1944.

 

 

Photo of the Knesebeck Bridge taken in 1955. Photo courtesy of the German Archives (Bundesarchiv) Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_Br%C3%BCcken_%C3%BCber_den_Teltowkanal#mediaviewer/File:Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F003013-0004,_Berlin,_Zonengrenze,_Grenz%C3%BCbergang.jpg

Knesebeckbrücke

Location: Teltow Canal at Berlin Zehlendorf

Built: 1906, demolished in 1990, new structure built in 2009

Named after a prominent politician Leo Wilhelm Robert Karl von dem Knesebeck, this crossing featured a Warren through truss design with Warren portal bracings, all covered with ornamental decorations. This bridge was the most ornamental of the bridges along the Berlin Wall, yet it was made obsolete with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. A barrier was constructed at the bridge’s east portal and remained there until 1989. The bridge was torn down after the Fall of the Wall and replaced with a temporary crossing. A permanent crossing- a steel beam contraption- was built in 2009 and has provided drivers with a crossing over the Teltow Canal ever since.

 

The S-Bahn Crossing at Liesenstrasse

Location: Liesenstrasse, Gartenstrasse, and Ackerstrasse between Berlin-Mitte and Berlin-Gesundbrunnen, north of Stettin Station

Built: 1892 replacing a bridge built in 1843, abandoned since 1952

Featuring two curved Whipple through truss spans and one plate girder span, the Liesenstrasse Bridge once featured a rail line that started at Stettin Station and headed north towards Poland. It was one of a few bridges that survived unscathed by World War II, but unfortunately, with the destruction of the Stettin Station thanks to Russian bombs, combined with the construction of the Berlin Wall along Liesenstrasse in 1961, the crossing was rendered useless and has been sitting abandoned for 62 years. Even after the Berlin Wall fell, no consideration was made regarding the future of the bridge and the rail line. However, most recently, a grassroots group was formed with the goal of converting the bridge and the rail line to a bike trail. Already a presentation was given during the German heritage days, but more help is needed. More information on the bridge and the preservation group can be found here and here. The bridge is already protected by preservation laws, and is in an area where tourists can find several cemetaries nearby, as well as remnants of the Berlin Wall on the western side of the bridge.

 

Truss crossing and the Berlin Wall. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AWiener_Br%C3%BCcke_Berlin_01.jpg

Wiener Brücke

Location: Landwehrkanal at Karl-Kunger-Strasse in Berlin-Kreuzburg

Built: 1896 (concrete arch bridge), destroyed in 1945, replaced with truss bridge in 1946, removed in 2000

The last bridge to be profiled here is the Wiener Brücke (Vienna Bridge), a bridge with a tragic story behind it, especially as you see in the picture above. The original bridge consisted of a closed-spandrel concrete arch bridge with ornamental features resembling round emblems on the spandrels, Hermann Rhode and E. Simanski were the engineers behind the bridge that took a year to build. On 23 April, 1945, in an attempt to hinder the advancement of the Soviet Army, the Nazi troops detonated the arch bridge. Two of the emblems survived the blasts and were recovered and later taken to a cemetary at Berlin-Heiligensee to serve as a memorial for the people lost in the war. It took 12 years until its replacement was erected- a Warren half-deck and half pony truss span, which connected Kreuzburg with Treptow. Yet the crossing was made obsolete less than four years later with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The bridge remained unused until the Wall fell and the crossing was reopened to traffic. Yet it would only serve pedestrian traffic until it was finally demolished in 2000. At the present time, no replacement was planned.

 

There are many other crossings that are worth mentioning, but these are the key ones that serve as a reminder of how the Berlin Wall effectively kept people from crossing between the two halves of Berlin during the Cold War. And even if Berlin is a unified city today, with no external influence from the allies, one cannot forget about the history of how it was divided, and how these bridges kept the city together through the times of war and after the Wall finally fell and Germany was reunified.

To learn more about the Berlin Wall, check out the Flensburg Files as it has an article on this subject (click here) while its facebook page has details on the Rise and Fall of the Wall and its 25th anniversary celebrations.

Flensburg-Bridgehunter Merchandise on Sale through Café Press

 

Rosedale Bridge. Photo taken in September 2010

If you are looking for the best gift for your loved one and are not sure what to get them, or know someone who loves bridges, photography, landscapes or the like, or you want to surprise them with something you don’t find on the shelves of any supermarket, then perhaps you can try the Flensburg-Bridgehunter Online Shop. Powered by Café Press, this year’s items include new calendars from the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, featuring the historic truss bridges of Iowa as well as the bridges of Minnesota, which are selling like hotcakes even as this goes to the press. In addition, merchandise carrying the Chronicle’ new logo are also for sale, including wall clocks and coffee cups. Some of them feature historic bridges that are the focus of preservation efforts.  The Flensburg Files has a second installment of the Night Travel series for 2015, in addition to part I that was produced in 2012 but is available in the 2015 version. This in addition to a new set of photos and journals to keep track of your travels and thoughts.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the products provided by the Chronicles and the Files, click here. This will take you directly to the store. Hope you find what you are looking for and thank you for shopping.

New Logo/ New Products For Sale

Fehmarn Bridge in Germany. Used as the new logo for the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Photo taken in September 2014

Looking for the right gift for Christmas, or a calendar with bridges and scenery because you have not found one in stores yet? You are just in luck! 🙂

In time for the holiday season, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column the Flensburg Files have new items available to order and give to your friend or loved one. Click here in the Flensburg Bridgehunter Online Shop, and you will have an opportunity to buy a new 2015 calendar, mugs and coffee cups with their respective logos on there, Christmas ornaments and new at the shop, photos of bridges taken by the author with some interesting facts about them. The platform for the shop, Cafe Press, has some deals regarding shipping and other opportunities. Check out the shop by clicking here.

Proceeds will go to various bridge projects in the works. Among them include two books on bridges in Iowa, one in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, as well as a couple bridge preservation projects that are going on at the present time.  If there is an item or photo that you would like to order but is not at the online shop, please let the author know and there are ways to get it to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions or want more information on the bridge projects, please him know as well.

The merchandise sold through Cafe Press feature a new logo. The old logo, depicting the Rendsburg High Bridge in Germany, will be phased out in favor of one featuring another German bridge. The Fehmarnsundbrücke (EN: Fehmarn Bridge) was built in 1963 and is the first bridge in the world to feature a basket-handle tied arch span. Connecting Fehmarn Island and Scandanavia with the rest of Germany and Europe via Migratory Bird Route, the future of the steel lady is in limbo for reasons to be mentioned in an article to be posted later in the fall.  In support of the bridge, it is featured in the new logo that follows a pattern similar to the one featured in the Flensburg Files, but only with acronyms. You will see more of the new logo when articles are being presented in the near future, but not before giving the old iron lady of Rendsburg its proper send-off, as will be seen in the next article.

Reminder: The Chronicles is still taking on articles and information on the best example of a restored historic bridge as well as tour guides on regions with historically significant bridges. They will be nominated for this year’s Ammann Awards. More information can be found here.

In School in Germany: The Pocket Guide to Industrial History

Rendsburg High Bridge in Rendsburg, Germany Photo taken by the author in April 2011

 

Joint article and forum with sister column the Flensburg Files in conjunction with the series on In School in Germany. Except this example focuses on Infrastructure, using Historic Bridges as an Example.

A while back, shortly before my debut teaching about industrialization in the US and Germany between 1870 and 1914, I had put out a question as to how to approach the topic of infrastructure in that era, in particular when it comes to bridge building, and how it ties in with the usage and proliferation of the material of steel- a replacement to iron. For more information on this inquiry, please click here for details.

Here is the follow-up on this particular topic, which has me thinking about a creative way of getting students acquainted with infrastructure and industrialization:

During the block-session, which consists of two 45-minute sessions into a 90-minute one, students had an opportunity to write down their notes in a small pocket brochure, compiled on my part. This is what the pocket brochure looked like:

The notes to be taken by the students (consisting of high school juniors) were in connection with a series of mini-presentations that they were supposed to give, based on the following topics that were given to them to prepare two weeks beforehand:

Iron and Steel

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871

The Chicago School of Architecture

Railroads

Bridges

Canals

The Automobile

The Roads

Inventions (Electricity, the Telephone, etc.)

Each presentation was 3-5 minutes long, with questions to follow.  The exception to the topic was the one on bridges, presented by yours truly.  The topics were presented in a way that materials go first, for they played hand-to-hand in the development of other forms of infrastructure and transportation.

The results were astounding. Lots of information on American and European inventors making their marks, yet one would need a couple more sessions to digest all the information presented.  Some questions in connection with this topic you can find in the Files’ article here.

The problem with presenting infrastructure and industrialization is that the development of both Germany/Europe and the US was exponential, that it would be difficult to cover everything. It even applies for bridges, as dozens of American and European bridge builders were responsible for hundreds of bridge designs and bridge examples that existed during that time (and still do today). Plus some of the bridge builders of that time period had their own colorful history that is worth mentioning; especially when it comes to those immigrating to the US from what is today Germany, Poland, Austria, France and Hungary (where they were once known as The French Kingdom, Prussia and later the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian (or Habsburg Empire) and the Russian Empire (as Poland became part of the empire in 1795 as part of a partition agreement with Prussia)).

The end result was a compromise presented by the history teacher upon evaluating the session: a pocket guide to certain aspects of infrastructure with a focus on a country and some key examples worth noting. If divided up into the aforementioned topics, it would make the most sense, as for each aspect, one can present some key facts that are relevant to the topic of infrastructure and industrialization, along with some fun exercises . Plus if the booklet is 10-15 pages per topic, it will be sufficient enough for pupils to get a whiff of the aspects of history that have been left at the wayside, while the remaining artefacts become a distant memory,  but at the same time, be encouraged to preserve what is left of history or take measures that matter to them. After all, when we talk about environment and protection, our heritage technically belongs to this fragile umbrella.

For the pontists and historians alike, some ideas of how to construct such a booklet pertaining to bridges is a tricky one, for especially in the United States, the topics and the number of bridge builder and bridge examples have to be narrowed down to only a handful of examples. So if we look at the proposal for such a booklet for Germany, we have the following:

Part I: German emigrants- focusing on John Roebling, Albert Fink, Gustav Lindenthal, Wendell Bollmann, Joseph Strauss und Lawrence H. Johnson

Part II: German bridge engineers (who stayed in Germany)- Friedrich Voss, Hermann Matthäus, Gustav Eifel, Hermann Gerber, Franz Meyer

Part III: Areas of bridge building- Cities (Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Halle (Saale), Leipzig, etc.- choosing three; Canals (Baltic-North Sea, Dortmund-Ems, Elbe-Lübeck) and a pair of River Examples

Part IV: Notable Works- using two bridge examples, like the Rendsburg High Bridge, for example, and presenting some interesting facts about them.

If you were asked to construct a booklet similar to the one mentioned here, for the US, how would you structure it? What contents would you put in there and what examples would you include?  You can place your comments here, on the facebook pages under the Flensburg Files and/or Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, or in the LinkedIn page under The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.  Do not be surprised if you have a question coming from either the author or one of the readers pertaining to a booklet on a similar topic but pertaining to Canada or another country.

Those wishing for a copy of the booklet I made for my history class or a power point presentation on bridges in Germany and the US can contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. Please be aware that both are in German and that if you want the English version, you will have to wait a couple weeks.

And now to the Files’ Guessing Quiz pertaining to Industrial History, which you can click on here.

Newsflyer: 9 December, 2013

Clark’s Mill Bridge in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken in August 2010

Historic Bridges coming down in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Green Bridge meeting on December 16th, Bridgehunter and Flensburg Calendars for sale

Jack Kerouac, one of the well-known “road-hog” American writers of the post World War II era, crossed this bridge many times as a child and used it in his novel Dr. Sax. Now he’s wishing he was out of his grave to curse the people of his hometown Lowell, Massachusetts for destroying the bridge that used to be part of his childhood. The University Avenue Bridge, spanning the Merrimack River, a Pratt deck truss bridge that was built in 1895, was slated for demolition once the Schell Memorial Bridge was built. While a preservation group stood up to the government to hinder this progress, it recently stepped aside, thus giving the green light for demolition to commence in 2014. However, this bridge is not the only one on the chopping block, as the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is presenting its Newsflyer to focus on the bridges that were once a struggle to preserve it, but became bait for the bulldozers as the groups backed off. Yet this is not all, for some glimmer of hope for one Iowa bridge can be seen through the darkness and if you want a great Christmas gift for your loved ones, …

Well, here we go, without ado:

Schell Bridge Coming Down: Touted as the longest single-span truss bridge in Massachusetts and one of the longest Pennsylvania truss bridges in the country, this 1903 Connecticut River crossing was built by Edward Shaw and had been abandoned for over two decades. A preservation group tried to stop plans to demolish the bridge, yet they recently agreed to tear down and rebuild the bridge, using the metal from the old span and keeping the design. Reason: deterioration of the bridge decking although the steel superstructure was in normal shape. Apart from Kerouac’s Bridge in Lowell and Fitch’s Bridge in Middlesex County, this bridge is the third one this year where a preservation group once fought for preservation but retracted because of government pressure. The Schell Bridge is located in Franklin County, northwest of Northfield. More info can be found here.

Mercer County to wipe out eight historic bridges: Once touted as one of the most populous counties in western Pennsylvania, this county is on the road to becoming the county to have one of the least number historic bridges, especially after 2016. Some of the bridges that are on the chopping block include the following:

Clark’s Mill Bridge– Located over the Little Shenango River, this 1885 Penn Bridge Company bridge is one of the shortest Pratt through truss bridges in the county, with a span of only 82 feet. Unfortunately it is one of the most corroded bridges in the county, which explains the reason why the county wants to replace it beginning in 2014. Whether it is on a new alignment or at its original location remains unclear. The one thing that is clear is that the bridge’s days are numbered.

Sharpsville Bridge– Located over the Shenango River in northeast of Sharpsville, this bridge features two crossings with an 1897 Penn Bridge Company Parker through truss serving oneway traffic and a stringer replacement of 1946 serving another lane. Both have been closed since 2010 and are slated for replacement.

Carlton Bridge– Spanning French Creek at New Lebanon Road, this two-span iron through truss bridge features unique portal bracings and finials that are typical of the Columbia Bridge and Iron Works Company, which built this structure in 1892. While one of the locals upon my visit in 2010 claimed that the bridge would remain in its place, his assumptions are about to be wrong. Closed since 2011, the county plans to tear down and replace this bridge beginning next year, although the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A travesty? Yes, but typical of PennDOT and its behavior towards historic bridges.

Cochranton Bridge– Spanning French Creek outside Cochranton and carrying Hwy. 173, this two-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections was built in 1930 and has been carrying traffic with little incident ever since. Yet, PennDOT is not satisfied with the bridge’s restricted height clearance and width limits and therefore is planning its replacement span, which will take its place in 2015. This will cause headaches for a detour will be many miles long, adding more money wasted in gas and taxes to the proposed $7 million project.

Green Bridge in Des Moines the subject of important meeting:  Already the campaign to save the three-span Pratt through truss bridge spanning the Raccoon River has reached new levels with over 860 signatures and over 1050 likes on its facebook page, with more needed. 5000 bikers have been informed and have thrown their support behind the 1898 structure, together with some big-time businesses in Des Moines. One of the climatic events will be the meeting on December 16th at Des Moines City Hall. There, the City Park Board will present their proposals on the bridge to the City Council, yet the meeting will be open to the public. If you are interested in voicing your opinion about the bridge, you are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting. Like to follow the developments involving the bridge, and do not forget to sign the petition if you have not done so yet. A link to the petition can be found here.

Calendars and other Items for Sale: Looking for a gift for your friends and/or loved ones? For the second year in a row, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column The Flensburg Files is selling calendars and other items. This includes the 2014 calendars featuring the historic bridges of Iowa and Germany. If you are interested in purchasing one, please click here to order. More information can also be found in the Bridgehunter Chronicles Shop page. Both are powered by Cafe Press.