Mystery Bridge Nr. 62: Paoli’s Bowstring Arch Bridges

Gospel Street Pedestrian Bridge. Photo taken by Tony Dillon in 2010

Paoli, Indiana has a few notable historic bridges, both past and present, each of which have a unique story. Apart from the now destroyed by two careless driving women carrying tons of water Gospel Street Bridge, built in 1880 by the Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company, the town had one of the longest wooden trestle railroad bridges, which was later replaced by a steel structure. Then it has these two bowstring arch bridges, both spanning Lick Creek.  Each one has welded and riveted connections with the top chord being a T-beam. Each one has a main span of 40 feet with approach spans of 30 feet each. While not confirmed, sources pinpoint the date of construction to the 1930s, although it is not clear who built the bridge and how. Given the fact that light steel was used for both crossings, it is possible that they were built using recycled steel that had been used for a historic building or bridge. This concept was used in Iowa during the 1940s in Crawford County (when many crossings that were wiped out were replaced by these bowstring arch spans) and in the 1980s when two trusses from an old building were assembled to create a crossing at F.W. Kent Park near Iowa City.

The difference  between the two crossings- at Gospel Street and at Cherry Street is the truss type. While Gospel Street has a Howe lattice truss type, the one at Cherry Street has a Warren truss type. But even that difference is overshadowed by the fact that there is not much information on the history of the two crossings otherwise- neither the exact date nor the bridge builder.

Or is there? If so, please feel free to comment or contact the Chronicles, using the contact info in the page About the BHC. Any leads will help contribute to knowing more about the bridges and why they are used as pedestrian crossings, let alone preserve what is left of Paoli’s bridge history. With two major HBs down, it is the responsibility of the city to save what is left of the town’s history, and this by knowing more about the crossings that still exist.

Cherry Street Bowstring Arch Bridge. Photo taken by Tony Dillon on 2012

 

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Answers to the Park Complex Questions

Photo taken in August 2011

After a brief absence due to other column items to cover and to allow people to be curious about the park, here are the answers to the Quiz provided in a post a couple weeks ago on the FW Kent Park in Tiffin (west of Iowa City) and the rooftop truss bridge. Before mentioning about the bridges and F.W. Kent Park in the quiz, some interesting facts you need to know include the fact that the park was named after two well-known people. The first was Frederick Kent, a photographer who took pictures of life on and off the campus of the University of Iowa, located in Iowa City, for over 4 decades, including his role as the college’s professional photographer between 1915 and his retirement in 1962. He was an avid birdwatcher and published a book on this topic in 1975. Plus he was a walking encyclopedia on Johnson County, which earned him many local and state accolades. He died in 1984 at the age of 90.  The other person was Ron Dunlap, who was a member of the Johnson County Conservation Board from 1970 until his unexpected death in 2010, and spearheaded efforts to restore the bridge brought into FW Kent Park during the 1980s and 90s, with the last bridge being imported in 2003. The Dunlap trail, which crosses all seven restored historic bridges, was named in his honor.

Keeping these facts in mind, here are the answers to the bridge quiz, however, there are many questions that are left open which will be answered through interviews with people who worked with these two gentlemen and posted later in the Chronicles. But in the meantime, here are some facts that will make you curious to know more about the park and the bridges….. 🙂

 

1. The FW Kent Park is younger than the Historic Bridge Park near Kalmazoo, Michigan. True or False? 

False. The FW Kent Park has been in existence since the 1960s with the name being carried since 1967, honoring Frederick Kent, who was a locally renowned photographer for the Iowa City region. The bridges did not come until the 1990s, with the last one being installed in 2003. The bridges at the park in Michigan were in place between 1996 and 2006, with more scheduled to be imported. Note: The Historic Bridge Park in Michigan is located just southwest of Battle Creek, home of the Kellogg’s cereal company.

2. Which of the following truss bridge types can NOT be found at FW Kent Park?

a. Pratt        b. Warren        c. Whipple     d. Queenpost

Whipple truss bridges are nowhere to be seen at the park.

3. The origin of the Rooftop truss bridge was a building that was demolished in Iowa City. Can you name the building and when it existed?

The trusses came from a car dealership in Iowa City that had existed from the 1930s until the building was dismantled. Yet the name of the dealership is unknown.

4. How many bridges can be found at FW Kent Park?

a. 8   b. 10   c. 11  d. 13  e. 15

Eight bridges can be found in the park. Of which, seven are historic bridges that were restored, while the eighth one, a Warren pony truss, is a new bridge built of wood, connected with steel plates. In terms of truss designs, apart from the new Warren pony truss span, the park features two Pratts (one through and one half-hip pony), one V-shaped Pratt pony truss, two Queenpost pony trusses, one bowstring arch and the rooftop truss span.

5. At least one bridge was airlifted to the Park. True or False?

True. One bridge, a through truss span, was airlifted by helicopter to the park in 2003 and placed on new abutments, but not before retrofitting the bridge’s width.

Pratt through truss bridge after being retrofitted. Photo taken in August 2013

6. All of the bridges brought in were the ones that served traffic in Johnson County.  True or False?

True. All seven historic bridges were crossings over small creeks, including Old Man’s, Deer, Dirty Face and Eagle. Sadly no bridges came from the Iowa River, which slices the county into two, let alone the Cedar River, where the Sutliff Bridge east of Solon is located.

7. How was the Rooftop truss bridge assembled?

After finding the trusses in a road ditch outside Iowa City, workers tried successfully to refit the trusses so that they support the roadway as railings. Additional exterior truss bracings were added to keep the bridge intact. In other words, the roadway is a bridge supported by trusses.

8. What activities can you do at the park, apart from photographing bridges?

a. swimming   b. hiking   c. fishing   d. biking   e. all of the above

In addition, you can do some bird and insect watching as many species of birds as well as butterflies and dragonflies can be found in the park. Also one can find some turtles and other wild animals at the park, but beware! Hunting is not allowed.

Watching dragonflies is one of many things you can do at the park. Photo taken in August 2011

Here is the guide to the bridges you can see at the park (click onto the names to go to the website)

Maier Road Bridge (Through Truss Bridge)

Rooftop Truss Bridge

Otter Creek Queenpost

1920 Queenpost

Bowstring arch bridge

Bayertown Road V-shape Bridge

Buck Creek Pratt Half-hip bridge

Wooden Warren Truss Bridge

Don’t forget to read more about F.W. Kent and the park’s history to understand how the park came into being. You can click here for more details.

Mystery Bridge Nr. 29 Roof truss in a park complex

Photo taken in August 2011

This next mystery bridge article takes us back to Iowa again- this time to a park complex west of Iowa City. There are some unique features that make the F.W. Kent Park in Tiffin special to the region. One of them is the number of historic bridges that were brought here and preserved. They all span various tributaries, lining up along the lake they empty into, the same lake that was created and is used for fishing and swimming. Each span has a different bridge type and a history of its own, including how it was moved here and preserved.

Like the one in the picture above. This bridge is touted as a roof-top truss bridge. Located at the very north tip of the lake, this bridge is different from all the other bridges, for it was homemade, originating from the trusses that were salvaged from an important building that was demolished in Iowa City prior to the creation of the park. It’s markings are similar to a series of bowstring arch bridges that were built in Crawford County, Iowa in 1945-6 including the Nishnabotna River crossing near Manila as seen below.

Photo courtesy of HABS/HAER

The difference is the fact that the Manila Bridge is the actual truss bridge itself with the lower chord (featuring lateral and diagonal bracing) supporting the roadway, whereas the the one at F.W. Kent Park features the trusses, used as decoration (or at least it appears to be used as that) and tacked onto the actual beam bridge itself.  Furthermore, there are alternating vertical beams in the Tiffin Bridge, while the Manila Bridge has all verticals subdividing the rhombus, thus having an X-frame for each panel.

Despite the difference between the two, the roof-top truss bridge’s uniqueness is one of the reasons why it is a sin to not visit the park if you are a pontist driving through. It is even a bigger sin if one doesn’t know about its history, let alone how the park came into being in the first place. Henceforth, before explaining about the park further, the Chronicles has created a short quiz for you to answer, integrating this mystery bridge in with the questions pertaining to the park itself. So without further ado, here are the questions, created in a hybrid fashion:

1. The FW Kent Park is younger than the Historic Bridge Park near Kalmazoo, Michigan. True or False? 

2. Which of the following truss bridge types can NOT be found at FW Kent Park?

a. Pratt        b. Warren        c. Whipple     d. Queenpost

3. The origin of the Rooftop truss bridge was a building that was demolished in Iowa City. Can you name the building and when it existed?

4. How many bridges can be found at FW Kent Park?

a. 8   b. 10   c. 11  d. 13  e. 15

5. At least one bridge was airlifted to the Park. True or False?

6. All of the bridges brought in were the ones that served traffic in Johnson County.  True or False?

7. How was the Rooftop truss bridge assembled?

8. What activities can you do at the park, apart from photographing bridges?

a. swimming   b. hiking   c. fishing   d. biking   e. all of the above

The answers will be revealed next week at this time. They will be eye-openers for there are some facts that were claimed to be correct, but the truth begs to differ. Plus there will be some interesting facts about who created the park and how the rooftop truss bridge was built. So stay tuned, take some guesses and allow yourself to learn some new things about historic bridges and how they found a new home in FW Kent Park. Good luck with the quiz! 🙂