Mystery Bridge Nr. 119: The Pony Trusses From Nowhere?

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Photo taken by James McCray

HOLBROOK, ARIZONA- Fellow pontist James McCray had an interesting found that was brought to the attention of the readers via bridgehunter.com. During his recent trip in Navajo County in Arizona, he found six pony trusses alongside a road west of Holbrook. They are near I-40 and US Highway 180 which used to be Route 66 before it was decommissioned by 1980. The trusses are double-intersecting Pratt with riveted connections, which pins the construction date to the earliest 1900. Each one is between 40 and 60 feet long. The question is where did they originate from? Were these spans part of a multiple-span crossing? Even a Route 66 crossing?

Click on the link here to get the coordinates and additional information including photos. Feel free to comment on them or even express interest in taking them. Currently they are in storage, standing side-by-side, awaiting relocation.

Happy Bridgehunting. 🙂

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Flooding Devastates Bridges in Missouri, Arkansas and Surrounding States

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Photo taken by Dave Walden and Roamin Rich

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ST LOUIS/ GASCONADE- Looking at this picture taken by Roamin Rich, it presents more volumes than words can ever describe. The Great Flash Flood of 2017, which has been occurring since 30 April but the worst of it was during the date between then and 3 May,  can be compared to the one from 2008 in the Midwest in terms of its massive flow of water and the destruction that was left behind. Hundreds of houses and businesses, many of them more than 80 years old and considered historic, were washed away, and with that the livelihoods of families and business owners.

Many roads were washed away, however, as you can see in the Route 66 Bridge at Gasconade, closed to traffic since 2015, the undermining of asphalt uncovered the original concrete roadway that was laid there when the highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles via Tulsa was designated and built in 1926. This leads to the question of whether to uncover the rest of the roadway and restore the concrete or pave it over. This is important because the debate is heating up regarding ownership and planned restoration of the structure and the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to construct a new bridge alongside the two-span truss bridge and defer ownership to a party willing to repurpose it for recreational use. But that is another story (click here for more about this bridge).

But the Gasconade Bridge also represents several bridges that were negatively affected by the floods. Several structures in Missouri alone have been destroyed- not just historic bridges but also modern bridges built in the 1970s and 80s, thus making them just as vulnerable to catastrophes like this as their predecessors.  James Baughn has compiled a list of bridges affected by the flooding for the Bridgehunter.com website (which you can click here for more details). The Chronicles will summarize the top five that are affected besides the Gasconade Bridge, whose repair work will obviously will be needed in order to make it passable again. We will keep you informed on the latest in Missouri, as clean-up efforts are underway.

 

The Author’s Top Five:

Bruns Bridge- Located over the Meramec River south of Moselle in Franklin County, this 1888 structure was the product of the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, where they fabricated the steel and one of Zenas’ sons, George, whose bridge company was located in Des Moines, oversaw the construction of the pinned connected Pratt through truss with X-frame portal bracings. The 193-foot span was knocked off its foundations and rushing waters slammed it into its replacement span, turning it into twisted metal. A video of the disaster describes it in details. With Franklin County eager on demolishing the remaining truss bridges in the county because of liability issues, one cannot expect this bridge to be restored unless it is relocated out of state, which is currently being sought in Winneshiek County, Iowa after the collapse of the Gilliece Bridge because of an overweight truck.

James Bridge- Ozark County faces at least 20 bridges that either have approach spans wiped out, severely damaged by flooding, both or completely destroyed. The James Bridge over the North Fork White River at Highway PP represents the last variant but in a spectacular fashion. The 1958 bridge, consisting of two polygonal Warren spans with riveted connections that were built by J.W. Githens, was flipped over by rushing waters, crushing the trusses under the weight of its own decking. Originally slated for replacement, this disaster will surely expedite the process as the highway is heavily traveled. But motorists will have to wait a few months before a crossing can be built.

Irwin C. Cudworth Memorial Bridge- Also known as the Hammond Bridge, this North White River Crossing at Highway CC represents a bridge type that is modern on one hand but is still not safe from the floodwaters. The 1975 steel stringer span was wiped out by floodwaters, leaving just the piers and abutments in tact. Despite plans for rebuilding the bridge, one will really need to examine what type of bridge to be built and how high it should be built. Regardless of material and type, no modern bridge is safe from mother nature. This bridge is the eighth modern bridge built after 1975 that has been destroyed since 2012. This includes the infamous interstate bridge collapse in Atlanta, which happened on 30 March, which was caused by a fire. That bridge, which carries Interstate 85, is being rebuilt and should reopen later this summer.

Devil’s Elbow Bridge- Another US 66 Bridge located over Big Piney River in Pulaski County, this two-span Parker through truss structure, which was built in 1923, had been restored and reopened to traffic in 2014, yet flooding put the structure partially underwater. Fortunately, because of the success of the restoration, the bridge withstood the pressure from the rushing water, plus debris from the nearby historic hotel and houses that succumbed under the pressure. Plans are underway to rebuild the hotel.

Windsor Harbor Bridge- Located over Rock Creek near the Mississippi River in Kimmswick in Jefferson County, this bridge is of growing concern as floodwaters of the mighty river has inundated the structure, causing concern for undermining the piers and abutments of this through truss bridge. The bridge was built by the Keystone Bridge Company in 1874 at its original location in St. Louis. It was relocated to its present site in 1930 and was converted to pedestrian traffic when it was restored and repurposed in 1985. It’s well noted because of its Keystone columns and ornamental portals, all constructed with wrought and cast iron.

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2016 Author’s Choice Awards

Wagon Wheel Bridge in Boone. Photo taken in September 2010 when the bridge was closed to all traffic. It was torn down in 2016 after the western half of the structure collapsed.

While voters are scrambling to cast their last-minute ballots for the 2016 Ammann Awards by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, we have a wide array of bridges that received the Author’s Choice Awards. The awards are based on the author’s selection of bridge stories that were either the most talked about or the most unique, pending on the categories here. What is even interesting about this year’s awards is that they are being given on the eve of Donald Trump taking office as the next President of the US on January 20th. As he promised to spend billions on improving infrastructure, he has no clue as to how to allocate these funds properly, let alone specify , how these new bridges are to be built, I decided to pose a challenge to him on that to see if he’s paying attention to the needs of Americans in his quest to “make America great again.” You will see that in one of the categories…..

So without further ado, let’s have a look at the winners of these awards and their runners up…..

Most Spectacular Disaster:

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Wagon Wheel Bridge in Iowa

The Wagon Wheel Bridge is the tragedy story of 2016, but started in September 2015. We had an arsonist set fire to the planks which set the motion for its demise. In February 2016, floating chunks of ice in the Des Moines River rammed the western half of the bridge, tilting the already tilting cylindrical steel piers even further and creating an “S” shape in the structure. The last nail in the coffin was the collapse of one of the middle spans in March. While a pair of eyewitnesses saw the event live while fishing, neither of them were hurt.  The wrecked span and the westernmost span were removed in June, but not before saving a pair of planks awaiting display at a local historical society in Minnesota. The rest of the spans- including the longest of the 730-foot bridge- were removed shortly before Christmas.   The Wagon Wheel Bridge represented a tragedy in two parts: There was tragedy because of Mother Nature and there was tragedy because of years of neglect. While Boone County was relieved of its liability, its next step is to preserve its legacy in a form of a memorial or exhibit. That has yet to be seen.

Runner-up-

Tappan Zee Bridge in New York

During work on the replacement of the 1952 cantilever truss span over the Hudson River at Tarrytown, a crane located at one of the towers of the new bridge collapsed, falling onto the old structure, stopping all traffic in both directions for hours. No casualties were reported, but one of the propane truck drivers travelling eastbound barely missed the crane by feet! Luckily, the old structure, which is scheduled to be demolished in 2018 after the new bridge is open to traffic, sustained no damage to the super structure but minor damage to the railings on the deck the crane fell. The cause of the collapse was high winds. It was a close call and one that brings up the question of strength and effectiveness of truss bridges as they appear to be gaining favor over cable-stayed and modern beam bridges, for many reasons.

International- 

Suspension Bridge in Bali:

We had several bridge disasters on the international scale this year. The Lembogan-Ceningan Bridge was the worst of them. Built in the 1980s, this suspension bridge collapsed under a weight of pedestrians and motorcyclists who were participating in a Hindu ceremony on October 16th. Nine people were killed and scores of others were injured. The cause of the collapse was a combination of too many people, which exceeded the weight limit, and design flaws. The collapse rekindled two disasters that we’ll be commemorating this year: The 50th anniversary of the Silver Bridge collapse over the Ohio River and the 10th anniversary of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis. Both bridges had design flaws that caused their failures respectively.

Runner-up-

Mahad Bridge in Mumbai, India:

India had two major bridge failures in 2016- the Kolkatta Flyover which killed 23 people and this one, spanning the Savitri River between Mumbai and the State of Goa. This one was far worse, as the stone arch and steel structure that dated back to Colonial British rule collapsed under the pressure of floodwaters, taking with it two busses full of passengers. Nine lives were lost including one of the two bus drivers. Dozens were injured and at least 20 had been reported missing. The bridge collapse combined natural disasters with inadequate bridge design and lack of maintenance, both of which were brought up to the national government afterwards.

Biggest Bonehead Story:

US-

Broadway Bridge in Little Rock:

How many attempts does a person need to demolish a bridge? For the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, one needed three to bring down a steel arch bridge in 1987 in favor of the current suspension bridge. That bridge was 100 years old at the time of its demise. For the Broadway Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas, a multiple span arch bridge featuring a 1974 tied arch main span plus multiple span concrete closed spandrel arch approaches built in 1893, one needed EIGHT attempts! Very lame attempts to not only justify the bridge’s weaknesses prior to the demolition by government officials, but also in demolishing the structure through implosions. The bridge was finally brought down with the crane for the eighth and final time. Yet the epic failures did raise a question of whether the bridge was THAT functionally obsolete and whether the new tied arch bridge will survive as long as the downed span. I don’t think so…..

Photo courtesy of Dr. Benita Martin. Link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Viadukt_Chemnitz.jpg

Runner-up-

Two-Mile Creek Bridge near Hatfield, AK:

2016 started off with the demolition of this through truss bridge over Two-Mile Creek, the last of its kind in Polk County, by an oversized truck with trailer!!! The bridge was replaced in quick time, being opened by November! Thanks, dude for your ignorance!

International-

Chemnitz Viaduct in Germany:

As part of the plan to modernize the rail track between Kassel (Hesse) and Chemnitz (Saxony) via Erfurt, Jena and Glauchau, the German Railways are trying to replace a 120+ year old historic bridge that is perfectly in good enough form to last another 120 years. Its replacement proposal: An open spandrel steel arch bridge with very little aesthetic value. Good thing the people in Chemnitz are speaking out against that proposal and for restoring one of only a handful of pre-1939 landmarks in Chemnitz. But will their voices be heard? Die Bahn macht man mobil!

Runner-up-

Eisenbahnviadukt in Linz, Austria:

Linz’s mayor Klaus Luger had it his way when he campaigned for the 1912 three span bridge spanning the Danube River to be demolished and 70% of the Linz community voted for it. However, haste made waste when one of the three spans, removed from the river and on a hydraulic lift, collapsed! That span was to be reused as part of an a plan for a park. This put the last nails in the coffin regarding any chance of saving the bridge’s legacy. Luger must’ve really hated the bridge enough to see it to a recycling complex.

Hamilton County Bridge. Photo taken by Tony Dillon

Best Use of a Restored Historic Bridge-

Molly’s Landing Bridges along Historic US 66:

While the historic bridges in Oklahoma are dwindling rapidly every year, a successful attempt was made to relocate one of the twins of the Bird Creek Bridge. Slated for demolition in 2012, Russ White, owner of Molly’s Landing found a creative way of saving the 1936 spans for their complex near the Verdigris. This led to Roger’s Landing to take the remaining spans of the bridge some time later. While the Bird Creek Bridges are no longer on Route 66, one can see them on display not far apart from each other.

Runner Up:

The Bridge at Strawtown Koteewi Park and White River Campground in Hamilton County, Indiana.

This was almost a toss-up between this bridge and Molly’s Landing. But the bridge in Hamilton County definitely deserved at least runner-up of this award because engineers and park officials managed to import three historic bridges from three different counties to form a 285-foot long super span, featuring a Pratt through truss, a Whipple through truss and a rebuilt deck girder span connecting the two spans! Indiana has been well-known for restoring and reusing historic bridges, yet this one takes bridge preservation to new levels.

Worst example of reusing a Historic Bridge:

B.B. Comer Bridge in Alabama: The multi-span cantilever through truss bridge was demolished earlier this year, after officials in Alabama rejected a proposal to even talk about preserving the 1930 span. As compensation, ALDOT offered one of the bridge’s portal bracings to be erected at a park near the bridge. If this was compensation or a strategy to save Governor Bentley’s “legacy” in the face of scandals he was facing at that time, here a simple Denglish term to keep in mind: “Ziemlich Lame!”and “Opfer eines F**k- ups!”

Photo taken by Victor Rocha. Link: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/41/Bridge_to_Nowhere%28San_Gabriel_Mountains%29.JPG

Best Find of a Historic Bridge-

US-

Bridge to Nowhere in San Gabriel Mountains (California):

California is well known for its multiple-span concrete open spandrel arch bridges, especially along Highway 101. However, this bridge, located near Azusa, can only be accessed by foot! Built in 1936, the bridge was abandoned after a mudslide blocked the key highway between San Gabriel Valley and Wrightwood in March 1938. Today, the bridge can be reached by foot, although it is seen as a liability because of a high rate of fatalities. The US Forest Service owns the bridge and has been working together with local groups on how to minimize it. Nevertheless, the bridge has a unique background worth seeing.

Lungwitz Viaduct spanning a creek and major street in Glauchau (Saxony). Photo taken in 2016

International-

The Bridges of Glauchau (Saxony), Germany:

The author visited this community in the summer 2016 and was quite impressed with its bridges. While the town is located along the Zwickauer Mulde, which is laden with modern bridges, most of the arch bridges dating back to the 1800s and earlier are located either along the railroad line, or on the hill spanning gulches and moats at or near the city’s two castles. Very atypical for a city in a river valley, where normal historic bridges would be located.

Röhrensteg in Zwickau (Saxony), Germany

Röhrensteg in Zwickau, Germany:

The Bridge of Pipes is the oldest of Zwickau’s bridges. It is also the most unique because of its design and function. It has two different truss spans- one per side- two different portal bracings and until 70 years ago, used to transport water over the river from Reinsdorf to Zwickau’s city center using wooden pipes! This was one multi-functional bridge and despite getting a much-needed facelift, one of the key landmarks people should see while in Zwickau.

Russia’s bridges:

With that, I have a “Denkzettel” for Donald Trump with regards to another runner-up, the bridges of Russia, according to the magazine Russia Today. The author there found some very unique and fancy bridges- some rolling back bridge types that had been scrutinized by many bridge engineers and politicians and some that are pure eye-openers. Donald Trump vowed to invest billions of dollars in funding to improve the infrastructure and build great bridges. How can he do that? He should use the playbook of the bridge types that have been rendered useless in the past but are being used in other countries. That means if he wants to make America great again, he needs some signature structures like the Bollmann Bridge in Savage, MD, The Hulton Bridge near Pittsburgh and even the arch bridges along California’s coast. If he continues the policies of building cable-stayed bridges, like the Kit Carson Bridge in Kansas City or the Fort Steuben Bridge near Wheeling, WV, he will make America blander and more boring than it is right now. So Mr. Trump, I challenge you to make America Great by not only preserving our American heritage and history but also build your fancy bridges that we want to see for generations to come. Put the Twitter down and get to work. Any ugliness on the landscape and we will make sure these eyesores are gone at the same time as you are, which will be much quicker than you think. If Russia and China can do it and the Europeans can preserve their past heritage, so can the United States of America, the Republic to which it stands, one nation, under God and under several prophets from Jesus Christ to Muhammad to Siddartha Buddha, indivisible, with liberty, justice and equality to all, regardless of preference.

And now to the Ammann Award results………

Times Beach Bridge: Time Is Ticking for This Historic Bridge

EUREKA/ ST.LOUIS, MISSOURI-  When tourists think of or visit the US, one of the characteristics they will mention first is The Mother Road, also known as Route 66.  Ninety years ago this year, US 66 was established, connecting Chicago with Los Angeles, passing through St. Louis, Springfield, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Flagstaff. It was part of the first national administration establishing the US Highway System, which was partially supplemented and partially supplanted by Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway Act, signed 30 years later. Five years after Route 66 was established, this bridge was built to accomodate traffic from this popular historic highway.  The Times Beach Bridge spans the Meramec River at Route 66 State Park near Eureka. Built in 1931 by the Frazier-Davis Construction Company of St. Louis, this riveted Warren deck truss span, based on the state standardized truss bridge design, features three main spans of 130 feet each, plus multiple approach spans, totalling 1009 feet with a roadway width of 30 feet.  Once serving US 66 until it was realigned onto neighboring I-44, the bridge used to serve traffic until the Missouri Department of Transportation(MoDOT) closed the structure in 2009. The bridge’s decking has been absent since 2013. And its future is questionable.

The Great Rivers Greenway district, consisting of local and regional organizations and volunteers in and around St. Louis and the surrounding area, is working on a project to repurpose the Times Beach Bridge into a recreational crossing, while at the same time, incorporate it into the adjacent Route 66 State Park and into a bike trail network which would extend to St. Louis to the east.  Trailnet and other organizations are helping Great Rivers in the push to save this bridge. Already, a study was conducted to determine its feasibility as a bike and pedestrian crossing, and some images of the bridge after its restoration have been presented on their website (click here). “This bridge is not only a significant and vital connection across the Meramec for walking and biking, but it is rich with history and one of the region’s outstanding cultural assets,” said Ralph Pfremmer, Trailnet’s Executive Director, according to its website. “It is prudent to seek funding, considering the generous commitment made on behalf of Great Rivers Greenway and the work already achieved on behalf of the coalition.”

Currently, the bridge is under ownership of MoDOT, and the consortium  needs to raise $1 million by 31 December, 2016 before ownership can be transferred to the state park. Additional funding will be sought to rehabilitate the structure and reopen it to recreational use. Currently, $425,000 has been allocated by MoDOT ($325,000) and the State Park System ($100,000), while $6,000 has been raised privately. $569,000 is needed before ownership can be transferred on 31 December. Failure to achieve this goal will result in the project being scrapped and the historic bridge being demolished early next year.

Several key bridges along US 66 have been restored or are scheduled to be restored in the coming years in an attempt to preserve the relects of the historic highway as memorials of the highway’s existence. They include the Chain of Rocks Bridges along the Mississippi River and its eastern channel in St. Louis, Bird Creek Bridge in Oklahoma,  Colorado Boulevard Bridge in Los Angeles, Devils Elbow Bridge, Gasconade River Crossing (both in Missouri), and the drawbridges in Chicago, just to name a few. For these bridges, problems involving ownership and liability combined with fundraising efforts were also typical at first. Yet because of their connections with the history of the communities, the Mother Road and American infrastructure, locals, historians and businesses contributed their finances, manpower and expertise to restore these structures for future use, many of them have been repurposed for trail use, while ones, like the Bird Creek Crossing were relocated and repurposed as memorials.  A book was recently written about these crossings which provides background information on how they contributed to making US 66 a great highway to travel on. It can be ordered here.

Still, there is a long way to go before reaching the goal of $1 million, yet the goal is doable and there is enough time to contribute what you can to save this bridge. If you or someone or some business you know would like to contribute to the cause, click on this link and donate.  The Times Beach Bridge is one of only four of its kind left in Missouri, but one that was part of a popular highway that people in the USA and around the world have seen and/or even travelled on. The bridge belongs to a historic site that many people would like to know more about. Let’s make America great again and donate to this bridge and preserve it, along with the rest of history along the Mother Road.

Check out the photos taken by the author during the 2011 Historic Bridge Weekend below:

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The 3rd Annual Historic Bridge Conference: Missouri

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis: The starting point of the westward movement was also the starting point of the 2011 Historic Bridge Conference

 

After having the first two historic bridge conferences in Pittsburgh in 2009 and 2010, the third annual conference took place in Missouri during the weekend of 12-14 August. Missouri, like its East Coast counterpart is dealing with a dwindling number of historic bridges, as the number of these artifacts have dropped by as many as 60% within the past 10 years with more scheduled to come down in the coming two years, especially those spanning the Missouri River between St. Louis and Kansas City. However, unlike Pennsylvania, there is a glimmer of hope for some of the structures that are slated for replacement as the private and public sectors (the latter in particular with the Missouri Department of Transportation) are working together to find new ways of using them for recreational purposes as they cannot handle the increasing number, size and weight of today’s traffic anymore. The question is since the involvement of the public sector in these efforts is very recent, whether the help will come too little too late….

As many as 60 people attended the three-day event, hosted by James Baughn of the Historic Bridges of the US website based in Cape Girardeau (MO) with assistance from Todd Wilson of Bridgemapper.com out of Pittsburgh (PA), Kris Dyer of the Save the Riverside Bridge Initiative located in Ozark (MO) and Jason  D. Smith of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles based in Erfurt, Germany (part of areavoices.com), as the event went across the state starting with Friday’s events in St. Louis.  A highlight of the weekend events are below:

12 August:  The event started with a gathering of bridge enthusiasts and many guests at the Gateway Arch, located next to the Eads Bridge. Named after the engineer who designed it James Eads, the structure is unique because the metal deck arch bridge, built in 1874, was the first all steel bridge to be constructed in the United States . The bridge was recently renovated in 2003 in a way that the upper deck now serves local traffic and the lower deck carries metro lines.

Using the bridge as the starting point, the tour continued with the visit to all of the bridges along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis, which included the Merchant’s, McKinley, and Chain of Rocks Bridges. The third bridge, together with  the one spanning the Canal west of the mighty river were once part of the old US Hwy. 66 (a.k.a. the Mother Road or Main Street USA), which ran from Chicago through St. Louis enroute to Los Angeles.  Rain and thunderstorms shortened the bridgehunting tour  with many bridge enthusiasts taking cover underneath the  Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge. While it dampened  the tour, the rain was much-needed for  much of the region was extremely dry for two months straight after a extremely wet spring which saw the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers flood its banks in the region, wreaking havoc in the low lying areas, much of which is still under water at the time of this entry.

Eads Bridge with Lewis and Clark (and their companion) under water. While the two explorers of the Great Northwest would admire the uniqueness of the bridge, they would be scratching their heads at the weather the Missourians and those living along the Missouri River have been experiencing as of late

The Old Chain of Rocks Mississippi River Bridge- once part of Route 66, the bridge is now part of a network of bike and pedestrian trails serving the city and areas along the mighty river

The event ended with a dinner at the Veritas Cafe and Wine Bar in Chesterfield, located in the western part of St.Louis, which featured various goodies, a assortment of wine, a raffle drawing for bridge-related prizes, and a little show and tell by the presenters of the evening.  Among those presenting were Ed Darringer of Rush Co., Indiana, who talked about the Moscow Covered Bridge and its successful reconstruction efforts, which he photographed and documented in a book published this year. The 345 foot long covered bridge was destroyed by a tornado on 3 June, 2008, and it took two years to salvage parts of the structure and rebuild it to exactly match it to the one originally built in 1886.  The efforts received some much-needed support by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who vowed not to use taxpayer’s dollars on this project which had personally affected him.

The second presenter was Julie Bowers of Workin’ Bridges, an organization based out of Grinnell, Iowa that focuses on saving and relocating historic bridges. It was established as the Skunk River Greenbelt Association and was in connection with the collapse of the McIntyre Bridge, an 1883 bowstring arch bridge built by the King Bridge Company in Cleveland, OH that fell into the water during the flood of 2010. A section of the bridge was presented by Ms. Bowers prior to the presentation, and the main goal is to salvage and rebuild that bridge at its original location while at the same time, relocate another bridge, the Upper Bluffton Bridge in Winneshiek County to a wildlife refuge area for reuse. An article about the Upper Bluffton Bridge can be found here:

http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2011/06/28/upper-bluffton-bridge-is-on-the-move/

A small show and tell moment: A piece of a horizontal beam from the McIntyre Bridge which broke off when the structure was washed into the river in 2010. Courtesy of Julie Bowers of Workin Bridges

The third and final presenter was Jason D. Smith of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, whose topic was on the Public Perception of Preserving Places of Historic Interest between Germany and the US, using the preservation laws in Thuringia and Schleswig-Holstein and historic bridges as case studies. A detailed version of this topic will be posted in a later article.

13 August: The second day of the conference started off with a grand tour of the historic bridges along the Mother Road, first stopping off at the Meramec Crossing and the state park which uses the riveted Warren deck truss structure as the centerpiece. The bridge was completed in 1931, five years after the US Highway System was introduced and Route 66 was designated. It served traffic until 1951 when the highway’s successor, I-44 was built and the bridge was used to serve westbound traffic until the new eastbound bridge was built in 1968 and the structure was reverted to local traffic. It was completely closed to traffic in 2009 due to structural concerns. Efforts are now being made to market the bridge to a private owner, who will have the responsibility of rehabilitating it for recreational purposes, with MoDOT being the lead agent.  This is the first time the governmental agency has been involved in this process, since it had been known  for closing and condemning historic bridges, according to various sources closest to the historic bridge community. After the presentation, the tour was directed at bridges like the Devil’s Elbow Bridges in Pulaski County, Bird’s Nest (Crawford Co.) and Boeuf Creek (Frankin Co.) Bridges (just to name a few of the dozen bridges that were visited by the bridge enthusiasts).  Optional trips included the one to Enochs Knob Bridge in Franklin County, a 1908 pin-connected steel Parker through truss bridge with a history of ghost stories and tragedies and one which is a target for replacement with a concrete slab bridge even though the road is rarely used. Molly Hill is leading the effort to preserve the structure in its place, even though it has been barricaded  recently and it now takes 10 minutes (or 1/4 mile) to walk to the bridge.

Have you hugged or kissed a bridge lately? Molly Hill definitely showed her love for the Enochs Knob Bridge, which she is fighting to save the structure and its history from becoming victim of modernization

Enochs Knob Bridge: Despite the bridge being closed off, a ten minute walk is well worth the sight.

 

The other side  trip was to the bridges in Christian County south of the city of Springfield, where a tour took place beginning at the Riverside Bridge in Ozark. That bridge is the focal point of efforts being undertaken to reuse the bridge as a bike trail. Despite damage to the flooring and lots of debris caused by the flooding this past spring, the structure remains in fairly good condition. Other bridges included on the tour were the McCracken/Ozark Mill and Bridge, Green/Symra Road Bridge and the Red Bridge. The tour attracted many people from the region and reunited two friends who hadn’t seen each other since their days in college, a span of 13 years.  That evening, a benefit for the Riverside Bridge took place at the Ozark Community Center, which included a silent auction and four presentations. Jason D. Smith of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles emceed the event.  As many as 40 people attended the event, including Ozark’s mayor and Christian County commissioner Lou Lapaglia, who donated money to the coordinator of the event, Kris Dyer, who also is director of the Save the Riverside Bridge organization.  She was the first to present the plans of how to incorporate the bridge into the city’s bike trail system. It was then followed by Bill Hart of the Missouri Preservation organization, who talked about the objective and successes of this important actor in preserving historic bridges in the state. James Baughn followed with his presentation on his website and the state of historic bridges in Missouri, with Todd Wilson closing out the evening with providing hope to the preservation of truss bridges in the US, using the Riverside Bridge as a case study. The benefit itself was a smashing success as it raised over $1600 (without the costs relating to the benefit, it totaled over $2000) for the project. There’s still time to help support the project, as you can see in the link below.

http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2010/11/21/riverside-bridge-in-christian-county-missouri-the-attempt-to-preserve-it-for-the-next-generation/

 

14 August:  The third and final day of the conference took the enthusiasts to Kansas City and places to the north and west, although a pair of stops at the Papinville (Bates Co.), Young’s Ford (Vernon Co.) and Caplinger Mill (Cedar Co.) Bridges were included in the itinerary. Some of the bridges that were seen in Kansas City included the Intercity Viaduct, a double decker Warren deck truss bridge, whose lower deck is now a bike trail while the upper deck still serves traffic today.  There is also the Christopher Bond Bridge, which carries I-29 and 35 as well as US Hwy. 71. Both span the Missouri River.  The Twelfth Street Viaduct, which spans the railroad year is the only concrete viaduct, whose main span features a concrete arch.  Then there is  the ASB Bridge, the only bridge in the world whose lower deck can be raised to accommodate boat traffic. That deck is still being used by the BNSF Railways today, while the upper deck, which used to serve local traffic has long since been removed  thanks to the opening of the Heart of America Bridge in 1985. This unique contraption was the work of J.A.L. Waddell, a world renowned civil engineer from Ontario, Canada, who was a harsh critic of other truss designs during his day but invented  his own truss style with the Waddell A-frame truss bridge. There is only two Waddell through truss bridges left in the US, one of which can be seen  at the English Landing Park in Parkville. Unfortunately, due to recent flooding along the Missouri River, the park is still completely closed off to all tourists as parts of the area are still under water at the time of this entry.

Congregating on the Caplinger Mill Bridge in Bates County

Papinville Bridge south of Kansas City at its best during the visit.

 

The flooding, which was caused by excessive rains and a late spring thaw in the Rocky Mountains (where the Missouri River starts its journey) delayed construction of many bridge replacements  along and in the vicinity of the Missouri River.  This included the Amelia Earhart Bridge in Atchinson, Kansas, a continuous through truss bridge built in 1937 and was scheduled to be taken down once the new structure was completed this fall. This seems to be unlikely as many roads are still under water. It also includes the Rulo Bridge in Rulo, Nebraska, which was completed in 1936 and has a design similar to its counterpart downstream.  While much of the town is high and dry, parts of the low lying area are underwater, and the Missouri side represents the Red Sea, which not even Moses can divide up.  Much of the flooding has affected the areas east of the Missouri in parts of Missouri and Iowa cutting small towns off from the outside world and shutting down I-29 between Omaha and Kansas City, rerouting the whole stretch starting at I-80 east to Des Moines and then south on I-35, which also leads to Kansas City. While flooding will result in billions of dollars worth of lost revenue, it did delay the inevitable for the two aforementioned bridges as they will most likely remain up until at least the middle part of next year.

Overall, the historic bridge conference was indeed a success, even more so than last year’s event in Pittsburgh in a way that for the first time, it drew interest from the public sector for they are interested in ways historic bridges can be preserved.  While most of the presentations given at the 2010 conference consisted of proposals in joint cooperation between the public and private sectors, ways of converting a saved bridge into recreational use and ways of detecting and fixing problems on bridges per se, this year’s conference presented some practical experiences that have been made or are being made. Given the fact that there are many ways to initiate projects through cooperation plus there are examples of historic bridges that have been saved for reuse for recreation, this year’s conference has increased the interest from the public in general in preserving these artifacts for future use in a way that the resources, the contact people with experience in preserving bridges and the interest in historic bridges and ways to preserve them are there. It is more of a question of putting aside the differences and excuses and moving forward and saving the relicts of the past so that the next generation can take advantage of what is there and learn a bit about historic bridges, how they are associated with the community and how they are connected with American history not only with regard to the Industrial Revolution but also the social aspect and how the people constructed them to accomodate traffic and transport people and goods from A to B. While Kris Dyer is making waves throughout the county with the efforts to save the Riverside Bridge in her community and Molly Hill is starting her campaign to save the Enochs Knob Bridge ignoring her own opposition from those who want the structure and its ghosts buried, others who may not have heard about historic bridges until this year’s conference will most likely jump on the bandwagon with their own bridges that are targeted for demolition and replacement, for as Todd Wilson mentioned in his presentation: “Any bridge that is not saved will disappear in a short time.” To add to his comment, the public will regret this action in the long term as they will only read about it in the history books at the local library, which is becoming less common in the face of the internet.

The stats are clear in Missouri as well as in the US. The question is, how many bridges, like the truss bridges, can be saved before they are gone forever? Todd Wilson (who presented this) doesn’t know nor does the author, but it could be soon if action is not taken.

Note: The 2012 Historic Bridge Conference has not been planned yet, but speculation is that either Iowa or Indiana will be the next venue. Indiana has had a history of successful preservation of historic bridges, including the Tripple Whipple Bridge over Laughery Creek in Dearbown County, the only truss bridge in the country that has such a unique design. It also has the Wabash and Erie Canal bike trail  where historic bridges can be found on this route, including one of only two Stearns Truss Bridge in the country (the Gilmore Bridge). However in Iowa, there is the historic bridge park at Tiffin near Iowa City (an article will precede this one), bowstring arch bridges throughout the state including Crawford and Winneshiek Counties, and the Kate Shelley Viaduct  near Boone, which will turn 100 years old next year. Furthermore, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Sutliff Bridge in Johnson County may be rebuilt in time for its reopening next summer. The three span Parker through truss bridge lost one of its spans during the 2008 Flood and is currently being rebuilt thanks to support from the county and the Sutliff Bridge Authority. The plan is to have one of the states host the event in 2012 and the other in 2013. If you have a preference for where the 2012 Historic Bridge Conference should be hosted, please contact Jason Smith of the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles at JDSmith77@gmx.net.

Enjoy the following links and photos below:

Links:

Platte Purchase and Firfax Bridges in Kansas City: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52G6MCWokRw

US 66 Meramec River Bridge near Wildwood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnge9BHOoaM

Enochs Knob Bridge in Franklin Co.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHk9Y7-c-qI

Red Bridge in Christian Co: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-6QPgWq8yo

Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Tfp2GKSK8U

McKinley Bridge in St. Louis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKoorKAmyvw

Eads Bridge in St. Louis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8UJ7KvIJM0

Photos:

Bridge experts and enthusiasts at the US 66 Meramec Crossing west of St. Louis

 

A large audience listens to one of the presentations given at the Riverside Bridge Benefit at the Ozark Community Center on 13 August

 

A truck crosses the Green Bridge in Christian County as tourists look on. This was taken during the tour of the Christian County Bridges on 13 August

 

The coordinators of the 2011 Historic Bridge Conference from left to right: Todd Wilson, James Baughn, Kris Dyer and Jason Smith

J.A.L. Waddell’s ASB Bridge over the Missouri River in Kansas City- the only bridge in the world whose bottom deck lifts up in hydraulic motion when the ships pass underneath it. Still in service.

Twelfth Street Viaduct with a BNSF train passing through. Viaduct spans a railroad yard in Kansas City.

Evidence of the Spring Floods of 2011 can still be seen with lots of downed trees and other debris careening underneath the Platte River Railroad Bridge in Platte Co., Missouri. Bridge was not affected by this and is still in service.