This week’s pic of the week puts bridges, summertime and swimming all into one. This pic was taken at the Sandcastle Waterpark, located along the Monongahela River in Homestead, one of the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Despite not being overly crowded on this summer day, there were enough people that took advantage and went down water slides, took dips in the pool and showered under the mushroom, like in this picture, taken in 2018. The park was opened to the public in 1989, based on the concept developed by Harry Henninger, and it has been one of the top water attractions in the state ever since. The railroad bridge serves as an excellent backdrop. The three-span Parker through truss bridge is known as the Hazelwood and is located next to another Pittsburgh landmark in the Glenwood Bridge. The railroad bridge was first built in 1884 but was later rebuilt, using the original bridge piers in 1912. The bridge has been in service ever since as the CSX Railroad uses this crossing.
While this summer is different because of the Corona Virus and the lockdowns that many regions are imposing, there is hope that when a vaccination is developed and people are required to take the shot that we will return to normal someday and see places like these full of people again. This would also require a change in attitude in the way we travel, let alone treat our places of natural and historic interest. Still, we have a long ways to go and many good people will be needed to make it happen. We just don’t have it now, but change will come soon enough.
This week’s Pic of the week takes us to Anamosa, Iowa and to one of the oldest bridges left in the state. The Anamosa Bridge was built in 1878 by the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works Company . It was replaced on a new alignment in 1929 but remained open to traffic until 1955. It would be one of the first historic bridges in the state to be converted into a pedestrian crossing, the project was finished in 1975. It was rehabbed once more in 2012 with new decking, replacing the ones damaged by flooding in 2008. The bridge can be seen from the Elm Street crossing as both span the Wapsipinicon River entering the the historic community of 5500 inhabitants, which has a historic state penitentiary on one end, a historic business district on another end and Wapsipinicon State Park on the opposite end of the two.
The bridge has a lot of angles where a person can take a lot of shots, whether it is at sundown, on a foggy night when the amber-blazing lights turn the city into a gold color, or this one, where a group of people were camping. This was taken in August 2011 during the time a full moon was coming out. It was a crystal clear night and a group decided to have a campfire next to the bridge. None of them minded as I was taking some shots with the Pentax. However, I did mind when the prints turned out darker than expected. Hence a photoshop program to lighten it up. Here’s your result.
Have you ever tried camping and/or fishing next to the bridge? If not, it’s one to mark on your bucket list, both as the camper/fisher, as well as the photographer. A good way to enjoy the summer, especially in these times.
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us on a road trip to rural Iowa and to this bridge- out in the middle of nowhere. 😉 The Durrow Road Bridge spans Blue Creek in Linn County. The bridge can be seen from I-380 right before exiting at Urbana. It’s about 10 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids. It’s a Parker through truss bridge, built in the 1920s using standardized truss designs and measures that were introduced by the Iowa State Highway Commission (now Iowa DOT). It was relocated to this spot at the T-intersection with Blue Creek Road in 1949 and has been serving farm traffic ever since. It has been well-kept with new paint and consistent maintenance.
This photo was taken during one of two visits in 2011, together with my bridgehunting colleague Quinn Phelan, who has lived in the area for many years and knows most of the bridges both in Linn County as well as in many parts of east central Iowa. Like it is today here in Saxony and parts of the Midwestern US, it was taken on a beautiful blue sunny day with a slight breeze and lots of greenery in the area.
The Durrow Road Bridge is a structure that exemplifies a bridge that was common in rural Iowa and a great photo opp for not only the pontists and photographers, but for people who appreciate what this bridge has to offer.
New York City and its boroughs are well known for their iconic crossings which have stood the test of time. When people think of the largest city in the US, the first bridges to come to mind are the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges along the East River, the Triborough Bridges and the structures built by Othmar H. Ammann, including the Bronx White Stone, Bayonne, George Washington and the Verrazano Narrows, the last of which is still the longest suspension bridge in the US.
Yet going north away from New York is Westchester County. If there is one county that has a wide array of historic bridges spanning different bodies of water in the state, Westchester would be in the top five in the state. It’s well known for two of the crossings over the Hudson River- the Bear Mountain Bridge and the Mario Cuomo Bridge (which replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017). Little do people realize is that the county has several bodies of water where one can find many historic and unique crossings scattered all over the place. For starters, northeast of the Cuomo Bridge is Rockefellar State Park, where as many as six stone arch bridges spanning the Pocantico River can be found within a five mile radius of each other. There’s also the Croton River, a major source of water for the New York City area. There one can find a large batch of bridges along the river, including those along the New Croton Reservoir, like the AM Vets Memorial Bridge, Gate House Bridge and North COuntry Trailway. Also included in the mix are Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road Bridge at Muscoot Reservoir, which also belong to the Croton River crossings. Four historic bridges including Deans Bridge in Croton Falls round off the tour along the Croton River before the river crosses into Putnam County. As many as a dozen historic arch bridges built in the 1930s spanning historic parkways and four historic bridges along Annsville Creek round off the tour of Westchester County’s finest bridges, that feature as many as seven different bridge types and a span of over a century and a half of bridge building that started in the 1870s.
Sadly though, the number of historic bridges in Westchester County is dwindling. Many bridges that have been out of service for at least 20 years are scheduled to be removed. Three of them- Deans Bridge, Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road- are scheduled to be torn down by sometime in the next year. Each crossing has some unique characteristics and historic value that justify not only their listing on the National Register but also rehabilitation and reuse for recreational purposes. Goldens Bridge has a Whipple through truss design with Phoenix columns. Deans and Plum Brook have unique portal bracings that are rare to find in the state, let alone the US.
Yet the bridges in Westchester County are very popular among locals and one of them even produced a gallery of paintings of these unique structures. That with some facts fan be found in the Gallery of Paintings of Westchester County’s Bridges, available via link. A whole list of crossings, both past and present, can be found in the bridgehunter.com website- the link is found as well.
It is unknown whether these galleries will help preserve these structures, but by looking at them, it will bring attention to the readers who may want to visit them in the future. May through a visit and a tour will the interest in saving them for future use increase substantially, even in these hard times like we’re having at present.
So have a look at two sets of galleries and enjoy! 🙂
This week’s Pic of the Week keeps us in Minnesota but takes us towards the Twin Cities. About a half hour drive southwest of Minneapolis we have the city of Shakopee, located on the Minnesota River. The city of 41,500 inhabitants has a lot of popular places of interest, including Valleyfair, Cantebury Downs, and the Renaissance Festival, in addition to its historic city center (even though it has been dwarfed by a population explosion in the past 30 years.) When you follow the former US highway 169 (county highway 69) into the city and want to cross the Minnesota, you can at this one.
The Holmes Street Bridge features two bridges. The newest one (in the background) was built in 1993; the historic bridge in the foreground, a continuous Warren deck truss span was built in 1927. That structure replaced one of several swing bridges that had existed along the river from Mankato to St. Paul. The bridge is 645 feet total in length and had six spans, including an underpass on the Shakopee side. That span has a flight of stairs that connect the street with the bridge itself. The bridge carried US 169 before it was carried over to the 1993 crossing for awhile. The highway eventually was relocated again five years later when it became an expressway and bypassed Shakopee and its cross-river neighbor Chaska. County 69 became the replacement although with many cars driving through the city, it has the characteristics of a major highway in Minnesota with a four-lane highway whose lanes are much wider than a typical county road.
This photo was taken in August 2009 as we were making a brief stop for a break. The bridge was already open for pedestrians and cyclists and I saw quite a few of them passing by as I photographed the structure. The bridge was scheduled to be rehabilitated a year later, but it didn’t stop me from getting some details of the decking and truss superstructure before some of the elements were eventually replaced. While some of the gussets were replaced, the lighting and railings were completely replaced with those mimicking a nostalgic era of over a century ago. You can find more photos per bridgehunter.com here.
There is a story that came along after the photos were posted on bridgehunter.com. An insurance agency in Shakopee found this picture, the pic of the week feature, so interesting that they wanted to use it for their campaign. The green light was given- but under one condition. I wanted an example oft he finished product once it was released in the public. I received a folder with the name of the insurance agency in the end. It was a neat souvenir that I still have at home. And for the agent, a way to bring a relict of the past to the public to show them what makes Shakopee a unique community, despite it becoming an urban sprawl. A win-win situation for all.
Shakopee went from a small town of 9,400 in 1980 to an urban community of 41,500 by 2018, an increase of 31,000 over the course of almost four decades. Together with Chaska, the twin communities have a population of ca. 70,000 inhabitants. Ironically, Chaska had only 4500 inhabitants before sprouting in the 1990s. It has almost 27,000 residents. Both are part oft he Minneapolis/ St. Paul Metropolitan area, which has a total of 3.9 million people, counting the Twin Cities plus all the cities surrounding it.
Corona Special: The Cancellation of Bridge Festivals
In both the USA as well as Germany and other European countries, communities in the summer time host bridge festivals (in German: Brückenfest), where markets and festivities take place at their beloved historic bridge. This usually takes place on a weekend and attracts thousands of visitors from all corners of the world. Because of the pandemic CoVid-19, these events are either cancelled or are about to be cancelled or postponed because of the high risk of spreading the virus. And if the Oktoberfest in Munich gets cancelled for the first time since 1949, no bridge festival is safe. Hence the information in this week’s podcast, including links.
Note: Further cancellations of bridge festivals are likely as the virus progresses and planners remain concern about the safety of their bridges, communities and the people who visit them in large masses. The Chronicles will continue to provide you with updates through the Newsflyer podcast as they come.
To follow up more on the Corona Virus, go to the sister website, The Flensburg Files (click here.) There, you can read up on all the stories involving CoVid-19, including events being cancelled in Germany (and Europe) and people over there who are dealing with the virus and the restriction of movements.
Looks can be deceiving in this week’s Pic of the Week. This photo was taken in August 2011 and showed a car that wanted to cross this historic through truss bridge, only to be stopped by a Road Closed sign and a bunch of weeds. A tunnel view shot with some colorful reactions from the driver, which starts with …………
You finish the sentence. 😉
About the bridge itself, the Pratt through truss structure spanned the East Branch of the Des Moines River just off US Hwy. 169 north of the Humboldt-Kossuth County line. It was built in 1895 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was one of only a handful of bridges left in the state of Iowa that was built directly by Zenas King. His son George E. King established his bridge building company in Des Moines and was responsible for dozens more, many of them are still standing today. Closed in 2010, the structure was removed during the Winter 2016/17. More information and photos of the bridge can be found here.