Photographer Nicolas Beauchamp and other bridge enthusiasts need your help in solving this case. This towering viaduct, which features a deck plate girder bridge, supported by A-framed towers, was found recently by accident. Given its age and the number of years it has been sitting abandoned, the viaduct appears to be between 90 and 100 years old, and it features a pair of finial towers at the center of the bridge deck. Given the density of the forest, one needs to narrow down the location of the bridge to the western half of the US. As there is speculation that the bridge used to go along the Mother Highway US 66, this means that somewhere in Oklahoma, New Mexico or eastern California was where this bridge was located. It is possible that because of its narrowness, it may have been the first highway crossing before it was relocated on a different alignment, where the newer highway was wider and had two-lanes accommodating traffic. One cannot even rule out the possibility that prior to it becoming a highway crossing, it used to serve rail traffic, providing train service to southern California from an unknown destination in the East.
So let’s summarize what we know:
1. The bridge is a viaduct featuring a steel girder (three spans) supported by A-frame concrete towers spanning a deep valley
2. The viaduct is around a century old
3. The viaduct may have been a railroad crossing before becoming a highway one.
4. The bridge may have been part of a major highway before it was rendered functionally obsolete. Many claim that it was part of US Hwy. 66 but other highways may have played a role.
5. The bridge is located in southwestern US- if confirmed with the Route 66 theory, then it is located in Oklahoma, New Mexico or California. Arizona has mostly desert regions with little trees, making its location more unlikely.
What do we need to know?
1. Where exactly is the bridge located?
2. When was it exactly built and who was the bridge builder?
3. If it used to serve a railroad and/or main highway, which routes were they?
We have to keep in mind that despite state aid highways having existed since the turn of the century in general, the US highway system was introduced in 1926, the same year that US 66 was designated as a highway connecting Chicago with Los Angeles via St. Louis, Tulsa and Santa Fe.
What do you know about this bridge? Provide your comments here as well as in the Chronicles’ social media pages. Whatever information is useful will be added here.
And as for the photo taken by Mr. Beauchamp, many thanks and the bridge does have a nice green background to it. 🙂
Bridge collapses in Ohio- one dead, Bridge in Kansas City demolished, Two Arkansas bridges coming out, also one in Missouri.
Could we see a repeat of 2013? Judging by the number of bridges being demolished or being scheduled to be demolished, it seems that 2015 is reverting back to the days where the draconian mentality of replacing instead of fixing at the expense of tax payers is the norm. Yet, despite the massacre of over a dozen bridges at the beginning of 2013 and more throughout the year, the number of bridges scheduled to come out are much fewer. But some of the bridges that are targeted for demolition are the same ones that are being fought by preservationists to save them because of their historic value. With the collapse of an old Interstate bridge in Ohio last night though, that might provide a knee-jerk reaction among politicians and engineers to override the protests, as seen with the Linz Railroad Bridge in Austria. With more on that, here are the headlines:
Interstate Bridge in Cincinnati (Ohio) collapses- one dead.
CINCINNATI- Spanning Hopple Street carrying northbound Interstate 75, the 1960s style bridge was scheduled to be demolished after the new bridge opened to traffic weeks ago, and workers were already prepping the old structure to be removed from service. Little did they realized is that the bridge itself found its way to the dumpster earlier than expected. The structure collapsed at 10:30pm last night, as the main span dropped onto the street below, crushing everything like pancakes. A construction worker on the bridge was killed in the collapse. A truck driver going towards the bridge on Hopple Street slammed on the brakes as it collapsed, missing him by inches. The front of the semi truck sustained extensive damage but the driver survived with only minor injuries. According to Jeffrey Blackwell of the Cincinnati Police Department, it was a matter of just seconds, “and his fate would have been different.” The collapse the bridge triggered the shutdown of the entire freeway, which will take days while crews clean-up the disaster. While there were no reports of any structural shortcomings with the bridge, investigations are being undertaken to determine how the bridge collapsed in the first place. More on the article and photos of the collapse can be found via link here.
War Eagle Bridge in Danger!
BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS- Spanning War Eagle Creek in Benton County, Arkansas, this 1907 structure built by Illinois Steel, features a Parker through truss main span, three Waddel A-frame pony approaches made from scrap metal and another steel beam approach, making the bridge 183 feet long. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2010 at a cost of $600,000. Now the county is looking into options with the bridge, claiming that the bridge has problems worth $1.8 million. The options are to either make the repairs and leave the bridge open to traffic or replace the bridge on a new alignment, but keep the truss span in tact for pedestrian use. Both the bridge and its adjacent mill are considered historic landmarks by the National Register, but the bridge is only open for light vehicles only. How the future of this bridge will pan out remains to be seen. More information will follow on the Chronicles.
Eldorado Viaduct to be demolished
EL DORADO, ARKANSAS- There is something special about this bridge, spanning the railroad yard, spanning Hillsboro Street in El Dorado. The bridge was built in 1935 by Fred Luttjohann, a local engineer from Topeka, Kansas, and features an arch span, several T-beam spans, concrete ballustrades and a length of over 980 feet. A candidate for the National Register, this bridge is loved by many in the city. Yet the city council has voted to demolish the structure in favor of its replacement. Construction of the bridge is scheduled to take place in the summer. For more on the bridge and to view the pictures, please click here.
Fairfax Bridge demolished. Replacement bridge to come.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI- The Chronicles did a report last fall about the replacement of the Fairfax and Platte Purchase Bridges, spanning the Missouri River carrying US Hwy. 69 between Kansas and Missouri. The plan of merging two separate bridges into one large six-lane bridge by 2016 moved forward on Friday, when the 1935 truss bridge that had once carried the southbound portion of the highway imploded, sending the bridge’s spans into the water. Crews are in the process of removing the bridge remains from the river, cutting up the parts for scrap. Once completed, the new span will be constructed. The 1957 Platte Purchase Bridge will be demolished towards the beginning of next year, once the new southbound portion opens to traffic. Photos of the Fairfax Bridge demolition can be found here.
Kansas historic bridge estranged by county officials, Fitch receives new bridge, Viaduct in Indiana demolished, Vertical Bridge on US 1 to come down soon
There is a small informal trend that was started on the Bridgehunter.com website a couple years ago, where a historic bridge that was replaced or torn down would receive the Little Brown Barf Bag because of the senseless excuses for tearing them down to begin with. It is unknown how often the LBBB has been used this year (or who has used them), and most importantly whether the supplier has any left in stock, but the regular customers may have to find an alternative if there’s none left, especially as we have some bridges in this Newsflyer that are target for the wrecking ball. One of them has a new bridge in place, and while bridge fans have been finding the next available restrooms, others are shaking their heads and asking “Why this bridge? It’s really ugly!” Here are the bridges making the Newsflyer:
Stranger Creek Bridge demolished despite its pristine condition.
Located southeast of Tonganoxie in Leavenworth County, this elegant Pratt through truss bridge with M-frame portal bracings is one of the tallest bridges in the county and one that can be seen along the Kansas Turnpike (I-70). That will no longer be the case by the middle of this week, as crews are working to demolish the bridge as it is rendered useless because of another crossing on Metro Avenue, located north of the bridge. No replacement is being planned for this structure. The bridge was closed to traffic in April even though when looking at the photos here, the structure seems to be in great condition. Why Leavenworth County spent $150,000 to remove this bridge is beyond the logic of many who think that money would best be spent for other projects or at least converting this bridge into a recreational area with the county conservation board owning it. However, given the plan by the county to replace as many as 20 bridges in the next few years, this estranged behavior towards historic bridges makes sense. Word of advice to those travelling through the county, take a half day to visit the remaining bridges, including those along Stranger Creek where this bridge used to be located, for they will be gone soon.
Fitch receives new bridge, much to the dismay of many
“You guys can have your bridge!” as many have said about this bridge near Lowell, Massachusetts. As reported a few months ago, Fitch’s Bridge was removed after being abandoned for over 40 years, leaving the bridge to decay with nature. Without looking at options for rehabilitating the bridge, the city and park district opted to remove and dismantle the bridge with the usage of cranes and welders and replace it with a half-pony/half deck truss bridge that is of Pratt design. Have a look at the photos here and judge it for yourself. The choice is questionable to many who believe a replica of the 1899 bridge would have been the more logical choice, but if the majority favor a mail-order welded truss bridge, then what can a man do but shake his head and ask why…
Viaduct in Indiana removed
Located north of Owasco over Wildcat Creek in Caroll County, the Owasco Viaduct, built in 1893 and served the Chicago-Indianapolis line until its abandonment in 1992, was one of the longest bridges in the state as well as along the line, with a total span of 1278 feet. Yet flooding in 2004 caused one of the piers to shift more than 10 feet over, making the deck plate girder trestle look like the letter ‘S’ instead of being a straight-line bridge. Many people were fearing that the viaduct would not last long afterwards. It stood for nine years until more recently when the demolition crew finally took the bridge down for safety purposes. Says Tony Dillion, who is one of the experts on Indiana’s historic bridges, “Surprised it stood as long as it did.” More on this bridge can be found here.
Three Maine Bridges to be replaced or removed.
This state used to have a large number of historic bridges, just as many as New Hampshire and Vermont, Maine that is. Now the state has joined the race with its western neighbor and Pennsylvania to see how many historic bridges can be demolished to cut costs, for two of its bridges will be replaced and another one, a double decker bridge will have its bottom deck removed. With the Waldo-Hancock and Memorial Bridges gone, the state is on track to being the state with the worst track record regarding historic bridge preservation, with the exception of New Hampshire. Here are the bridges highlighted below:
Sarah Mildred Long Bridge:
Located over the Piscataqua River on US Hwy. 1 in Portsmouth, the vertical lift bridge was one of two located in the region before the Memorial Bridge was torn down, yet it featured a deck truss with a highway span on top and the railroad span at the bottom of the truss. Yet, despite being built in 1940, both Maine and New Hampshire are competing for a grant to proceed with the demolition and replacement of this unique truss bridge. How unique is it? Its lower deck can be slid inwards to allow ships to pass through in addition to the 227 foot long vertical lift span (the bridge has a total length of 2800 feet). Yet as this bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, even if the two states obtain the TIGER Grant, construction would have to wait until the environmental and cultural impact surveys are carried out. A long battle is in the making to save this bridge under the war cry “Remember the Memorial!” More information can be found here.
Cassidy Point Bridge to become a railroad grade
While this bridge is 43 feet long and carries Danforth Street in Portland, it spans a railroad and owners of the line want the bridge removed. Not to worry. MaineDOT can help you, but it will come at the dismay of car drivers who will have to wait for long 3-mile long trains carrying double-decker coaches and wagons for many minutes. That is the general plan at the moment as the railroad plans to increase traffic on its line through Portland and the bridge to them is a burden to their plan. It is unknown when the project will start but word has it that it will begin soon. More information here.
Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge in Brunswick
Spanning the Androscoggin River in Brunswick, this two-span Baltimore through truss bridge, built in 1909, carrys rail traffic through the city on the top deck, but local traffic on the bottom deck, which is supported by a set of Warren trusses with pin-connections. Going by the name Free Black Bridge, the Pennsylvania Bridge Company structure made the news as Maine DOT, in cooperation with the bridge’s owner, Maine Central Railroad, plans to remove the road deck while leaving the rail truss in use. It is not surprising of the action, for despite the road deck seeing 6-7 cars a day, MaineDOT does not want to have another liability in their hands, which justifies this action.
Registration for Historic Bridge Weekend due 15 July
For those wanting to register for the evening dinners and Kate Shelley tour portions of the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend in eastern Iowa, you have another week until registration comes to a close. You can register for the HB Weekend via facebook or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles as email@example.com.You can also contact him if you want to join the bridgehunting tour only or if you have any questions pertaining to the HB Weekend between now and 31st July.
Spanning Raccoon Creek on Covered Bridge, four miles southwest of Wilkesville in Vinton County, the Ponn Humpback Covered Bridge was one of the biggest tourist attractions of the six covered bridges. At 180 feet, the multiple-span kingpost truss bridge was the longest that existed in the county, built in 1874 by Martin McGrath and Lyman Wells and was bypassed by a pony truss bridge built in 2008, with the historic structure being converted into a pedestrian trail. Now the bridge is nothing but a memory.
Vinton County officials are looking for information and leads that will eventually result in the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible for a fire, which destroyed the entire structure on 6 June. The reward is set at up to $5000. According to county officials, the incident ocurred during the morning hours and the structure burned to the ground. The bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is considered a total loss. It is unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt or not, but county and state officials will look into those options.
Prior to the arson, suspicion of parties involving alcohol and campfires had been reported by many passers-by which included litter and beer cans. It was a question of time before a fire caught the covered bridge and brought it down. That day unfortunately came and now the county is grieving over the loss of an important structure which many people visited while passing through Vinton County. This is the second fire this year that destroyed a historic bridge. A fire at a wooden viaduct in Texas last month destroyed the entire structure (a video can be found here).
If you have any information useful to the case, please contact the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office at: 740-592-5242 or the Ohio State Fire Marshal (which is overseeing the case) at: 1-800-579-2728 The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest involving the bridge.
Links to the bridge can be found through the Bridgehunter website by clicking on here.
Doug Chapman and Bill Eichenberger have provided some pictures of the bridge before and after the fire, which you can see here:
Our next post brings you to Ames, Iowa. Located 30 miles (48 km) north of the capital of Des Moines, the city of 59,000 is perhaps the engineering hub of the state. The Iowa Department of Transportation has its headquarters in the city’s business district. Iowa State University is filled with engineering students with promising aspects in the future. And even though it is not the county seat of Story County (that honor goes to Nevada, located 8 miles (15 km) east of the city), the city is part of the triangular district, sharing with its neighbor to the east as well as to the west, Boone, Iowa, located 10 miles (18 km) west of the city and home of the Kate Shelley Viaduct and the Wagon Wheel Bridge.
Now as far as bridges are concerned, the city, like Story County, is loaded with numerous pre-1960 bridges dating as far back as 1875, with numerous bridge types to choose from and regardless of whether they used for rail or vehicular traffic. Some of them used to cross Skunk River (located east of the city) before being taken off the highway system or relocated to a less traveled road. This includes those that served the Lincoln Highway (US Highway 30). But many of them cross Squaw Creek, which snakes its way through the city before emptying into the Skunk River in the southern part of the city.
Luke Harden, a college student at Iowa State University and a regular contributor of the Historic Bridges of the US website, picked out the top five of the bridges that one should visit, even though the selection is rather difficult. He will provide you with a tour of the bridges, with a bonus question on the part of the author: Can you match the picture I posted above to the ones he profiled?
These bridge my favorites not because of build dates or because of a specific design, or anything like that. These bridges are my favorites because they aesthetically befit the scenery in which they are located. These bridges were places that I would visit, sit down, and do nothing but be one with the surroundings. These bridges are simply aesthetically beautiful in their surroundings.
Bridge #1 Veenker Memorial Golf Course Pony Truss Bridge
This bridge is a footbridge located within the Iowa State University Veenker Memorial Golf Course in Ames. It spans Squaw Creek and it is part of the cart path and is crossed often with golf carts by users of the course. It is located in the western part of the course. Now that corner of the course has quite a fair amount of trees. This bridge is a welded truss comprised of angle irons and was built at a presently unknown date by an equally unknown builder. The bridge itself aesthetically befits the scenery in which it was set. The steel is thin enough that from a distance on a spring or summer day, you could hardly tell there was a bridge there until you got up close. Images: http://bridgehunter.com/photos/22/97/229726-L.jpg http://bridgehunter.com/photos/22/97/229728-L.jpg http://bridgehunter.com/photos/22/97/229727-L.jpg
Bridge #4 Skunk River Bridge
This Warren through truss bridge was originally built in 1876 by the King Bridge Company at Cambridge, Iowa over the (South) Skunk River, where it’s piers faced issues and was eventually replaced in 1919, at which point the span was moved to this location, paired with a generic pony truss provided by the Iowa State Highway Commission (now known as the Department Of Transportation), which is based out of Ames, Iowa. It served as a crossing of the Skunk River on a small and extremely rarely used gravel road until the bridge, along with the road, were vacated in 1990. The bridge presently sits abandoned, utilized by locals who live in the nearby residential neighborhood to walk their dogs and college students going to the first US land grant college, Iowa State University. The bridge is located in an area that is quite scenic, and, most importantly for a nature lover of any form, quiet. The only non-natural noise that is frequently heard would be the sound of airplane engines droning as the Ames municipal airport is nearby.
Bridge #5 Squaw Creek Park Bridge
This bridge is part of a rail-to-trail within the city limits of Ames that is presently closed due to flood damage on an approach span (The plate girder itself is in good shape for a railroad bridge.). The bridge was part of an Ames-Slater line on the Chicago &and Northwestern Railway, which was abandoned in the 1980s. The bridge was presumably built by the American Bridge Company of New York. This assumption is based upon two holes on the side of the bridge. These holes match up with known riveting/bolting patterns for bridge plaques on girder spans built by the American Bridge Company. The assumption is also backed up with knowledge that the American bridge company built extremely similar pony plate girders for the Chicago & Northwestern Railway. The bridges (and the trail) are part of Ames’ Squaw Creek Park. The views from the bridge shows you an upstream view, including the nearby confluence of Worle Creek with the Squaw as well as well as the surrounded wooded area, and the downstream view will show you the rest of the surrounding woods. It’s a great place in Ames to just stand and watch the creek flow whilst listening to the birds chirp.
Author’s note: For more information on the bridges in Ames and Story County, you can click on the link here. Some of the bridges I visited during my trip through Iowa last year while visiting the Iowa DOT, and I have to agree with Mr. Harden, many of these bridges are highly recommended to visit, but there are many others outside the city that deserve some visitors in one way or another. In either case, when you are in Story County and happen to stop in Ames, take an hour or two for the bridges. You will not regret it.
At 465 meters long and 107 meters high, the Muengsten Viaduct, located in the vicinity of Wuppertal in central North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany has been, since its opening in 1897, the highest bridge built in Germany. Â Spanning the steep Wupper River near the village of Muengsten, the steel deck arch bridge was built in three years’ time under the direction of Anton von Rieppel, who was a industrialist working for the company “Maschinefabrik Augsburg Nuremberg” (now known today as MAN AG), and was responsible for the invention of an elevated street car (Rieppel Traeger) that is supported by horizontal beams above the car, and was eventually used for the Schwebebahn routes in neighboring Wuppertal as well as in Dresden in eastern Saxony. Originally used for passenger railway service between Remscheid and Solingen, it future is in doubt as concerns involving its structural weaknesses, which had originally resulted in the reduction of speed to only 10 km/h for all trains, has now resulted in no trains crossing the bridge until the problems are corrected. Since November of last year, the viaduct was closed to all rail traffic, forcing passengers to find alternatives by bus and the German railway company (Die Bahn) to find detours to carry its freight over the Wupper.
Attempts of allowing trains to cross the viaduct have failed to bear fruit. Even though Die Bahn filed for permission by the Office of Railways (EBA) to allow trains weighing up to 69.9 tons to cross the bridge, it only applied to empty trains. To allow train and passengers to cross the viaduct would require a weight limit of at least 81 tons. In the end, the EBA agreed to allow only trains of up to 72 tons with a 10-ton axel load to cross the structure. Unfortunately, recent events at the beginning of this week may force the bridge to be closed permanently if the problems are not resolved as soon as possible. Attempts to cross the bridge using empty rail cars failed due to too much weight from the axel. The end result is that the weight limit will have to be reconfigured by Die Bahn, and the bridge will have to be strengthened so that the guidelines by the EBA are met.
The Muengsten Viaduct has been considered historically significant by the German Heritage Laws (Denkmalschutzgesetz) and is the focus of a massive rehabilitation effort to be carried out over the next five years at the cost of over $30 million. When it is completed by 2016, it will be able to serve rail traffic both ways on a regular basis for the next 30 years. In the meantime, passengers travelling between Remscheid and Solingen will have to resort to bus service until the EBA allows trains to partially use the bridge until the renovation is completed. The question is: how long will the complications last. The answer is unknown at the moment, except that it lies with the EBA and Die Bahn.
Note: At the bottom of the valley underneath the viaduct, a park was constructed in 2006 commemorating the historic structure. A transporter ferry, attached to the arch superstructure, can carry passengers across the Wupper. The Muengsten Viaduct was originally christened the Kaiser Wilhelm I Bridge, the name that was used until it was replaced with the present name in 1918, the same time as the end of World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm I. was the first emperor of Germany when the country was created in 1871. His son Wilhelm II. took over at the time of his father’s death in 1888 and led the country until its defeat in the war 30 years later.
Thanks to Herrad Elisabeth Taubenheim for allowing the use of the photo for the article.
Australian Traveller that loves to "Roam" our globe, creator of ENDLESSROAMING.COM sharing the experience through word and photography. Currently residing in my home of Newtown Sydney but hope to be back on the road late 2020. Feedback / questions are more than welcome, happy travels