Out with the Old and In with the New

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The Cable-Stayed Bridge (left) and the 1954 Communist-era concrete slab bridge (right) standing side-by-side. Come June of this year, there will only be one crossing the Zwickau Mulde. Photos taken in February 2020

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Communist-style old bridge to be torn down, road to be realigned to new span. Cable-stayed bridge to open to traffic by the end of May.

SCHLUNZIG/ GLAUCHAU/ ZWICKAU, GERMANY- Commuters driving between Glauchau and Zwickau will have one less route to take for the next quarter of the year. The Schlunzig Bridge, spanning the River Zwickau Mulde, along with the road connecting Schlunzig and the Volkswagen Company in Mosel will be closed down beginning Monday. The 1954 bridge will be torn down, while the road and the approaches will be realigned to the new cable-stayed bridge. The electrical and water mains will also be rerouted to the cable-stayed bridge prior to the old bridge’s removal.  According to the Chemnitz Free Press, the demolition and road realignment project is expected to last through May.

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Construction on the new bridge began in 2017 and it came in response to the inspection report on the (now) 66-year old bridge that revealed grave deficiencies that made rehabilitating the bridge impracticle. The bridge sustained severe damage in the 2013 floods resulting in the limitation of the speed limit to 30 km/h. Originally scheduled to open last spring, the construction on the cable-stayed bridge was slowed due to weather as well as the delay in the shipment of cables originating from Spain. The cables were spun and the stayed cables were completed in December.

The old bridge was built in response to the Great Flood of 1954, where 80% of the crossings along the Zwickau Mulde were destroyed. Its predecessor was one of them- a polygonal Warren through truss bridge with curved lattice strut and portal bracings, plus deck truss approach spans. It had originally carried a 6-gauge railroad connecting Mosel with Thum, located 3 km east of Schlunzig. The structure was a pre-fabricated concrete slab bridge whose piers had a semi-triangular shape, typical of Communist-era bridges built prior to 1989.

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During the time of the bridge’s demolition and the preparation for the opening of the cable-stayed bridge, commuters will have the choice of using the Motorway 4 to Meerane and then Highway B93 to Zwickau or the B175 from Glauchau to Mosel via Niederschindmaas before joining the B93 at the Volkswagen Company exit.

Come time of the grand opening of the Schlunzig Cable-Stayed Bridge at the end of May, weather permitting, the Zwickau Mulde will have another suspension bridge added to the list of bridges of its type. The river in known to have over a dozen suspension and cantilever bridges- both past and present between Zwickau and Wurzen, including the Paradiesbrücke, the suspension bridge at Rochsburg, two suspension bridges at Rochlitz, the cantilever pedestrian span at Lunzenau and the suspension bridge in Grimma. With the new cable-stayed bridge at Schlunzig, it will attract more tourists, photographers and bridge enthusiasts to not only the village itself, but also to the region Glauchau-Zwickau as well as the along the river. A big plus for the region.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 42

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Looks can be deceiving in this pic of the week. At first glance one sees a bridge with a tower. From an oblique angle like this and directly in the sun, one can be fooled easily. However, we have two bridges. In the foreground is a 60+ year old bridge that is a concrete beam bridge. The H-shaped tower belongs to the new, replacement bridge in the background.  Since the Summer 2017, work has been progressing on the replacement bridge that will feature a cable-stayed span with one tower. When completed by the end of July of this year, it will be the third bridge of its kind, which has one tower, regardless of what bridge type (cantilever truss, suspension, cable-stayed), and eighth suspension-style bridge along the Zwickau Mulde, including a small section of the Mulde going from Sermuth to Grimma. The total length will be 220 meters, 40 meters longer than its current span, and it will be 5 meters higher.

The current structure, which was built in 1954 to replace a crossing destroyed in the Great Flood, will be torn down afterwards. This bridge is located between Schlunzig and Mosel and provides key access to the Volkswagen Company, which is three kilometers away. The road serves as a backroad between Glauchau and Zwickau.

Enjoy a great sunny weekend, wherever you are! 🙂

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 41

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After weeks of snow, rain and wind, spring time has arrived here in Germany. Things are getting greener, and people are getting more activein their work outdoors. And unlike the flooding the US is getting right now, the region is getting off to a great start- a contrast to what we saw last year with the drought which struck much of Europe, leaving rivers and streams dry and crops to wither under the heat.

But here in this pic, we’re seeing the water come back, the grass getting greener and a chance to catch-up after losing much of last year’s worth of crops. This was taken at the Mosel creek bridge, which carries the road going to Glauchau from the village of Mosel. The century-old bridge provides a vital link to the Volkswagen Company, which is three kilometers west of here, as well as to Zwickau, which is seven kilometers. It is one of two vital links between Zwickau and Glauchau along the Zwickau Mulde River.

Enjoy the weekend, wherever you are! 🙂

 

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Paradiesbrücke in Zwickau. Photos taken in September 2016

 

Under a pile of rubble, there is always a jewel, no matter who or what it is or where it came from. Located 16 kilometers south of Glauchau, along the Mulde River, the city of Zwickau may look like an ordinary community, whose architecture mostly comes from the Cold War. This includes high-rise buildings, mining facilities, old factories and even bridges built using scarce materials possible but only lasting 40 years. In fact, a newspaper report from a local newspaper in Chemnitz revealed as many as 37 bridges in the district of 480,000 inhabitants (of which the city itself has 104,000 residents) that are in dire need of repair or replacement. Most of them had exceeded their expected lifespan by 20 years and are hanging by a thread because of imposed weight limits designed to keep trucks, tractors and busses off of them.

But underneath the doom and gloom of a bygone era, there are some jewels to find. Zwickau prides itself on the automobile industry, where the beloved Trabant automobile was built- now the company belongs to Volkswagen. Audi was founded in this community in 1904. The world’s first known and popular automobile racing union was created five years later.  It also has an international school (Saxony International in Reinsdorf) and a college of science and technology (Westsächsisch Hochschule), making the city a multicultural university town. It has a bridge building firm that has existed since 1854 and still has its base in the city.

And when there is a bridge builder in the community, there will always be bridges, especially given its proximity to the river!

The town was first mentioned in 1118 when the Slavs settled there, yet a half dozen bridges, mostly covered wooden ones were built to connect it with other villages by the 1500s. By the late 1800s, more than 40 bridges crossed the Mulde or surrounded the old town center. Today, if one subtracts the crossings carrying pipelines, only a quarter of the bridges exist in Zwickau, all are along the Mulde. And of these 10 known crossings, counting the Zellstoff Bridge, four of them are over 70 years old. Two of them however have received national accolades because of their unusual designs. They include the Paradiesbrücke- the only known bridge in Germany and the western hemisphere that has the cantilever pony truss design- and the 500-year old Röhrensteg- the only known covered bridge with multiple designs and functions, plus the oldest in Saxony. Both of these centerpieces will be profiled together with nine other structures that will include a couple near Wilkau-Hasslau(to the south) and a couple near Schlunzig (to the north). All of them were built before 1990, but they will present not only the historical aspects of the bridges, but also address the issues involving their ability to carry traffic. A gallery of pictures are enclosed for each bridge I stopped at during the tour in September.

Picking up where I left off in Glauchau, we’ll start the tour going upriver and through the prized automobile and infrastructural community, starting off with our first bridge:

 

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Present-day Schlunzig Bridge with its replacement to the right. Photo taken in May 2018

Schlunzig Bridge:

Built in 1954 replacing a wooden bridge destroyed in a flood, the Schlunzig Bridge may be a typical bland concrete beam bridge with little or no value, even if the structure is equipped with the ever so quickly disappearing set of street lighting from the bygone era. Yet its significance resembles two sides of a coin. On the one side, it is a typical East German Bridge, constructed using scarce materials that were prescribed by the Communist government- similar to the Wave at Wernersdorf (for more, see the tour guide on Glauchau’s bridges). Even the lighting originated from that era, which was considered too industrial for the region that is mostly oriented towards agriculture and nature. On the flip side, the bridge is a poster boy for the structural woes the region (and much of Germany) has been dealing with: a run-down structure that is unable to withstand increasing traffic or even weather extremities. The good news though is the district of Zwickau has approved the design and financial support for a new bridge. When the 50 meter long, Mulde crossing is replaced in 2018-19, in its place will be a more attractive bridge type that will awe even the bikers using the bridge to continue on the Mulde Bike Trail: the cable-stayed span! It will be interesting to see what it will look like when the bridge is back in service by the end of 2019.

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Schneppendorf Bridge:

Three kilometers to the south, near Crossen, we have this bridge. The Schneppendorf Bridge features a three-span closed spandrel concrete arch bridge with a total length of 80 meters. Like the Schlunzig Bridge, this one stems from the East German days with typical lighting and railing. It also fits the stereotype of bridges that despite being between 65 and 90 years old (as I estimated its age during my visit), it is in need of repairs because of wear and tear, combined with structural neglect. The bridge has weight restrictions, still it serves as a backdrop to the scenery one can enjoy at a park and rest area located just to the south of the structure. As a bonus, especially for photographers, the bridge and another one just 100 meters to the north- a through truss bridge carrying pipelines across the river- both have a nice background with wooded hills and old-fashioned houses. That bridge had a 45° skewed portal bracing, similar to the next bridge located to the south of the arch bridge. Sadly though, this bridge was removed in 2017 after it was revealed that the structure was rendered useless and a hazard for boaters along the Mulde.

Fast Fact: The bridge was in fact built in 1959 replacing an earlier span that had been built 21 years earlier but was destroyed in the war. Ironically, the 1938 span replaced an iron truss span that was built in 1878, replacing a wooden covered bridge from 1547. No pictures, postcards and drawings exist at this time, but if you have any that you wish to add please contact the Chronicles.

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Zellstoff Bridge:

Entering Zwickau’s city limits, we have the Zellstoff Bridge on the left. Spanning the Mulde River, this bridge features one of the most unusual through truss spans in the region. It’s span consists of a Warren through truss with riveted connections. The portal bracings are skewed at a 45° angle and feature a V-laced form (outer portal) and an I-beam form with heel bracings (inner portal). The struts and vertical beams are both V-laced, as well with the diagonal beams being H-framed. The approach spans feature five spans of a concrete cantilever design. A gallery above will give you a description of what the bridge looks like. Also interesting is a narrow chimney at the left side of the west portal. This may be part of a mechanism that harnessed or even supported electricity, especially as many electrical lines went over this bridge. The bridge served a rail line connecting an automobile factory and possibly an area where mining had existed and therefore, played a key role in Zwickau’s industrial history. But more research on the mining area in Zwickau and in particular, the mini-chimney is needed to help uncover the secrets to the bridge and its surrounding area. The bridge was abandoned after 1990 and there was a plan to remove the structure shortly afterwards. However, thanks to opposition to the plan by residents and preservationists, the decision was scrapped in 2007, and today, the bridge serves as a bike trail between the city and the area where mining had existed. The overgrowth has dominated the bridge and the trail going east, but people can still use them to see what the mining area had looked like before the Fall of the Wall. Despite its age, many people still love this bridge, especially as I met some people while filming it, who all said this one word: “Historique.” That I’m not in a position to disagree with you on. The interest in the Zellstoff Bridge contributed to the City of Zwickau’s successful project in renewing the bridge flooring in early 2018. Since that time, more and more people are using the bridge and even getting some good shots with the camera. A blessing for bridge preservationists, historians and locals alike. 🙂

Here’s a Youtube video on this bridge:

 

Note: If you know more about this bridge in terms of its history and historic significance to the region, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles. The information will be added to the tour guide.

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Pölbitz Bridge:

The first vehicular crossing over the Zwickau Mulde when entering Zwickau is located in the northernmost suburb, Pölbitz. Located at Pölbitzer Strasse, west of B-93, this bridge connects Pölbitz with Eckersbach and provides direct access to the nearest town of Crimmitschau. While records indicated the first wooden bridge having been built 1511, the bridge was replaced with a four-span concrete Luten arch bridge in 1914, all with closed spandrels. The bridge withstood years of abuse as a result of flooding, war and lastly, neglect because of the lack of resources and know-how during the Communist era. The straw that broke the camel’s back came with the Great Flood of 2002, which caused extensive damage to the bridge, especially the arches. The city council reacted with a plan to replace the entire structure with a concrete cantilever span, similar to the picture above. The bridge was replaced in 2005-06 with the current structure, which includes some finials and a memorial on the east end of the bridge. A video showing the events involving the Pölbitz Bridge before and after the replacement can be seen below. It includes interviews with those involved in the replacement project and commentary from the anchor, a local who obviously forgot about the arch bridge except for its destitute state.

 

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Eckersbach Bridge:

Spanning the Zwickau Mulde at Kolpingstrasse and highway B-175 , this three-span structure features a concrete deck cantilever design. The bridge is one of the heavily travelled bridges in Zwickau for the crossing provides traffic in and around Zwickau as well as points to the west and north. The current structure was built in 1955 replacing a wooden combination trestle and Queenpost through truss structure that was built in 1898 under the name Socialist Bridge. The bridge was replaced with the current structure in 1955 but not before the floods a year earlier caused significant damage to the new bridge under construction as well as the truss bridge itself.  Between 1898 and 1990, when the name was changed to Echersbach Bridge, the bridge was named with a socialist flair which started with that before changing to the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Bridge.  Given its age and its wear and tear because of weather extremities and congestion, the bridge has seen better days, and it appears that in the coming years with the increase in traffic, replacement may have to be considered.

Only 150 meters north of the bridge is a pipeline bridge, built using steel plate girders. Built in the 1980s, the bridge carried hot water to Zwickau from sources to the east of the city. Abandoned for a decade, the bridge was removed in 2017 not only for liability reasons, but the residents nearby did not want to see an eyesore obstructing the view of the Mulde River valley.

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Maritius Bridge:

The Maritius Bridge is the first of two Mulde River bridges in Zwickau that carry the major highway B93 going south. The steel structure features two bridges: One built in 1992 to accomodate street car service going south and a parallel one built in 1994 to accomodate vehicular traffic. Both structures replaced the Bierbrücke that was built where the present-day Maritius Brewery is located. The structure was first mentioned in 1859 and was built of wood, even though it is unclear whether it was a covered bridge or another truss structure. Furthermore, we don’t know how long the bridge had existed at that time.  After having been destroyed by ice and flooding multiple times, an iron structure was built in 1861. According to some of the postcards, the bridge featured a Town Lattice truss bridge and had three spans. Due to structural concerns, the bridge was closed in the 1970s. It was rehabilitated in 1975 to accomodate pedestrians and cyclists by replacing the truss spans with steel beam and was raised a meter to allow for free flowing waters of the Zwickau Mulde. Inspite of this, the partial permanent closure of the Bierbrücke resulted in a complicated detour through other parts of Zwickau where massive traffic had not been seen on residential streets.  

Because of lack of funding due to the economic conditions in East Germany during that time, reconstruction was only possible after the two Germanys were reunited. Come 1992, the first of two bridges were built to provide street car service to Eckersbach from the city center. By that time, the old Bierbrücke had vanished into history. Two lears later, as part of the B-93 expressway project, the second bridge was built for traffic. Today’s Maritius Bridge is the gateway to Zwickau from neighboring Glauchau and points to the north along the expressway connecting the city with Leipzig.

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Paradise Bridge (Paradiesbrücke):

Germany was once known as a place filled with ornamental bridges built using unusual designs. Despite 90% of them being destroyed during the Third Reich and through the bombings in World War II, there are still some diamonds in the field that if found are worth researching and given its rightful honor. The Paradise Bridge, located at Nicolai and Reinsdorfer Strassen near the Nicolaischule and Eberts Palace is one of those bridges that deserves international accolades, as well as its neighbor upstream, the Röhrensteg.  Having been considered a cultural heritage site (Kultutdenkmal) by both the East German government and later by the State of Saxony since 1980, here are some interesting facts worth noting about this bridge:

1. The bridge was the first one of its kind that features a cantilever pony truss design. Furthermore, it was the only known cantilever truss bridge whose trusses are supported by only one tower. Before the completion of the new Küblers Bridge in Lunzenau, located 45 kilometers downstream, in 2017, none of the bridges known in the western hemisphere had had that unique design.

2. The bridge was built in 1900 by a bridge-building firm Beuchelt & Company in Grünberg in Schlesia (now part of Poland), replacing a covered bridge, which was one of over 30 that were built in Zwickau. The predecessor was built in 1694 by Johann Georg Findeisen from Schellenberg at a cost of 200 Taler. The covered bridge was one of the fanciest of the dozen built in Zwickau and it had come in response to multiple previous crossings that had been built but had survived briefly as they had been destroyed by ice jams, flooding and war. The Findeisen span had been in service for 306 years before it was decomissioned and dismantled in favor of the cantilever truss bridge.

3. The structure itself is 120 meters long, its tower is in the middle of the Mulde River. The width is 15 meters, counting the trusses. Since 1979 and inspite the restoration work in 2003, the bridge has been serving cyclist and pedestrian traffic, carrying a bike trail connecting Zwickau’s City Centre with Reinsdorf, located four kilometers to the east.

Its replacement structure is found 200 meters west of the bridge at Dr. Friedrichs Ring (Hwy. 173). That bridge, known as the Adolf Hennecke Bridge and later from 1990 onwards as the Glück-Auf-Brücke, was built in 1979 and connects Zwickau with Chemnitz to the southeast. That bridge is three times as long and twice as wide as the Paradiesbrücke, spanning the river, Highway B-93, the Mulde Bike Trail and Reinsdorfer Strasse.

4. When the bridge was renovated in 2003, the towers were crowned with finials resembling the Matthäus Kirche (St. Matthew’s Church) which was located 400 meters east of the entrance. Additional decorations on the trusses and ornamental lamps were also added making the bridge more attractive to tourists and passers-by.

5. The bridge is located near the site where a former mine and bridge building company used to be located. A memorial site with a miner resting with a beer in the hand can be seen 100 meters northeast of the city side of the entrance. It is also located near the Ebert Palace, whose finial towers can be seen above the trees at the bridge’s east entrance.

6. The bridge was the platform for several historical events affecting Zwickau and beyond. For instance, the name Paradies stammed from Martin Luther’s visit in Zwickau, where he crossed the bridge in rage after a row with the priests before entering a nearby house and declared: “Thank God I found this house. Here is my paradise.” The first was an open-air festival in 1847, featuring a concert by musicians Robert Schumann and his wife, Clara. For two weeks after the end of World War II, the bridge served as a temporary border crossing for American and Soviet troops. That ended in July 1945. And in 1956, a film production in Zwickau included a couple scenes on the bridge. The restoration of the bridge in 2002/03 came after floodwaters almost knocked the bridge off its piers. And most recently, an open-air cafe used to be on the bridge, which happened in 2017.

Any more reasons for listing this bridge on the UNESCO site in comparison with the nays? Check out this youtube video on this bridge:

 

 

 

 

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Pöhlau Railroad Bridge:

Located near the site of the International Trabant Museum, this bridge appears to be one of the newer truss bridges built no earlier than 25 years ago. While its light brown color makes it look rusty in appearance, its “molded” connections is typical for today’s truss bridges. The Warren through truss bridge with beam portals and Lattice truss overhead bracings used to serve a rail line connecting Pöhlau and Zwickau Central Station. The bridge and the line are now abandoned. Given its age and modern appearance, chances are this bridge will be reused at some point- either as a crossing for cyclists in its place, a street car crossing going south or a railroad crossing at a new location. Time will tell what the City of Zwickau will do with this structure.

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Röhrensteg:

Like the Paradiesbrücke, the Röhrensteg (translated as the Bridge of Pipes) is another key attraction for Zwickau which should receive international recognition for its design and function. The bridge’s history dates back over 500 years to 1535, when the bridge was first built. At that time, the people in Zwickau needed water for their personal and commercial use. Because the water of the Mulde was dirty and not drinkable, the only source of clean drinking water to be found was at a pond near Reinsdorf- three kilometers away from the bridge. Henceforth, workers created man-powered pumping stations and pipelines made of hard wood from oak trees. The trees were cut down, and after stripping the bark and outer layers, a hole with a diameter of 30 centemeters was dug out by hand, but not before having cut the wood into sections and then connecting them once the hole was “drilled.” The wooden pipeline then transported water down the hill and across this bridge before being distributed throughout the city. A section of this wooden pipeline can still be seen on the bridge, where the overhead beams are still supporting it, providing proof that this practice once existed. A total of at least 17 wooden pipelines had been built for the city of Zwickau to provide drinking water for the community, four fountains where the wooden pipes were connected dating back to the 1700s have been preserved as exhibits at the city center to show this unique engineering feat. This pipeline system was later replaced with more modern systems in the early 20th century, but the bridge itself has withstood the test of time and mother nature. Despite having had substantial damage during the flood of 1790, the Röhrensteg was rebuilt and has retained its original form ever since. The bridge has survived numerous floods and other natural disasters, even after new pier casings were installed in 1940 as part of the project to dredge the Mulde River.

In terms of its structure, the Röhrensteg is the only truss bridge (wooden or metal) to have two different designs and two different portals. The bridge features a three-span Queenpost truss design on the western side and a subdivided Warren truss on the eastern side. A-frame portal bracing is found on the city side, X-frame lattice with heel bracings on the Reinsdorf side. Endposts with 45° angles can be found at each portal; together with the wooden siding lining up between the bridge and the abutment, this makes the Röhrensteg one of the most unusual covered bridges to have ever been built. Roofing is of hip style with an angle of 45°, which is similar to the covered bridges found in Switzerland. The bridge serves a bike trail connecting Zwickau’s southern part and Reinsdorf via Oberhohnsdorf, serving as a spur to the Mulde Bike trail that careens along the river.

Despite its unusual design and multi-functionality, the bridge is showing its age, and therefore needed to be rehabilitated. This work was completed during three quarters of 2018, having been reopened to traffic in January 2019. Details can be found here. Prior to the rehabilitation,  new approach spans on the Reinsdorf side and the pier casing had been built,  no extensive work has been done on the bridge prior to its extensive work. More on the work can be found here.

A youtube video on the Röhrensteg takes you across the bridge and to the pipes found in the superstructure itself. Check it out:

 

 

 

Röhrensteg after its reopening in 2019:

 
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Schedewitz Bridges (New Schedewitz Bridge and Bockwaer Brücke):

Located in the suburb bearing the bridge’s name, the next two bridges are located only 200 meters from each other, each spanning the Mulde. The older bridge is a two-span Warren deck truss without verticals but with stone arch approach spans. Built in 1890, this bridge used to connect the suburbs of Schedewitz and Bockwa, hence it was known by locals as the Bockwaer Brücke. Its predecessors consisted of a multiple-span stone arch bridge that was built in 1842. The northern two spans of this bridge were preserved and used as approach spans for the Warren truss spans. Yet the first crossing was a covered bridge, which was built in 1661. The bridge used to serve a key route along the Silver Road, connecting Zwickau with Schneeberg via Wiesenburg. Much of that route has been taken over by the federal highway B-93.  Furthermore, the bridge used to have a streetcar route and a two-lane vehicular crossing.

Because of flood damage in 1954, contract was let to the local bridge building firm VEB Brückenbauwerk Zwickau in 1956 to build its replacement span, located 200 meters downstream at the site where the crossing exists today.  The new span features a three-span concrete cantilever span, with a length of 70 meters, accommodating four-lanes of traffic plus sidewalks. Construction lasted two years due to difficulties digging through the steep cliffs, requiring the use of explosives before the cliffs were dug out. The road was then laid out, which included a side road that would connect with the main route from the old Bockwaer Brücke before continuing onto Schneeberg. . This was useful for the highway was later extended to the south enroute to Reinsdorf, the motorway exit Zwickau-Ost and later Hartenstein.  The new bridge has been serving traffic for over 60 years but age and wear and tear may warrant a much-needed rehabilitation in the future.

As for the Bockwaer Brücke, once the new Schedewitz Bridge was opened to traffic in 1958, work commenced to remove the street car tracks, plus halve the roadway to a point where only bikes and pedestrians could use the old bridge. The bridge was then raised 2 meters to avoid damming the river in the event of flooding. Today, the bridge still serves cyclists and pedestrians but work may be needed to make the structure more functionable. Already the Zwickau City Council rejected a proposal to rehabilitate the bridge in 2017, which raises questions on the bridge’s future. Will there be enough locals willing to convince the city council to reconsider, or will indifference and a strive for modernization doom the old structure, whose history is worth preserving, especially as it is part of the history of Zwickau and the Silver Road?

 

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Cainsdorf Bridge:

Another important crossing to mention is the Cainsdorf Bridge. While little has been written about its history, the 1929 two-span steel deck plate girder span crosses the Zwickau Mulde at the railroad station along the Zwickau-Aue-Johanngeorgenstadt line. The bridge connects Cainsdorf and areas to the west and the eastern edge of Zwickau between Oberhohndorf and the city of Wilkau-Hasslau and provides the lone access to the Planitz district, which includes a restored castle and church, where the present-day Clara Wieck Gymnasium is located.  Sadly, the bridge’s condition has deteriorated to a point where only a three-ton limit has been enforced for all vehicles except the city’s bus line. The good news is the bridge is expecting a replacement bridge, to be built on a new alignment connecting both areas, but towards the Oberhohndorf district, thus cutting down the time needed to get to one’s destination in either way. Construction is expected to start in 2019 and finish by 2021. Afterwards, the historic bridge will undergo a thorough rehabilitation that will prolong its life but also allow for only cyclists and pedestrians to cross. This will be a big advantage especially those wishing to catch the train from the train station next to the bridge. A win-win situation that many locals with ties to the bridge will benefit from. 

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Wilkau-Hasslau Pedestrian Bridge: 

Five kilometers further upstream and biking past the Cainsdorf Bridge is the pedestrian bridge at Wiklau-Hasslau, the southernmost suburb of Zwickau. There, one will find a rather unique pedestrian bridge. Built in 2004, the bridge features a pen-like tower, with cables supporting the roadway and the tower itself. The roadway has a curve, allowing cyclist from the east side and Schneeberg to enter as a ramp, as it curves to the right towards the west end. The 145 meter long pedestrian bridge crosses the Mulde River and a pair of railroad tracks that provide train service between Zwickau and Aue to the south. The valley’s hilly and wooded scenery is what the Wilkau-Hasslau Pedestrian Bridge has to offer- along with a short break at a modernized city center, which has a weekly market- before biking on to some more bridges. The tower has a height of 32.2 meters, making it the tallest bridge in Zwickau. Yet to the south of the bridge is an even taller bridge carrying the Motorway A 72. Built in 1995, that bridge spans the deepest of the Mulde River valley in Zwickau, but is the second longest bridges along the stretch between Hof (Bavaria) and Chemnitz.

 

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Kirchberg (Mulde) Bridge:

To the north of the pedestrian bridge is the Kirchberg Bridge,  perhaps the longest of the “at-level” river crossings over the Zwickau Mulde in the greater Zwickau area. When looking at the bridge from the pedestrian bridge, one could guess that the stone arch bridge, built using sandstone, had three arches. Yet when walking along the streets of Wilkau-Hasslau to get a better, closer look at the bridge, one can see the number of spans being more than double. In fact, eight spans glide over the river and the flood bed with a total length of between 300 and 400 meters. Records reveal that the Luten arch structure was built in 1867 but it appears to have been widened in the early 1990s to better accomodate traffic between the joint community (which was established in 1934) and Kirchberg, located five kilometers to the southwest. This bridge has shown its age as cracks are appearing in the stone arches. Despite emergency repairs in 2018, a full-blown rehabilitation project to prolong the crossing will most likely occur sometime in 2020. When this happens, most likely the West German style flourescent lighting will disappear in favor of fancier, ornamental lanterns with LED-lighting, which will present a more appropriate flavor for Wilkau-Hasslau.

 

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Motorway 72 Viaduct

The tallest and longest of Zwickau’s bridges is not located in Zwickau directly, but in neighboring city Wilkau-Hasslau on the south end. The motorway viaduct was originally built in 1937-39 as part of the construction of the motorway connecting Hof with Chemnitz. Ironically, the entire stretch of the highway was not finished until 1993 due to delays caused by World War II and the division of Germany that followed. This stretch was the last built prior to the start of the war and would be used heavily after the war ended. The motorway viaduct continued service until 1995, when it was replaced with a new steel girder viaduct span, built on the piers of the original bridge. The total length is 670 meters with a height of 50 meters, making it one of the longest along the original stretch. It can be seen when entering Wilkau-Hasslau from the northern side.

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Marienthal Viaduct

Approximately 350 meters north of the Central Railway Station is the Marienthal Viaduct- the only bridge in this tour guide that does not span the Zwickau Mulde. Spanning a small but deep creek as well as Werdauer Strasse, the eight-span stone arch bridge is the longest in Zwickau, with a total length of 94 meters. With a height of 14 meters above the ground, it is also the highest. If counting the Motorway 72 Viaduct in Wilkau-Hasslau, it is the second longest in this tour guide. The viaduct is the shortest of the noted viaducts along the Nuremberg-Hof-Dresden Magistrate with the next ones in both directions being at least twice as long. The bridge was built in 1869 as the railroad was being built for Zwickau from the east. It was built using red brick, sandstone and porphyr. The bridge still sees use on a daily basis for as many as 10 trains cross this bridge per hour; most of them passenger train services connecting Zwickau with Glauchau, Chemnitz and Dresden. Albeit a regional service route, it is expected that this route will be connected to the long-distance train in the future, for the Bahn plans to electrify the line south of Hof and in the end have InterCity trains going from Dresden to Munich.

A map of the bridges in Zwickau is enclosed in case you would like to visit the bridges yourself. Some of the bridges are mystery bridges where an article has been written on each one and can be found in the Chronicles. Others feature just a pic of the bridge indicating its existence but has no information on it to date.

If you have any more information on Zwickau’s bridges that need to be added, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact form below. All information will be added to this guide.

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The Bridges of Glauchau (Saxony), Germany

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There is a philosophy pertaining to visiting a town that makes tourism unique and interesting: Always look for the most uncommon and unvisited places first before visiting the main attractions. They have the most valuable information and features that will make you leave town knowing a bit more than before.

Glauchau, located in western Saxony approximately 20 kilometers west of Chemnitz and 13 kilometers north of neighboring Zwickau is a typical farming community. Yet despite having 23,000 residents, the community, which has a historic city center and two castles, is known for its serenity, as there is not much activity directly in the city, but more in the areas full of green, thanks to its parks, the Glauchau Reservoir and the green areas along the Zwickauer Mulde River. Here’s a sample of what a person can see while spending time in this quiet community:

And while I was there for an interview for a teaching position at an international school, I was reminded of the philosophy mentioned at the beginning, when it came to relics of the past. While the community was once a pub for the textile industry, it also has a set of historic bridges that are worth visiting. One of which was a viaduct spanning a street and valley, which provided a spectacular view of the northwestern end of Glauchau. Once crossing that enroute to the interview and realizing that I had a long waiting time to catch the returning train to Jena in Thuringia, it became my mission to see what other bridges are worth the visit. And sure enough, enough diamonds in the rough were discovered, which were enough to justify constructing a tour guide showing the readers where these bridges can be found and thus encouraging people to visit them in addition to the town’s historic city center. A map and link to a gallery of photos can be found at the end of the article.

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Lungwitzbach Railroad Viaducts:

When arriving at Glauchau Railway Station from Dresden and Chemnitz, this bridge pairing will greet you, as you cross Lungwitzsbach Creek and the parallel street leading to St. Egedien. Both structures are at least a century old, but each one having a different design and built using different materials. The sandy grey structure with dark brown arches is the most heavily traveled and also the oldest of the two, having been built in the 1860s and is part of the magistrate connecting Dresden with Zwickau and Hof. The bridge has seven arches and and each spandrel is partially closed, for half-circle openings appear, one on each end of the arch. The bridge appears to have been rehabilitated between five and ten years ago, with the line being electrified and the bridge strengthened to provide more trains along the line. One can see the work with the concrete shelves sticking out between the arches, where each overhead pole sits.

The sandy brown colored bridge next to it features a three-span open spandrel arch bridge, totaling three spans. The spandrels have an arch top- for each arch span, there are three spandrels on each side. That structure only serves freight traffic although it had previously served a railway line along the Zwickauer Mulde, connecting Penig, Rochlitz and Grimma. Both bridges are about 200 meters long and have two tracks each. It is unknown who was behind the design and construction of the two bridges, but they are considered the longest in Glauchau and ones that are a must-see when spending time there.

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Am Schafteich Railroad Bridge:

Spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River, this bridge is the nearest of the two arch bridges to greet passengers when entering Glauchau Railway Station from the west (Erfurt, Meerane and Zwickau). This bridge is the gateway to the industrial park, where automobile parts are produced for Volkswagen, whose production facility is located between Glauchau and Zwickau. The structure features three closed spandrel arch spans, the longest (which spans the river) is built using limestone and is about 80 meters. The side arches are built using sandstone and limestone, thus creating a unique color and pattern combination. Each of the spans are about 30 meters, one of which crosses the street. The bridge is the most difficult to photograph because three fourths of the structure is on private property and is fenced off. The last fourth features trees, tall bushes and no sidewalk, thus the risk is great when photographing the structure, as you can see in the pics. The bridge is at least 120 years old but serves the magistrate between Dresden and Hof via Zwickau but also the line between Erfurt and Glauchau. This line is part of the planned Mitteldeutschland Route, connecting Chemnitz with Cologne via Erfurt, Kassel and Gera. It is expected that InterCity trains will start serving the line by 2023, thus making Glauchau a train stop for long-distance trains for the first time since 2006.

 

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King Albert Bridge before its replacement in 1955. Photo courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

King Albert Bridge (a.k.a. Lower Mulde Bridge)

 When traveling west on Auer Strasse in the direction of Gesau, you will not recognize the bridge after you cross it, going past the beverage store Getränkewelt on the left side. If anything, it is just a typical beam bridge with railings, that’s all. You will also not recognize its historic appearance unless you do one of the following:

1. Pull into the parking lot of the beverage store, go into the Mulde, swim underneath the bridge and get a shot on the opposite end (as the front side has another bridge carrying a pipeline over it.

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  1. Cross the street onto the flower bed of a nearby proprietor, walk the line along the curb bordering the flower bed (without stepping into it) and get an oblique shot from the building.

Being dressed in a suit with no SCUBA equipment for a special occasion, I elected the second option, even though it would have been funny and interesting to try the first option.

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But the photo opportunity is well worth it.

The current structure, built in 1955, is a single-span stone arch bridge, carrying a concrete decking. Given the scarcity of materials needed for bridge building because of the after-effects of World War II combined with the Soviet occupation of the eastern half of Germany, many of the new structures were constructed using concrete and/or with minimal quality and using either beam or truss structures. This bridge was probably built using stone bricks that originated from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) and was cut on site to fit the structure that is 35 meters long and 25 meters wide.

Its predecessor however consisted of a Parker through truss bridge built in 1888 and was, according to local historical accounts,  one of a few Glauchau bridges built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich.  The bridge featured riveted connections among the trusses, v-lacing on its overhead bracing and upper chords and a vertical endposts. Also included were ornametal lampposts on both ends of the bridge, featuring spirals and spherical shapes with an oval-shaped glass cover for lighting.

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Postcard of the bridge before World War II. Courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

The bridge’s original wood decking was replaced in 1927 with a combination of concrete and brick to accommodate increasing traffic loads. 11 years later,  a new coating of paint was needed, which kept the bridge from rusting and thus prolonging its lifespan.  Sadly, even though the bridge survived two World Wars, it was closed to traffic in 1954 because of rust and corrosion on the trusses, including the lower chord. At the same time,  plans for a new bridge commenced, which was realized one year later.

The King Albert Bridge, named after the King of Saxony who was also the member of the House of Wettin, may be just a typical bridge for the City of Glauchau, yet never judge it by its appearance just by crossing it. The treasure can be found in the water, whose historic value will make the writer and historian think twice before writing it off as a typical piece of concrete over a body of water.

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Gründelteich Bridge and Statue

Located at the southeast end of Gründelteich pond near the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this bridge has been in service since the 1880s as it served as the lone access to the island. The history behind the island is that it was named in honor of Heinrich Carl Hedrich (1816-1900), who spent most of his life in Glauchau and left a mark in the city’s history. Hedrich was responsible for the rechanneling of the (Zwickauer) Mulde while reconstructing the dam that had been destroyed by flooding in 1839. Furthermore, he invented Germany’s  first modern water main system running through the community, providing drinking water to the households, while also channeling water away from the Zwickauer Mulde. In addition to the construction of the mills and dams, Hedrich harnessed electricity through hydroelectric power. The people in Glauchau benefitted from his inventions, and Hedrich was awarded with a head statue and an monument with a golden angel in 1884, about the same time this bridge was built. The decking, railings and piers appear to be at least 45 years old, yet the design of the bridge is the same as the original built in 1884.

 

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Upper Mulde Bridge- the replacement bridge (left) and the original bridge with ornamental railings on the right side. Photo courtesy of Ulrich Schleife

Meeraner Strasse (Upper Mulder ) Bridge

 The Meerane Strasse is one of two major streets that have bridges crossing the Mulde River and its diversion arm (Flutgraben). This bridge is located at the junction with Lindenstrasse and by first glance, one will see a typical 90s style concrete deck girder with vertical lining and orange railings. A rather bland structure unless you have a quick blick at the abutments of an older bridge on the right hand side going west towards the Flutgraben crossing. That bridge had a history of its own as it was a steel pony girder bridge with Town Lattice truss features. Ithel Town created this unique truss design in 1820 that consisted of interwoven diagonal beams. This truss type was common on many wooden covered bridges in the United States, but also among many metal truss bridges in Europe, especially those carrying rail traffic.

The Meerane Bridge was constructed back in the 1880s and was claimed by historic resources to have been built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich. Yet the exact date of construction remains unknown. It is known that the structure, which was about 35 meters long and 15 meters wide, was replaced at the time of the Fall of the Berlin Wall because of age and structural deterioration. A concrete bridge was built alongside the old structure, thus allowing for the continuation of traffic between Glauchau and Meerane on the old one. After traffic was diverted onto the new structure, the old one was removed and scrapped.

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THE THREE BRIDGES TO THE “HOLY LAND”

 While Glauchau has eight bridges and a dam spanning the Mulde and its diversion canal Flutgraben, one unique feature that makes the city special are the bridges on the hill leading to its historic city center and castles. Dubbed as the Bridges to the Holy Land, each of the three spans consist of arch bridges crossing deep gorges that serve as drainage to the Mulde. Each of the gorges are approximately 20-25 meters deep. From the flood bed of the Mulde, the height of the bridges is approximately 75 meters high, and given the fact that Glauchau was once a walled city and it has a strong religious core- laden with a variety of denominations- one could christen the name of the bridges along Otto-Schimmel-Strasse and Leipziger Strasse  between the train station and the castles “The Three Bridges to the Holy Land,” named after the Three Wise Men who brought Baby Jesus gifts and blessed Him on what it today called Day of Epiphany (January 6th). Yet that interpretation would be a bit far-fetched if one is either a non-denominational or an atheist.

Even though one of the arch bridges no longer exists (Nicolas Tower and Bridge), all three bridges still serve it purpose of serving traffic and providing commerce to the city center. We will look at all three bridges going towards that “Holy Land”, beginning with the youngest and longest of the three.

 

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Scherberg Bridge

Spanning Talstrasse at Otto-Schimmel-Strasse  and Leipziger Strasse, the Scherberg Bridge is a cross between modernitity and history as the 1920s structure features a concrete closed spandrel Luten arch main span and two circular mini-spans implanted in the wingwall on each side. Furthermore, Art Greco patterns can be seen in the main arch span. A shield representing the City of Glauchau can be seen on the east end on the right of the main arch span. Construction started in 1921, and despite two harsh winters, combined with a lack of personnel and high inflation upping the cost for the bridge because of the aftereffects of World War I and the Marseilles Treaty respectively, the bridge was dedicated on 29 April, 1923. The bridge was deemed a necessity because of the need to connect the city center and the train station, which was completed three years after the bridge opened. Prior to the bridge, accessing the city center was as difficult as Moses climbing the Mountain to meet God and receive the 10 Commandments. Delivery with horse and buggy had to be made by zigzagging up several streets and dealing with gorges and other obstacles. The plan for the bridge had been created in 1909 but work never commenced because of the war, plus hefty discussions regarding the necessity of the bridge. Despite all the aforemetioned adversities affecting Glauchau, the city mayor Otto Schimmel had the final word in favor of the bridge, which has a total length of 97 meters  (the main span is 35 meters), 14 meters wide and 28 feet above Talstrasse.  The bridge was rehabilitated in 2011, which included repairs to the structure, new decking and lighting and new paint- especially with the shield. The bridge may look just like new, but the 94-year old structure is one of the symbols that represent the city of Glauchau.  The Scherberg Bridge serves as a posterboy for other arch bridges of this caliber that exist in the US and elsewhere, many of which are in danger of being demolished and replaced.

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Gottessackbrücke (a.k.a. Postbrücke)

The next bridge along the Road to the Holy Land is the Postbrücke. Spanning another gorge (which is accompanied with a path down to the residential area) carrying Leipziger Strasse, this masonry stone arch bridge is the shortest of the three bridges, having a span of 15 meters and a width of 12 meters. Built in 1887, it is located next to the historic post office, which had existed much longer than the bridge itself. Apart from some minor structural work on the bridge, the Postbrücke has maintained its historic integrity, while serving traffic between the city center and the district of Gottessack (God’s Sack), north of the structure. The area features several historic, but empty buildings that are ripe for restoration and reuse, making Glauchau even better than it is now.

 

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Nicolas Tower and Bridge

 The last bridge going to the city center is the Nicolas Tower and Bridge. While no date has been pinpointed to the bridge, it was believed to have been just as old as the tower itself. The Nicolas Tower served as the main entrance to the city center, which had once been walled on all sides, with watch towers and the castles that were included. It is safe to say that the entrance to the walled town was through the Hintere Schlossbrücke on the south side (still extant) and the Nicolas Tower and Bridge on the north side. While the tower may have been built during the Medieval era as part of the project to make Glauchau a walled city, records indicated that the tower was rebuilt from the ground up in 1741. It featured a living quarters above the gate, where the watchman and his family lived, and was later decorated with a church bell by the Lord Albert Christian Ernst in 1758. A clock was later added to the gate. Because of its narrowness combined with the increase in traffic and damage caused by lightning and high winds, the tower was replaced in 1890, but the bridge itself remained in service until 1965. A mural depicting the tower can be seen at the site where it once stood as you cross the bridge, yet a mini-replica can be found in the city museum.

 

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Remains of the watch tower and the walls of the historic city on the northwest corner (JS)

The Nicolas Bridge featured two different arch bridges- one made of concrete and one made of brick, whereas the former may date back to the time of the castle and the brick span was later added in the early 1800s. The bridge also featured a series of steps to encourage people walking along the path along the creek to use it to go to the bridge and the city center.  Sadly, due to structural damage caused by bombings in World War II and later deterioration because of the increase in automobile traffic, the bridges had to be demolished in 1965. The older arch was first removed, followed by the other arch as soon as the replacement structure was in place and opened to traffic.  It is hard to believe that, despite looking like a bridge built in the 1990s, today’s structure is 52 years old. But part of that was because of the rehabilitation work done in 2003-4 to keep the 33.3 meter long bridge open to traffic. Its width of 19.6 meters include 6.1 meters for pedestrians, and its height of 9 meters above the gorge provides viewers with a glimpse of the gorge and the valley of the Mulde, filled with houses and green landscape. The bridge provides good commerce as many stores line up along the street between the bridge and the Postbrücke, but also towards the city center.

 

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Waldenburger Viaduct

The Waldenburger Viaduct is one of three stone arch viaducts serving the rail lines passing through Glauchau. All of them appear to have been built in the 1860s as the rail lines between Glauchau and Werdau were established. This bridge features three arch spans- the center for vehicular traffic, the outer for the cyclists and pedestrians. With the renewed electrification of the line in the early 2000s, this bridge was renovated as part of the plan to reintroduce InterCity trains between Chemnitz and Cologne via Jena, Erfurt and Kassel. By 2023, InterCity trains are expected to stop in Glauchau from Hof (South), Dresden (East) and Cologne (West). Until then, passengers have only the regional trains connecting the town with Meerane, Gößnitz and Gera to the west as well as those going to Zwickau and Aue to the south and those going to Chemnitz and Dresden to the east, to contend with. But subtracting that, the bridge is one of the nicer structures to visit while in Glauchau but one that stands out in the face of buildings that are victims of either neglect or modernization. If one can detect this bridge early, it is not a miss. Otherwise, it is drowned out by these factors.

 

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Zimmerstrasse Covered Bridge:

Located behind the Wehrdigtschule, this bridge is an easy miss if one goes past it along Lindenstrasse. But its history dates back to the 19th century, when the establishment of factories and residential areas to the west of town necessitated the need for crossings over the Mulde. This crossing was one of four that were built under the direction of Hedrich (the same person responsible for the modern water main lines, mills and the dam), but six additional ones were built after the turn of the century. While the original crossing was most likely destroyed in World War II, this bridge took its place many years later. Between 15 and 25 years old, this wooden Pratt truss bridge is quite modern for a covered bridge but one that gives the nearby schools at Wehrdigt and the Saxony International Elementary School some charm, especially as children and teachers can utilize this crossing for safety and receational purposes.

This bridge was the lone structure I could not find during my first trip through Glauchau, but I recently visited the bridge in September during a tour to Zwickau and found some details worth noting: The bridge is made of wood but with steel bracing, and the connections are pin-connected, some of which featured steel gusset plates embedded into the wooden beams and then bolted with steel, as you can see in the picture above. One cannot see that with other covered bridges unless it’s modern, thus supporting my previous argument of its age. In either case, the bridge is heavily used, especially by school children. 🙂

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Hirschgrund Viaduct at the Castle Complex

Hirschgrund Viaduct:

Located at the southern entrance to the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this five-span concrete and stone arch bridge spans a deep valley and judging by the appearance, is perhaps the oldest bridge in Glauchau, having been built at the same time as the castle itself in the 17th Century. The structure was needed to provide passage into and out of the castle, while the valley floor used to be a moat, used to keep intruders from attacking the castle from the outside. Today’s bridge serves pedestrians, but given its appearance, it would cause an American bridge builder to sound off the alarm regarding structural deficiencies, calling for the demolition and replacement with something resembling a bridge at Walt Disney World in Florida. Fortunately, engineers recognize the bridge’s importance and have been working to stabilize the structure, while at the same time, maintain its original form. However, planning is in the works to rehabilitate and restore the bridge to its original form, which is scheduled to start in July 2018 and expected to take 1-2 years to complete. After 40 years of neglect, the bridge will be reopened again, connecting the castle complex with the park.

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Fordere Glauchau Castle Bridges

Fordere and Hintere Glauchau Castle Bridges:

There are as many bridges at the Castle Complex in Glauchau as the number of castles itself. If counting the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a total of six bridges serve the the two castles that are jointly connected. There are two stone arch bridges that are part of the original Fordere Castle that was built in 1470 and is still considered the oldest Rennaissance castle in the region. Not much has been written about the castle’s history except for the fact that there were three periods of construction involving this Baroque-style castle: between 1470 and 1485, between 1520 and 1534 and in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Hintere Castle was constructed in the 16th Century, and with that, there are three bridges- two connecting the two castles and one connecting the castle with the inner courtyard.  The viaduct connected the castle complex and the park and was built last, having been completed in the 17th Century. All in all, the crossings served their purpose of allowing people to enter and exit the castles without having to worry about drawbridges over moats or even trying to ford the crossing. The crossings at Fordere Castle are only 20 meters apart, still though, they also serve as a good observation deck, where one can see much of Glauchau and its landscape as far as the eye can see. As the castles and the city center are on a high hill, that serves as a big advantage for tourists and photographers alike. 🙂 The crossings at Hintere Castle are inter-connected with the one to the courtyard being 25 meters away from the two enclosed ones, yet the latter provides a good view of the viaduct and the park. 🙂 The Castle Complex is still open for tourists and hosts several events, however changes are being made to make the complex more attractive. And with that the bridges will continue to serve the castle, just like in the Baroque Times.

Hintere Glauchau Bridges:

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Flutgraben Crossings:

Also noteworthy of the tour in Glauchau are the crossings along the Flutgraben. The diversion canal bypasses the city on the west side, extending from the north end east of Jerisau Bridge down south to the Glauchau Reservoir, a distance of six river kilometers. And while there are four crossings that are either as long or longer than the Scherberg Bridge, there is a sad history that is in connection with the Flutgraben. On 31 July, 1858, high water from the Mulde devastated much of the residential areas in Glauchau, causing enough damage to make the houses and apartments unliveable. It was afterwards that the city decided to construct a diversion canal, bypassing Glauchau to the west to alleviate the flow of water in the event of the flooding. Construction lasted until 1890 but not before having removed as many as seven dozen houses, buildings and other properties- many of them were empty or unliveable. The width of the canal is the same as the river itself, yet the flood plain is four times as wide as the canal, and with a depth of 3-4 meters, it would accomodate unusually high flows of water.

Four bridges span the Flutgraben, including the railroad bridge that carries both the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate and the Glauchau-Jena-Erfurt rail line. The Nordufer Bridge at Auer Strasse is the oldest remaining bridge along the canal, while the Meerane and Jerisau Bridges were built in the late 1990s and still accomodate major traffic in and out of Glauchau. Additionally, a dam at the Reservoir, dating back to the 1930s is still in use to control the flow of water from the Mulde. Here is a brief summary of each one:

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Nordufer Bridge

Nordufer Bridge:

At over 200 meters spanning the outer channel of the Mulde, the Nordufer Bridge is the oldest of the existing bridges along this channel. As a key link to Zwickau, it is also the busiest as 30 vehicles cross the bridge per minute. The 50+ year old bridge, which is characterized by its expansion and contracting rollers, has shown significant signs of wear and tear with cracks and spalling appearing on the girder spans. It is likely, given its approximate location near the industrial area and the Saxony International School, it will be replaced in the next decade. The structure carries Hwy. 175 which connects Glauchau with Zwickau.

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Expansion Device: The Roller

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Meerane Bridge

Meerane Bridge:

Located over the Flutgraben at the junction of Meeraner Strasse and Sachsenallee, this bridge was one of the first to have been built at this location after the diversion canal was built. After the Flood of 1858, the city council decided to construct the canal to divert water away from Glauchau, despite successful attempts by Heinrich Hedrich to construct the first drainage system in Germany serving the city. A wooden bridge was built to cross the area where the canal was being built, yet was replaced with a steel trestle at the conclusion of the canal project in 1890. The bridge featured a Bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge divided into three spans. That bridge was later replaced with a concrete girder bridge in 1949, which was later replaced with its current structure some 50 years later. The cantilever deck bridge continues to serve traffic to Gesau and Meerane to the west and is located next to the sports complex where the soccer team Empor Glauchau has its headquarters.  The bridge used to be called the Orphanage Bridge as there was an orphanage located near the site where the diversion canal was located. Built in 1859, the facility housed orphans for 150 years.

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Jerisau Bridge

Jerisau Bridge:

Spanning the Flutgraben at the junction of Waldeburger Strasse and Hochuferstrasse (B-175 Bypass), this bridge connects Glauchau’s northern industrial district with the suburb Jerisau. Before the bypass was built, the bridge carried Highway B-175 through Jerisau enroute to Waldenburg, seven kilometers northeast of Glauchau. The Bypass was built to alleviate traffic and to provide better access to the Autobahn 4. The present bridge, a concrete cantilever span, was built in 1998, with a length of 97 meters- 15 more than its predecessor, a five-span concrete beam bridge built in 1949. This bridge may have followed the footsteps of the Meerane Bridge in terms of the types of bridges that had been built and replaced since the diversion canal was built in 1890.

 

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Leitschutzdamm

Leitschutzdamm at Glauchau Reservoir:

Located near the Glauchau Reservoir, this dam was built for the purpose of rechanneling the Mulde in the event of flooding. That means all excessive water flow through the dam and along the outer channel, alleviating the flow of water along the main river going through town without flooding it. Despite being built in the 1980s, sources indicated that a previous dam was built in the early 1930s, possibly replacing an even earlier one.  When water is diverted towards the town, one can see some unique patters in the channel bed when little water is flowing, as seen in the pic below. The dam acts as a crossing, enabling cyclists and pedestrians to go in the direction of the southern countryside.

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South Dam and Bridge

South Dam and Bridge:

Located over the Mulde at Wehrstrasse, west of Grundelteich, this bridge is one of the oldest in Glauchau, having been built in the late 1890s. This is recognizable with the cast iron railings and its approximate location to the mill and an unusual water silo. It is possible that this bridge was one of four built by Hedrich, but more information is needed to confirm these claims.

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Close-up of the cast iron railings

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The Wave (Wernsdorfer Welle):

This bridge, spanning the Mulde in the southern suburb of Wernsdorf, was one that was completely missed while on tour. The reason: Upon arrival at the crossing, I found the bridge to not exist anymore. I later found out in my research that the bridge had been removed due to structural concerns. In addition, as the region was prone to flooding, dikes needed to be reinforced to keep the waters of the Mulde from flooding the corn fields.  Prior to its demise, the Chemnitz Free Press wrote a eulogy about the structure and its time as a crossing, which can be summarized as follows:

The bridge was built in 1954 to replace a wooden bridge that had been washed away by flooding. It was a simple beam bridge of six spans, built of concrete and steel, and had once been used as main traffic between the village of Wernsdorf and all points going to the south and west. After sustaining damage by  the flooding in 2013, the structure was closed to all traffic, and officials in Wernsdorf and Glauchau worked on a plan to replace the bridge as it served as a vital link, not just for cyclists and locals, but also for farmers. After the plan for a new bridge had been unveiled, the old structure was demolished in April 2016. Despite delays in finishing the project, due to unfavorable weather conditions and the construction of a new bike path connecting the structure with the sports complex, the bridge was dedicated to recreational traffic on 20 June, 2017. Currently, The Wave serves bikers, equestrians and walkers and is part of the Mulde Bike Trail network again, re-establishing a link between Glauchau, Wernsdorf and neighboring villages to the south.

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As one can see in the pics, the philosophy holds true regarding historic places in a community. Glauchau may be considered a ghost town with little or no activity, a town with two castles and a well-networked school system educating people from different nationalities, a farming community, and one laden with places of Christianity. However, in my visit, I found out by chance that the town is laden with diamonds in the rough as far as history is concerned. No one (on the outside) knew about Heinrich Carl Hedrich’s contributions until my visit, let alone the bridges with either a vast amount of documented history or a potential of finding some history about them. Sometimes it takes some tours with the bike and a good camera to find out the sides of a community that no one knew about. With Glauchau, there was more to know about the town than before, and when viewing these bridges, perhaps others will be willing to contribute to the history of the community in western Saxony. 🙂

For more on the places visited in Glauchau, there are a couple useful links that are of use:

Map of Glauchau and the Bridges:

Gallery of Photos of the Places in Glauchau, which you can see here: 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1149254905105157.1073741854.100000619742271&type=1&l=61ee592055

 

Glauchau’s Christmas Market courtesy of The Flensburg Files:

https://flensburgerfiles.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/2016-christmas-market-tour-glauchau-saxony/

 

The author would like to thank the City of Glauchau and its office of planning, Ulrich Schleife and the crew at Glauchau-City for their contribution to this tour guide. Without your help, we would not have found out more about the city’s bridges than what I discovered as a photographer and pontist. May God bless you for your help.  🙂

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