Historic Bridge in Minnesota for sale- Any takers

Petersen Bridge
Photo by John Weeks III

NEW ULM, MINNESOTA (USA)- Officials from the Brown County Highway Department have a historic bridge for sale and for those interested, all you need is a plan to present and a dollar to pay. The Petersen Bridge spans the Minnesota River, carrying Rennville County Highway 3 and Brown County Highway 8. It’s approximately 7 miles SE of Franklin and 20 river miles NW of New Ulm. Also known as the Eden Bridge, it features a two-span Warren pony truss bridge with riveted connections. It was built in 1918 and has a total length of 250 feet- the largest span is 81 feet. The bridge has been considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

In a statement by Brown County:

Because the bridge has a visually-low profile (being a pony truss rather than a through-truss), and because there is flexibility to omit approach spans as needed, the bridge could fit well into any number of urban or rural settings

The bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places but needs to be replaced with a wider structure. The county hopes to find a new owner who can reuse the bridge on a trail, in a park, or in a similar setting.

The bridge has been closed to traffic since 2017 and work is underway to replace the historic bridge with a modern one, with the project set to begin later this year at the earliest.

Those interested in purchasing and repurposing the bridge can obtain a package by clicking here. It includes the contact information for the Brown County Highway Engineer in case there are questions or if you are interested in taking the bridge.

The deadline for all entries is June 30th, 2021 at 4pm local time. More information on the bridge can be found via bridgehunter.com, here as well as John Weeks website, here.

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Note: While you are at it, there is a tour guide on the bridges of New Ulm which may be of interest of you. Have a look by clicking here. An interesting story on New Ulm can be found in the Flensburg Files by clicking here.

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 59

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The first pic of the week since the move is actually a throwback to last year’s trip to the US. During a week-long stay in Pittsburgh visiting friends and doing some activities, we ran across the first of two bridges, spanning the tracks of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad at West Park. The two spans are nearly identical: Warren pony trusses built in three sets of ten panels (the middle one used to divide the street), each having V-shaped alternating vertical beams and vertical connections. Each were built in 1903 by the Fort Pitt Bridge Works Company in Pittsburgh. The only difference is the fact that they are located 400 feet from each other- one crossing at Ohio Street and this one at Ridge Avenue. Sadly, both spans have been closed for over a decade and were scheduled to be removed at the time of the visit. Yet during the visit in 2018, the two structures were still standing- rather untouched except by nature and walkers who can climb over or pass through the barriers to get to the nearby Children’s Museum on the east end. As both bridges are still standing as of present and are in a park setting, a word of advice to the City of Pittsburgh: If you are cash-strapped and are struggling to catch up on the infrastructural woes (and there are still some since the visit), why not rehab the bridge and make one crossing for cars and another for recreational purposes? It’s affordable. It can generate tourism- especially if you want to add plaques, picnic areas and the like. And it would solve the problem of forcing drivers to take a long detour, which is costly- both financially as well as for the environment. As we’re looking for ways to green up our planet and reduce carbon dioxide levels, it is something to think about.

 

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Call to Action to Save the Route 66 Gasconade Bridge

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Photo courtesy of James Baughn

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HAZELGREEN, MISSOURI- The days of the Gasconade River Bridge, which used to carry US Hwy. 66 near Hezelgreen may be numbered as it faces demolition scheduled for Spring of 2020 unless a new owner can be found.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) has placed the 95-year old bridge under a 30-day public review and comment period which is halfway through its time and is scheduled to be completed by July 5th.  The historic bridge was built in 1924 by MODOT and consists of (from west to east) one 8-panel Warren pony truss with alternating verticals, two 8-panel Parker through trusses and one 6-panel Pratt through truss, all totaling a length of 526 feet. The structure is elgible for the National Register of Historic Places because of its design that was in connection with the standardized bridge movement that started in 1910. It is also in connection with Route 66 and its history, as the Highway, connecting Chicago with Los Angeles via Tulsa and Santa Fe was in operation from 1926 until the last segment of the highway was decommissioned in 1979. Interstate 40 had suplanted the stretch of highway where the bridge is located a years earlier.

Currently, the bridge is closed to traffic and a replacement bridge is being built alongside the historic structure, which will carry a frontage road running alongside the interstate once it’s completed next year. The Gasconade Bridge used to carry that road before its closure in 2015.

Attempts to find an owner for the new bridge and restore the structure to its original glory have not been successful due to differences in planning and realization combined with lack of funding for purchase and restoration. Yet the Gasconade Bridge Facebook (click here) has garnered support from over 1200 Followers and many more who are not on the social media scene. There have been rallies and fundraisers lately and a page where you can donate to save the bridge (click here).

Still the clock is ticking and with the resources and options running out, “only a public outcry expressing significant concern and a desire to save the bridge from demolition might help,” according to a statement on the Gasconade Facebook Page. If you would like to help in convincing government officials to save the bridge, here are the contact details you Need to know before you address your support for the bridge:

E-Mail: STIPcomments@modot.mo.gov

Phone: 1-888-275-6636

Mail: Transportation Planning, Program Comments, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO. 65102.

Identify the Gasconade River Bridge in Laclede County, MO. Give them your name and where you live and most importantly, why this bridge is important and is worth saving. It must be personal; all letters copied and pasted will not be acceptable.

To provide you with an incentive to convince MODOT, here’s an interview I did with Rich Dinkela about the bridge a few years ago. Click here to view.  A pair of YouTube videos of the bridge can be found below:

If you have any suggestions to help save the bridge or are interested in buying it, please contact the Group on their Facebook page. A link to their website you will find here.

 

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Gasconade Bridge Relisted for Sale: Any Takers?

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MoDOT has Route 66 Crossing  for sale after failed attempt to buy the bridge. Deadline is March 15, 2019. Bridge will be demolished if no one claims it.

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HAZELGREEN/ JEFFERSON CITY/ ST. LOUIS- One month after Workin Bridges withdrew from the Gasconade River Bridge project, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is looking for a new owner of the bridge that used to serve Route 66. Between now and March 15, 2019, you have an opportunity to claim this prized work- a four-span truss bridge featuring two Parker through trusses, a Pratt through truss and a Warren pony truss span, totaling 525 feet. According to the information on the MoDOT Bridge Marketing Page:

“The Gasconade River Bridge was constructed under State Highway Department project 14-38. The contract for the project was awarded on December 30, 1922 to the Riley & Bailey Construction Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Route 14 was being developed as a diagonal highway connecting St. Louis and southwest Missouri. The highway, designated under the Centennial Road Law passed in 1921, was funded by State Road Bonds, and connected the county seats and major towns between St. Louis and Joplin. In 1926, Route 14 was designated U. S. Highway 66.”

In addition, the bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under criteria A and C for its significance in transportation and engineering, according to the website.

Parties interested in preserving the structure must have a commitment and a plan as to how to go forward with saving the bridge, as the structure has been closed to all traffic since December 2014 because of structural concerns. This includes restoring the bridge for reuse as a recreational crossing, even in its current place. Proposals are being accepted between now and 15 March, 2019 from one or more parties.  In a statement made by MoDOT:

“Due to liability issues and limited funds, we will have to remove the bridge unless an outside entity steps forward to take ownership of and maintain the bridge,” said MoDOT Central District Engineer David Silvester. “We know that’s not what folks want to hear, but it’s the reality of the situation. We are hopeful some entity will step forward with a proposal to preserve the existing structure.”

This setback will not affect the plans for building a new bridge on new alignment adjacent to the existing structure. Bids for building the new bridge will be opened in April, and the project is scheduled to be awarded to a contractor in May. Construction is set to start in July, and MoDOT is expecting to have traffic on the new bridge by the fall of 2019.

Anyone interested in taking ownership of the old bridge can contact Karen Daniels, Senior Historic Preservation Specialist, at 573-526-7346 or Karen.Daniels@modot.mo.gov.

Information available here: http://www.modot.org/freebridges/Gasconade_River.htm

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The “soon to be disappearing” Bridges of Camden State Park (MN)

Located in southwestern Minnesota, Lyon County, with its county seat being Marshall, prides itself with its ice cream in Schwann, athletics and academics through Southwest State University and the county’s school districts, its agriculture in the form of corn, soybeans and sugar beets, and lastly its beautiful landscape because of the deep valleys along the Redwood and Cottonwood Rivers. The county once prided itself in vast numbers of historic bridges, many of which consisted of steel truss spans that were relocated for reuse many times. Some of them were even stored at the county highway department awaiting reuse, according to correspondence with the county engineer while pursuing a science project on bridges in the 7th grade at Marshall Junior High School.

But with the recent developments going on, the county is facing a dwindling number of these truss bridges. Already gone are the spans that used to cross the Cottonwood River, including two at Garvin Park. Those featured a 1920 Warren span brought in from Lynd in 1985 and a 1908 Queenpost span brought in from Clifton Township in 1986.  But the spans at Camden State Park may be the next ones to follow.

Featuring five bridges- three steel pony trusses, a low-water crossing and a wooden trestle, with one exception, these spans were built in the 1930s when Camden State Park was developed  as a facility to replace a village that had once existed. What is unique about the steel pony trusses is the fact that they were part of the relocation scheme, built in their place of origin somewhere else before being relocated to the park in the late 1980s to 1990 to replace previous crossings.  Each bridge presents a sense of beauty as they fit perfectly with the scenery, with the hills and trees surrounding them.

Yet word is getting around that Lyon County is planning to turn over responsibility of the road (County Road 25) and the bridges to the owner of the park, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR), in the near future. There, planning is in the works to replace all three pony truss spans with concrete structure with a form liner resembling cut stone. These spans would resemble a Cottonwood River span that opened in 2005 and is located in Springfield, in Brown County.

Already gone is the low-water crossing because of flooding in 1993 (that was replaced with a welded pony truss bridge), losing the three truss bridges would be a blow to the state park because of their historic value they present. They were built using standardized spans introduced in 1914 with the purpose of making the crossings safer for traffic. Each bridge has survived weather extremities, for they were washed out by the floodwaters in 1993, but were reconstructed in their original places, keeping their historic integrity in tact. If the bridges were rebuilt, integrating the trusses in the concrete roadway, as is being practiced with many Minnesota spans, then their structural lifespan will be prolonged for another 60-80 years with little maintenance. Yet should the truss bridges go, they will most likely take the wooden trestle with, which was built in 1931 spanning the railroad track. Whether this plan of action is for the benefit of the state park remains in question. But to better understand which bridges are affected by the latest project, here is a list of bridges and their location for you to visit and convince the parks to save:

Photos taken in September 2010

BNSF Trestle:

Location: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway at the south entrance to Camden State Park

Bridge Type: Wooden Trestle

Year Built: 1936

Length: 190 feet (36 feet main span)

Status: Open to traffic but not affected by project (for now)

Bridge 5101A

Location:  Redwood River at Camden State Park- first steel truss bridge after entering park.

Bridge Type: Warren pony truss with vertical beams and riveted connections

Year Built: 1931 at undisclosed location, relocated here in 1989

Length: 61.4 feet (main span: 60 feet)

Status: Open to traffic, but scheduled to be replaced.

This bridge is located east of the site where the low-water crossing once stood. It originally consisted of a two-span pony truss bridge located somewhere along the Redwood River northeast of Marshall, yet this half made its way here in 1989, whereas the other half was relocated to Green Valley, where it still serves traffic today. It sustained damage by floods in 1993 but was rehabilitated and reopened to traffic afterwards.

Bridge 5054

Location: Redwood River at Camden State Park. Second crossing after entering the park

Bridge Type: Steel Warren pony truss bridge with vertical beams and riveted connections

Year Built: 1931 by Illinois Steel Company; Moved here in 1990.

Length: 75.1 feet (main span: 73.2 feet)

Status: Open to traffic but scheduled for replacement

This crossing is located at a dangerous corner, where drivers have to make sharp right turns before crossing the truss span. The bridge originally came from a crossing over Plum Creek at US Hwy. 14 west of Walnut Grove. At the time of its replacement and road reconstruction in 1990, it was relocated here where it is still serving traffic today.  This bridge was washed out during the flood of 1993 but was salvaged and placed back into service a year later.

Bridge R0122

Location: Redwood River at north entrance to Camden State Park

Bridge Type: Warren pony truss with vertical beams, extended wind bracing and riveted connections

Year Built: 1915 over the Yellow Medicine River in northern Lyon County. Relocated here in 1986

Length: 50.2 feet (main span: 47.3 feet)

Status: Open to traffic but scheduled for replacement.

This bridge is the oldest of the three to be found at the park. It is also the only bridge that features an exterior wind bracing, which was common in earlier standardized truss spans. 1915 is the date that was designated in the records, but the bridge looks younger than that. The crossing is the first one upon entering the park from the north side. For a long time, it was a dead end crossing for vehicles minus the bikes, for drivers were not allowed to enter the park from the north end. Yet after being wiped out by floods in 1993 and being reerected in its place a year later, the entrance was reopened to all traffic.

Why these bridges are not being considered for relocation to another less used road in the county remains unclear, let alone being considered for relocation, but these bridges represent a classic example of how Lyon County took care of its truss bridges in the 1980s and 90s, seeing the potential for reuse and the historic significance of each of the spans. The new bridges in place, like the Springfield crossing, may fit the landscape of a community, yet in cases like the ones at Camden, they represent an epic fail because of the lack of conformity with the natural surroundings. Therefore it is important that these spans are saved and rehabilitated for reuse to ensure that they continue to serve their purpose for the next 60-80 years.

You can help spread the word. Not only is it important to visit these sites, but it is important to convince the county and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to keep these spans in place because of their importance to the parks. With as many voices as possible, the planning can be altered to benefit the tourists visiting the park and the county that has prided itself in its reuse of historic structures. Your voice can make a difference.

Information and contact details for Camden State Park can be found here.

Contact details for the Lyon County Engineer’s Office in Marshall are found here.