The search for information on the Castlewood Bridge: Link here.
BHC is collecting stories on Bizarre Encounters with People and Animals while bridgehunting/ photographing bridges: Link here
There will be a pair of updates coming in the Chronicles Newsflyer regarding the Castlewood Bridge and another Thacher Truss span, the Okoboji Bridge, based on the most recent findings that occurred at the time if this podcast. Stay tuned. 🙂
Three bridges to go “under the knife” beginning in March. One of them is scheduled to be removed. Fourth one may follow pending on approval. Projects to end by December.
ZWICKAU/ WILKAU-HASSLAU/ SILBERSTRASSE, GERMANY- Travellers going to the Ore Mountains from Zwickau will have to consider alternatives to travelling- at least by car- in the next nine months. Beginning in March, the main Highway B93 from Zwickau to Schneeberg will have two bridges be rehabilitated. A third one nearby is scheduled to be demolished after being abandoned for decades. A project involving the fourth one may be underway soon, pending on approval. All four have been in service for over a century and have historic significance. To determine which ones, here are the details.
Highway B 93 Bahnhofsbrücke-A one-span arch bridge with a length of 80 meters, this bridge spans the rail tracks of the Zwickau-Aue line, 30 meters south of the train station, Silberstrasse. It is the main artery going through the village as the highway connects Wilkau-Hasslau with Wiesenburg for thousands of cars use this bridge in both directions daily. It is also the primary crossing for local busses. As part of the plan to widen the highway, the decking will be replaced with a new, widen one, but not before the stone arch is strengthened. It is hoped that an additional lane is built as the highway makes a sharp, uphill curve to the right, which is dangerous even for truckers. If not, at least the curve can be straightened out. Pedestrians can still use the bridge during the rehabilitation project but access will be restricted.
Heubrücke– Located 100 meters south of the Bahnhofsbrücke is another arch structure made of stone. The 90 meter span is over 150 years old but has been closed to traffic for decades- to pedestrians a few years ago. For safety reasons and because of its uselessness, the local town council is looking into tearing down the span and not replacing it. No replacement structure is expected here. What’s holding the council back is the funding for the bridge removal, which is expected to be approved at the time of the rehab project.
Muldenbrücke in Wilkau-Hasslau- The rehab of the B93 bridge may be more of a blessing for the eight-span Luten arch bridge spanning the Zwickau Mulde. The 1867 span connects B93 on the east end with the town center on the right, carrying the road going to Cunnersdorf and Kirchberg. Inspections revealed moisture going into the arches and damage to the decking and the arches. Because the arches are still useable, the bridge will not be torn down. Instead the arches will be repaired and new decking will replace the old one. New lighting will replace those from 40 years ago. The bridge is a major sticking point for many cars have to wait on the structure because of the traffic light on the east end, where the main highway is located. Yet the bridge has connected both sides of Wilkau-Hasslau for almost 150 years and the rehab project will be a first where this key connection will be lost- at least for drivers.
Cainsdorf Bridge-The wild card in the project is the Cainsdorf Bridge, a two-span steel girder bridge spanning the Zwickau Mulde between the rail line and Highway B93. The 1929 bridge was scheduled to be replaced last year but the details of the replacement span and the costs for the variants have still yet to be determined. It is hoped that the plans can be finalized this year and the project can proceed. Most of the variants point to the historic bridge being reused for bikes and pedestrians.
According to the Free Press, the B 93 will be open to local traffic only, which will help businesses affected by the projects- in particular, in Wilkau-Hasslau as there are many eateries and supermarkets along the highway. Yet for those wishing to go to Schneeberg and all points in the Ore Mountains, there are detours available which will relieve the stretch of all inner-city traffic for much of the time of the project. Here are the alternatives:
At the traffic light before the Schedewitz Bridge, turn right onto Bahnstrasse. Follow it to Lengenfelder Strasse and turn left. Follow Lengenfelder Strasse through Schedewitz and Planitz until it joins state highway 293, the bypass that goes around Zwickau and connects Werdau with Schneeberg and Lengenfeld/Schneeberg. Take the route going to the latter and follow that to the Motorway 72 exit Zwickau-West. Continue straight on the bypass, which passes Kirchberg and other villages before it joins B93 just north of Schneeberg.
At the traffic light before the Schedewitz Bridge, go straight and cross the bridge. At the next traffic light, the road makes a curve to the left. Stay on that road and continue, going past Reinsdorf. At the Motorway 72, turn left and take the route going to Hof. Continue for 13 km until exiting at Zwickau West. At the traffic light, turn right and continue on the bypass which passes Kirchberg and joins B93 north of Schneeberg.
At the traffic light before the Schedewitz Bridge, go straight and cross the bridge. At the next traffic light, the road makes a curve to the left. Stay on that road and continue, going past Reinsdorf and the Motorway (72) exit, Zwickau-Ost. You will drive through Wildenfels before entering Hartenstein. There, turn right and follow the street to Burg Stein (Stein Castle), before taking the road to Wildbach. That road cuts through vast forests before it enters Schneeberg from the east.
When using the detours, there will be a high risk of traffic jams and other congestion because of the high volume of regular traffic that uses these routes. Each one will add at least 30 kilometers and 30 minutes to your estimated travel time.
There will be no changes in rail plans, but delays are expected as the two-track line at Silberstrasse will be reduced to one during the project. Travelers will need to plan ahead and be patient.
The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest developments. Information on the Muldenbrücke at Wilkau-Hasslau and the Cainsdorf Bridge south of Zwickau can be found in the tour guide on Zwickau’s bridges, which you can access here.
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.
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.
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.
With 2019 and the second decade of the third millennium over and done, we’re now going to reflect on the key events in the area of historic bridges and feature some head-shakers, prayers, but also some Oohs and Aahs, jumps of joy and sometimes relief. Since 2011, I’ve presented the Author’s Choice Awards to some of the bridges and bridge stories that deserve at least some recognition from yours truly directly. Some of the bridges from this edition are also candidates in their respective categories for the Bridgehunter Awards.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the winners of the Author’s Choice Awards in their respective categories starting with the unexpected finds:
Best Historic Bridge Find (International):
2019 was the year of unique bridge finds around the globe, and it was very difficult to determine which bridge should receive the Author’s Choice Prize. Therefore the prize is being shared by two bridges- one in Germany in the state of Saxony and one in Great Britain in the city of Bristol.
Rosenstein Bridge in Zwickau (Saxony), Germany:
Our first best historic bridge find takes us to the city of Zwickau and an unknown historic bridge that had been sitting abandoned for decades but was discovered in 2019. The Rosenstein Bridge spans a small creek between the suburb of Oberplanitz and the bypass that encircles Zwickau on the west side and connects Werdau with Schneeberg. The bridge is a stone arch design and is around 200 years old. It used to serve a key highway between the Vogtland area to the west and the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) to the south and east, transporting minerals and wood along the main road. It later served street traffic until its abandonment. The name Rosenstein comes from the rock that was used for the bridge. The rock changes the color to red and features its rose-shaped design. A perfect gift that is inexpensive but a keeper for your loved one.
Close-up of the bridge’s tubular railings. Photo taken by Nathan Holth
Brunel Swivel Bridge in Bristol, UK:
The other bridge that shares this honor is That Other Bridge. Located in Bristol, England, the Swivel Bridge is very hard to find, for the structure is underneath the Plimsol Bridge, both spanning the River Avon. While Bristol is well known for its chain suspension bridge, built over 150 years ago and spans the deep gorge of the Avon, the Swivel Bridge, a cast iron girder swing span, is the oldest known bridge in the city and one of the oldest swing bridges remaining in the world, for it is 170 years old and one of the first built by I.K. Brunel- the suspension bridge was the last built by the same engineer before his death. Therefore, the Swivel Bridge is known as Brunel’s Other (Significant) Bridge. The Swivel is currently being renovated.
“S-Bridges” were one of the oldest bridge types built in the US, featuring multiple spans of stone or concrete arches that are put together in an S-shape. It was good for horse and buggy 200-years ago, especially as many existed along the National Road. They are however not suitable for today’s traffic, which is why there are only a handful left. The Fox Run Bridge in Ohio, as documented by Satolli Glassmeyer of History in Your Backyard, is one of the best examples of only a few of these S-bridges left in the country.
Royal Springs Bridge in Kentucky:
The runner-up in this category goes to the oldest and most forgotten bridge in Kentucky, the Royal Springs Bridge. While one may not pay attention to it because of its design, plus it carries a busy federal highway, one may forget the fact that it was built in 1789, which makes it the oldest bridge in the state. It was built when George Washington became president and three years before it even became a state. That in itself puts it up with the likes of some of Europe’s finest bridges.
We had just as many bonehead stories as bridge finds this year. But a couple of stories do indeed stand out for these awards. Especially on the international level for they are all but a travesty, to put it mildly.
Tournai Bridge in Belgium:
Sometimes, bigger is better. Other times less means more. In the case of the senseless demolition of the Pont des Trours (Bridge of Tears) spanning the River Scheldt in Tournai, Belgium for the purpose of widening and deepening the river to allow for ships to sail to the River Sienne from the Atlantic, one has to question the economic impact of using the boat to get to Paris, let alone the cultural impact the demolition had on the historic old town. The bridge was built in 1290 and was the only bridge of its kind in the world. Its replacement span will resemble an McDonald’s M-shape pattern. In this case, less means more. Smaller ships or more trains to ship goods means better for the river (and its historic crossings) as well as the historic city. In short: Less means more.
Runner-up: Bockau Arch Bridge (Rechenhausbrücke) in Saxony.
Residents wanted to save the bridge. There was even a group wanting to save the bridge. The politicians and in particular, the Saxony Ministry of Transportation and Commerce (LASUV) didn’t. While the 150-year old stone arch bridge over the Zwickau Mulde near Aue was the largest and oldest standing in western Saxony and was not in the way of its replacement- making it a candidate for a bike and pedestrian crossing, LASUV and the politicians saw it as an eyesore. While those interested wanted to buy the bridge at 150,000 Euros. Dresden wanted 1.7 million Euros– something even my uncle from Texas, a millionaire himself, would find as a rip-off. Supporters of the demolition are lucky that the bridge is not in Texas, for they would’ve faced a hefty legal battle that would’ve gone to the conservative-laden Supreme Court. The bridge would’ve been left as is. But it’s Saxony and many are scratching their heads as to why the demo against the will of the people- without even putting it to a referendum- happened in the first place. As a former member of the Friends of the Rechenhausbrücke, I’m still shaking my head and asking “Why?”
This story brings out the true meaning of “Half-ass”. The Gregon Street Overpass, which carries the Norfolk and Southern Railroad (NSR) is an 80-year old stringer bridge that has a rather unique characteristic: Its vertical clearance is 11 feet 8 inches (3.56 meters). It’s notorious for ripping off truck trailers, driven by truck drivers who either didn’t see the restriction signs, traffic lights and other barriers or were unwilling to heed to the restrictions because of their dependency on their GPS device (Navi) or their simple ignorance. In October 2019, NSR wanted to raise the bridge to 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 meters) to reduce the collisions. The standard height of underpasses since 1973 have been 14 feet (4.3 meters). End result: the collisions have NOT decreased. Epic fail on all counts!
My suggestion to NSR and the NCDOT: If you don’t want your bridge to be a truck-eater, like with some other bridges that exist in the US, like in Davenport and Northhampton, make the area an at-grade crossing. You will do yourselves and the truck drivers a big favor.
Not far behind the winner is this runner-up. A truck driver carrying 42 tons of beans tries crossing a century-old pony truss bridge, which spans the Goose River and has a weight limit of three tons. Guess what happens next and who got short-changed? The bridge had been listed on the National Register because of its association with Fargo Bridge and Iron and it was the oldest extant in the county. Luckily the driver wasn’t hurt but it shows that he, like others, should really take a math course before going on the road again.
This one gets an award for not only a spectacular disaster that destroyed a multiple Bailey Truss- as filmed in its entirety- but also for the swiftest reply in rebuilding the bridge in order to reopen a key highway. Bailey trusses have known to be easily assembled, regardless of whether it’s for temporary purposes or permanent. Cheers to the inventor of the truss as well as the New Zealand National Guard for putting the bridge back together in a hurry.
No bridge is safe when it comes to flash flooding. Not even concrete arch bridges, as seen in this film on the century-old Chania Bridge in Greece. Flash floods undermined the bridge’s piers and subsequentially took out the multiple-span closed spandrel arch bridge in front of the eyes of onlookers. The photos of the destroyed bridge after the flooding was even more tragic. Good news is that the bridge is being rebuilt to match that of the original span destroyed. But it will never fully replace the original, period.
This category was a real toss-up, for the US went through a series of what is considered one of the biggest wrath of natural disasters on record. In particular, massive amounts of snowfall, combined with extreme temperatures resulted in massive flooding which devastated much of the Midwest during the first five months of the year. The hardest hit areas were in Nebraska, Iowa and large parts of Missouri. There, large chunks of ice took out even the strongest and youngest of bridges along major highways- the most viewed was the bridge near Spencer, Nebraska, where ice jams combined with flooding caused both the highway bridge as well as the dam nearby to collapse. The highway bridge was only three decades old. Even historic truss bridges, like the Sargent Bridge in Custer County were no match for the destruction caused by water and ice. While the region has dried up, it will take months, if not years for communities and the infrastructure to rebuild to its normal form. Therefore this award goes out to the people affected in the region.
Runner-up: Close-up footage of the destruction of the Brunswick Railroad Bridge.
Railroad officials watched helplessly, as floodwaters and fallen trees took out a major railroad bridge spanning the Grand River near Brunswick, Kansas. The railroad line is owned by Norfolk and Southern. The bridge was built in 1916 replacing a series of Whipple truss spans that were later shipped to Iowa for use on railroad lines and later roads. One of them still remains. The bridge has since been rebuilt; the line in use again.
The world’s first cast iron bridge got an extensive makeover in a two-year span, where the cast iron parts were repaired and conserved, new decking was put in and the entire bridge was painted red, which had been the original color when the bridge was completed in 1791. The jewel of Shropshire, England is back in business and looks just like new.
King Ludwig Railroad Bridge in Kempten, Germany:
The world’s lone double-decker truss bridge made of wood, received an extensive rehabilitation, where the spans were taken off its piers, the wooden parts repaired and/or replaced before being repainted, the piers were rebuilt and then the spans were put back on and encased with a wooden façade. A bit different than in its original form, the restored structure features LED lighting which shows the truss work through the façade at night.
Longfellow Bridge in Boston:
This multiple-span arch bridge with a draw bridge span underwent a five-year reconstruction project where every aspect of the bridge was restored to its former glory, including the steel arches, the 11 masonry piers, the abutments, the four tall towers at the main span and lastly the sculptures on the bridge. Even the trophy room underneath the bridge was rebuilt. All at a whopping cost of $306 million! It has already received numerous accolades including one on the national level. This one was worth the international recognition because of the hours of toil needed to make the structure new again.
The runner-up is a local favorite but one that sets an example of how truss bridge restoration can work. The Winona Bridge went through an eight-year project where a new span carrying westbound traffic was built. The cantilever truss span was then covered as it went through a makeover that featured new decking, sandblasting and repairing the trusses and lastly, painting it. To put the icing on the cake, new LED lighting was added. The bridge now serves eastbound traffic and may be worth considering as a playboy for other restorations of bridges of its kind, including the Black Hawk Bridge, located down the Mississippi.
And with that, we wrap up the Author’s Choice Awards for 2019. Now comes the fun part, which is finding out which bridges deserve international honors in the eyes of the voters. Hence, the Bridgehunter’s Awards both in written form as well as in podcast. Stay tuned! 🙂
The next pic of the week takes us to London. At about this time of year, the English capital on the Thames is famous for its fog that covers not only the areas along the main river, the Thames, but also the city’s Communist-era high-rise buildings, dating back to the 1960s. This was the case with this scene with the Paradiesbrücke. These pair of photos were taken last week during a fog spell that is typical of London. The fog was thick enough that it covered much of the background landscape, including the Communist-era buildings that were only 150 meters away as seen in the pic below. The end result was bringing the bridge to the foreground but having the black and white features of a structure sitting in pea stew. As a bonus, the oblique angle view of the bridge in the picture above makes the scene rather mysterious. One could make a story out of the two scenes, be it a murder mystery or romance.
Oh by the way: Did I forget to tell you the pictures were taken not in London but in Zwickau? In Saxony? In Germany? On the River Mulde? 😉
Returning to the Erzgebirge we have a large crossing spanning the River Zwickau for a mystery bridge. Located near the village of Langenweissbach, this structure is a Warren through truss bridge with riveted connections, approximately 30-40 meters long and 4 meters wide. It carries Werkstrasse going through a series of buildings which appeared to have been either a former factory or a town before it was abandoned. The company that had existed closest to the bridge was Tarsan GmbH (Limited), but the firm closed down some years ago.
Werkstrasse used to be a thoroughfare before the railroad crossing shut down. The street and its branch is now a dead end. Only one building next to the bridge is still occupied, which means the street is rarely used except for private purposes. Given the rust on the bottom chord and parts of the upper half of the superstructure, this bridge dates back to a time between 1910 and 1950, although given its remote location, it may have been spared the bombing. The structure is still used but with weight and height restrictions.
This leads to the question of the following:
What’s the history behind the buildings along Werkstrasse: Was it a factory, a town or a combination of a few? Could it be a military camp of some kind?
What’s the history behind the bridge? Was there a previous structure before this one?
What’s the history behind the street the bridge crosses?
Any ideas, we’re all ears, regardless of language. So, “Hau rein!” 🙂
Langenweissbach is located between Zwickau and Aue-Schlema. First mentioned in the history books in the 12th century, the town merged with Weisbach and Grünau in 1996 and later became part of Langenbach. More on its history here.
This pic of the week is, in a way, considered an update of sorts on one of the bridges located not far from the base in Glauchau. The Schlunzig Cable-Stayed Suspension, spanning the Zwickau Mulde River on the road going to the Volkswagen Company in Mosel, was supposed to be finished this year. But as you can see in this latest pic taken on October 2nd of this year, storm clouds seem to roll over to delay the construction even further. Yet unlike these storm clouds that brought about much-needed Fall weather to the state of Saxony (with rain and cold weather to douse the dog days of summer), the storm clouds are figurative and are hovering over the region as well as the state capital of Dresden. Normally, all of the stayed cables should have been installed and the approaches built. Yet as of present, only the second set is being installed with five more to go. The cause of the delay has been due to shipping issues and faulty cables, according to the Chemnitz Free Press. With October already here, officials in charge of the project are now predicting that the 7 million Euro project will be finished in the next year due to delays and the winter months coming ahead. This announcement is a slap in the face for the State Ministry and Transportation and Business (LASUV), which is in charge of all infrastructural projects. In a statement to the Free Press, officials there claimed that such a delay will hinder any finalization of projects slated to start in the new year due to financial issues.
With this delay, residents are growing frustrated and for a good reason. The original structure, a 1954 product from East Germany, suffered substantial damage due to the 2013 floods and cannot be rehabilitated. This was the reason behind this new, futuristic style bridge. Still, with this announcement, locals and commuters will have to settle for another winter at a snail’s pace over the old structure. For truckers, it’s another winter’s detour through Zwickau instead of using the hopeful shortcut through Stollberg and Mülsen and over the bridge. But then again, we have been accustomed to loraxizing the likes of Greta Thunberg and passing half-assed legislation anyway, so there’s nothing we can say to that.
We can only hope that come 2020, the new Schlunzig Bridge will be done so we can bid a much-needed farewell to a crossing that did a world of service and usher in a new era that will be the new face along the Zwickau Mulde but one that will benefit everyone and the environment. My two cents on this pic and politics.
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.
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.