Mystery Bridge Nr. 60: Unusual Howe Lattice Truss Bridges

Photos taken by MnDOT

Photos taken by MnDOT

Our 60th mystery bridge ironically runs parallel to a highway bearing the same number running through another Minnesota county- Blue Earth! The exceptions though are the following:

  • These are two unusual bridges that have long since been recycled for reuse- at least three times over the course of 35+ years, and
  • They are located in the southern part of the county, whereas the major expressway is in the northern half, where Mankato, Lake Crystal and Janesville are located.

The bridges are similar in length and width, but the designs are rather strange. They both feature a Howe truss design but resembling a Howe Lattice portal bracing of a through truss bridge, like these bridges:

Kelly Lane Bridge  This and the following photos courtesy of Craig Guttau, used with permission

Kelly Lane Bridge in Harrison County, Iowa. Photo  courtesy of Craig Guttau, used with permission

Salisbury Bridge in Meeker County. Photo taken in December 2010

Salisbury Bridge in Meeker County. Photo taken in December 2010

The engineer behind the construction of the bridges- each being built in 1911 shortly before the standardized truss designs were implemented- used light steel, supported by thick gusset plates as seen in the pictures below:

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Also noticeable were the diagonal outer beams supporting the trusses  to ensure that the trusses remained stable when the cars crossed them. This unusual contraption leads the historian to believe that despite the building date being 1911, that the truss bridges consisted of parts from an even bigger truss bridge or larger building that had existed. It was not rare to have truss bridges constructed using steel parts from old buildings, as is seen today with the bowstring arch bridges at Kent Park in Johnson County as well as the ones built in 1945-6 in Crawford County– both in Iowa. All of them are still in service serving light weight traffic. This is even more noticeable as the connections seemed to be welded together instead of pin-connected or even riveted.

Sadly, both bridges are long gone. As you can see in the links, one bridge over the slough portion of the Maple River south of Mapleton was replaced in 1978, the other east of Amboy spanning Rice Creekwas replaced in 1980. Still a lot of mysteries are left over from the bridges- namely who built the bridges and how were they built. Even more curious is whether the construction date of 1911 for both bridges were given by the bridge inventory or if they were relocated or reassembled at an unknown time.

Any ideas? Put them here in the contact form and we’ll add them to the database in the bridgehunter.com website, where the bridges are posted. More Blue Earth County bridges will come later on, as the numbers are huge and many bridges have a history of their own.

Happy Bridgehunting and researching! :-)

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 59: An Undiscovered Waddell Truss

Photos courtesy of MnDOT

Photos courtesy of MnDOT

History sometimes has its doubts, especially when it comes to historic bridge inventories conducted by state and national governments. According to sources by the Minnesota Historic Society and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, there was supposed to be one kingpost truss bridge remaining in the state- the one located at Schoneman Park, south of Interstate 90 on US Hwy. 75 in Luverne, in Rock County (click here to view the photos).

But did you know that there is ANOTHER kingpost truss bridge, a design similar to the Schoneman Park Bridge in Clearwater County?  According to a discovery made by the Inspection Unit of MnDOT recently, there is.  The bridge is located over the Clearwater River, ten miles west of the Bagley Lake State Preserve and six miles east of nearby Gronvich, and features Waddell pony truss, with welded connections and a 10° angled outer wing on each side. The truss design was patented by J.A.L. Waddell but there are only a handful of these trusses left, including two through trusses (one in Kansas and one in Louisiana) and now two in Minnesota. The bridge is 37 feet long, and even though there was no date on the construction of the bridge, it is possible that the bridge was built between 1905 and 1910, possibly by the Hewett family. The reason: The bridge is nearly identical to the one in Luverne with only a few minor exceptions. This includes the length difference as well as the riveted connections on the top portion of the one at Schoneman.

The bridge has been bypassed by a new crossing, but it is now privately owned, an example of a farmowner’s willingness to keep a piece of history for private use. Despite this success, some more information is needed as to when it was exactly built and by whom. While the information in the bridgehunter.com website, it is based on the national bridge inventory page, and more research is needed to determine whether the construction date is correct. Furthermore, it is unknown whether Hewett built this or if another bridge company contributed to the work.

If you know more about this bridge (a.k.a. Bridge L 1297), please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact details below. The information will be updated in the bridgehunter.com website along with photos you wish to contribute. Some photos can be found here as well as in the website as well.  Best of luck in finding some information and stories pertaining to this bridge. :-)

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Many thanks to Pete Wilson at MnDOT for the discovery and the information/ photos.

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Film Feature: The Building of the Fehmarn Bridge in Germany

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In the past 5-7 years, we have seen an increase in the number of films and documentaries that were either produced by public TV stations for live viewing, or had been produced years back but were recently discovered and posted on several video platforms, among them, YouTube. Many of them feature structures that are well known on a regional scale but not as well-known on a national or even international scale. Therefore, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will feature a Film Feature looking at the structure, either in terms of construction and/or significance or in some cases, disaster which engineers can learn from. Most of these film features will be placed under the page Literature of the Week under the subcategory Films and Documentaries, although a separate page is being considered, should the Film Feature receive numerous views and other accolades.

FEHMARNSUNDBRÜCKE/ FEHMARN BRIDGE:

While digging up some information on ways to save this bridge, I came across a documentary produced over 50 years ago on this important crossing. The Fehmarn Bridge connects Germany with Fehmarn Island and is part of the Migratory Route connecting Hamburg and Copenhagen. Built in 1963, the bridge was the first one in the world that used a now-very common construction type- the basket handle tied-arch bridge. The bridge is one of two major centerpieces at the center of one of the biggest controversies in Europe, where the German Railways, German Government and the Danish Government are pushing for two tunnels and an expressway through the island of Fehmarn. However, the plan has been met with stiff opposition from politicians, locals, evnironmentalists and even bridge enthusiasts. More on the story can be found by clicking on the links below:

The Fight to Save Fehmarn Island from Progress (Flensburg Files)

Fehmarn Bridge (The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles)

But if there was another reason why such a project should be reconsidered has to do with the motive behind building the Fehmarn Bridge in the first place. The bridge was supposed to provide a key link to the island with the option of including ferry service from the island to Denmark, yet as small and environmentally sensitive as the island is, the roadway was reduced to only two lanes- the railroad line, only one track. It took 5-6 years to construct this important crossing, and this with all the factors involved: weather, wave currents and environmental factors which led to some careful efforts to build a structure that will last, but will little impact on the island. Here’s the 48-minute documentary looking at the construction of the bridge from start to finish. Even though the language of the film is in German, the film and photos speak more volumes than what is mentioned.

Viel Spaß beim Anschauen des Filmes! :-)

To conclude this film feature, I would like to show you another film of the train trip to Fehmarn Island via Fehmarn Bridge. By even looking ahead towards the bridge and crossing it, it gives vacationers like me another incentive to visit the island. For many, it would be a first time to explore this place of beauty. For those like me, it would be a second at least, loving the island and the bridge more than the first time. :-)

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Wagon Wheel Bridge Damaged by Fire

West entrance to the bridge. Photo taken during the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend.

Fire damages east approach span. Investigation ongoing.

BOONE, IOWA- Law enforement authorities are investigating a possible arson, which occurred on the Wagon Wheel Bridge most recently. According to reports from multiple sources, the fire was reported by Union Pacific Railroad on Sunday night at 11:00pm at the eastern end of the bridge. While the fire was brought under control and no damage was done to the multiple span truss bridge, the eastern approach spans were charred, prompting county officials to remove the spans. The bridge has since been closed off to pedestrians and cyclists with its future in limbo. Any information pertaining to possible arson should be directed to law enforcement officials in Boone as soon as possible.

The Wagon Wheel Bridge, built in 1910 by the Iowa Bridge Company in Des Moines, has seen its best and worst times, the latter occurring within the past eight years. Damage was sustained by high water in 2008 when sections of the eastern approach spans were washed away during the worst flooding since 1993.  Attempts were made to pass a referendum in 2010, calling for a new structure to be built in place of the vintage structure, only to fall on deaf ears by a vast majority. Two floods later, the structure had been still been standing in tact with new decking added to the entire 710 foot bridge. Even an idea of having a memorial at the bridge site, dedicated to Kathlynn Shepard was brought up in 2013. This was in addition to having two bills passed to make kidnapping a felony and increase the age of the vicitims of such crimes to 15 years of age (instead of 12). More on the efforts can be seen through Kathlynn’s Hope facebook site.  Homage was paid to the bridge through the Historic Bridge Weekend that same year, where 20 people from all over the US attended the event, with Pam Schwartz of the Boone County Historic Society providing the guided tour of that and other bridges- many in connection with the famous Kate Shelley story (click here for details).

With the eastern approach spans removed, attempts are being made to restore the bridge to its original glory. This includes providing new decking that will not be vulnerable to fires. But also the need for repairing the truss parts and stabilizing the cylinder piers are there. All of this is part of the plan to use the bridge as a centerpiece of a bike trail to connect Boone and Odgen with a possibility to connect with the trails in Des Moines. Already, a facebook page has been launched with over 1440 likes on there. The main goal is to raise enough funds to realize the project. Repairs are estimated to be betwene $700,000 and $1m. But the race against time is underway. While the bridge is fenced off to all traffic with the eastern approach spans are removed, consideration is being taken to remove the entire structure for safety reasons. This is being met with solid opposition from locals, the state and other members favoring the preservation of the bridge becaus of its connection with the city’s history. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1998 and any plans to alter, replace, or remove the bridge will require approval and survey, which could take time and money to take. With the love towards the bridge being as high as it was when the referendum failed in 2010, many paths to Rome will be built to ensure that the historic bridge will be saved from becoming scrap metal, even if it means spending more to rehabilitate the structure and make it part of the city’s history and bike trail network. It is more of the question of the availability of resources and effort to undertake this mission. If new decking was added after 2010 with no problems, and looking at the success with Sutliff Bridge, another multiple span truss bridge, people will more likely look at ways to make this project bear fruit.

The Bridgehunter’s Chroncles will keep you posted on the latest on the Wagon Wheel Bridge. Please click on the highlighted links to take a look at the stories written about this bridge and other items. Join the group saving the bridge on facebook and get in touch with them if you are willing to provide some ideas and help to restoring the bridge.

 

Oblique view of the longest span. Photo taken in 2010

View of the east approach. This is where the fire took place recently. The photo had been taken in 2013.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 58: Bridges and Lions

Photos taken by the author in July 2015

Photos taken by the author in July 2015

We have read in the news recently of the senseless killing of a popular lion in Zimbabwe and the government’s attempts to seek an extradition of the now defamed poacher- a dentist in Minnesota. And while this heinous criminal act will put a cherry on a cake of a tall pile of convictions of illegal hunting and harassment charges, thus keeping even the US presidential candidate Jeb Bush and his family of Bushes from imposing the American Exceptionalism immunity rule, another story worth looking at but has been ignored up to now is unfolding in the German capital of Berlin. This time it has to do with lions and bridges.

Located over a small pond at Tiergarten, near the Siegesäule Tower, the origin of this suspension bridge comes from St. Petersburg in Russia, where architect Christian Friedrich Tieck was impressed with the construction of the bridge: wire-cables suspanded by the towers whose finials featured statues of lions. Tieck decided to replicate the bridge in Berlin. Together with engineer Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse and artist Christian Daniel Rauch, Tieck constructed the bridge in 1838. The bridge features four lions, one on each end facing the opposite river bank, holding the main wire cables, whose vertical suspenders support the wooden deck. For over 160 years, this bridge used to serve pedestrians and cyclists going through the park.

Until most recently, that is…..

During my trip to Berlin recently, I took an opportunity to visit the Tiergarten and find some historic bridges in the area. Covering over 210 hectares of space from Brandenburg Gate to the main rail line going through Berlin Zoo Garden Station- about the same size as Central Park in New York City, the park features a palace (Bellevue), one of the largest and most popular zoos in Germany, a gallery of vintage gas-powered lanterns (a separate article through the Flensburg Files is in the making), and many 19th century iron bridges scattered all over the park. One of the bridges on my list of places to visit was this bridge, carrying the official name of The Bridge of Lions.  After spending over a hour looking for it, I finally found the bridge- or what is left of it. :-(

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As you can see in the photos and the YouTube video (click here), the towers are still standing, the lion still has the cable anchor in his mouth, but the wire cables and the decking are gone- completely! What exactly happened to the bridge?  Two theories come to mind: Either someone set fire to the deck or vandalized it to a point where it was irreparable or the deck was willfully removed by the City because of its condition. In either case, there is a reason for the bridge not existing anymore which has not been fully clarified as of present. The one variable that appears to be clear is this: With permanent railings on both sides of the bridge’s portals, there are no plans to rebuild the bridge. It is such a shame, given the fact that the bridge is considered a National Landmark by the German Heritage Office (Denkmalschutzamt). Yet with as little money as Berlin seems to have available- as 90% of it is being diverted to the infamous project to construct the Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport, the airport that should have opened in 2009 but will not open officially before 2020- restoration projects like this one are being put to the wayside indefinitely, causing many to wonder what priorities the City has exactly.

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This means that the Bridge of Lions will still hold the wireless anchors for a very long time, while there is no way to meet in the middle, but see each other from the banks of the pond. But why? Why this senseless removal? And are there any plans to restore it in the near future?

Post your comments here or on the Chronicles’ facebook page, and we’ll see if there is enough support to at least save the dignity of these lions. After all, lions are the king of the animal kingdom and they deserve to be treated with as much dignity and respect as the one that was senselessly slaughtered by a poacher whose excuses will never compensate for what had happened.

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The Bridges of Ulm, Germany

Neutor Bridge  located northeast of Ulm Central Station (Ulm Hauptbahnhof). Photos taken in May 2015

Neutor Bridge located northeast of Ulm Central Station (Ulm Hauptbahnhof). Photos taken in May 2015

Located along the Danube River, the city of Ulm, with a population of over 123,000 is one of the oldest cities in Germany. First mentioned in 850, the city had straddled the river for almost a millenium, making it one of the key points of trade and commerce. It had once been declared an Imperial City by order of Friedrich Barbarossa in 1181. However, thanks to Napoleon’s conquest in 1805, Ulm was parted along the river, making it part of Baden-Wurttemberg, whereas the settlement east of the Danube was declared Bavarian and renamed Neu-Ulm. The names have remained the same ever since, although both cities are deeply engaged in joint ventures on the public and private scales, and are sister cities of New Ulm in Minnesota (USA). Some of the key characteristics Ulm has to offer include a professional basketball team “ratiopharm Ulm,” The Ulm Minster Cathedral with the world’s highest steeple surrounded by historic buildings and a large market square, the historic city hall, a pyramid-shaped modern public library, one of the largest collection of “Fachwerk” houses dating back to the Medieval Era (many located along the canals streaming through the southern part of the old town, and memorials honoring scientist Albert Einstein as well as Hans and Sophie Scholl, leaders of the White Rose movement that propagandized against the regime of Adolf Hitler.

And then there are the bridges that are worth mentioning. While all of the Danube crossings in Ulm/Neu Ulm were destroyed towards the end of World War II, a large portion of the pre-1945 bridges were spared  destruction and subsequentially repaired to make them functional again. Whether it is the Neutor Bridge or the stone arch bridges along the Blau Canal, or even the rebuilt Herd Bridge, Ulm today still has a wide array of bridges that fit the cityscape, some of which conform to the Renaissance period landscape in a way that a person is actually walking back into time to get a glimpse of Ulm’s past.

This tour takes you to the most noteworthy bridges in Ulm one should visit while visiting the city. The goal is to provide you with a glimpse at the role of the bridges in the city’s development and their survival through two World Wars. While there are over five crossings over the Danube River, the Herd Bridge will be profiled here because of its historic significance despite being rebuilt after World War II. The other bridges were built in the 1960s on and do not have the historic taste in comparison with the bridges mentioned here. For some of the other bridges profiled here, information is missing on their history- in particular, the bridge builder and the year of construction. If  you wish to add some information about these bridges, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, and that information will be added.

A map of the bridges’ and their location are found here and the bridges….

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Herdbrücke with Neu-Ulm in the backrgound

Herdbrücke with Neu-Ulm in the backrgound

Herdbrücke (EN: Herd Bridge):  

Location: Danube River (main channel) at Donaustrasse (Ulm) and Marienstrasse (Neu Ulm).

Bridge type: Closed spandrel arch bridge with ribbed spandrels

Length: 75 meters

This bridge is one of two crossings that carry a single street over both channels of the Danube River. Ironically, the Gänsetorrücke in Neu Ulm, despite spanning the narrower channel of the river is longer than this bridge by about 21 meters. This bridge features a single span elliptical arch design wide and tall enough to accomodate boat traffic along the river. Built in 1949, its predecessor was a three-span brick arch bridge built in 1832 and named after Ludwig Wilhelm. Unfortunately in an attempt to slow the advancement of American and British troops from the west, the Nazis imploded the bridge in April 1945, a month before Germany capitulated in Berlin and Flensburg, respectively (please click on this link for more information on this topic). A temporary bridge was erected, which remained in service until this bridge was built. Today, this bridge serves as the key link between the city centers of Ulm and Neu Ulm, while at the same time, its historic significance fits in nicely with the surroundings of both cities: a 1949 bridge whose modernity fits the cityscape of Neu Ulm but its arch design fits  nicely with the old town of  Ulm itself. A nice compromise for a crossing like this one.

Neutorbrücke with the Ulm Minster Cathedral in the background

Neutorbrücke with the Ulm Minster Cathedral in the background

Neutorbrücke (EN: Neutor Bridge):

Location: Ulm-Treutchingen-Nuremberg Railline at Neutorstrasse NE of Ulm Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

Bridge type: Steel cantilever truss bridge with Warren truss features

Built: 1907 by Levi and Büttner as well as Machinefabrik Esslingen

The Neutor Bridge is the most ornamental of the bridges in Ulm. At over 120 meters long, the bridge’s main features are the towers, whose finials are covered with gold egg-like figures. The towers portals features the city’s shield with its black and white color. When taken from Kienlesbergstrasse, you can capture the bridge and the cathedral all in one, as long as the weather is cooperative.

A close-up of the tower's portals and finials.

A close-up of the tower’s portals and finials.

While designed by Levi and Büttner, the construction of the  bridge was done by the firm Maschinenbauwerk in Esslingen, a very popular steel fabricator of bridges and train locomotives until the late 1960s. The company was founded by Emil Kessler in 1846 and was solely responsible for the construction of railroad bridges, railroad tracks and train locomotives and coaches. Apart from this bridge, the company was responsible of the building of the Unterreichenbach Railroad Bridge in 1874 (today, the only example of a Schwedler truss bridge left), The Neckar River Steel Arch Bridge at Plochingen in 1949, and The Fehmarn Bridge in 1963. The company survived several takeovers and concourses during its 120+ year history before the company announced its cessation of production in 1966. Shortly thereafter, it was bought by Daimler-Benz.

Despite being used regularly and its thoroughly done maintenance, the bridge will receive another crossing only 200 meters to the west, which will provide a more direct connection between the city center and train station  to the southwest as well as the freeway Highway 10 to the west. While the design has been announced, construction has not started yet as of present. It does appear though that the bridge will be left in place as a secondary crossing going to the northeast once the new crossing is open by 2020.

Ludwig Erhard Bridge at Ulm Hauptbahnhof

Ludwig Erhard Bridge at Ulm Hauptbahnhof

Ludwig Erhard Bridge:

Location: Munich-Ulm-Stuttgart Railline at Ulm Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

Bridge type: Cable-stayed suspension bridge

Built: 2007 replacing the Blaubeurerbrücke

The Ludwig Erhard Bridge is the first bridge you will see when disembarking the train at the railway station. In the daytime, one can see the blue and grey colors of the tower and cables as it decorates the hillside in the background. At night, however, the colors change to yellow, for the towers are lit by sodium street lamps lining up the meridian and the inner portions of the towers, thus making photography an interesting adventure. The bridge replaces the Blaubeurer Bridge, a steel girder bridge from the 1950s that had corroded away thanks to the black smoke from the trains combined with heavy traffic. Yet this combination steel and concrete bridge improves a key link along Karlstrasse between the city center, Neutorbrücke, the railway station and the eastern suburbs on one end, and the freeway Highway 10 and parks to the west. All of the mentioned locations are centralized and easily accessible even by foot.

Bleicher Hag Bridge

Bleicher Hag Bridge

Bleicher Hag Bridge:

Location: Munich-Ulm-Stuttgart Railline and railroad yard at the junction of Am Bleicher Hag and Blaubeurerstrasse at Ulm-Lehrertal

Bridge type: Bedstead Pratt pony truss with riveted connections

Built: ca. 1920

The Bleicher Hag Bridge is the longest of the bedstead truss bridges that exist along the railroad lines serving Ulm, with five spans of 120 meters, totalling 600 meters. There is little information about the construction date of the bridge, let alone the bridge builder, yet given the popularity of the riveted truss bridges after the turn of the century and the effects of World War I, a date of 1920 best made sense to pinpoint. The caveat with this bridge is its narrowness- only 3 meters wide and with a weight limit of six tons.

U15aBut given the increasing demand of rail traffic and the improvement of vehicular traffic, chances are likely that this bridge may be replaced with a larger, more appealing structure in the next 10-15 years. But it depends on the availability of money and manpower to make it happen.

 

 

Lehrertal Overpass

Lehrertal Overpass

Lehrertal Railroad Overpass:

Location: Railroad line at Y-junction of Ulm-Treuchtingen-Nuremberg Line and Munich-Ulm-Stuttgart Line, north of Ulm Hauptbahnhof.

Bridge type: Bedstead subdivided Warren pony truss bridge with welded connections 

This bridge is hard to find, unless one wishes to walk across the Highway 10 bridge on the north side. Here is where one can get the best photo. The bridge is unique because of its curved spans as it crosses the rail lines going east past Ulm. Most likely this bridge is used for freight traffic not wishing to stop at Ulm Railway Station, located only 500 meters to the south. Like the Bleicher Hag Bridge, the Lehrertal Bridge has little information on its history but it appears that the bridge has been in service for 60+ years, namely because of its welded connections that had started becoming popular at that time. Yet more information is needed to confirm this.

 

 

Schieferhausbrücke

Schiefeshausbrücke

Schiefeshausbrücke:

Location: Grosses Blau Canal on a pedestrian path between Schwörthausgasse and Fischergasse

Bridge type: Brick arch bridge

There are many small crossings along the Blau Canal that compliment the Fachwerk houses in the Old Town. Yet this two-span arch bridge is the more popular of the crossings, and one of the more visible bridges to photograph. The bridge dates back to the 1700s and it is built using brick. No information on its length is given, but it is estimated to be 20 meters long and only three meters wide. The bridge is located only 15 meters behind Das Schiefe Haus, the oldest existing house remaining in Ulm that dates back to the 1500s and one whose name fits the description, as seen in the picture below:

Das Schiefes Haus with the bridge in the background.

Das Schiefe Haus with the bridge in the background.

The house is the only one of its kind in Germany with this unusual feature. It is a now a bed and breakfast, located right on the canal. Anybody care to eat or sleep at the water level? 😉

 

 

Weinhofbergbrücke

Weinhofbergbrücke

Weinhofbergbrücke:

Location: Grosse Blau Canal at Weinhofbergstrasse and Auf der Insel

Bridge type: Brick arch bridge

Located at the north tip of the island surrounded by the Blau Canal, this bridge is the lesser visible of the brick arch crossings because of the Fachwerkhäuser and vegetation interfering with the view. Nevertheless, the bridge fits nicely in the cityscape, providing access to some of the small shops in the Old Town. It is located behind one of the recently restored Fachwerk houses (the light brown colored one as seen in the picture) where a gallery and private residence occupies it. The bridge dates back to the 1700s but unlike the one at Schiefeshaus, this one carries automobile traffic but at a snail’s pace because of the high number of people soaking in the scenery of Ulm’s Old Town.

There are many more to see in Ulm, but these examples are the ones that should be visited first because of their historic and aesthetic appearance and how they fit the cityscape. Many of them are difficult to find and one will end up walking past them as they see the Fachwerk houses or even the other places of interest in the Old Town. But in case you stop at at least a couple of them to pay homage to them, you will have a chance to learn how oatingthey have played an integral part in the city’s development over the past three centuries. Unlike the ones in New Ulm in the US, where most of the crossings are now modern, these crossings are unique because of their history and design, even more so because of how thy fit Ulm’s cityscape, thus adding them to the storied list of places to see while in Ulm. Taking the line from Hans Scholl, one can sum up Ulm’s history as the following: Es lebe die Geschichte und Kulturerbe, in addition to his famous last words: “Es lebe die Freiheit.”

EN: Long live freedom, history and heritage.

bhc new logo jpegAuthor’s Note: This article is part of a series being done on the cities of Ulm/ Neu Ulm, Germany and the city of New Ulm written by sister column, The Flensburg Files. For more on this topic, click on the logo below for more details. The story behind Hans and Sophie Scholl can also be found there as well.

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The Fight to Save Fehmarn Island from Progress

Fehmarn Bridge side view new

Co-produced with sister column The Flensburg Files

FEHMARN, GERMANY-   Last fall, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a segment on the preservation of the Fehmarn Bridge, the first bridge in the world that carries the now popular basket-handle tied arch bridge span. The battle is part of the series where residents of Fehmarn Island are fighting with both the German and Danish governments to stop a project where the Migratory Bird Route, connecting Hamburg and Copenhagen, would be widened- both the highway and the railway. This includes new bridges to replace the Fehmarn Bridge and a tunnel on the opposite end connecting Puttgarden (D) and Rodby (DK). And lastly an industrial areal was planned for the island.  Unfortunately, despite the Areal being blocked earlier this year, the European Union, according to reports from the BBC, has given Denmark the green light to start the construction of the tunnel, by providing 589 million Euros in the next four years for the project.

Yet while the Danes are prepared to start work beginning this fall, residents of the island and the surrounding area along the Baltic Sea coast are up in arms against the project and have started their own initiative to stop the project.

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Tourists and locals have seen the blue X’es popping up in neighborhoods, along highways and beaches and even in the skies between Hamburg and Lübeck and the island itself. The Blue-X Initiative was adopted by the group Beltretter, with the purpose of showing support for preserving the island and stopping the project from taking place. Almost one in every three households have this on their lawns as a way of demonstrating solidarity against the project. And there are many reasons for this initiative:

1. The construction of the tunnel would coincide with the expansion of the highway and rail line going through the island as well as the construction of the new Fehmarn Bridge, resulting in the island becoming a construction site. As small as the island is, and with the economy being dependent almost solely on tourism, analysts predict a loss of up to 800 million Euros (or close to $1 billion) in revenue during the time of the construction because of loss of tourism and commerce, plus additional money to improve the island’s imagery once the project was completed, which could take years to complete.

2. The project would involve a loss of sensitive vegetation and marine life that would be immense and possible irreplaceable. This includes the plan to scrap the underground tunnel similar to the Euro-Tunnel connecting France and Great Britain in favor of one above the sea floor, similar to the Oresund Bridge and Tunnel between Copenhagen and Malmö (Sweden), which could be devastating to marine life alone. The width of the construction area between Puttgarden and Fehmarn Bridge would average approximately five kilometers. The maximum width of the island is only 21.8 kilometers- and this given the size of the land to be 185 squared kilometers!

3. Some discreptancies in the environmental and economic impact surveys conducted by Denmark have resulted in rechecking the figures. Alone with the economic impact survey released in January 2015 led to a debate on the credibility of both the Danish government, the conglomerate spearheading the tunnel initiative Fehmarn A/S, and even the European Union. While both Denmark and the EU claim that the new crossings would produce a revenue of 4-5% of the gross domestic product in the region or approximately 3.48 billion Euros ($5.5 billion), other surveys indicate that the loss of revenue through construction combined with years of recovery, the new crossing would net an annual loss of 6.7 billion Euros ($8.2 billion). For the residents on the island, the risk would be too high to take.

4. While there is a one-track rail line that is suitable for transport between Hamburg and Copenhagen including the time needed to cross via ferry, there is another border crossing at Flensburg and Padborg, where they feature a freeway and a two-track rail line connecting Hamburg with Aarhus with a arm going to Copenhagen via Odense. At the present time, improvements are being made in the Flensburg area to make the crossing more attractive. While the logic behind expanding the line through Fehmarn is there, little do government authorities realize that Fehmarn is a vacation and natural area whose need for a freeway/ two-track crossing on both ends of the island would devastate the natural habitat and impact tourism negatively. In other words, better to go through Flensburg if you wish to stay on the freeway going to Denmark and not stop to go swimming.

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While officials in Denmark are preparing to start building the tunnel from the Rodby end, officials in Germany are in the process of discussing the project with many parties involved. This after the application for the construction of the new Fehmarn Bridge, new freeway and tunnel was submitted to the state ministry of transport. The communities affected will have a meeting in September, followed by the environmental groups, including BeltRetter in November and residents affected by the construction afterwards. The ministry will then review the opinions and information provided by those affected before making their decision- a process that could take up to a year.  Proponents of the project have already received a backing from The German Railways (The Bahn) and German Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt, the former wanting to expand and electrify its rail line to run more ICE-Trains on there.

But with the opposition towards the project crystalizing and spreading beyond the region, problems will most likely excaberbate over the course of two years, especially when the blue X’es sprout up everywhere making the area as blue as possible. Since blue is the sign of clear water, the water people deserve to swim in and marine life to inhabit, it also is a sign of preserving things as they are. With more initiatives coming up and more support pouring in, there is a chance that the project could be stalled further or even scrapped. If this is the case, then there will still be some work to be done with its current infrastructure to keep it up to date, but residents will breathe a sign of relief, for having a mega-highway for the sake of expanding commerce is not necessarily what they want. In fact with all of information on the negative impacts, combined with questions involving the credibility of the sources, this project in the end will do more harm to the region than good. This is something no one is willing to gamble on.

The Flensburg Files and the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles are proud to support the initiative to preserve Fehmarn Island and its places of interest. Both columns will provide you with further updates on the latest involving the project. If you wish to take part in the initiative and want to donate for the right cause, please click on the following links. There you have information on how you can help.

Beltretter

Bewahrt Fehmarn (Preserve Fehmarn)

Comp2Kreuze CompKreuze Unknown-12 Unknown

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Special thanks to Mirko Kaminski for the use of the photos, as well as Karin Neumann and Hendrick Kerlen for their help in contributing some valuable information for this story.   

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Rome Bridge Gone!

Photos taken by James Baughn

ROME/SPRINGFIELD, MO-  While flooding has taken its toll on many bridges in the region, another bridge located in Douglas County, Missouri met its end yesterday. Yet the removal was planned. The Rome Bridge was a two-span Pratt through truss bridge featuring a four-rhombus Howe Lattice portal bracings with curved ankle braces. The 102-year old bridge was the product of the Kansas City Bridge Company but was built under the direction of J.H. Murray and Company. Upon completion in 1913, the bridge was 201 feet long (two 100-foot truss spans) and 15 feet wide.

Yet despite its historic significance and its proximity to a nearby park, talks had been underway to replace the bridge for three years because of structural concerns and its age. Attempts were undertaken to convince county officials and a preservation group to take a stand to stop the plans for replacement, part of that was in connection with the successes with the Riverside Bridge, which had been fixed and reopened prior to the unveiling of the plans to tear this bridge down. Unfortunately, to the dismay to many preservationists and locals, the ideas fell on deaf ears as county officials went ahead with the replacement project. With the truss bridge now reduced to a pile of scrap metal, a replacement bridge will take its place, most likely being scheduled for opening to traffic by the end of the year at the earliest. But memories of the bridge will remain and a facebook site (which you can click here) features a gallery of photos and videos of the bridge when it was still in service. There are a pair of videos below, which takes you across the bridge- that is before it was taken down yesterday.

 

 

https://video-fra3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hvideo-xfp1/v/t42.1790-2/11735154_10153515964179187_1697948927_n.mp4?efg=eyJybHIiOjU0MCwicmxhIjo1MTJ9&rl=540&vabr=300&oh=d3f50c13cc18f9d1dcb44995b326d912&oe=55AF5F76

 

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Riverside Bridge in Ozark Closed Again

Photo taken in August 2011

Photo taken in August 2011

Flood Damage Prompts Immediate Closure; Replacement being Considered

OZARK/ SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI-  At about this time four years ago, attempts were made to raise funds, sign petitions and collaborate with government authorites to save and repair the Riverside Bridge in Ozark, a 1909 Canton Bridge Company product that has been spanning the Finley River for 106 years, serving as a key crossing to the northwestern part of the city. All these efforts bore fruit as the local road authority allowed for repairs to be made and the bridge to be reopened, all in 2013. These successful attempts garnered state, national and international recognition.

Sadly though, the bridge’s days may be numbered. For the second time in five years, the bridge was closed to all traffic today.  Record setting flooding in the region resulted in much of Ozark and Springfield becoming inundated and bridges being five feet under water. The Riverside Bridge was one of them, as floodwaters washed over the bridge and only the top half of the bridge could be seen. When floodwaters receded, officials from Missouri Department of Transportation inspected the bridge to reveal structural damage to the railings and the lower chords. The bridge will be closed indefinitely until plans are revealed regarding the structure’s future. According to news channels covering the story, it appears that replacement is likely, although both MoDOT and the City of Ozark agree that the historic bridge should be saved, repaired and used again.  The bridge’s closure means it is back to the drawing board for many people who were part of the Save the Riverside Bridge group, led by Kris Dyer, for efforts to save the bridge took 2 years before the city gave the go ahead to rehabilitate and reopen the bridge. With the bridge closed again, the question now has become: “What’s next?”

A video with the interview with the local engineer explains that the repairs are possible but in the long term, replacement may be unavoidable:

Judging by the photos and videos, the damage to the bridge was mainly due to debris slamming into and getting entangled into the bridge. The rest of the structure appears to be in shape. Yet officials would like to see the bridge replaced and the truss bridge relocated. This is in part due to property rights issues around the structure. But suppose instead of replacing the bridge, one can supplant the truss bridge into a concrete bridge, where the trusses lose their function but serve as a decoration, but the concrete bridge would act as the crossing? With several examples existing in places like Indiana and Minnesota, it is an option worth considering. While a new bridge will cost up to $3 million, the cost for such a project will be just as much. Yet one thing is clear, no matter what happens to the bridge, rehabilitating it, replacing it and relocating it, or even placing it onto a concrete bridge, action will be needed to ensure that the next flood will not take out the crossing altogether. That means, a little bit more money will be needed to save the Riverside Bridge.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you informed on the latest developments regarding the Riverside Bridge. Click onto the highlighted links to take you to the bridge, its history and the attempts to save it the first time around.

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Firth of Forth Bridge now a World Heritage Site

Forth Railroad Bridge in Scotland. Photo taken by Mark Watson

Forth Railroad Bridge in Scotland. Photo taken by Mark Watson

EDINBURGH/ BONN: One cannot miss this beauty in red when travelling along the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Built in 1890, the three-span steel cantilever bridge still carries rail traffic after 125 years. The work of Sir William Arrol and Company, the bridge was the first of its kind built of steel, and massive enough to withstand the highest winds, even today. The bridge is still considered a work of human ingenuity that has yet to be surpassed, with over 4,500 people responsible for contributing to this ambitious project, according to UNESCO. While the 1.5 mile long structure had received many accolades, including the Chronicles’ Ammann Awards for Best Photo International this past year, the induction into the World Heritage List, provided by UNESCO, serves as the cherry on top of a large red cake that toom 82 years of planning and construction before opening to traffic in 1890 and is still standing ever since. Officials at UNESCO in Bonn today declared this bridge a World Heritage Site, thus making it the ninth bridge (and the third in the United Kingdom) to receive such a prestigious award. The bridge now joins the likes of the Statue of Liberty in New York, The Pyramids of Egypt, The Great Wall of China and even the newly listed Speicherstadt district of Hamburg (Germany) as the places of international importance, which will most likely increase revenue from tourism and the like.

More information on the Forth’s induction can be found here. The Chronicles would like to say congratulations on receiving such an honor.

And for those wondering what other bridges are on the World Heritage List, here is a list where you can click onto the link to obtain information on them:

Stari Most Bridge and the Old Town of Most (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Mehmed Paša Sokolovi? Bridge in Višegrad (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct) (France)

Avingnon Bridge (France)

Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System (Mexico)

Vizcaya Bridge (Spain)

Iron Bridge Gorge (UK)

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal (UK)

 

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