Mystery Bridge Nr. 15: A Wadell A-frame truss in Texas

Photo taken by Aaron Leibold

There will be many candidates that will make it into the nominations for the Ammann Awards for the category of Mystery Bridges. This bridge is one of them. Photographed by fellow pontist Aaron Leibold, who operates a website devoted to bridgehunting in Texas, this bridge is very unique because of its truss design, which contradicts what was previous mentioned by other pontists and historians alike.

Located in the northern part of Baylor County north of Seymour and spanning a creek that is feeding into Lake Kemp, this bridge is unique because of a rare truss type that was developed by a world renowned civil engineer, J.A.L. Waddell. Born in Port Hope, Ontario (Candad) in 1854, Waddell emigrated to the US where he earned his engineering degree at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in New York in 1878, before teaching engineering at that institute and other educational institutions in the US, Canada and even Japan (at the Tokyo Technical Institute). While he was famous for constructing and patenting many movable bridges in North America, including the ASB Bridge in Kansas City- the only bridge in the world whose main bottom span lifts up toward the upper span in a hydraulic fashion- Wadell patented the many truss spans including his A-frame span. The Waddell truss consists of a Kingpost truss bridge with subdivided diagonal beams supporting the upper chord. There are a few pony trusses with this unique feature- like the Schonemann Park Bridge in Luverne, in Rock County, Minnesota, which was built in 1908 by the Hewett Bridge Company and after spanning the Rock River for 82 years, was relocated to this site in 1990. But there are two through truss spans of this kind left in the country- one over Cross Bayou near Shreveport, Louisiana and one at a park in Parkville, Missouri.

It is possible that this bridge is a Waddell truss, given its Warren truss design, which if true, it would join the ranks and contradict the claim that there are two Waddell A-frame trusses left. But even more puzzling is the fact that trusses can be seen below the bridge deck, thus creating a diamond-shaped truss span. This would make it one of the most unique trusses ever built in the country and one that is the last of its kind.

Albeit abandoned with its replacement span being constructed alongside it, the bridge is 45 feet long and eight feet wide and can easily be seen from the new bridge. Given its location in a remote area, the bridge is in no danger of being demolished, and it should not be given the rarity of the truss bridge. What is missing is more details about its history- who built it (and had the crazy idea to design the bridge), let alone when it was constructed. This is where the people in Baylor County, as well as the preservationists in Texas and people like you should chip in to help.

If you have any information about the bridge’s history, you can leave a comment at the end of this article and/or contact the Chronicles and Aaron Leibold. The contact information is enclosed below. The Waddell Truss bridge has already been nominated for the Ammann Award under Mystery Bridge, a new category that was established this year. Whether it will win or not depends on how the voters will perceive this bridge. From my point of view, the bridge does have a chance.

Contact:

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com

Aaron Leibold: aaron.mightypenguin@gmail.com

Special thanks to Aaron Leibold for the nomination and the photo.

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2 Responses to Mystery Bridge Nr. 15: A Wadell A-frame truss in Texas

  1. Useful information. Lucky me I discovered your web site accidentally, and I’m stunned why this coincidence did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  2. Bud says:

    I believe it is located at 33.699623 x -99.220479 on Google earth. I did a little investigating and if that’s the bridge (it definitely seems to be an old truss bridge for sure) then whoever photographed it seemed to go WAY out of their way to find it. It’s in the boonies pretty far for sure. It also appears to still be in use!

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