Dodd Ford to receive a makeover

Dodd Ford Bridge spanning the Blue Earth River near Amboy, Minnesota. Photo taken by the author in September 2010

Truss bridge to be placed onto concrete stringer with the decking encased. Work scheduled to begin in Summer 2014

It is a beautiful piece of artwork when crossing the Blue Earth River, as seen in the video produced five years ago. It was built by a bridge engineer who immigrated to the United States from Germany and later went into politics. Despite being closed to traffic for five years and being threatened with demolition, it is a local landmark that is nationally significant with a unique appearance.

The Dodd Ford Bridge is now getting the rehabilitation it deserves. Residents living in and around Amboy, located south of Mankato in Blue Earth County, Minnesota have found a way to save the bridge by getting the support needed from the county as well as agencies on the state and national levels, with two goals in mind: saving the bridge and reopening it to traffic again. Both of them will be realized later on this year.

Workers will place the truss superstructure onto a modern concrete stringer bridge, encasing the lower chord with new decking, and adding new ornamental railings in the process. New paint and other repairs will be in the mix as well. The cost for the whole project: $1.3 million, $130,000 of which had already been allotted by the county for the project with the rest being provided by grants and other financial resources. Construction on this bridge is set to begin this summer, and while it is unknown how long the project will last, once the bridge is reopen to traffic, farmers and tourists alike will at last have the opportunity to cross the structure again. The 150-foot long bridge had been closed to heavy vehicles for over two decades and to all but pedestrian traffic since 2009. Upon inspection by both official contractors as well as private sources, the truss bridge itself was in pristine condition, leading to the question of “…why it was closed to begin with,” according to one source.

The Dodd Ford Bridge was built as a Camelback through truss bridge in 1901 by Lawrence H. Johnson, a bridge engineer who had once presided over the operations of Hennepin Bridge Company but built this structure as an independent contractor. Born in northern Germany (with sources pointing to Flensburg in Schleswig-Holstein) in 1862, Johnson emigrated to the US in 1875 and eventually to Minnesota in 1884, when he started his bridge-building business. He served in the Minnesota legislature, representing the Republican party and Hennepin County from 1901 to 1910, during which he was also president of the Hennepin Bridge Company in Minneapolis.  He died in 1947 but it is unknown where he was interred.  Johnson built numerous bridges in Minnesota, both as an independent contractor as well as during his days as president at Hennepin, but the Dodd Ford Bridge, as well as the Old Barn Resort Bridge near Preston in Fillmore County are the only two structure left with his name on there (surprisingly enough, the latter has been closed to traffic since 2010 and is also the subject of efforts to reopen it to traffic again).

If the bridge becomes encased with concrete decking, it will not be the first one that will receive this treatment. Several Minnesota truss bridges have received similar treatments and are still in operation. Most notable ones include the Merriam Street and Washington Avenue Bridges both in Minneapolis. The former consists of one of the spans of the original Broadway Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River that was relocated to its present site east of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in 1987, spanning the mighty river’s small channel. The latter spans the railroad tracks in downtown and was encased in 2001, with the trusses widened to accommodate traffic. While questions have been raised regarding the historic integrity of the bridge being compromised through this type of rehabilitation, many people have embraced this claiming it’s “…better that than to have no historic truss bridge at all.”

Compromise or not, the Dodd Ford Bridge is about to receive new life again, thanks to the efforts undertaken to save this bridge from becoming scrap metal. With 50% of the number of historic bridges gone across the country and Blue Earth County only having a handful left, including the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, people are taking a stand to preserve what is left of infrastructural history in America. The Dodd Ford Bridge not only represents that, but also a bridge that was built by an immigrant from a country that produced many bridge engineers of their time to build great infrastructures. And like Germany, the US and with regards to the Dodd Ford Bridge, the locals are fighting to save the unique few that are left for the next generations to enjoy.

Author’s Note: More information is needed about Lawrence H. Johnson’s life as a bridge builder and politician, as well as a confirmation of where he was born and where his tomb is located. If you have any information, please send it to the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. Information will be added once it’s received.

Click onto the links to learn more about the bridge and Lawrence Johnson, including the photos taken by the author during his visit in 2010 as well as Nathan Holth during his visit last year.

Posted in Bridge Preservation, Bridge Profile USA, FYI Bridge Newsflash, Interesting Bridge Facts, News, Practices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BB Comer Bridge in Alabama: Demolition Funding can be Repurposed for Rehabiliation

Overview of the slue, approach and main spans of the BB Comer Bridge. Photo taken by David Kennamer

 

Spanning the Tennessee River at Scottsboro, Alabama, the BB Comer Bridge represents a classic example of a cantilever truss bridge that is traditionally a target of progress, especially in light of the Minneapolis Bridge disaster six and a half years ago. Yet a preservation group is fighting to save this 1930 structure, and the way things are going, they will have things their way in converting the bridge into a pedestrian crossing, especially as the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is providing them with support.

In a letter dated December 31, 2013, to Julie Bowers of Workin’ Bridges, acting on behalf of Comer Bridge Foundation (CBF), Division Engineer Johnny L. Harris of the ALDOT provided a list of criteria defining the next steps required to change the intent of ALDOT’s contract with HRI Bridge Construction from demolition to repurposing. These criteria are based on ownership, construction and restoration practices, permitting, inspections, and a maintenance plan. Harris noted that the demolition funds CAN be used to preserve and repurpose the bridge IF all criteria are met and approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

CBF is arranging working sessions with local, regional and state officials the week of February 3, 2014.

“We are delighted that ALDOT took our request seriously,” said Bowers. “Workin’ Bridges was confident from the beginning of our relationship with CBF that this bridge can be saved. We have started the visioning process with a concept plan and elevation for the area. These are preliminary plans, and we welcome the public’s input.”

Comer Bridge, completed in 1930, is the last of the 15 memorial toll bridges enacted by legislation in 1927 that were built by the Kansas City Bridge Company but contracted through the Alabama State Bridge Corporation. Recently selected for the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, the historic bridge will now be submitted for national recognition by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Wiley Bridge in Berk’s County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken by Nathan Holth. Winner of the Best Photo Award. Most likely candidate for the crossing of the slue on the Scottsboro side of the BB Comer Bridge.

Plans to repurpose and preserve the historic B.B. Comer Bridge,  include adding a connection across the slue, which would allow visitors to park, hike and possibly dine on riverfront property adjoining the bridge. This also includes adding a connection across the slue that parallels the bridge on the Scottsboro side of the river. The Wiley Bridge in Pennsylvania, an 1883 truss bridge that is historic by state and national standards is being considered for that crossing. Located in Berks County, the bridge, which won the 2013 Ammann Awards for best photo (taken by Nathan Holth), is slated for removal and will be torn down if no one comes to claim it.

In response to a December 5 meeting with local and ALDOT officials, Bowers contacted Harris to initiate the plan of action he outlined during the meeting.

The CBF is calling on everyone for tax-deductible contributions in any amount, which may be donated online using the donor’s secure PayPal account or mailed to the following address:

Comer Bridge Foundation, PO Box 609, Scottsboro, AL 35768.

The CBF website features a page with a link to the umbrella nonprofit — The N. Skunk River Greenbelt Association — through which secure tax-deductible contributions are being made: http://comerbridge.org/donate-to-cbf.html. A link for CBF contributions is also available on the website ChamberForGood.com.

For more information about the CBF and efforts to save the bridge, visit the CBF website at www.comerbridge.org and consider liking CBF’s Friends of B.B. Comer Bridge at https://www.facebook.com/comerbridgefoundation.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the BB Comer Bridge as events start to unfold. You can like to follow if you want more information on preservation examples that are posted on a frequent basis.

Note: The Newsflyer is based on a press release provided by the Comer Bridge Foundation with elements of the Wiley Bridge coming from the previous article on the Ammann Award winners provided by the Chronicles. 

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2013 Ammann Awards Results Part II

Wiley Bridge in Berk’s County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken by Nathan Holth. Winner of the Best Photo Award.

 

Wiley Bridge wins Best Photo Award, Cologne and Fayette County win Tour Guide Award, Coffeville Bridge Best Kept Secret for Individual Bridge.  

Run-off elections for spectacular disaster underway; winner announced Friday.  New changes underway for 2014 Ammann Awards.

A grey foggy morning in rural Pennsylvania. All is quiet on the homefront, except for a few clicks with the camera, all covered in dew, taken by a pontist crossing an old iron bridge that is cold, eeiry, walking into the bridge…. and into nowhere! This is probably the feeling Nathan Holth had as he photographed the Wiley Bridge in Berks County in northern Pennsylvania. The bridge had been closed for many years, awaiting its removal. Yet if it happens, it will most likely be relocated to Alabama instead of the dumpster. This photo won the Ammann Awards for Snapshot which will be more points for the preservationists. A sure way to bid farewell after 110 years and say hello to its new home.

And the results for the other photos:

Wiley Bridge  (Nathan Holth)                                             10

Navajo Bridge in Arizona (John Weeks III)                     7

Eads Bridge (F. Miser) and

Wheeling Suspension Bridge  (Randall Whitacre)        6

and Riverdale Bridge in Indiana  (J. Parrish)

 

Best Kept Secret Award:

For this category, it was divided up into the Tour Guide Section, where we have a region or city with a cluster of historic bridges and Individual Bridge, awarded for finding a historic bridge.

Hollernzollern Bridge at Cologne. Cologne and the River Rhine Region in NRW won the Bridge Tour Guide Award for 2013. Photo taken in March 2010

Tour Guide Award:

Like the Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle(Saale), the Bridges along the Rhine River in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which includes the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne, won the Tour Guide Award in both the international division, as well as All Around. The history of the bridges in this region go back over 100 years, despite the majority of them being severely damaged or destroyed in World War II as the Nazis detonated them in a desparate attempt to stop the march of American and British troops. This includes the Remagen Bridge, as well as the bridges in Dusseldorf, Duisburg and Cologne. Fortunately, some of the bridges damaged in the war were restored to their original form; others were rebuilt entirely from scratch. In any case, one can find bridges going as far back as 1877 along the river in this still heavily industrialized state, as mentioned in a WDR documentary last year. The NRW Bridges edged the bridges of Lübeck by three votes and Halle (Saale) and Quedlinburg by four votes in the international division.

Results:

Cologne and North Rhine-Westphalia           11

Lübeck (Schleswig-Holstein)                               8

Halle (Saale) and Quedlinburg                          7

Other results:   Magdeburg (6), Kiel (5), Baltic-North Sea Canal (5), Flensburg (3)               Note: All these candidates are from Germany

 

West Auburn Bridge in Fayette County, Iowa. Photo taken in August 2011

 

USA Division:

There are many regions, cities and counties in the USA whose historic bridges are plentiful. But there is no county that has used historic bridges as a showcase as Fayette County, Iowa, this year’s Tour Guide Award for the USA division. As many as four dozen pre-1945 bridges are known to exist in the county, half of them are metal trusses, like the West Auburn Bridge, an 1880 Whipple truss bridge built by Horace Horton that’s located west of Eldorado. There are also numerous concrete arch bridges located in and around West Union and in western parts of the county, including the Oelwein area. And lastly, Fayette County has the only Kingpost through truss bridge in the state of Iowa, and perhaps the oldest of its kind left in North America. Located over Quinn Creek in the northern part of the county, the 1880 structure has remained a tourist attraction, despite being bypassed by a series of culverts in the 1990s.

Quinn Creek Bridge in Fayette County, Iowa. Photo taken by James Baughn

Thanks to Bill Moellering’s efforts during his years as county engineer, the county has the highest number of historic bridges in northeastern Iowa and one of the highest in the state. And the county won the Tour Guide Award by edging the City of Des Moines by one vote.

Other results:

Fayette County, Iowa                                                9

Des Moines, Iowa                                                         8

Caroll County, Indiana and                                    7

FW Kent Park in Iowa City

Other votes:  Franklin Park in Syracuse, New York (5)

In the All Around, Fayette County finished second behind Cologne, Germany, falling short by two votes, but with one vote ahead of Lübeck, Germany and Des Moines.

All-Around:

1. Cologne/ North Rhine-Westphalia (11);  2. Fayette County, Iowa (9); T3. Lübeck (8), Des Moines (8)

Coffeville Bridge in Kansas. Winner of the Best Kept Secret Award for Individual Bridge Find. Photo taken by Robert Elder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Kept Secret for Best Historic Bridge Find

In the second subcategory under Best Kept Secret, we have the individual bridges, where only a handful of bridges have been entered. While it is very few for a first time, the number will most likely increase when introduced for 2014. Only three bridges fall into this category, whereby the Coffeville Bridge, a three-span Marsh arch bridge spanning the Verdigris River in Montgomery County, Kansas not only won out in this category, but won the entire category, when combined with the Tour Guide candidates, beating Cologne by one vote and Fayette County by three. Not bad for a bridge that is about to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Here is how the winners fared out.

Individual Bridge Find:

Coffeville Arch Bridge in Kansas   (submitted by Robert Elder)             12

Field Bridge in Cedar County, Iowa   (submitted by Dave King)                                 9

Kiwanis Park Bridge in Iowa City       (submitted by Luke Harden)                            3

 

Total Count for entire Category (including Tour Guide Candidates)

Coffeville Arch Bridge in Kansas                  12

The Bridges of Cologne and NRW                11

The Bridges of Fayette County, Iowa            9

Field Bridge in Cedar County, Iowa                9

The Bridges of Des Moines                              8

The Bridges of Lübeck, Germany                   8

 

Run-off elections for Spectacular Bridge Disasters

The last category, the Smith Awards for Spectacular Bridge Disasters, ended up in a tie for first place between the Newcastle Bridge Disaster and the I-5 Skagit River Bridge disaster, with the fire on the San Sabo Trestle Bridge disaster being a vote behind the two in second place. Since there is no such thing as a tie-for-first place finish, we will have our very first run-off election among the three candidates. Go to the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ facebook page, look at the three candidates and like the one that should deserve the award (ENTITLED CANDIDATE NUMBER AND THE TITLE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS). One like per voter please. The candidate with the most likes will win. Please like one of the three candidates by no later than Thursday at 12:00am Central Time (7:00am Berlin time on Friday). The winner will be announced on Friday in the Chronicles.

 

Fazit:

The use of social networks will be a prelude to the changes that will take place for the 2014 Ammann Awards. As there were some technical issues involving the ballot, which caused many to need more time to vote or even pass on the voting, the 2014 Awards will be using more of the social networks and other forms of 2.0 technology to ensure that there are more voters and the voting process is much easier and quicker. This includes the expanded use of facebook and linkedIn, as well as youtube, and other apps, like GoAnimate and other education apps. More information will come when voting takes place in December.  The format for the 2014 voting will remain the same: submission of bridge candidates will be taken in November, ending on December 1st. However, the voting process will indeed resemble the Bridge Bowl, as it will be extended through Christmas and New Year, ending on January 6th, the Day of Epiphany. The winners will be announced on January 7th, 2015. More information can also be found in the Ammann Awards page.

The Chronicles would like to thanks those who voted and apologize to those who had problems with the voting from the 2013 Awards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2013 Ammann Awards Results Part I

Dodd Ford Bridge spanning the Blue Earth River near Amboy, Minnesota. One of many historic truss bridges profiled and considered historically significant by Bob Frame, winner of the 2013 Lifetime Legacy Awards. Photo taken by the author in September 2010

Robert (Bob) Frame III elected overwhelmingly for Lifetime Achievement; same result for Riverside Bridge (Ozark, Missouri) for Best Preservation Example. Halle (Saale) and Flensburg (Germany) numbers one and two respectively for Mystery Bridge.    

Run-off vote for Spectacular Bridge Vote underway. Results expected on Friday.

For this year’s Ammann Awards, presented by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, there is a first for everything. While 45-50 voters participated in this year’s voting (which included some casting their vote for one category only, and canceled out the voting scheme on the ballot) we had a pair of deadline extensions- one due to the Arctic Blast which kept people from voting due to blocked roads and power outages and another due to multiple ties for first place in four categories, and now a run-off election for one category.

But despite the complications, one of the unique themes of the election is how people in general (not just the pontists and bridge experts) weighed in their support for their candidates in droves, making the elections a nail-biter to the very end. It shows that people appreciate their bridges and the preservation efforts that accompany them. How exciting was the voting? Let’s have a look at the results for their respective categories.

Lifetime Achievement:

When I contacted him for the first time over seven years ago regarding inquiries about some bridges in Minnesota, my homestate, I got more than I bargained for when he provided me with an encyclopedia’s worth. But through his work, several historic bridges in Minnesota and other states have been preserved with more yet to come, including the Dodd Ford Bridge near Amboy in Blue Earth County.  Robert (Bob) Frame III capped off his successful 40+ year career by winning the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work- but by an overwhelming majority, outracing his distant competitors, Nels Raynor and Bill Moellering. An interview with him will follow later on in the year in the Chronicles, which I’ll find out more about his passion for historic bridges and how it bore fruit careerwise, as a senior historian at Mead & Hunt, a post he still holds at present.

Results:

Robert Frame III     18

Nels Raynor                 7             Raynor engineered successful preservation efforts in                                                                   Texas, Kansas and Iowa (among others) and is                                                                               spearheading efforts to save the Bunker Mill Brudge

Bill Moellering             5             36 years of success as county engineer and                                                                                     preservationist for Fayette County brought him an                                                                       award for the county in another category and better                                                                     chances of integrating the historic bridges into a tourist                                                               attraction.

Other participants:  Friends of the Aldrich Change Bridge (4) and James Stewart (2)

 

Bridge of the Year:

Bixby Creek Bridge along CA Hwy. 1 in Big Sur, California. Photo taken by Ian McWilliams, used with permission under the guidelines by wikipedia

Spanning the creek bearing the bridge’s name, this 1932 concrete deck arch structure is one of the tallest in the world, the most photographed by tourists because of its aesthetic nature and one of the most widely used bridge for American culture, as it was used in several Hollywood films, and it is even on a US Stamp. Now it earns another title, which is the 2013 Bridge of the Year Award, despite winning by a narrowest of margins. The bridge: The Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, in Monterrey County, California, located along the original US 101 (now called CA Hwy. 1), which has many bridges of this caliber between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. But not as popular as this bridge.

Results

Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur                 12

Hastings Arch Bridge in Minnesota      11      Spanning the Mississippi River, the                                                                                                 1951 steel through arch bridge (known                                                                                              as Big Blue) was built at the site of the                                                                                              Hastings Spiral Bridge. Now Big Red,                                                                                                the largest tied arch bridge in North                                                                                                America has taken over in hopes it can                                                                                            outlive Big Blue.

Wells Street Bridge in Chicago                7      This deck truss bascule bridge, built in                                                                                             1922 was the focus of a major                                                                                                             unprecedented habilitation project last                                                                                             year, as the trusses were replaced with                                                                                           duplicate ones keeping the historic                                                                                                   integrity in tact.

Other votes: Vizcaya Bridge in Spain (6), Rendsburg High Bridge in Germany (5), Petit Jean Bridge in Arkansas (4) and Prestressed Concrete Bridge near Cologne (Germany) (3)

 

Mystery Bridge:

Hafenbahn Bridge spanning the Saale River in Halle (Saale). Photo taken in August 2011

In its inaugural year, the category Mystery Bridge had not only a winner and a second place finisher in its own territory, but overall.  The Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale) in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt has a unique design, a unique history in connection with politics, but an unknown history as to who constructed this structure in 1884, which has survived two World Wars and the Cold War era nearly unscathed. That bridge received 12 votes, four more than its second place finisher, the Angelbuger Bridge in Flensburg (located at the Danish border), the bridge whose abutment used to house a bike shop, a comic store and a used goods shop. It shares second place with the winner in the US category, the Chaska Swing Bridge, which also received 8 votes. Also known as the Dan Patch Swing Bridge, it is the last bridge of its kind along the Minnesota River, which used to be laden with these bridge types, as it served as a key waterway linking Minneapolis and Winnipeg via Ortonville, Fargo and Grand Forks. The bridge is seldomly used and there’s hope that it will one day be a bike trail bridge.

Results (USA):

Dan Patch Swing Bridge in Minnesota                                                   8

Dinkey Creek Wooden Parker Truss Bridge in California              7          

V-laced truss bridges in Iowa                                                                    5

 

Dan Patch Swing Bridge near Savage. Photo taken by John Marvig

International:

Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale), Germany                                  12

Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg, Germany               8

Schleswig Strasse Bridge in Flensburg, Germany                              1

 

All Around:

Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale)                                                          12

Angelburger Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg and

Dan Patch Swing Bridge                                                                                 8

Dinkey Creek Bridge in California                                                             7

 

Best Preservation Example:

Photo taken in August 2011

It took three years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, thousands of hours of volunteer work and effort by thousands of people with direct ties to this 1909 Canton Bridge Company structure, plus a Historic Bridge Weekend event not to mention lots of politicking and clarification of the laws. But it all paid off as the Riverside Bridge, spanning Finley Creek in Ozark, Missouri, located east of Springfield, was rehabilitated and reopened to traffic in August 2013.  The group was informed yesterday that it has been awarded the Preservation Missouri Award for its work. The Ammann Award for Best Preservation Practice, awarded on the international scale has put the cherry on top of a cake that took so long to make, thanks to the people for their efforts, esp. as the bridge won by a smashing majority!

Best Preservation Practice:

Riverside Bridge in Ozark, Missouri        19

North Bennington Bridge in Vermont       7            A set of Moseley Arch trusses                                                                                                           were found along the road-                                                                                                                 dismantled after service. It was                                                                                                         reassembled and now, it’s a bridge                                                                                                   again.

Big Four Railroad Bridge in Kentucky    6            45 years out of service, the City of                                                                                                    Louisville put the Ohio River                                                                                                              crossing back into service as a                                                                                                            pedestrian bridge.

Other votes:  Cremery Bridge in Kansas (6), Petit Jean Bridge (5), Wells Street Bridge in Chicago (5), The Bridges of Robertson County, Texas (5), Checkered House Bridge in Vermont (2), Moose Brook Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio (1) and Murray Morgan Bridge in Tacoma, Washington (1)

 

More results of the Ammann Awards are found in Part II. To be continued……

 

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2013 Ammann Awards: Smith picks his favorites

Bergfeld Pond Bridge in Dubuque, Iowa. One of the nine-span 1868 Mississippi River crossing that had existed until 1898 when it was dismantled. Photo taken in August 2013 by John Marvig.

While many people are taking last minute attempts to submit their ballots for the 2013 Ammann Awards, as the deadline was extended to January 11th due to the extreme severe cold weather that kept many from voting, the author of the Chronicles went ahead and chose the select few bridges that deserve the best attention possible. In its third year, the Smith Awards go out to the bridges that serve as examples of how they should be preserved from the author’s point of view.  This year’s Smith Awards also hit a record for the number of entries, for many examples were presented that should be brought to the attention to those whose historic bridge may be deemed unsafe in their eyes, but restorable in the eyes of those who have the experience in preservation as those who have close ties with the structure.

So without commenting further, let’s give out the Smith Awards beginning with:

Quinn Creek Kingpost Bridge in Fayette County, Iowa. Photo taken in August 2013 by James Baughn

BEST BRIDGE FIND: 

USA:

This year’s Smith Awards for the Best Bridge Find in the United States is given to three Iowa bridges because of their unique features. The first one goes out to the Kingpost through truss bridge spanning Quinn Creek in Fayette County. Built around 1885 by Horace Horton, this bridge was thought to have disappeared from view in the 1990s when it was replaced by a series of culverts. Bill Moellering, the former county engineer and Ammann Award for Lifetime Achievement candidate was the first person to prove us wrong, for he mentioned of the bridge’s existence during our correspondence in March of last year (I had asked him to speak at the Historic Bridge Weekend, which he accepted). Dave King and James Baughn provided the pictorial evidence a few months later. Albeit not listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this one will most likely be listed in the near future. And given the county’s staunch stance regarding its historic bridges, this bridge will remain in its place for many generations to come.

The second one goes  to the Bergfeld Pond Bridge in Dubuque. This span was one of the nine spans of the 1868 bridge that had spanned the Mississippi River for 30 years before it was dismantled and the spans were dispersed all over the country. This one is in its third home, as it used to span Whitewater Creek near Monticello before its relocation to its present spot in 2006-7. The next question is: what happened to the rest of the spans? The Chronicles will have an article on this unique span in the near future.

Photo taken by the author in September 2010

And the last one goes to the Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama in Tama County. The bridge was built by Paul Kingsley in 1915, two years after the Lincoln Highway, which the bridge carried this route for many years, was created. Its unique feature is the lettering on the concrete railings, something that cannot be found with any other concrete bridge in the US, or even Europe. The bridge was part of the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway celebrations last year and will surely have a celebration of its own in 2015, the same year as the 100th anniversary of the Jefferson Highway, which meets the Lincoln Highway at Colo, located west of this bridge. As James Baughn commented through his bridgehunter.com facebook page: “It is a true crime to visit Iowa and NOT photograph this bridge.” This one I have to agree.

 

Photo taken by S. Moeller. Public domain through wikipedia

International:

Fehmarn Sound Bridge in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany:  Spanning the channel connecting mainland Germany and Fehmarn Island, this 1963 bridge was unique for it was the first bridge in the world to use the basket-style tied arch design. It has since been recognized a national historical landmark. Yet another unique bridge in North Rhine-Westphalia received larger recognition this year, and because this bridge type was used extensively beginning in the 1990s, this bridge fell to the wayside. Yet it at least deserves this honor for the work engineers and construction crews put in to make this span possible, especially as it is one of the key landmarks to see, while visiting northern Germany. The bridge still serves rail and vehicular traffic today, albeit it will receive a sibling in a form of another crossing that will connect Fehmarn Island with Denmark, thus eliminating the need for ferry service and completing the direct rail connection between Berlin and Copenhagen through Hamburg and this location.  Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

BIGGEST BONEHEAD STORY:

International:

St Jean Baptiste  Bridge in Manitoba, Canada.  What is much worse than replacing a historic bridge against the will of the people? How about tearing down a historic bridge that is a key crossing to a small community and NOT rebuilding it. This is what happened to this three-span polygonal Warren through truss bridge in February 2013. Extreme hot weather combined with flooding from the rains in the fall of 2012 undermined the easternmost abutment and bank of the crossing, prompting officials in Winnepeg to not only close down the bridge, but dropped the entire structure into the Red River of the North. The implosion occurred in February 2013.  This has created widespread pandemonium not only because of its historic significance (it was built in 1947), but because of the detour of up to 50 kilometers either to Morris Bridge or to Dominion City to cross the river. There is still no word from Winnipeg regarding whether or when the bridge will be rebuilt, angering them even more.  A sin that is not forgiven, and politicians making that unintelligent decision will most likely be voted out of office in the upcoming parliamentary elections, if they have not been relieved of duties already.

Note: A new bridge would cost up to CDN $60 million and take five years to build.

More on this story can be found here.

 

Second place:

Europa Bridge in Rendsburg, Germany. The incident in Canada far eclipses the incident involving the 42-year old bridge crossing the Baltic-North Sea Canal, where crews closed most important crossing connecting Flensburg and Denmark in the North with Hamburg and the rest of Germany in the South. And this during the peak of summer travel in July!  While trying to squeeze across using the tunnel carrying a main street through Rendsburg, the closure left travelers with no choice but to use the rail line and the Rendsburg High Bridge.  You can imagine how crowded the trains were at that time. Given the fact that the A-7, which crosses this bridge, is the main artery slicing through Germany, many residents are still scratching their heads and demanding the logic behind this abrupt closure of an important link between the south and north.

 

USA

Ponn Humpback Covered Bridge: Arsonism overtook the theft of metal components from bridges as the number one culprit that has either severely damaged or even destroyed historic bridges. At least a dozen reports of vandalism and arson on historic bridges were reported this year in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and even Iowa. What gets people to set bridges made of wood, or metal bridges with wooden decking is unknown, except for the fact that their ignorance is hurting the counties that maintain them as tourist attractions.  The Ponn Humpback Covered Bridge in Vinton County, Ohio is a classic example of one of those victims of arson. Built in 1874, the bridge used to be one of two in the country with an arched bridge deck until fire engulfed the bridge in June 2013. This five years after the county had spent over $300,000 in restoring the bridge by adding a new roof and improving the trusses and decking.  Police are still looking for the perpetrator to this day and more information about the incident can be found here. It’s unknown whether this bridge will be rebuilt, especially as there is a steel pony truss bridge built alongside the structure to accommodate traffic.

More on the tragedy here.

 

Second Place: 

I-5 Skagit River Bridge in Washington:  Not far behind the theme of arson is the collapse of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge in Washington state, which occurred in May 2013. A semi-truck exceeded the vertical clearance limit on the portal bracing of this 1950s through truss bridge, sending part of the bridge into the water. While the driver was not cited, it sparked a debate on how to deal with through truss bridges with many people wanting them taken off the roadways for good. One state senator even went further by advocating the elimination of the Section 106 and Environmental Impact Survey requirements for bridge replacement. Both of these are way too expensive and, as a political science professor at the University of Jena would say: “It will just not happen.” So we’re going to end this topic by travelling to a through truss bridge on any highway- on a reduced load- and cross it, appreciating its grace and beauty!

More on the bridge disaster here.

 

Bonus:

Ft. Lauderdale Railroad Bridge:  There are many reasons why No Trespassing signs are posted on railroad bridges. Add this incident involving a railroad bridge in the Florida community. A 55-year old woman, walking home from her breast cancer walk, found herself hanging onto dear life from a bascule bridge that had lifted to allow ships to pass- and getting a pose in the process from thousands of onlookers who took pictures and posted them onto the social network pages!  Being dressed in pink and in an outfit like that probably made many people react in strange way, but for her, it probably made her day. Fortunately she was rescued by fire crews, but it redefined the meaning of No Trespassing, which now ranks up there with being photographed by automated cameras in Europe if exceeding the speed limit on the motorways.  Do as expected, or expect to shamed in the media!  More on the story here.

SALVAGEABLE MENTIONED:

Photo taken in August 2011

Roof Truss Bridge at FW Kent Park in Iowa:  This crossing has a unique story. The truss bridge was built using the steel trusses from a vintage automotive dealer in Iowa City, four miles east of the park, which were found in the ditch along the road in the late 1980s and converted into a bridge to serve the pedestrian path encircling the lake. The bridge is a must see, as it is located on the north end of the lake and is one of nine truss bridges that makes the core of the park. Click here for more about this story.

 

 Honorably Mentioned

New Bennington Bridge in Vermont:  Technically, this bridge should have gotten this award for it featured a one of a kind Moseley iron arch span whose superstructure was found along the road in the ditch, cut in half and was put together as a truss bridge now serving a park complex. Yet the difference is the creativity aspect, for this salvaged and restored span had once been  a bridge before it was taken out of service. Hence its nomination in the Ammann Awards for Best Bridge Preservation Practice. It would not be surprising if these two bridges won their respective awards for 2013.

 

WORST EXAMPLE OF HOW TO PRESERVE A HISTORIC BRIDGE

View inside the bridge. Photo taken by Steve Conro, released into public domain through www.bridgehunter.com

 

New Castle Bridge near Oklahoma City: The 10-span Parker through truss bridge was a victim of a double-tragedy: a tornado that destroyed two of the spans and the demolition of all but one span, as directed by the local and state governments. It is unclear what the plans are for the remaining span, yet this act falls in line with eating up all but the head of the gingerbread man. A tortuous loss that should have gone one way or the other: dismantle and store the remaining trusses for restoration and reuse or tear down the whole structure and risk receiving the Bonehead Award for 2013, which was given to the arsonists who succeeded all the way in this type of business.

 

BEST EXAMPLE OF HOW TO PRESERVE A HISTORIC BRIDGE

USA:   

The Petit Jean Bridge in front of Danville City Hall. Photos courtesy of J. Randall Houp

Petit Jean Bridge in Arkansas:  While looking at this 1880 bowstring arch bridge, one would say that it is a typical vintage bridge that deserves to be honored, even if it is demolished with the information being placed in the books. Yet apart from its history with an infamous lynching incident in 1883 that scarred Yell County, the Petit Jean Bridge receives this award and is in the running for the Ammann Awards for Best Preservation Practice for a good reason: It is the only bridge in the state, let alone one of a few rare bridges that was relocated more than one time in its lifetime- and still retained its original form! The bridge was relocated three times, including one to its final resting point this past October: in front of the Danville City Hall to be part of a city bike trail network. If the Petit Jean Bridge wins the Ammann Awards in addition to this one, it will be because of the care that the county took in relocating and restoring the bridge multiple times. What other historic bridge can make this prestigious claim?

 

International:

Three bridges in the UK have received the Smith Rewards for the best example of preserving a historic bridge. The first one goes to the Llangollen Chain Bridge in the Northeastern Part of Wales. The cantilever suspension bridge was built in 1929, even though the crossing has a 200-year tradition, yet it was closed to all traffic 30 years ago due to safety concerns. Since that time, efforts were undertaken to raise funds for restoring and reopening the structure connecting the Llangollen Canal and the railway. This was successful and the bridge is currently being restored, awaiting reassembly  this year.  The second one goes to the Whitby Swing Bridge in North Yorkshire, a duo-span deck girder swing bridge that underwent renovations totaling £250,000 last year to redo and waterproof the electric wiring, strengthen and paint the girders. It worked wonders for while flooding this past December left the swing spans in the open position, no damage was done to the electrical wiring and the superstructure itself. Something that people can take pride in and show others how restoring a swing bridge can actually work.  And lastly, the Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge, located near Chester (England) is currently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation to rework the swing mechanism, strength the Howe trusses and improve the decking for a total of £4.5 million, with the goal of prolonging its lifespan by 50 years. The preparations for this project was herculean for a temporary span was constructed prior to the closure of the 90-year old structure, for the bridge provides the only vital link between the two communities.  Once the bridge reopens next year, it will show to the public that the project and its difficulties in arrangement and processes was really worth it, especially as the people of the two communities have a close relationship with the bridge.

For more information on these bridges, click on the links marked in the text. As you can see in the selections, it is just as difficult in choosing them as it is for people voting for the candidates for the Ammann Awards. Yet despite the fear that 2013 would usher in the year of destruction of historic bridges- and we’ve seen a lion’s share this year- it actually was a good year for many unique examples were restored for reuse, marking a sign that the interest in historic bridges is huge- both in the United States, as well as elsewhere. How 2014 will take shape depends on numerous factors, which include the interest in historic bridges, the increasing number of preservationists and technical personnel willing to restore them, and lastly the financial standpoint. There was speculation that the Crash of 2008 in the US marked the end of the preservation movement, yet that did not seem to move the people whose close ties with these structures remain steadfast. If communities cooperate with private groups and provide support towards preserving the remaining historic bridges, as seen with the Bunker Mill, Riverside and Green Bridges, then there is a great chance that they will receive new life and will be greeted by the new generations interested in them. Without cooperation and funding, the structures will simply sit there rotting until they are swept away by the ages of time.

On to the results of the Ammann Awards; even though the deadline is January 11th to submit your votes, the results will be given out on the 13th. Stay tuned.

 

 

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Ammann Awards Voting Deadline Extended to 11 January

Lime Creek Bridge north of Fulda, Minnesota. Photo taken in December 2010

Arctic Blast paralyses 2/3 of the USA with power outages and people stranded;  Several ties for first place in four categories; Winners to be announced January 13th.

Growing up in Minnesota, one is used to winters where snow drifts of up to 2 meters cover half the house, fields are covered in snow drifts resembling lakes, schools are called off and kids can stay home and watch TV- or help out with the digging, and we had frigid temperatures that are tolerable- -10°C on average after snow storms.  Even scenes like this one, taken in during the Winter 2010/11 were pushing it but tolerable:

But this most recent Arctic Blast has crippled two thirds of the United States, stranding people everywhere- in their cars, at homes, and even community centers. Record temperatures were reported everywhere from Minnesota and the Dakotas, to the New England states and even down towards Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas- a first in 20 years! Statewide closures of schools, governmental agencies and business is now a common site, and with that: power outages!

This has prompted the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles to delay the deadline of submitting the voting ballots to January 11th at 12:00am (7:00am Berlin Time). This way, people who did not have a chance to vote because of power outages, closed libraries and public places, and being stuck in the snow, will still have a chance to vote for their bridge candidates. Ballots can be downloaded here or through Bridgehunter.com by clicking here. You can either fill out the ballot or provide a list of your bridges you’re voting and send it to the Chronicles at flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com or JDSmith77@gmx.net.

Partially completed ballots are also acceptable. In case of any questions, etc., please let the author know.

Winners will be announced on January 13th!

Another reason for the extension is in four categories we have a battle for first place among bridge candidates. This includes the following:

Bridge of the Year: A two-way tie between the Hastings Bridge in Minnesota and the Bixby Creek Bridge in California, with Wells Street Bridge not far behind.

Mystery Bridge: On the international scale, we have a tie for first place between the Bike Shop Bridge in Flensburg and the Hafenbahn Bridge in Halle (Saale), both in Germany

Best Photo: We have a three-way tie between the Eisenhower Bridge in Minnesota, the Navajo Bridge in Arizona and the Hillsborough Railroad Bridge in Florida, with four other bridges in the mix.

Best Preservation Example: A four-way tie for first place between the Riverside Bridge in Missouri, Big Four Railroad Bridge in Kentucky, Cremery Bridge in Kansas, and North Bennington Bridge in Vermont.

Spectacular Disaster: Two way tie for first place between the I-5 Bridge in Washington and the Newcastle Bridge tornado disaster in Oklahoma, with the Leo Frigo Bridge sag in Wisconsin, and the railroad trestle fire in Texas on their heels.

Before the winners are announced, the author will present his pics for the Smith Awards minus the Spectacular Disaster part, and there is a post humous Lifetime Legacy Awards that will be presented, honoring a pontist from Iowa who spearheaded a successful efforts in saving numerous bridges in the state. More will come from there. Stay tuned and looking forward to the ballots from those unable to vote as of present!

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Now Accepting Nominations for the 2014 TRUSS Award

Cascade Bridge in Burlington, Iowa. One of the winners of the 2013 TRUSS Awards. Photo taken in August 2013

While voting is still commencing for the 2013 Ammann Awards, nominations are being taken for another award that will be given out in February: The Top-Rated Unique Savable Structures Awards (aka TRUSS). They will be given out to the unique bridges with a high degree of historical value but are being threatened with demolition. To nominate your candidate, click on this link, which will follow you to James Baughn’s website. There you can send in your nomination, as well as look at the previous winners of the TRUSS Awards, including the Cascade Bridge in Iowa, winner of the 2012 Awards.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will provide you with the top five bridges who are winners of the TRUSS Awards as soon as the winners are announced.

 

FYI: Deadline for submitting the votes for the 2013 Ammann Awards is January 6th at 12:00am Central Time (7:00am Berlin Time). At the moment, we may be facing a run-off vote in at least four different categories for the Awards for they have candidates that are in a three-way tie for first place (in a couple cases, a four-way tie). Whether the run-off or a possible extension for voting will take place depends on the number of completed ballots being submitted between now and then. The Chronicles will make the announcement as soon as the final ballot has been submitted and the votes tallied.  Stay tuned for the suspense……

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Newsflyer: Christmas Eve 2013

Here’s to great success! Happy Holidays! Photo taken at the Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany in December, 2013

City Council Approves Public-Private Project for Historic Bridge; Restoration of Another Historic Bridge Under Way; So is Voting for Ammann Awards

It’s becoming a rarity that we are getting a series of good news about the future of historic bridges, even more so when you have the public sector involved. But at Christmas Time, it is almost a once in a lifetime opportunity. Here’s why as the Chronicles has a special Newsflyer dedicated to some preservation projects that are under way right now!

City Council Approves Public-Private-Project for Green Bridge

The Des Moines City Council last night unanimously approved a joint project to raise funding for the restoration of the Jackson Street /5th Street (a.k.a. Green) Bridge. The vote was 7-0 and reflects on the outcome that had come about a week earlier. There, the Friends of the Green Bridge presented the proposal for the project to the City Council, which included speeches by many people involved. There has been unanimous support for the project ever since the facebook and petition pages were launched in November, which was one of the key factors, leading to last night’s decision for the project. The approval includes relegating the $750,000 originally set aside for bridge demolition for the restoration project, plus raising additional funds for the project, pending on what is actually needed. While a report from the construction firm Shuck-Britson claimed that between $2m and $3.75m is needed for the project, another  firm, Jensen Construction, also based in Des Moines, will undergo a thorough inspection to determine the needs of the bridge.  Fundraising efforts will start in the next year, the Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest there.  Once deemed as condemned, the Green Bridge, built in 1898 by a local bridge builder is receiving a new life from unexpected sources, namely, the people wanting to keep the bridge- and now the City Council. :-)

More information about the bridge can be found here.  An interesting story about Jensen Construction and its history can be found here. Article about the project: here.

Author’s Note: More updates, discussions and other facts about the bridge can be found here, but please keep in mind that restoration examples can be found in the Chronicles’ facebook page.

 

Restoration of Bunker Mill Bridge Underway

Rising out of the ashes caused by arson in August, another Iowa historic bridge, located 170 miles east of Des Moines, is currently being restored. The Bunker Mill Bridge, built by the King Bridge Company in 1887 and reinforced by the Iowa Bridge Company in 1913, is located southeast of Kalona in Washington County. The bridge’s decking was torched in August 2013- the same time as the Historic Bridge Weekend. Yet, thanks to the county’s approval of selling the bridge to the organization, Friends of the Bunker Mill Bridge and the fundraising that has been done so far, work is being undertaken on the bridge. At the moment, after removing the charred decking in November, crews have jacked up the bridge’s superstructure to strengthen the abutments. I-beams, which support the decking of the bridge, is needed for the work, and many bridge parts are being strengthened through welding and new parts that coincide with the original construction of the bridge- termed in-kind restoration.  Nels Raynor of BACH Steel, a candidate for the 2013 Ammann Awards for Lifetime Achievement, is overseeing the project with 20-years of experience and many successful projects under his belt already. While the cost for the project has been reduced to $275,000 (from the $450k that was originally estimated), the funding is over a third of the way finished and more is needed. For more information, click here for details.  A step in the right direction and thanks to the work of many dedicated people, Suzanne Micheau, Julie Bowers and others, the bridge is making a comeback bit by bit. :-)

 

Voting underway for Ammann Awards

Don’t forget that the Chronicles’ Ammann Awards is in full swing. Because of the high number of entries this year, you still have a chance to download and fill out the ballot (click here) and submit it via e-mail before January 3rd. The winners for each of the eight categories will be announced on the 7th. If you have problems filling out the ballot, an e-mail with your favorites is also fine, too.

At the end of the year, there will also be a Smith Awards voting for the category of Biggest Bonehead Story. There the voting will be different as articles will be posted on the Chronicles’ facebook page, and the winner will be based on the number of likes received. Like the Chronicles and follow for more details.

 

Author’s note to close things off: The Chronicles was a bit absent this month due to a tour through Berlin’s Christmas markets. Berlin is Germany’s capital. More information, photos and articles about the Christmas markets can be found through sister column, The Flensburg Files. Articles about the various markets and interesting facts will be posted both on the page as well as on its facebook page during the holiday season.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and the Flensburg Files would like to wish you and yours the best and safest this holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy 2014 from our house to yours! :-D

 

 

 

 

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Newsflyer: 9 December, 2013

Clark’s Mill Bridge in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Photo taken in August 2010

Historic Bridges coming down in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Green Bridge meeting on December 16th, Bridgehunter and Flensburg Calendars for sale

Jack Kerouac, one of the well-known “road-hog” American writers of the post World War II era, crossed this bridge many times as a child and used it in his novel Dr. Sax. Now he’s wishing he was out of his grave to curse the people of his hometown Lowell, Massachusetts for destroying the bridge that used to be part of his childhood. The University Avenue Bridge, spanning the Merrimack River, a Pratt deck truss bridge that was built in 1895, was slated for demolition once the Schell Memorial Bridge was built. While a preservation group stood up to the government to hinder this progress, it recently stepped aside, thus giving the green light for demolition to commence in 2014. However, this bridge is not the only one on the chopping block, as the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is presenting its Newsflyer to focus on the bridges that were once a struggle to preserve it, but became bait for the bulldozers as the groups backed off. Yet this is not all, for some glimmer of hope for one Iowa bridge can be seen through the darkness and if you want a great Christmas gift for your loved ones, …

Well, here we go, without ado:

Schell Bridge Coming Down: Touted as the longest single-span truss bridge in Massachusetts and one of the longest Pennsylvania truss bridges in the country, this 1903 Connecticut River crossing was built by Edward Shaw and had been abandoned for over two decades. A preservation group tried to stop plans to demolish the bridge, yet they recently agreed to tear down and rebuild the bridge, using the metal from the old span and keeping the design. Reason: deterioration of the bridge decking although the steel superstructure was in normal shape. Apart from Kerouac’s Bridge in Lowell and Fitch’s Bridge in Middlesex County, this bridge is the third one this year where a preservation group once fought for preservation but retracted because of government pressure. The Schell Bridge is located in Franklin County, northwest of Northfield. More info can be found here.

Mercer County to wipe out eight historic bridges: Once touted as one of the most populous counties in western Pennsylvania, this county is on the road to becoming the county to have one of the least number historic bridges, especially after 2016. Some of the bridges that are on the chopping block include the following:

Clark’s Mill Bridge- Located over the Little Shenango River, this 1885 Penn Bridge Company bridge is one of the shortest Pratt through truss bridges in the county, with a span of only 82 feet. Unfortunately it is one of the most corroded bridges in the county, which explains the reason why the county wants to replace it beginning in 2014. Whether it is on a new alignment or at its original location remains unclear. The one thing that is clear is that the bridge’s days are numbered.

Sharpsville Bridge- Located over the Shenango River in northeast of Sharpsville, this bridge features two crossings with an 1897 Penn Bridge Company Parker through truss serving oneway traffic and a stringer replacement of 1946 serving another lane. Both have been closed since 2010 and are slated for replacement.

Carlton Bridge- Spanning French Creek at New Lebanon Road, this two-span iron through truss bridge features unique portal bracings and finials that are typical of the Columbia Bridge and Iron Works Company, which built this structure in 1892. While one of the locals upon my visit in 2010 claimed that the bridge would remain in its place, his assumptions are about to be wrong. Closed since 2011, the county plans to tear down and replace this bridge beginning next year, although the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A travesty? Yes, but typical of PennDOT and its behavior towards historic bridges.

Cochranton Bridge- Spanning French Creek outside Cochranton and carrying Hwy. 173, this two-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections was built in 1930 and has been carrying traffic with little incident ever since. Yet, PennDOT is not satisfied with the bridge’s restricted height clearance and width limits and therefore is planning its replacement span, which will take its place in 2015. This will cause headaches for a detour will be many miles long, adding more money wasted in gas and taxes to the proposed $7 million project.

Green Bridge in Des Moines the subject of important meeting:  Already the campaign to save the three-span Pratt through truss bridge spanning the Raccoon River has reached new levels with over 860 signatures and over 1050 likes on its facebook page, with more needed. 5000 bikers have been informed and have thrown their support behind the 1898 structure, together with some big-time businesses in Des Moines. One of the climatic events will be the meeting on December 16th at Des Moines City Hall. There, the City Park Board will present their proposals on the bridge to the City Council, yet the meeting will be open to the public. If you are interested in voicing your opinion about the bridge, you are strongly encouraged to attend the meeting. Like to follow the developments involving the bridge, and do not forget to sign the petition if you have not done so yet. A link to the petition can be found here.

Calendars and other Items for Sale: Looking for a gift for your friends and/or loved ones? For the second year in a row, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and its sister column The Flensburg Files is selling calendars and other items. This includes the 2014 calendars featuring the historic bridges of Iowa and Germany. If you are interested in purchasing one, please click here to order. More information can also be found in the Bridgehunter Chronicles Shop page. Both are powered by Cafe Press.

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Mystery Bridge 35: Deck Pennsylvania Petit truss bridge in Wisconsin

Photo taken in August 2011

Pennsylvania petit truss bridges- one of the most used truss bridge types for long crossings of 130 feet and longer. As I wrote a few months earlier, Pennsylvania trusses were used as often as Pratt, Parker and Warren trusses for bridge construction between 1875, the year it was patented, and 1940, when steel was diverted away from bridge building for the war effort, although only a handful of examples exist in each state of the US, and have been documented by the state historic preservation offices. Iowa was one of those examples (click here for more details).  Yet Pennsylvania truss bridges were used exclusively for through truss spans, like the Old Rusty Bridge north of Spencer,Iowa, as shown in the picture above, right?

Wrong!

Fellow pontist Luke Harden presented a unique find that featured a Pennsylvania truss bridge that was not a through truss, but a deck truss. Located in Lake Delton in Sauk County, Wisconsin, the bridge clearly shows the characteristics of a Pennsylvania truss bridge but built in a reciprocal fashion with the truss supporting the deck.  A picture of the bridge can be seen via link here. Spanning Dell Creek shortly before it empties into Mirror Lake, the bridge was reportedly built in 1908 and was between 170 and 200 feet long. It was built next to Timme Mill and Dam. The dam was constructed in 1857 and the mill existed from 1849 until it was burned down in 1957. It was the same fire that caused extensive damage to the bridge itself, and despite repairs made on the structure, its days were numbered. The bridge was demolished in the 1980s although data presents conflicting facts- one claimed it was 1981, the other 1986. In either case, the bridge was dropped into Dell Creek, surviving the impact unscratched! It was later cut up and sold for scrap metal.

The bridge was an impressive one that never deserved to be sentenced to the scrap heap, yet Wisconsin’s record in preserving places of historic places- in particular historic bridges- has always been questionable, for over 80% of the bridges built up to 1960 have disappeared since 1980. Had the preservation policies worked like in neighboring Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, chances would have been most likely that the bridge would still be standing today. Yet its demise leads to some questions that need to be clarified. Apart from determining when exactly the bridge was dropped into Dell Creek, it is important to know the exact length and width of this truss bridge and who was behind the construction of the bridge- let alone why it was built that way. My hunches are that either Horace Horton, who constructed many unusual truss bridges during his days as bridge builder may have been behind it. Yet we also have the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works, which built many Pennsylvania truss bridges in Iowa and may have built this one, because of its proximity to Wisconsin (on the Mississippi River). But the Wisconsin and Minnesota bridge builders were also influential in building bridges during that time, so they must be included.

In either case, information on how the bridge was built, etc. should be posted here or under facebook or LinkedIn. As it is posted on bridgehunter.com under the name Upside-Down Bridge in Sauk County, you can add your comments there as well. In either case, enquiring minds wants to know with regards to the history of this bridge. And the Chronicles is there to ensure that the mystery of bridges like this one is solved. So happy hunting and here with the info! :-)

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