The Bike Challenge

The author and Galloping Gertie on the road. Shot of the Flutmulde Bridge at Sachsenburg, Thuringia. Photo taken in August 2014

Co-produced with sister column:

In the past few weeks, three out of four of us have been nominated for the Ice-Bucket Challenge, whereby of the 75%, four out of five of us have actually done this challenge, either by donating $100 or dumping the bucket of ice water on our heads and donating an amount of our choice to the cause, which is fighting ALS. This disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, disables the nerves and spinal area in the body, affecting the person’s motor skills.

The disease was named after the famous New York Yankees baseball star, who retired 75 years ago after being diagnosed with the disease and died less than two years later. He was the player famous for his comment: “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”

The idea of the bucket challenge came from Bill Gates and has received mixed reviews from those willing to present themselves doing this rather absurd act on social network and those who think society has become dumber by doing this. Personally, it would not be my cup of tea, as there are other crippling diseases that are just as deadly as ALS. This includes Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative muscular disease that kills a person just as tortuously as this one. This is speaking from the experience after losing a close relative and two friends to this disease. And even if there was a bucket challenge for MS, I would go for the $100 donation instead of suffering from hypothermia thanks to a large bucket of ice cold water. Sorry people.

But the ice bucket challenge presented a brilliant idea for another fundraiser- the bike challenge. With the increase in popularity of bikes and the proliferation of bike trails both in the US and in Europe, why not use the bicycle as the challenge for raising funds?

The idea is simple.

One can challenge someone to bike a certain amount of kilometers and donate an amount of choice. Yet if he/she refuses, then a fixed amount would have to be donated, just like in the ice bucket challenge. The person would have to provide photos and tracking information to prove that the kms were biked and pass the challenge to others who are either avid bike fans or are willing to take up the challenge.

For example:  If I was challenged to bike 50 km in one day, I would pick and choose a route that is bike friendly, like the bike trail along the Unstrut River in Thuringia between Erfurt and Artern, for example. Then I would provide a tracker and some photos, and after doing so, would challenge my next three compatriots to do the same. The amount donated can be based on whether I fulfill the challenge (which would be a fixed amount in my favor) or if  I pass and have to donate based on what was fixed by the organizer, as Bill Gates did with his ALS Challenge.  By the way, I did take the challenge a couple weeks ago, as you can see in the pics here.

A railroad bridge converted to a bike trail crossing at Artern.

Such a bike challenge is useful for not only fundraising drives to combat diseases, like MS or cancer. Yet it can be useful for projects to restore historic places, like bridges, churches and houses, and other causes. For grassroots groups seeking fund-raising posibilities, this challenge is healthy, affordable and provides a challenge to those who would take advantage of the great outdoors and provide a sense of personal achievement, instead of making a total fool out of him/herself by dumping a bucket of ice water over the head, risking a heart attack, hypothermia and other health issues. Furthermore, as you can see in my challenge, you can discover many new sights based on your interest (and the interest of others)

So if you are one of those groups seeking fund-raising possibilities and would like to challenge people, this is one worth considering. It runs parallel to the ice-bucket challenge, but it is a lot more interesting, fun, healthier and even safer than the other challenge. And even if you decide for another challenge- like a friend of mine from Minnesota did and thought of a creative way to challenge others to buy extra products to be donated to a local food shelter- it is much more beneficial than to be soaked in ice cold water, especially now, as my instincts are telling me that winter is coming much sooner than expected. It is already cold and fall-like, with snow already falling in Rapid City, South Dakota- not typical of September weather and something where the ice bucket challenge is not a good idea to begin with. ;-)

Author’s note: The Bridges of Unstruttal will be featured later in the fall/ winter, as the author has yet to complete the second half of the leg from Artern to Naumburg. In the meantime, enjoy the preview of what is yet to come.

 

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German Heritage Day at the Bridges

Carl-Alexander-Brücke in Dornburg, one of many bridges featured in this year’s Tag des offenen Denkmals. Photo taken in August

Tag des offenen Denkmals to take place on 14 September.

Every year in September, Germany hosts the “Tag des offenen Denkmals,” an all-day event taking place on a Sunday, where millions of visitors spend the day touring churches, museums, places of historic and natural interest and even city parks, whose history dates back hundreds of years. The visitors can also enjoy the historic bridges while they are at it. While the number of historic bridges at this open house is limited, tourists can take in a guided tour of the structures, learning about their history and in one case, how the bridges function as caterer of all forms of traffic that carries people and goods from point A to point B. In the case of one historic bridge that has been abandoned for many years, the heritage days can serve as a platform for a campaign to restore and reuse it for other purposes.

As many as a dozen of Germany’s bridges are listed as having tour guides and other events taking place this Sunday. The Chronicles has a list of a few of them people can expect to see during this 18th annual event. For instance:

Liesenbrücke in Berlin: This two-span railroad bridge passes over the roundabout, where four streets and three cemetaries meet in the Berlin suburb of Gesundbrunnen. Built in the 19th century and surviving World War II and the Cold War, the truss design of this bridge is similar to the Railroad Bridge spanning the Danube at Linz, Austria- a curved Whipple with riveted connections. Once serving a rail line connecting Berlin and Stettin in Poland and later, light rail (German: S-Bahn), the bridge has been abandoned since 1990, but preservationists and those associated with the bridge are fighting to see the bridge reused for bike traffic. A presentation on the bridge will take place at 4:00pm on the Tag des offenen Denkmals with some information available on how to support the efforts in saving the structure. More information online by clicking here.

Drususbrücke at Bingen (Rhein): Touted as the oldest stone arch bridge remaining along the Rhine corridor between Frankfurt and Cologne, this 11th century stone arch bridge is located over the Nahe just before its confluence with the Rhine River. It was named after Drusus, the Roman who led his troops to the region at the time of Roman expansion and may have been the person engineering the first crossing near Bingen. The stone arch bridge has survived several wars, having been restored three times- the last time in 1952. One can see the bridge during the Tag des offenen Denkmals between 10am and 4pm, obtaining information about the bridge’s history on site. Yet do not forget to stay in the evening for some night photos. More information here.

Tauberrettersheim: Located northwest of Rothenburg ob der Tauber along the Tauber River in Bavaria, the stone arch bridge was the work of Balthasar Naumann, built in 1733 and featuring five arches. The bridge was rebuilt in 1947 and still serves its function like it did in the past- the gateway to the town famous for its Barocke architecture and arts and crafts. The bridge is part of the festival where several stands featuring locally handmade goods on this day. More information can be found here.

Autobahnmeisterei and Bridge at Erkner: Located along the Berliner Ring (Motorway Rte. 10) in Erkner, southeast of Berlin, the Meisterei features a mechanic shop for automobiles, an administration office responsible for the upkeep of the motorway and a silo with a gallery of photos, artefacts and other information pertaining to the Autobahn system in Berlin and Germany. Also featured is the remains of the deck girder bridge that had once carried Motorway Rte. 10 and was built in 1942, the same time as the Meisterei. Upon its replacement in 1996, a section was placed on the lawn of the Meisterei as a monument, and together with the building complex itself, has been restored for the public to see. More information on the open house and its history can be found here.

Carl-Alexander-Bridge in Dornburg: Spanning the Saale River near Dornburg, 10 kilometers north of Jena in eastern Thuringia, the three-span riveted Parker through truss bridge was built in 1892 to replace a 14th century covered bridge destroyed in the flooding. Since 2000, the bridge has been reduced to just bike and pedestrian traffic, but is structurally in dire straits. Since 2006, the preservation organization has been raising funds to refit the bridge to make it safer and more family friendly. The festivities on the Tag des offenen Denkmals will rake in more visitors and funding possibilities in hopes that enough money is raised in order to start with the rehabilitation work next year. More on the events on this day, which features breakfast and jazz music, a presentation and tour of the bridge and a tour of the Dornburg castle can be found here.  As Jena will be featured in the Chronicles’ bridge tour, more on this bridge will come soon.

Rendsburg High Bridge: Spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal, the 1913 bridge complex features a north loop approach span and the main span- a cantilever Warren through truss rail span carrying rail service between Flensburg and Hamburg and underneath, a transporter span carrying vehicles and people across the canal. The masterpiece of Friedrich Voss has been considered a national landmark since 1988 and a guided tour will be provided to talk more about the bridge. Two tours will take place in the afternoon at the bridge terasse on the Rendsburg side of the crossing. More information available here.

Oschütztal Viaduct in Weida: Built in 1884, the Town lattice deck truss viaduct has a length of 185 meters and is 28 meters high above the ground. The landmark of Weida, which can be seen from the east entrance of the city as well as from the train station 1 km to the west, was the work of Claus Köpcke and Hans Manfred Krüger, who later built the Blue Wonder Bridge in Dresden. The bridge served rail traffic in eastern and southern Thuringia, connecting Weida with Gera in the north, Saalfeld in the southwest and Plauen to the southeast. It was closed to traffic in 1984 and has been sitting unused ever since. The organization is looking at renovating the bridge for reuse either as a tourist railroad attraction or for bike and pedestrian use. In connection with its 130th birthday, a guided tour and other festivities are being planned for that day. More details here. The Chronicles will feature more information on the plans for this bridge when they come.

If you want more information on other places you can see while travelling through Germany this weekend, please check out the link, where all the places of interest are having their open houses. There, you will find all the information you need on the events taking place and when. The link is right here.

This year’s event has more bridges than in year’s past, and this in its 18th year. This leads to the question of other bridges that should have open houses on this day so that tourists can visit them. If you know of one or more particular bridges that should be considered for future Tag des offenen Denkmals, place your comments here as well as in the Chronicles’ facebook page and your reasons why.

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Now taking articles and candidates for Bridge Tours and Best Example of Historic Bridge Preservation

Schonemann Park Bridge south of Luverne, MN. The state’s only Waddell pony truss bridge that has been a centerpiece of the park since 1990. Photo taken in August 2014

While the 2014 Othmar H. Ammann Awards are only a couple months away, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is already taking entries for two categories: The City Tour Award and Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge. The reasons are twofold:

1. 2014 has been a year of record number of historic bridges being restored in the United States, both in terms of covered bridges and bridges made of concrete and metal that are more than 50 years old- a reversal of the trend from 2013, where several key historic bridges were lost to demolition or severely damaged by overweight trucks and arson.

While some of the examples posted in the last half year can be seen on the Chronicles’ facebook and twitter pages, the Chronicles would like to look at how the bridges were restored and the efforts that were undertaken by the public to have their historic symbol of their communities restored. A page on Best Preservation Examples is already on the Chronicles’ page with an opportunity for you to contribute.

 

2. The City Tour category was introduced last year, being spun out from the Best Kept Secret Award and features cities and regions with a cluster of historic bridges that exist, ranging from villages, such as Bertram, Iowa, to parks like the Historic Bridge Park in Michigan, to cities, like Lubeck and Halle in Germany. This category was well received to a point where it will be introduced again this year, but will go even further. The Chronicles is featuring a page on Bridge Tours and Lost Bridges, where you have an opportunity to look at the bridges you can expect to see when visiting the regions. A handful of cities and regions have already been posted (you can click here), and we would like to expand it based on your contributions.

 

Here is your opportunity to contribute as a guest writer or interviewee for both categories.  If you either:

  1. Have a historic bridge that has recently been restored or is currently undergoing a rehabilitation process  or
  2. Know of a city, county/district or region that has more than four bridges that are more than 60 years of age and have some historical significance or
  3. Know of a region that was once populated with historic bridges but has now dwindled to one or two left,

Then provide a summary of 1-3 pages with information on the bridges or restoration project, as well as some photos of the bridges, to be sent to Jason Smith at the Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com.

It will then be showcased on the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles for reader to look at and perhaps use either as a reference for their own bridge restoration projects or an incentive to visit these regions. The examples will automatically be nominated for this year’s Ammann Awards, where the people will vote on in December and the winners will be announced in January.

Entries for this year’s Ammann Awards are due 30 November. Those coming in after that date will automatically be nominated for the 2015 Ammann Awards.  The Chronicles will accept all entries in the United States, Canada, Europe and other regions for the Awards will be divided up into American and International categories.

Please ensure that each photo has a source so that it can be cited accordingly, either on the Chronicles page, the Chronicles’ flickr page or both.  You may be contacted for an interview by the Chronicles with regards to the restoration project or additional information about the submitted bridges in the region. Please ensure that the contact information is made available so that the interview can be conducted as soon as possible.  Announcements on the voting process will be made at the close of the submissions on 30 November.  Any questions or clarifications needed can be submitted to the Chronicles.

 

By presenting examples of restored historic bridges as well as regions with a high number of historic bridges, people will be able to take the opportunity to have a look at the various success stories of preserved historic bridges while at the same marvel at the historic bridges that are characteristic of the regions, thus encouraging more people to visit and learn more about historic bridges. The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of historic bridges and their contribution to the history of transportation, as well as ways to preserve them for generations to come.  The goal is to preserve the past in the present for people in the future to see and learn about them.

 

Important Announcement: Entries for the other categories- Best Bridge Photo, Bridge of the Year, Mystery Bridge, Lifetime Achievement, Best Kept Secret (individual bridge), and the Author’s Choice Awards will be taken starting October 1st. More information will follow, but those interested in nominating their bridge(s) may want to have them prepared for submission to the Chronicles beforehand.

 

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2014 Historic Bridge Weekend in Michigan

Mackinac Bridge at night. One of the key bridges on the places to visit list for this year’s HB Weekend. Photo taken by Nathan Holth of HistoricBridges.org

Three-day Event to take place September 5-7, 2014.

Labor Day weekend usually marks the end of summer and the start of the school year throughout the US, unless you are living in some states that have already started school. Yet if you or your child is a bridge fan, like Nathan Holth, then you could consider this year’s Historic Bridge Weekend as the event to close out this summer vacation.

This year’s event, hosted by the author and columnist of HistoricBridges.org, will take place in Michigan, focusing on the creme dela creme of historic bridges. The three-day weekend will start with a tour of Historic Bridge Park on the evening of September 5th, beginning at 5:00pm. Located near Battle Creek, this park features six historic bridges that were brought in from places in southern Michigan, restored and erected as trails throughout the park. The complex received the Chronicles’ Ammann Awards for Best Kept Secret in 2011.

After touring southern Michigan and parts of northern Indiana on Saturday (including a Saturday night photo opportunity of the bridges in Grand Rapids), Sunday’s tour will feature a visit to the Big Mac. Built in 1957 under the direction of David Steinman, the five-mile long bridge, with the main span of 3,800 feet, still remains the longest single bridge in the western hemisphere. Also included in the Sunday tour are the bridges in the Sault Sainte Marie area, which will mark the first time that the HB Weekend will include some bridges outside the US. Sault Ste. Marie is located at the US-Canadian Border and features over a half dozen key structures straddling the St. Mary’s River and the international border, including the International Bridge, built by Steinman and Associates in 1962.

If you have any questions or are interested in participating in this rather informal event that will bring together pontists and bridge enthusiasts from all over the country, please contact Nathan Holth using the contact details enclosed here.    Highlights of the Historic Bridge Weekend will be provided in the Chronicles in case if it is impossible to make the event but would like to know which bridges to see while visiting Michigan. The author of the Chronicles already has a few bridges to visit on his agenda for his visit to the region in the future.

Author’s Note: A book on the Mackinac Bridge will be featured in the Chronicles’ Book of the Month soon.

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Portland Waterworks Bridge for Sale: Any Takers?

Portland Waterworks Bridge before it was dismantled in 2010. Photo taken in 2009 by Michael Goff

 

PORTLAND, OREGON-  Mail order truss  bridge- truss bridges with welded connections that are assembled at the company but taken to its final destination for installment as a pedestrian crossing- seems to be the norm nowadays. While they are easy to build and cost effective, they lack the aesthetic taste that should be characteristic for its surroundings.

Yet it does not mean you need to scrap the plan altogether. Used truss bridges- namely historic bridges that are more than 60 years old- can fit the mold, and they usually tie in together with its surroundings because of their design and appearance. The Portland Waterworks Bridge spanning the Sandy River at Dodge Park in Clackamas County, Oregon is one of those unique bridges that once fit this mold.

Built in 1893, the bridge was a product of the Bullen Bridge Company of Pueblo, Colorado and was erected under the direction of Charles Loweth. It was deemed as the oldest historic bridge that served its original function in the state of Oregon, as it carried the Bull Water Pipeline Conduits 2 and 4, two of the important conduits that provide water to a quarter of the state’s population.  For over 80 years, this Pennsylvania petit through truss bridge with Howe portal bracing (with ornamental features) and pinned connections ran parallel to the Lusted Road Bridge, another Pennsylvania Petit through truss bridge that carries vehicular traffic.

Since 2010 the Portland Waterworks has been in storage waiting for reuse somewhere else as a pedestrian bridge. After the two conduits were laid underground, running underneath the Sandy River, the bridge was rendered obsolete and was later dismantled, leaving the Lusted Road Bridge as the only historic bridge left to be seen as part of the Dodge Park complex.

Bridge parts waiting to be reassembled at a new home. Photo taken by Michael Goff in December 2010

The Portland Waterworks Bureau (PWB) and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) are working together to give the bridge away to a known party that is willing to use it for recreational use. As the bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge must not be destroyed or used for anything other than as a pedestrian crossing, even if the length of the bridge is 300 feet, very unusual for a Pennsylvania truss bridge built small enough to be used as a pedestrian or bike bridge. The deck width is 14 feet.  The PWB and SHPO has a handbook guide with information about the bridge, how it is assembled and its historic significance, just to name a few items. They can be found on the PWB website by clicking here.  Any party interested in the bridge will receive the structure in parts (as seen in the picture), making it easier to haul, plus some information on how to reassemble the truss bridge at its new location. Yet additional help in terms of funding for the relocation of the bridge as well as expertise from the historic bridge and preservation communities are available upon request.

If you are interested in purchasing the Portland Waterworks Bridge for reuse as a recreational bridge, please contact Kevin Larson of the Engineering Services Group. The contact information can be found on the same website by clicking here.  The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you up to date as to when and where the Portland Waterworks Bridge will find its new home. It is possible that it could find a new home inside Oregon- a plus for many preservationists living in the state as well as those interested in seeing it reused again. Yet as has been seen in many cases, the Waterworks Bridge may end up out of state, like in Colorado, where a party in interested in bringing in bridges for recreational use. More on that in the Chronicles as the information comes in.

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Linz Railroad Bridge Update: Aktionstag at Donaupark Urfahr on September 12

The Railway Bridge at night but in black and white. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Schneider

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark the date on your calendar: 12 September, 2014 at 6:00pm (Central European Time) at Donaupark Urfahr in Linz, Austria. The Group Initiative Save the Linz Railway Bridge (Rettet die Eisenbahnbrücke) is hosting the bridge festival Aktionstag, featuring the Austrian bands of Attwenger and Folkshilfe. There are no entry fees but you can donate to the cause. The festival brings together people with close ties to the bridge who want to see the 114-year old bridge saved and reused for pedestrian use.

This includes the political parties of the Free Democrats, the Volkspartei and Greens, who are making up the majority who are pressing the mayor of Linz, Klaus Luger, to reconsider plans to demolish the bridge. Luger, along with supporters of the party SPO (the Social Democrats), are pushing to see the bridge replaced with a modern structure, despite growing opposition from the majority of Linz’s population, preservationists, and even engineers who have expertise in preserving historic bridges, including Erhardt Kargel, whose invitation to speak with Luger was rejected, according to interview with the city magazine, Linzider (see article here for more details).  A new design is expected to be revealed in September, yet with the mayoral elections scheduled for next year, the topic of this bridge and its future will be one of the top themes of the election campaign.

For more information about this bridge festival on 12 September and/or on how to contribute to saving the bridge, click here for more details. The initiative is also on facebook, where as many as 8,250 likes have been posted. There is a potential that the 10,000 mark will be reached between now and then, and the numbers will double by year’s end.  Join in on the action in saving the Railroad Bridge by attending the concert and being actively engaged in pushing the city to support preserving the bridge.

The Chronicles interviewed Robert Ritter, who is one of the leading organizers in saving the bridge. You can click here to read the information behind the initiative to save the bridge. The Chronicles, which is throwing its support behind the bridge, will keep you posted on the latest developments as they come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINZ, AUSTRIA-

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Linz Railroad Bridge Preservation: Interview

Obique view of the bridge. Image courtesy of Thomas Nemcsek.

The next Chronicles entry takes us back to Linz in central Austria, and in particular, this bridge over the Danube. Two years ago, the Chronicles published an article about the future of this three-span hybrid Parker-Whipple through truss span that used to carry rail and vehicular traffic and features a pedestrian boardwalk. At that time, public sentiment favored replacing the bridge with a modern one, which would fit the modern landscape but leave the Styregg Bridge in the northern part of the city as the lone historic bridge left. As seen in the article here, the Office of Historic Preservation was the last barrier to be taken down before demolition could proceed, which was backed by the city government and the Austrian Railways.

Fast-forward to the present, and we see a somewhat different scenario involving the bridge. The Austrian Railways has relinquished its responsibility of the bridge to the organization Linz AG, public support for the bridge has increased to the majority, but attempts to destroy efforts to preserve the bridge including one agency changing sides and producing one of the biggest scandals in the city’s history, are still there.

The organization Rettet die Eisenbahnbrücke (EN: Save the Linz Railway Bridge) was formed and started several initiatives to convince the city to change its mind. Despite its infancy, the support for the bridge has been enormous, with almost 8,000 likes on facebook and tens of thousands of signatures that prompted the city to involve the public about the plans for the bridge. Even the Chronicles has thrown in its support for this unique bridge that has been considered a historic jewel for the city, the Danube River and central Europe.

Underneath the bridge in black and white. Photo courtesy of Arno Schröckenfux

I had an opportunity to interview Robert Ritter, one of the organizers who is spearheading efforts to get the bridge saved, asking him about the current situation of the bridge and what the group wants to do with the bridge. Despite a long battle ahead of them, he remains optimistic that the public will have a say towards what they want to do with the bridge, which is restore the structure and convert it into a bike and pedestrian crossing with an option to include streetcar service in the future. Here is the Chronicles’ Q&A with Herrn Ritter:

1. What got you started with saving the Linz Railroad Bridge?
It was initially press reports saying that the demolition of the bridge had been enacted in the municipal council. We were wondering that nobody in public seemed to take notice of this incredible act let alone stand up against it. We learned that there were numerous initiatives campaigning for the preservation of the monument, all more or less remaining unnoticed or unsuccessful. So we decided to try the same through Facebook. Some weeks before we started a Facebook campaign demanding a beach cafe at the river Danube had led to a round table involving politicians and Facebook activists to realize the project.
2. In the past three years, political support has been mounting to replace the railroad bridge with a more modern one because of claims that the bridge cannot be restored. Is the political pressure there and if so, how have you been combating it?
It’s more ignorance than pressure we are fighting against. We are detecting massive economical interests in destroying the bridge and a network of actors that are very close to corruption the way they have been pushing their concerns. However, we have strong support by most of the political opposition to the government and even by members of the governing parties (which are the social democrats and the green party).
3. The bridge is now privately owned, from what I understand. Is it right?   If so, what are your plans for the bridge?
That is correct although the “private” owner is a company that is owned by the city. The company is a result of sourcing-out services provided by the city. Our plans are to preserve the monument as a bridge for cyclists and pedestrians and – if necessary – for a tramway. A new bridge for cars can easily be built beside the railroad bridge unless it should turn out that another position for the new bridge is a better option in terms of traffic concepts.
4. How much support have you received so far?
Well, we almost have 8000 supporters on Facebook. Even 7000 were enough to make the mayor invite the Facebook activists for “Linz braucht einen Strand” to a round table. We notice that there is also very much popular demand for a preservation of the bridge by persons that are not on Facebook. And we do not detect much open opposition against our concern.
5. Is it true about the Denkmalamt removing the historic status of the bridge (as seen in one of the fb postings)?  If so, how will you go about in convincing the agency to reinstate this status?
The permission to demolish the monument (so the official term) was politically motivated and is a scandal on its own. Some history: in the 1960ies the municipal government of Linz destroyed a textile manufactory of the 17th century in face of grim protest of the public. As a result an independent advisory board for issues concerning historical monuments (Unabhängiger Denkmalbeirat) was established by law to never let anything like that happen again. Well, the advisory board argued by majority vote FOR a preservation of the railroad bridge. For the first time in the history of the advisory board the Denkmalamt ignored its recommendation. Notice that the Denkmalamt is subordinated to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture headed by a social democrat minister. Coincidence?
6. If plans for restoring the bridge are approved, what is the timeline for the project? How will the bridge be maintained?
Well, we are far away from speaking of timelines. We are preparing to utilize all democratic means to fight for a participation of the population in the decision. At the moment the city government is planning a timeline for the demolition of the bridge. The demolition has to be executed within 3 years after the permission of the Denkmalamt which means a lot of pressure for the destroyers. There are detailed offers by steel building companies to restore the bridge. It is possible and it is by far cheaper to restore AND build a new bridge than to tear down the monument and build a new one.
7. Any advice to anyone who is working on saving a historic bridge, especially one over such a large river like the Danube? Do you know of other similar bridges that are being restored that are worth mentioning?
There are more best practice examples for restoring historic bridges than can be mentioned here. Some of them are the bridges Baltoji Voke  and Kaunas (both Lithuania), Eglisau (Switzerland) and The Hef in Rotterdam. To anyone who is working on saving a bridge: fear nobody, don’t give up, involve the public! And utilize social media – they have an incredible potential for reaching lots of people within a short time.

The Railway Bridge at night but in black and white. Photo courtesy of Madeleine Schneider

If you are interested in taking part in any efforts to save the Linz Railway Bridge, go to their facebook page to like (here) and follow up on the updates and photos provided on the page. There is also a website, where you can sign the petition and subscribe to updates on the current situation with the bridge so that you have an opportunity to participate in the efforts to save the structure. You can click on the link here for more details.
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest developments involving the bridge, as things are heating up between those wanting to save the bridge and those wanting to demolish and replace it. The Chronicles is also on facebook and twitter which you can subscribe to follow the updates on that and other bridges in Europe and the US.  As you can see in the interview, the battle is brewing, but in the end, the people of Linz will have the final say as to what will be done to the bridge. It is hoped that a compromise- a historic bridge as a bike and pedestrian trail and a new bridge alongside it for vehicular traffic will serve to the liking of both parties. But it will all depend on the number of votes needed to realize this project.
The author would like to thank Robert Ritter for the interview and wish him and the rest of the group best of luck. Also a round of thanks to the photographers who were willing to share their pics of the bridge for this article. Their names have been noted on each one. 
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Mystery Bridge 46: The Disappearing Bridge in Nicollet County, Minnesota

Photo courtesy of MnDOT

Just recently, as I was looking for some information on some historic bridges for a book on one of the rivers in Minnesota, I happened to stumble across this bridge by chance. Located over the Minnesota River south of Fort Ridgely State Park, the only information gathered from an inventory of all bridges constructed in Minnesota revealed that the bridge was built in 1905, carried a township road, and was 259 feet long.  I bundled that bridge (known to locals as the Hinderman Bridge) in with my other bridge inquiries to MnDOT, only to receive this black and white picture from 1941. As you can see in the picture, the bridge was a two-span Pratt pony truss with pinned and eyebar connections.  According to information from MnDOT, with the construction of the MN Hwy. 4 Bridge to the northwest and a new bridgeat County Highway 13 in 1987, it was determined that the truss structure was rendered useless and was therefore abandoned, taken off the road system and most likely ended up in the back yard of a private farmstead.  Using Googlemap, it is revealed that the bridge no longer exists, as it was removed at a certain date, even though it is unknown when that took place, let alone why it happened to begin with.

The Minnesota River is laden with lots of information on bridges, both past and present, much of which have been documented for public availability at local museums, the state historical society and even online. Yet there are many questions that have yet to be answered with regards to this bridge. First and foremost, we have the issue of location. Many historic maps in the early 1900s had revealed that the bridge no longer existed with the exception of the canoe map provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, leading to the question of what type of service the road served before it was closed along with the bridge.  This was one of the findings that fellow pontist John Weeks III thought was odd, during his visit to the bridge in 2008. Yet the Hinderman Bridge does have some history behind it as Weeks discovered while researching about this bridge:

The bridge was named after Captain Hinderman and was once a popular ferry, connecting Ridgely Township in Nicollet County and the village of Home in Brown County. In 1905 the state appropriated $1,800 for a new crossing to replace the ferry, and the bridge was later built under the direction of Captain Hinderman and William LaFlamboy on the Nicollet side and Hans Moe from Sleepy Eye on the Brown side.  It is unknown where the steel was fabricated and who the bridge builder was, but it is likely that Hinderman and local residents may have ordered the structure from the bridge builder and it was shipped to the location to be assembled.  Information from a source with relation to the Hinderman family revealed that the bridge was washed out by flooding in 1951 but was later rebuilt at the exact location. But more concrete information came from the great-granddaughter of Captain Hinderman in 2012, who revealed that the bridge had been in service for 82 years before it became a liability for Brown County (which had own the bridge) because of a weight limit of three tons and was later closed to traffic in the fall of 1987.  More information about the bridge can be found through John Weeks’ website here.

This was all the information that was found about the Hinderman Bridge. All that is left of the bridge is wood pilings and the road approaching what is left of the bridge from both sides. A center pier in the middle of the Minnesota River, which revealed a two-span structure was knocked into the river by flooding in the 2000s. Yet it still does not answer the following questions:

1. Who provided the steel and was contracted to build the bridge?

2. When was the bridge removed and why?

3. When was Hinderman’s Ferry in service, and how long did the village of Home exist?

Any information about the bridge would be much appreciated, so that we can close the book on the story of this bridge that had once been an important crossing but became an unknown memory after 1987. The article and information about the bridge are available through bridgehunter.com, where you can place your comments in the section by clicking here. Yet, you can contact the Chronicles and John Weeks III using the contact details provided both in the Chronicles page here as well as here.

The author wishes to thank Peter Wilson at Minnesota DOT for providing some important information and photos of this bridge. 

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 45: The Disappearing Bridge at Schoolfield Road

Schoolfield Road Bridge in Clay County, Missouri Photo taken by Clark Vance in November 2013

How long does it take for an abandoned bridge to be ignored before it becomes an important agenda on the desk of the local government? And what actions are usually taken when the issue comes about and why?

It is very hard to tell, really. Some bridges are usually left in place for pedestrian use for many years before they are closed off and eventually either renovated, replaced or even removed. But they can take many years- at least seven to ten. But why ignore the bridge before it becomes an issue?  Could be for money reasons. However, it could also be a question of political tactics where the structure deteriorates to a point where it becomes a liability and then they apply for state and federal aid.

The Schoolfield Road Bridge presents a rather peculiar scenario that justifies a mystery article to find out what exactly happened to the structure. Spanning Williams Creek at Rocky Hollow Lake west of Excelsior Springs in Clay County, Missouri, this double-intersecting Pratt pony truss bridge was built in the 1930s and featured riveted connections. The truss span was 60 feet long, whereas the total length was 91 feet. The bridge was last photographed by Clark Vance in November 2013. As of July of this year, the new bridge has taken its place and is open to traffic.

Is this normal?

If we look at the situation and compare, it is anything but that. According to satellite findings, the bridge was intact with a deck in 2009, damaged by flooding in 2010, stripped of its decking and approach spans in 2011, and was last seen in this manner in November 2013. Judging by the overgrowth that had covered the road approaching the bridge, the truss bridge had to have been closed to all traffic for five to six years, which is also less than the normal time needed to ignore the bridge before it is eventually removed and/or replaced.  Apart from one theory that it may have been destroyed by flooding earlier this year, it is possible that attempts had been made in 2011 to remove the bridge, yet it failed due to either the county lacking funds for the project or the contractor going bankrupt and not finishing the job. In either case, it was rather weird to strip the bridge down to its truss structure and leave it as is, unless the county wanted to make sure that everyone stayed off of it until there was enough funding and a contractor to finish the job of replacing the bridge. Yet logically speaking, it would have made sense to remove the entire structure as is and left the road abandoned until there was a chance to bridge it again.  In either case, there was a motive behind rapidly swapping the steel truss for a slab of concrete, given its proximity to the lake and the potential to redevelop the area.

So what was the story behind the bridge at Schoolfield Road? How did it go from a normal bridge that was safe enough for crossing or even fishing to one that was partially demolished but was left sitting in place, to a hunk of concrete in a span of four years? And for the latter part, how did the bridge be replaced in such a quick time? Any ideas, post your comments here at the Chronicles or through James Baughn’s bridgehunter.com website.

Eventually the truth will be revealed as to what happened to this rather normal truss bridge, and with that, consequences will come about as to how to take better care of bridges and to a certain degree, our infrastructure, for after discussing this topic for many years since the I-35W Bridge disaster in Minneapolis in 2007, we still have some problems to be solved which deals with our inability to maintain even the basic aspects.

The author wishes to thank Clark Vance for the use of this photo. More photos of the bridge can be found in the bridgehunter.com website, by clicking here.

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Mystery Bridge 44: Fink Truss Bridge in San Antonio

Houston Street Bridge in San Antonio Photo courtesy of Texas Transportation Museum

The Fink Truss: one of the most unusual of truss bridge types ever designed and built.  Invented and patented in 1854 by Albert Fink, the truss design features a combination of Warren and Bollmann trusses, and with the diagonal beams criss-crossing the panels, especially the deck trusses resembled a triangle with many subdivided beams. Many trusses built with this design were in the name of the German bridge engineer, who was born in Lauterbach in Hesse and emigrated to New York after completing his engineering degree in Darmstadt. This included the following Fink deck truss bridges: the Appomatox High Bridge in Virginia- built in 1869 and featured 21 Fink deck truss spans, the Verrugas Viaduct in Peru- named after the virus that inflicted the workers who constructed the highest bridge in Peru with three Fink deck truss spans in 1869, the Lynchburg Bridge in Virginia- built in 1870 and is the last of its kind in the US and one of two known bridges left in the world. The other Fink deck truss remaining is the Puenta Bolivar in Arequipa, Peru, built in 1882 by Gustav Eifel.  Fink trusses were found in through truss designs as well, as was seen with the Hamden (New Jersey) Bridge- built in 1857 and was known to be the oldest metal bridge in the US at the time of its collapse by a car accident in 1978, and the Zoarville Station Bridge at Camp Tuscazoar in Ohio- built in 1868 and is still the remaining truss bridge of its standing in the US.

While it is unknown how popular Fink Trusses were during its heyday of construction between 1860 and 1880, one of the through variants was brought to the author’s attention via one of the pontists. This bridge was located over the river in San Antonio, Texas at Houston Street. Built in 1871, this Fink through truss span, similar to the Zoarville Station Bridge in Ohio in its appearance, replaced a wooden bridge built in the 1850s but was washed away by flooding six years earlier. Sources have indicated that the iron span was imported from as far away as St. Louis. Yet as the first bridge building companies were not established before 1890, according to Darnell Plus, one has to assume that the span originated from places further eastward, perhaps in Ohio or Maryland, were the Zoarville Station Bridge was built by the likes of Smith, Latrop and Company of Baltimore. But there is no current to support claims of the span’s origin. It was from the eastern part of the US, where the iron bridge parts were transported by train to St. Louis and then to Indianola, Texas- most likely by ship as the town was situated on the Gulf of Mexico. From there, it was transported by horse and wagon for more than 150 miles northwest to San Antonio. With fourteen of the largest wagons in the area hauling bridge parts that were forty feet long and weighing tens of tons, this effort of transporting the bridge for over 100 miles to its destination was one of the largest feats ever accomplished in Texas.

The mastermind behind this task was freighter and pioneer, August Santleben. Born on 28 February, 1845 in Hannover, Germany, he and his family emigrated to Medina County, Texas when he was four months old and settled at Castro’s Corner, along the Medina River near Castroville. His life began from there, where he became the youngest mailman at the age of 14, running a carrier route between Castroville and Bandera, and became involved in the Civil War on the side of the Union. Yet his biggest success was a freighter and stage coach driver, establishing routes between Texas and Mexico, including the first ever line between San Antonio and Monterrey established in 1867. The service later included destinations of Satillo and Chihuahua, the latter of which was the basis for establishing the Chihuahua Trail several years later. After 10+ years in the business of freighter, Santleben and his family (his wife Mary and his nine children (two were adopted) moved to San Antonio, where he ran a transfer company and later became a politician, serving the city for several year. Before his death on 18 September, 1911, Santleben had written his memoir about his life and successes entitled A Texas Pioneer, published in 1910, and still widely known as one of the best of its genres of that time. The book has been published most recently, according to the Texas Transportation Museum, but can be view online, by clicking here.

In his memoir, Santleben described the hauling  of the Houston Street Bridge from Indianola to San Antonio, citing that the iron bridge was the first of its kind in Texas, when the mayor ordered the truss bridge from an undisclosed bridge company, and one that garnered public attention for quite some time because of its aesthetic appearance. Gustav Schleicher oversaw the construction of the bridge in 1871. He later became a member of the US Congress, representing his district. According to Santleben, the bridge, which was a considered a novelty because of its unique appearance, served traffic for 20 years before it was relocated to the site known as “Passo de los Trejas” at Grand Avenue near the Lonestar Brewery. According to the museum, the bridge continued to serve traffic at Grand Avenue for over 40 years. It is unknown what happened to the iron structure afterwards, for no further information on the bridge has been found to date. Yet, as Santleben had mentioned in his memoir, the bridge was the forerunner to numerous iron structures that populated the streets of San Antonio shortly after its erection at the Houston Street site, replacing the wooden structures that were considered unsafe because of their short life spans.

While the Houston Street Bridge became the first iron bridge crossing to span the river at San Antonio, let alone the first iron bridge to be constructed in Texas, it is unknown whether the bridge was brand new, or if it was a used structure, having been constructed somewhere in the eastern half of the country before it was dismantled and transported out west. What is definitely excluded from the equation is the fact that the span came from the three-span crossing at Camp Dover, Ohio, where the Zoarville Station Bridge originated from. That bridge remained in service until 1905, when it was replaced by a newer structure made of steel, with one of the iron spans being relocated to its present location at Camp Tuscazoar. What could be mentioned though is that the Houston Street Bridge may have been fabricated by Smith and Latrop, which had built the Zoarville Station Bridge two years before. This is because of the portal bracing that is similar to the one at Camp Tuscazoar. It was then transported by train and ship to Indianola, where Santleben led the caravan to haul the bridge parts to San Antonio, where Schleicher oversaw the efforts in building it at Houston Street.  While Santleben stated in his memoir that there was no reason for the iron bridge (which had been relocated from Houston Street to the location at Grand Avenue) to not be there for another hundred years, it is unknown when exactly and whether the iron bridge was relocated, or  if it was scrapped. Therefore it is important to find out how long the iron bridge was in service at both locations in San Antonio before it was dismantled.

To summarize the questions regarding the bridge, we need to know the following:

  1. Was the bridge fabricated before being transported to Texas, or was the truss span a used one, which had originated from somewhere out East?
  2. Was it Smith and Latrop that fabricated the truss bridge?
  3. How was the bridge transported to Texas?
  4. How long was the bridge in service at both Houston Street and Grand Avenue? Who was responsible for the relocation of the bridge from Houston Street to Grand Avenue?
  5. What happened to the bridge after its 40+ year service at Grand Avenue?

Three channels are open for you to help contribute to the information. You can post your comments either on this page or on the Chronicles’ facebook page. There is also the contact information through Hugh Hemphill at the Texas Transportation Museum, using the contact form enclosed here. And lastly there’s Jason Smith at the Chronicles, whose contact information can be found here.

Texas takes pride in its history- in particular, with historic bridges as they tie in with the local history, as seen here with the Houston Street Bridge. Yet each bridge has its missing pieces to fill- some big, some small. It is up to the reader (us) to provide these missing pieces and make the communities, like San Antonio proud of its heritage.

Interesting note to close: Located on Matagorda Bay near the Gulf of Mexico in Calhoun County, Indianola was founded in 1844 by Sam Addison White and William M. Cook. It was once the county seat of Calhoun County and at its peak, had over 5,000 inhabitants. It was the easternmost terminus of the Chihuahua Trail. Yet the town was devastated by two powerful hurricanes- one in 1875 and another in 1886. The latter, combined with a massive fire, obliterated the entire town, resulting in its abandonment. The county seat was moved inland to Port Lavaca. Today a marker is located at the site where it once existed. More information can be found here.

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