Quick start guide

This guide provides a basic introduction to making changes to the site and conduct for posting comments in the forum. If you have any questions or problems, please post a question in the forum.

Forum Rules

 Bridgehunter.com is intended to be a resource and community accessible and appropriate to people of all ages. It is expected that all users of the website will be respectful and courteous. Website moderators reserve the right to remove any inappropriate content posted to the website that does not meet this expectation.

In case the general rule "be respectful and courteous" is not making the obvious clear, Please observe the following rules:

1. No religious or political discussion is allowed.

2. No name calling or other insults are allowed.

3. Do not under ANY circumstances engage with other users who are not following the rules.

4. If its not appropriate in a K-12 school, its not appropriate here and will be deleted! It is the intent that this website is accessible to teachers and students. As such it is essential these rules are followed to prevent the website from being blocked by security software in routine use in most schools.

5. Users found posting threatening, libelous, or slanderous content about other Bridgehunter.com members on other websites such as YouTube may also be removed from the Bridgehunter community.

Users violating these rules will get ONE warning. A second occurrence will result in an immediate disable of the user's account.

For the users in violation over the weekend, please consider this your first and only warning.

Photo Posting Rules

We welcome you to post photos you take of bridges to Bridgehunter.com. We welcome photos for bridges with no photos, and we also welcome new/additional photos for bridges which already have photos. Your contributions are appreciated! We do have some restrictions on photos you upload that are taken by others as shown below.

Please do NOT post photos from other websites unless they meet one of the following:

1. Published before 1923 (These are out of copyright under USA law)
2. Produced by the Federal Government of the United States (Public domain)
3. Offered under a Creative Commons license. You may ONLY post a photo under Creative Commons if the photo is clearly shown on the source website as a Creative Commons photo. If posting under a Creative Commons license you MUST cite the source website and list which Creative Commons license it is offered under (there are tools in the bridgehunter photo upload system to help with this). Please be aware that many photos on Wikipedia are used under Creative Commons, and as such, proper citation is required when reposting these on BridgeHunter.
4. Clearly cited as released to the public domain on the source website (rare, but some Wikipedia photos are offered).
5. You have been given permission by someone else to post the photo. Please provide credit to the photographer giving permission.

You MAY post photos from other websites, archives, or your personal collections as follows:
Historical colorized postcards are generally OK to post.
Historical photos from after 1923 that may be offered for reuse by their owners (some archives allow non-commercial use of copyrighted historical photos for example). Bridgehunter is a non-commercial usage of such photos.

Please remember under United States law, anything posted on the Internet (such as other websites) is copyright by default. You may not post copyrighted photos without permission except under very specific Fair Use situations, and unless you know what you are doing we suggest avoiding posting anything under Fair Use as this is only feasible under extremely rare circumstances.

Editing Existing Bridge Pages

If you suspect a bridge has facts that are incorrect, please consider posting a comment on the bridge's comments section with your opinion before making changes to the page as a way of checking with the page's creators first.

Please use common courtesy and common sense when editing pages and try to avoid editing pages that others might be working on. If you see a page with updates at the top of the "Latest Updates" section on the home page, someone else may still be working on editing/creating that particular page. Consider waiting a while before editing such pages.

Never mark a bridge as "Lost" unless you are absolutely sure it is gone! People visiting bridges do not want to miss a bridge that might still be standing for a while longer! Often, a bridge may be confirmed demolished via satelite and/or Street views in Google or Bing, but be absolutely sure you are clear on what you are seeing. Similarly, read newspaper articles and other sources of demolition confirmations with scrutiny and make sure you are editing the correct page on BridgeHunter.com. If in doubt, leave the official status of the bridge unchanged, and consider posting a comment on the bridge's page instead.

Your settings

Before doing anything else, you may want to review your settings and decide whether you want your email address to appear on the site. You can also link to your personal website if you have one. In the future, you can always change your email address or password if necessary.

Editing a bridge

When you go to any bridge page while logged in, you will see several new buttons for making changes:

Upload photos allows you to post one or more photos for this bridge.
Edit bridge lets you make changes to the bridge's facts and categories.
Add essay gives you the ability to add free-form information that isn't covered elsewhere on the page.
Manage photos lets you add/edit/rearrange/delete any photos that you've already uploaded here.

Uploading photos

The standard photo uploader tool lets you select up to 9 photos from your hard drive to post. You can also package your photos into a ZIP archive and the system will automatically handle all of the photos (with no limit).

If you are running an up-to-date browser with the Java 1.5 plug-in available, you may wish to try the Java uploader tool, which lets you post all of the photos in a folder without requiring you to select them one-by-one. You can also view a preview of the photos and rotate them as necessary.

JPEG photos are preferred, although the system will attempt to use other common formats (however, they will be converted to JPEG). There's no need to upload photos that are larger than roughly 2 megapixels, as these will take longer to transfer without any additional benefit. If you are concerned about visitors accessing high-resolution versions of your photos, you may wish to upload lower-resolution versions only (as long as they are at least 400 pixels wide or tall).

After the photos are uploaded, you will have the opportunity to preview them, reject any photos that you don't wish to use, write a title and description for each, and determine how you wish to be credited for them. You can always go back and make changes by using the "Manage photos" or "Edit this photo" controls on the bridge page. Other users (except the Webmaster) will not be able to modify your photos.

Adding a bridge

If you can't find a particular bridge, you can create a new page for it from scratch. First, read the guidelines below to make sure the bridge is worthy of posting. Then, determine which county the bridge is located in, and find that county page. The county page will include two controls for adding a bridge:

The Add bridge here button lets you create a bridge page by filling in a form. Follow the directions and complete as much of the form as possible based on what you know. If in doubt, select the most reasonable choice, or leave it blank. After saving the form, the system will give you the link to the newly created bridge page. You can always edit the bridge in the future if you realize you made a mistake or if you find updated information.

The other button, Import from NBI, lets you browse the National Bridge Inventory for the bridge. While far from perfect, the NBI includes almost all bridges that are open to traffic on public roads. If you can find the bridge, then you won't need to manually enter the basic facts (size, location, inspection ratings, basic design, etc.), since these will already be on file. Feel free, however, to change or update anything that might be wrong or incomplete.

Categories

Categories are an important way to organize bridges, making it easier for people to research them. From the main Categories page, you can use the Add Category link to create your own category, which can be a city, builder, highway, railroad, waterway, status, or design feature. After creating a category, you can add bridges to it one-by-one from each bridge's edit form.

You can also use the Add bridges here button from any category page to add multiple bridges by doing a keyword search and selecting the bridges you want to include.

Bridge Builders

When you add or edit a bridge you will see a field for entering bridge builders. Please follow these guidelines when adding or editing builders.

First, before adding or editing a bridge, access the Browse Menu and select "Builder" to see if the builder you want to add to a new or existing bridge page already exists.

If you are adding a NEW bridge builder that does not exist in the list, please FIRST add the builder into the database by going to the Browse Menu, selecting "Builder," then selecting the "Add Category" button.

In the Add Category page enter the information for the builder. The word "Company," if part of the builder's name, should be written as Co. in the company name. The "&" should be used instead of the word "and."

If the company name has initials, such as B.D. Freedman, there should be NO SPACE between multiple initials, however a space should follow the period of the final initial.

Company's hometown should be entered in the appropriate box, filling out the WHOLE NAME of the state, and not using abbreviations.

Choose "Save"

At this point, you may choose to add existing bridges to this category from the category itself. Alternatively, simply proceed to Add or Edit the bridge in question. In this case, you will need to access the builder field and enter the builder manually. When doing so, be sure to only use the name of the category. For Example, type "Wrought Iron Bridge Co." into the box and DO NOT type "Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton, Ohio" because the system will automatically append the hometown from the data in the category itself. You may also enter short comments that will be displayed in the line but will not affect its listing in the correct category, this is done by adding a space after the the name of the company and enclosing the comments in parenthesis (). For example if you list Joseph Strauss and want to note he acted as an assistant engineer on a particular for example enter the following (no quotes): "Joseph Strauss (Assistant Engineer)"

SPECIAL NOTE:
Companies who operated under multiple names with no major changes to owners, staff, physical plant, or engineering, may be combined into a single category (while retaining references to the various names) by BridgeHunter moderators. Example: King Bridge Company had multiple names but was essentially the same company, and therefore its categories are combined. In contrast, Morse Bridge Company would NOT be combined with Youngstown Bridge Company because the Morse Bridge Company burned to the ground and the property was sold to an entirely new team of owners who founded a brand new company, built a new bridge shop, and started building their own designs of bridges. Users who wish to recommend categories for combination may email Nathan Holth or post a comment in the forum.

Email submissions

New! This feature is still experimental.

You can email photos from your smartphone or other device and have them quickly appear on a bridge page or in a forum comment.

First, go to the Settings page for your account and look at the email address given under "Personalized email address for submissions."

Emails sent to this special address will be processed by the system and linked to your account. Use the subject line to specify the destination:

  • To post a comment to the forum (without specifying a particular bridge), use the subject line "Forum" and then put your comment in the email body. Any photo attachments will be posted along with your comment.

  • To post a comment about a particular bridge (which will appear on that bridge's page as well as the many forum), type "Forum:" in the subject line followed by either the bridgehunter ID number, the URL of the bridge page, or the name of the bridge.

  • To post photos to a bridge page, just put the bridgehunter ID number, the URL of the bridge page, or the name of the bridge in the subject line. If possible, the filenames of the attached photos will be used to determine photo titles. For example, "north-portal.jpg" will become "North portal". However, if the filename is something generic assigned by the camera, like "DSC_0109.JPG", the system will ignore the name, but you can always fill it in later.

Caution: Since it's possible for multiple bridges to have the same exact name, if you specify the name (instead of ID number) in the subject line, the system might pick the wrong bridge.

After you send the email, the system will respond with a status update showing whether it was processed successfully or not.

Guidelines for choosing which bridges to add

Here are some guidelines for deciding whether a bridge is worthy of including here:

  • Take a look through the site to get a feel for the bridges that are featured here. If you think a bridge is historic or interesting, then other people probably will too. But don't get carried away.

  • As a general rule, bridges with truss, arch, suspension, or cable-stayed designs are welcome, regardless of age. 

    However, please use your best judgement to weed out minor or insignicant bridges. Pre-fabricated welded footbridges and corrugated pipe culverts are not worth the trouble, even if they are technically considered trusses or arches.

  • Freeway overpasses are generally not worth including, except for some early designs before the 1960s. Historic preservationists are paying more attention to some of these bridges from the pre-Interstate and early-Interstate eras. But stay away from modern overpass bridges.

  • Depression-era bridges, especially those with remaining WPA or CCC markings, are welcome, even if the bridges are otherwise fairly mundane.

  • Authentic covered bridges are certainly welcome, and even modern reconstructions are fine as long as the builders tried to stay true to historic designs with wooden trusses or arches. However, don't bother with fake-looking bridges and so-called "romantic shelters."

  • Privately-owned bridges, especially those on somebody's driveway, are generally frowned upon without permission. If the landowner welcomes visitors, or the bridge is easily accessible to the general public, or viewable fom a public location, then it's probably OK. But don't take any chances.

  • Railroad bridges are fair game as long as you can access the bridge without trespassing (only fools walk along active railroad tracks).

  • If an historic bridge has been replaced by a non-historic, modern bridge, it's perfectly acceptable to post a couple photos of the new bridge to provide proof that it's been replaced and to give a feel for the surroundings. But the focus should be on the original bridge, not its successor.

  • Just because a bridge has been declared NOT eligible for the National Register of Historic Places doesn't mean that it shouldn't be posted here. It might become eligible in the future as it ages or become more rare, so there's no harm in documenting it now.

  • Tunnels and ferry crossings, although not bridges, can be added if they are of historic age.