Trucker Who Collapsed Historic Bridge Gets Jail Time

The truck driver who caused a historic Indiana bridge to collapse because she wasn’t sure how much six tons weighed has been sentenced to jail.

Indiana Judge R. Michael Cloud sentenced 24 year old truck driver Mary Lambright to the maximum sentence of 180 days behind bars. She was also ordered to pay $2000 to cover part of the costs of the bridge inspection once construction on the new structure is completed.

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1906 Arch Bridge Closed Without Warning

An important component of Milwaukee's historic Lake Park was closed without notice on December 9, 2016. The bridge, designed by Alfred C. Clas and George Bowman Ferry, connects the northern and southern halves of the park by spanning a deep ravine. Lake Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It was posted to the NRHP in 1993.

The historic bridge's fate is uncertain. Photo by author.

The concrete arch bridge has been a source of concern for several years. Cracks and spalling raised concerns, leading to a structural analysis in 2015. Potential failure of the bridge prompted its closure on December 9 along with the closing of Ravine Drive, a roadway spanned by the bridge. According to County Executive Chris Abele, the bridge will be demolished if people ignore the chain link gates that block access.

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We've reached a quarter million photos has reached a new milestone: We now have a quarter million total photos! Congratulations to John Marvig for posting photo number 250,000.

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Famous Tama LH Bridge Damaged in a Hit-And-Run Accident

The Tama News Herald Toledo Chronicle is reporting this morning that an early morning accident on October 11 dislodged the letter "Y" in the north railing of the Mud Creek Bridge in Tama. The letter is one of the balustrades that spell "LINCOLN HIGHWAY" on the railings of the iconic bridge. They further report that the damage may have been caused by a chrome bumper or chrome wheels because there are no paint scrapes on the letter or the railing itself.

Authorities say the bridge recently underwent structural analysis and they believe insurance should cover the cost of repairs.

The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Damage to Tama Bridge. Photo by John Speer, Tama News-Herald photo Tama Bridge Damage_zpsc5gxb1pd.jpg
Photo courtesy of the News-Herald
Photo by John Speer

Link to original article:

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2016 Othmar H. Ammann Awards Underway

It's Fall time and in connection with its fifth anniversary of its existence, the 2016 Ammann Awards are underway. Between now and 1 December 2016, all entries are being taken for the categories of Best Kept Secret/ Tour Guide, Best Photo, Lifetime Achievement, Mystery Bridge and Best Example of a preserved historic bridge. All entries are welcome, even from abroad. Click here for details.

Voting will commence in December but in two parts:

Part 1 will focus on the 2016 Awards candidates themselves, while Part 2 will feature the voting of all of the winners and runners-up in each category dating back to 2011, where the top six in each will be inducted into the Chronicles' Hall of Fame, a special section where every five years, six candidates will be inducted for the US as well as international. This does not apply for Lifetime Achievement as the winners are automatically inducted annually. More to come when the voting process starts. Get your cameras out, take your kids on tours and let's see some gorgeous bridges! :-)

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Experience and Common Sense are Key

Carelessness can come at a price, most of the time when you at least expect it. We've seen a number of stories of truckers losing their goods and their vehicles by disregarding warning signs and proceeding as planned. But why is that? Why don't truckers pay more attention to the rules of the road and bridges than on convenience? In an interview I did with Jeremy Johnson, who owns a trucking business in Marshall, MN, I had a chance to get an insight on the world of trucking from his point of view, which all boils down to two key words: experience and common sense. Using the latest story on the Gospel Street Bridge collapse as leverage, have a look at what can be done as a truck driver to avoid senseless accidents like we've seen lately. For those in the trucking industry or are wishing to enter the profession, this guide is for you to follow so you can prepare accordingly. Remember: common sense and experience are key; Comvenience and Efficiency are not! But safety trumps all profits earned on any trucking trips. Link:


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Breaking News: Michigan to outlaw taking photographs of bridges without a license

I've just received word that the governor of Michigan intends to sign a bill that will effectively outlaw taking photos of public property in the state without paying a large fee and obtaining a license.

Under the bill, the likeness of every government structure within Michigan -- including bridges on public roads -- will be protected by copyright, making it illegal to take photos without obtaining express written consent of a newly created state office, the Copyright Revenue Adjustment Panel.

According to the bill's preamble, the legislation has several goals, including:

  • Protecting the children by raising extra money to shore up Michigan's terrible financial condition
  • Protecting the children by tightly controlling photos of the state's resources, enhancing the "Pure Michigan" brand and increasing tourism and jobs
  • Protecting the children by making it harder for pedophiles to capture photos of innocent children who happen to walk across public streets or bridges
  • Protecting the children by making it harder for would-be terrorists to take photos of critical infrastructure
  • Protecting the children by preventing photographers from obstructing traffic and causing accidents

In a press release, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Leonard "Lirpa" Sloof, explained that he got the idea after seeing a barrage of newspaper articles and TV segments using stock footage of deteriorating lead pipes in Flint. "This whole Flint water incident has been a convenient way for out-of-state media to pursue their anti-Michigan propaganda," he explained. "But then it dawned on me: we can just claim those lead pipes are government property and we should be able to control who takes photos of them."

He added: "It's all about the children. I don't want any anybody to whine that this violates the First Amendment. The Constitution specifically allows for enforcing copyright, and that's exactly what we're doing here." is currently discussing options with legal counsel. If the law goes into effect, it will be necessary to blur all Michigan bridge photos, or remove them outright. Our legal team is also researching the possibility of relabeling all Michigan bridges as actually being located in a neighboring state, like Ohio.

The Mighty Mac Bridge of "Toledo, Ohio"

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2015 Ammann Awards

November is National Historic Bridge month, and for the fifth time since its launch in 2011, The Bridgehunter's Chronicles is presenting the Othmar H. Ammann Awards in categories ranging from Best Photo, to Lifetime Achievement, to Best Example of a Preserve Historic Bridge to even a region with a very high number of HBs that exist. Again as in the past, the awards will be given to US bridges as well as those on the international scale. To learn more on how to submit your entries, please click on the link below: Entries will be taken between now and 1 December with voting to commence afterwards.

In addition, to commemorate the Chronicles' five-year anniversary, a special category will be added in the voting mix: The Top Five Historic Bridges one should see and The Top Five Places with a large number of historic bridges. These will be based on the top three bridge candidates that had been entered in the Ammann Awards per year since its launch in 2011. They will be added to the voting ballot.

For further questions or to submit your entry for the Ammann Awards, please contact Jason Smith either by using the contact form below:

or directly via e-mail. Enjoy the new website that has been relaunched recently and may we have some cool pics and interesting bridge entries coming our way. Happy Bridgehunting!

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Full Throttle Saloon Fire

STURGIS- The state fire marshal is investigating a fire that destroyed the Full Throttle Saloon, located east of Sturgis, South Dakota, which happened early this morning. The fire department was called in at 12:30am to battle the blaze that started inside the world's largest biker bar, only to retreat because of heat and smoke. Three hours later, the building was engulfed in flames. Unfortunately the fire severely damaged two historic bridges located on either side of the building complex. More information on the fire, the history of the HBs relocated to the site in 2008, and pictures of the saloon after the fire can be found here: More will be revealed in the coming weeks as to whether the building complex and the historic bridges will be rebuilt.

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Server upgrade

I'm going to be doing a server upgrade on both and during the July 4th weekend. If you see anything broken, please let me know at

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I-75 Bridge Collapse in Cincinnati; 1 Dead 1 Injured

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that on January 19, 2015, a bridge over I-75 collapsed about 10:30 PM in Camp Washington near Cincinnati, Ohio. According to the report, 1 construction worker is confirmed dead, a semi-truck driver was injured. The catastrophic pancake collapse happened on the old northbound exit ramp to Hopple Street, which was being prepared for demolition at the time of the collapse. The replacement bridge is already open.

I-75 Bridge Collpase

Photo: Cincinnati Fire Department

The semi-driver was injured when his rig collided with the rubble. Had he been a few seconds earlier, the results might have been quite different.

"What appears to have happened is, in essence, an industrial incident – a workplace incident with respect to a construction crew that's doing work out here," city manager Harry Black said. "Something went wrong, and a tragedy has occurred as a result. ... We don't believe that there is any additional loss of life."

City officials expect the highway to be closed for at least 48 hours while the investigation and cleanup takes place.

(Sources: Cincinnati Enquirer, WHIO News, various wire services)

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2014 Othmar H. Ammann Awards

Yes sir, it's that time of year again. In connection with National Historic Bridge Month in November, the Bridgehunter's Chronicles is once again hosting the fifth annual Othmar H. Ammann Awards. Between now and December 1st, entries are being taken for the Ammann Awards in the categories of Best Photo, Best Kept Secret in the fields of individual bridges found and tour guides- cities/regions with a high number of historic bridges, Lifetime Achievement, Mystery Bridge and Bridge of the Year. More information on the Ammann Awards and where you can send your entries can be found here: Voting will take place beginning December 3rd, with the winners to be announced in January. More information on the voting scheme to come in the Chronicles very soon. If you have a bridge or a pontist that deserves accolades for all that has been done, then let's give them the recognition needed. Happy hunting and submitting.

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Various website improvements

As we recover from the Independence Day weekend, I've added these website features:

  • Draft mode while adding bridges: When creating a new bridge, you have the option of leaving the page as a draft so that it won't be visible to the public or appear on the Updates list. You can continue to make edits to the page, and then publish it when you are ready.

  • "My Stuff" page: Since draft bridges won't appear on the site, I've added an admin page that shows the bridges that you've created, even if they are still in draft mode. If you lose track of a bridge, you can find it here and publish it. Click the "My Stuff" link in the black bar at the top of every page (this was formerly labeled "My Photos") and then click "My Bridges".

  • Improvements to the Updates list: When adding or editing a bridge, you have the option of specifying what note should appear on the main Updates page. You can also skip adding an update by leaving the "Update log" box blank.

  • Quadrangle maps: Both and now provide easier access to USGS quadrangle maps, which can be quite helpful for finding obscure locations. Most bridge and landmark pages now link to a page showing information about the relevant quadrangle map. From there, you can download the PDFs from the USGS website, jump to quadrangles at different scales, or browse adjoining quads. On, you can also see the quads that cover a particular county: first go to the county's main page and then click "Quadrangles."

As always, these changes may have introduced weird bugs. Please let me know if something is out of whack.

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Final list of TRUSS Award winners for 2014

Choosing the Top-Ranked Unique Savable Structures for this year has been harder than ever. In addition to those bridges facing demolition and replacement with UCEBs -- some things never change -- this year's nominations also focused on abandoned bridges that are intact but could soon collapse or deteriorate beyond the point of repair.

In no particular order, here are the 2014 TRUSS Award winners:

Asylum Bridge (Osawatomie, Miami County, Kansas)

Joshua Collins

The bridge: Despite having the appearance of a cantilever, this unique bridge has been classified as a "Reverse Parker", or a Parker truss where the top chord swoops downward instead of up. Built in 1905 by the Kansas City Bridge Co., it's unclear why this peculiar design was chosen, especially with a relatively short main span (120 feet) which could have easily accommodated a simple Pratt truss.

The significance: This is the only known bridge of its type in the U.S., making this a no-brainer for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

The situation: The Asylum Bridge has remained abandoned for some years. Photos suggest that the stone piers are deteriorating, which could jeopardize the bridge.

The plan: Miami County has an excellent collection of historic bridges, especially around Osawatomie. Last year, the nearby Creamery Bridge was rehabilitated, and comments in the newspaper suggest that the county commissioners understand the value of historic bridges. If the Asylum Bridge were to be repaired and reopened to pedestrians, Miami County will be sitting pretty.

Republican River U.P. Crossing Bridge (Cloud County, Kansas)

Robert Elder

The bridge: Built for the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad in 1894, this bridge features three pin-connected Pratt through trusses. Despite its location near the more famous Republican River Pegram Truss, this bridge has remained overlooked.

The significance: This is one of a tiny population of truss bridges attributed to the Lassig Bridge & Iron Works of Chicago.

The situation: Although the bridge appears structurally sound, it is abandoned and overgrown. Similar bridges have been dismantled in the past for scrap value with little or no warning.

The plan: Designed to support locomotives, the superstructure on this bridge is likely sound enough to handle pedestrians. With a new deck and railings, this bridge could be reopened for pedestrian use, making it a perfect companion for the nearby Pegram Truss bridge.

Aulwurm Drive Bridge (Cook County, Illinois)

Roger Deschner

The bridge: Nicknamed the "Blue Bridge", this was built as a four-span Warren pony truss, but one of the spans has collapsed and the other three are in appalling condition due to deterioration and visits from metal thieves.

The significance: This is a rare example of a multi-span pony truss bridge of any kind in the Chicago area.

The situation: It seems likely that the remaining spans will eventually collapse under their own weight without repairs.

The plan: A report from 2012, the Blue Island Active Transportation Plan, advocates the possibility (p. 33) of restoring the bridge for bicycle/pedestrian access to Jackson Street on the south side. It notes, "Jackson Street is closed westbound at Ashland Avenue, yet Calumet Township continues to collect tax for its maintenance. The township can return value to Blue Island residents by paying for reopening of Jackson Street as a nonmotorized route and participating in the reconstruction of the Blue Bridge as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing."

Mosquito Road Bridge (El Dorado County, California)

Craig Philpott

The bridge: Located at a scenic stretch of the South Fork American River, this one-lane suspension bridge was built in 1939.

The significance: Featuring timber floor beams, stringers, and deck, this bridge more closely resembles a rustic 1800s-era bridge than something from the 1930s.

The situation: Sitting in the middle of a sharp S-curve and having a deck width of only 9 feet, local officials have wanted to replace the bridge for many years. According to the official project website, however, no decision has been made.

The plan: Mosquito Road near the bridge features sharp switchbacks, so it seems likely that a replacement bridge would be built at a high level over the canyon to eliminate these curves. If indeed the new bridge is built on a different alignment, it should be feasible to keep the old bridge in place for pedestrian use (or even light traffic) to enjoy this scenic location.

Savanna-Sabula Bridge (Carroll County, Illinois, and Jackson County, Iowa)

The bridge: This is a large cantilever through truss over the Mississippi River featuring a partial K-truss design. It was opened to traffic on the last day of 1932.

The significance: Cantilevered trusses as well as K-trusses are both rapidly disappearing.

The situation: Construction on a replacement bridge is slated to begin 2015. The Illinois Department of Transportation offered the old bridge for adaptive reuse, but with ridiculous strings attached -- it must be completely removed within 30 days and then reassembled and maintained forever. Such a short time frame to carefully dismantle this massive bridge is virtually impossible, and would represent a truly remarkable feat in the history of civil engineering.

The plan: This bridge received the most nominations of any other bridge, but it's going to require a very well-organized campaign to have any hope of saving this one.

Fort Atkinson Bridge (Winneshiek County, Iowa)

Jason Smith

The bridge: Built in 1892 by D.H. Young of Manchester, Iowa, this Pratt through truss features elaborate decorations above the portals.

The significance: The Iowa Historic Bridge Inventory reports that this NRHP-listed bridge is distinguished "for its relatively early erection date, well-preserved condition and the decorative iron cresting on its portals." This is a rare remaining work of D.H. Young, a civil engineer and bridge builder who later became a state representative and senator.

The situation: The bridge was closed to traffic in March 2013 after failing an inspection due to "corrosion of bridge materials." Plans are underway to replace the bridge.

The plan: Sitting next to a city park, it makes sense to build a replacement bridge on a new alignment and leave the historic bridge in place for pedestrian use.

Clear Creek Bridge (Shelby County, Kentucky)

James McCray

The bridge: This is an authentic 90-ft Bailey truss relocated from an unknown location, perhaps in 1982, and set on existing stone piers.

The significance: Although the exact history of this span remains a mystery, the bridge is marked with the names of two British companies: Thos. Storey Engineers Ltd of Manchester (shown by patent plaque) and Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co. of Lincolnshire (steel brand). This strongly implies that the structure was imported from England as World War II era surplus. The British plaques make this an exceptionally rare bridge.

The situation: The bridge is closed to all traffic with a barricade at one end and a chain-link fence at the other.

The plan: Bailey bridges were intended to be portable, and that feature would come in handy if a new home can be found for this structure.

Bridge Theater (Washington County, New York)

Jack Schmidt

The bridge: This bridge spans Lock 12 of the Champlain Canal at Whitehall, New York. It is a double-intersection Warren through truss built in 1911.

The significance: Although historic in its own right, this bridge is also notable for how it was used in modern times: as a performing arts center. When the bridge was closed to traffic in 1999, civic leaders spearheaded the ingenious idea of converting it into a theater. An enclosure was built inside the trusses, providing seating capacity for 60 people. This unique venue operated until 2009, when the bridge failed inspection and was completely shut down.

The situation: The theater enclosure has been removed and the bridge is in danger of demolition.

The plan: It may take another ingenious idea, but hopefully this bridge can be preserved in place. It would be a shame to lose it now after all that was done to save it the first time.

Ferry Street Bridge (Columbia County, New York)


The bridge: Built in 1905 to span a rail line along the Hudson River, this double-intersection Warren pony truss features three truss webs and a double-barreled roadway.

The significance: Although several double-barreled through trusses remain in use across the country, this is one of the only -- if not the only -- extant pony truss with this configuration.

The situation: The weight limit was recently reduced to 3 tons, putting it on the verge of being closed entirely. Ferry Street provides one of only two entrances to the waterfront (the other is an at-grade rail crossing), so this is an important bridge. Ownership of the bridge is in the process of being transferred from CSX to Amtrak, but local officials want the city to take over the bridge and replace it, calling the project a top priority.

The plan: The city has had trouble obtaining funding to replace the bridge, so they may not have any choice but to repair, instead of demolish, the bridge.

White River MO 76 Bridge (Taney County, Missouri)

The bridge: This is a five-span Camelback Pratt through truss built in the early 1950s in conjunction with the construction of Bull Shoals Lake.

The significance: For reasons that are unclear, the Camelback truss design -- seemingly obsolete at the time -- was chosen for this and three other bridges built around Bull Shoals Lake. Very few other Camelback trusses were built in the country after World War II.

The situation: The bridge is slated for replacement in 2017.

The plan: According to a news story from February, the idea was floated at a public meeting to preserve the bridge for use as a pedestrian walkway. This could potentially be more cost effective than building a walkway on the new bridge.

Kingpost Bridge (Otsego County, New York)


The bridge: This is an abandoned three-span timber Kingpost pony truss overpass of the Cooperstown and Charlotte Valley Railroad, operated by the Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society.

The significance: It's a Kingpost. It features timber trusses. It has three spans. What more is there to like? This is an exceedingly rare -- if not unique -- bridge.

The situation: The bridge is abandoned with portions of the deck missing.

The plan: This spectacular structure needs some attention before it deteriorates beyond the point of no repair.

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Welcome to Covered Bridge Heritage Month

April has been declared Covered Bridge Heritage Month, and we're ready at to shine the spotlight on this category of oft-neglected and frequently overlooked historic bridges.

To celebrate, you'll notice a few improvements to the website:

1. The masthead photos are now 100% covered bridges.

2. Only covered bridge related updates now appear on the front page.

3. By popular demand, covered bridges will be automatically highlighted on the county listing pages to distinguish them from boring old iron bridges. The ability to hide covered bridges -- a feature only used by one regular user -- has been deprecated in order to simplify the user interface and improve efficiency.

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National Bridge Inventory 2013 released

The federal government has finally posted the latest version of the National Bridge Inventory database.

I've updated the inspection reports for the bridges on this website where possible. The "Add Bridge from NBI" tool has been updated with the 2013 data, and I've also added other years from the past to make it easier to find lost bridges.

In addition, I've posted a new version of the OVERPASS software program for processing the raw NBI data. This new version updates the fields for the 2013 edition and attempts to handle some of the broken latitude/longitude coordinates for certain bridges (although some of them are hopeless). You can download it here (note: it requires the Perl programming language).

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Welcome to 2014

With the new year arriving, it's time again for the annual TRUSS Awards to recognize Top-Rated Unique Savable Structures. The purpose is to draw attention to special bridges that are threatened with demolition, but could be saved.

Nominations will be accepted through Jan. 31, with the awards announced sometime in February.

To nominate a bridge, go to the page for that bridge and click the "Nominate" button near the top. Or, for bridges that aren't listed, follow this link.

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New feature: Upload photos by email

If you have an editor's account, you can now upload photos or forum comments by email.

First, login to the website and go to the Settings page. Make a note of the email address given under "Personalized email address for submissions." When you send messages to that address, the system will automatically process them and link them to your account so that you get proper credit.

Use the email's subject line to specify where you want the attached photos to appear. See the Help page for full details.

The main advantage is being able to upload photos or post comments from your smartphone in the field. If, for example, you discover a "bonus" bridge, you can quickly post a forum comment with a snapshot, even while you're standing on it (assuming you can get a signal).

Note that this is an experimental feature, so let me know how it works (or doesn't work).

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2013 Ammann Awards- Now taking nominations

Well, 2013 is almost over. With November looming, we also have our last award to be given out honoring historic bridges and pontists both on the national as well as the international scale. The third annual Othmar H. Ammann Awards, presented by the Bridgehunter's Chronicles, is now open, and nominations are being taken for Best Photo, Best Kept Secret, Best Mystery Bridge, Lifetime Legacy and a new category, Best Example of a Well-Preserved Historic Bridge. Between now and December 1st at 12:00am Central Standard Time, the Chronicles will be taking nominations with voting to commence in December. The winners will be announced before Christmas. More information on the Ammann Awards can be found via link below. Please submit your nominations to Jason Smith at the Chronicles at Happy Bridgehunting and looking forward to your submissions of your photos for the Awards.


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Federal Court Upholds Deal Between Car Ferry and EPA

According to the Detroit Free Press, it appears the car ferry SS Badger will continue to ply Lake Michigan between Manitowoc and Ludington. The Badger is the last operational car ferry of the once enormous fleet of railroad ferries, and the last coal-fired cargo vessel on the lakes.

And therein lies her problem. The SS Badger has been on the endangered species list since 2008, when the Environmental Protection Agency leveled the ship into its crosshairs. Coal-fired vessels disposed of coal ash by mixing it with water and pouring it overboard. The Badger is no different, and has been disposing of coal ash into the lake since it was built in 1953. The EPA claims the coal ash is a pollutant and ordered the dumping stopped in 2008. The operators were given until 2012 to stop dumping or cease operations. The legal battle has continued ever since.

On October 10, 2013, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff approved a revised deal between the EPA and Lake Michigan Carferry, parent company of the S.S. Badger.

The agreement allows the Badger to continue operations while modifications are made to the ship. The deal calls for a reduction in the amount of ash discharged during the 2014 sailing season and by the start of the 2015 season, the Badger will have to store coal ash on board for later disposal on shore.

With this ruling, it appears the Queen of the Great Lakes Car Ferries (and the last of her breed still sailing) will continue to be an operational historical landmark.

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Two major milestones reached

Earlier today, we reached a major milestone: 20,000 bridges now have at least one photo. This comes on the heels of another impressive achievement: over 150,000 total photos posted.

Congratulations to everybody who has contributed!

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Buchanan County Iowa Bridge Washed Away

The 300th Street Bridge over Dry Creek in Buchanan County was washed away by flooding this week, reported by Adam Amdor of KWWL.

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Historic Bridge Weekend Coming to Iowa

Each year since 2009, the Historic Bridge Weekend has taken place in August or September, and each year, it has drawn in more people who are experts in historic bridges, preservation or history, as well as those who are either bridge enthusiasts or have a keen interest in how these vintage structures were built and how they played a role in American History.

This year's Historic Bridge Weekend will focus on Iowa, where various types of historic bridges dating as far back as the 1870s can still be seen today, each having its own history in terms of bridge builder and in terms of its association with the communities that cherish them.

The 5th annual event will take place August 9th through the 12th and will focus on eastern Iowa and the Des Moines area. A formal dedication dinner honoring James Hippen will take place August 9th at the Stone City General Store near Anamosa, with dinner and presentations taking place August 10th at Baxa's Restaurant and Tavern next to Sutliff Bridge and August 11th at Horn's Ferry Bridge at 2:30pm as well as at Bos Landen Golf Course near the Horn's Ferry Bridge in Pella at 5:30pm.

The trip to the Kate Shelley Viaduct on the morning of August 12 will round off the four-day event.

More information on the HB Weekend, as well as contact details can be found via link here:

Please RSPV Jason Smith before July 15th if you are interested in participating in the HB Weekend and attending the dinner and presentations, so that the venues know how many will attend and you can plan accordingly. Hope to see you at this year's HB Weekend in Iowa.

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New site features

You may have noticed some new features rolled out over the last few weeks:

  • County pages now have filters for hiding or showing different classes of bridges (lost, modern and covered). The system remembers your settings from page to page.

  • Likewise, the Updates page has filters to hide/show different kinds of changes. This way you can filter out minor updates, but highlight major status changes (such as a bridge being demolished).

  • On bridge pages, the major tools (Photo gallery, Google Map and Google Street View) are customizable. Just look for the "Preference" pulldown menu to see the options. All of these settings are remembered via cookies, so they apply to each computer or device separately, and no login is required. So, you could allow Street View on your desktop computer, but hide it on your smartphone.

  • The new "Reports" tab in the main navigation bar includes various kinds of statistics about bridges listed on the site.

  • By popular demand, photos are now automatically enhanced with a special color-balance tool. The idea is to match the style popularized by one of our regular contributors. He claims that the unique colors in his photos are the result of busted camera settings, but we all know that he was ahead of his time in using an Instagram-like style long before Instagram was a thing. For now, this feature only applies to thumbnails, but I plan to roll it out to all photos.

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Announcing the 2013 TRUSS Awards

Here are the winners of this year's TRUSS Awards (Top Rated Unique Savable Structures), representing the "best" projects from those that were nominated. Of course, "best" is a subjective measure, and it wasn't easy to pick the winners from the large pool of nominees. But these bridges are all special and deserve every ounce of attention and support we can muster. (And let's not forget about the winners from previous years.)

Congratulations to the nominators and all of the people involved in the campaigns to save these bridges!

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Looking back on previous winners

Before announcing the winners for this year's TRUSS Awards, I thought it would be helpful to check on the status of winners from the first two years. For most bridges, nothing much has happened -- good or bad -- although the day of reckoning is quickly approaching for many of them:

2012 winners

  • Washington Bridge (Franklin County, Missouri) - Still scheduled for replacement in the next few years

  • Meadows Road Bridge (Northampton County, Pennsylvania) - This bridge is still standing, but a decision on its future is still pending.

  • Danville-Mickles Bowstring Bridge (Yell County, Arkansas) - No change

  • Neosho River K-47 Bridge (Neosho County, Kansas) - Construction on a replacement bridge is underway. When the old bridge is demolished, only two other bridges of this kind will remain (one in Kansas and one in Nebraska).

  • Cedar Grove Bridge (Franklin County, Indiana) - Local organizations are trying to raise money to acquire the bridge and restore it for a pedestrian/bicycle trail.

  • Meridian Street Bridge (Pierce County, Washington) - This bridge is still scheduled for replacement, although interest has been shown in relocating it for use on a recreational trail.

  • Bolivia Road Bridge (Sangamon and Christian counties, Illinois) - Still slated to be replaced

  • Cascade Bridge (Des Moines County, Iowa) - Demolition of this rare deck truss remains likely.

  • Newport Bridge (Jackson County, Arkansas) - Planning continues for a replacement bridge, but hopefully the old bridge will be taken over by the city of Newport and allowed to remain standing.

  • CStPM&O Bridge (Eau Claire County, Wisconsin) - Work to rehabilitate this bridge and open it for pedestrian use is expected to be completed in 2013.

  • Black Bridge (Albany County, New York) - Plans are still underway to rehabilitate this bridge as part of a bike trail, but bids for the project came in higher than expected.

  • Murray Bridge (Humboldt County, Iowa) - Situation unknown

  • Hulton Bridge (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) - Construction of the replacement bridge on a new alignment is slated to begin Fall 2013 and be completed by 2016, with demolition of the old bridge soon after

  • Sixth Street Bridge (Los Angeles County, California) - A design for the replacement bridge has been selected, with construction set to begin in 2015.

  • Tappan Zee Bridge (Rockland and Westchester counties, New York) - While state officials briefly discussed keeping the old bridge for pedestrian/bicycle use, that idea is now off the table. Construction on the replacement bridge is expected to begin this year.

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Watch out for errors

I've been busy over the last few days making behind-the-scenes changes to this website (as well as and that will hopefully make the site load faster.

With any major programming overhaul, however, it's almost certain that ugly bugs will appear. If you see any errors -- especially the dreaded "Something went wrong" message -- then please let me know.

One last reminder: The deadline for submitting TRUSS Award nominations is this Friday, Jan. 18.

While you are pondering which bridges to submit, you may also want to consider going out on a limb and nominating a threatened bridge to the America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places program run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The deadline for 2013 nominations is March 1st. It would be ideal to see at least one bridge listed every year. Many states and some cities also have historic preservation organizations that run similar programs, so be sure to check them out as well.

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What new features would you like to see?

As the new year arrives, we can try to be optimistic that 2013 won't bring as many demolitions and UCEBs as the last year. But I'm not holding my breath.

This is a good time to pause and reflect. What features or improvements would you like to see on this site? You can use this story to post your thoughts.

Reminder: I'm collecting nominations for the TRUSS Awards until Jan. 18, but please don't procrastinate. Right now 26 nominations have been submitted, but that's much less than in previous years.

One final plug: The hosting bills for this website have been steadily increasing thanks to the recent growth in traffic and uploaded photos. It's a good problem to have, I suppose, but it's still a problem. You can help by making a donation toward hosting costs.

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Merry Christmas

If you have some free time during the holidays, or you're looking for an excuse to take a break from your relatives, then I have the perfect mission for you: nominating a worthy bridge for the 2013 TRUSS Awards. This award is intended for historic bridges that are threatened with demolition or neglect, but are worthy of saving.

To nominate a bridge, navigation to that bridge's page and then click the yellow "Nominate" button. If a bridge isn't listed, then follow this link.

The deadline for nominations is January 18, 2013.

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Try out the new "What's Here?" feature

If you have an editor's account, you may have noticed the "What's Here?" button next to the map when adding or editing a bridge. This feature generates a list of geographic entities located near the bridge. Click on the "Show" link next an item to see it superimposed on the map.

Right now, the tool shows these items:

  • Counties
  • County subdivisions (townships, New England towns, precincts, etc.)
  • Incorporated places (cities, towns, villages, etc.)
  • Quadrangle maps from the USGS, with link to download
  • Railroad lines, with the yard or subdivision if available
  • Other bridges
  • Listings from

This tool should help settle arguments over the ownership of railroad lines, as well as whether a bridge is located in a certain town or township. It should also help cut down on duplicate listings, since it will show other nearby bridges that are already listed.

Right now this is a highly experimental feature. I plan to expand it to cover other things (rivers, lakes, highways, streets, public land). If this is successful, and it doesn't overload the webserver, then I hope to make this tool more widely available.

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The "accidental" historic bridge park

Calhoun County, Michigan, has received much deserved praise for the Historic Bridge Park that has provided a home for truss bridges relocated from elsewhere.

But Clay County, Illinois, has something equally special. Sadly, it has gone unnoticed.

When US 50 was constructed in the early 1920s, the concrete highway included three through truss bridges and one long concrete girder bridge. Three of the four bridges were built with unusual brick parapets.

The highway was bypassed decades ago by a new alignment, but everything from the vintage highway remains intact: the bridges, the concrete pavement, and the brickwork. Of course, the lack of maintenance has caused the structures to deteriorate, especially the intricate brickwork.

While the bridges are barricaded, the connecting stretches of concrete highway are still open to traffic (for landowner access), but see virtually no use, except perhaps from ATV riders. The pavement is rough, but this 2.5 mile stretch of vintage highway has potential as a pedestrian/bicycle trail. With some repairs, brush clearing, and signage, this could be a wonderful park that would cost relatively little.

Unfortunately, the replacement bridges on US 50 are also deteriorating, and IDOT intends to replace them in the coming years. This means that the historic bridges, which sit side-by-side to the replacement bridges, are likely in jeopardy because of their proximity to the construction area.

Local and state officials probably consider these orphaned bridges to be a liability, but with the right marketing, they could be transformed into an asset instead. The concrete girder bridge has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but I feel the entire collection of bridges and pavement should be evaluated as a potential historic district.

This could become a recognized historic site and a recreation area, all with a budget that would be far lower than what other counties and towns are spending to build brand-new walking and bicycle trails.

The bridges, from west to east:

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2012 Ammann Awards: Now Accepting Nominations

This month is National Historic Bridge Month, and with that comes the second annual Othmar H. Ammann Awards, given out by the Bridgehunter's Chronicles. Between now and the 30 November at 12:00am Central Standard Time (USA) and 1 December at 12:00pm Central European Time (Europe), the Bridgehunter's Chronicles is taking nominations for the Lifetime Legacy, Best Snapshot and Best Kept Secret Awards, as well as Awards for the Best Mystery Bridge and the Bridge of the Year- two new categories introduced for this year. More information on how to nominate your photo, bridge and person can be seen via link here:

The winner will be announced on 23 December.

The Bridgehunter's Chronicles has also started a new page with the best bridge preservation examples, providing people with some live examples of historic bridges that were preserved to use as a reference for their bridge that is a target of preservation versus progress. If you have a success story that you would like to share on the Chronicles, please contact Jason D. Smith at the Chronicles at: or

Other historic bridge campaigns and mystery bridges are still being gathered for posting as well. If you have one that needs attention of the general public, out with it! You'll be amazed at the support you will receive on a larger more global scale. Thank you.

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Historic Bridge Conference scheduled for September

The 4th annual historic bridge conference will be held Sept. 21-23, 2012. This year's destination is the Hoosier state, featuring a tour of bridges around Indianapolis and southern Indiana, with special attention on the doomed Madison Bridge as well as the always-photogenic Laughery "Triple Whipple" Creek Bridge.

For information, contact host Tony Dillon at

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Bridgehunter's Chronicles now taking articles and mystery bridge photos

While the author has been busy profiling some of the historic bridges, providing readers with tours of areas with high numbers of historic bridges, following up on preservation attempts on many, writing about ways to preserve them and digging out some interesting facts on them, or should I say how to find them, there are many historic bridges out there that are threatened with demolition but preservation groups are working to save them and need your help. This includes the Orange Road Bridge in Ohio, the Ft. Atkinson Bridge in Iowa and the Amelia Earhart Bridge in Kansas, just to name a few.

The Bridgehunter's Chronicles would like to help you bring these historic bridges to the attention of the readers, with the goal of providing support and addressing the issues involved with these precious vintage structures.

If you are part of an organization that is working to save a historic bridge or know a historic bridge that is threatened with demolition but would like to save it, please provide a short summary of the structure (history, status, etc.) as well as plans for preserving the structure and a couple photos and send them to Jason D. Smith using the following e-mail address: The information will then be posted on the Bridgehunter's Chronicles, where you will receive some feedback and support for your historic bridge with hopes that you will garner enough support and interest to save the structure. These articles will be posted starting in September.

In addition to that, the Bridgehunter's Chronicles is also looking for any mystery bridges that deserve to be posted. If you have a bridge, whose information is missing and would like to know more about its origins, please send the author a photo with some information (including what questions you want solved on this structure) to the above-mentioned address. The mystery bridges will be posted in the Chronicles beginning in September and listed under the heading "Mystery Bridges." Please be aware that these mystery bridges you present must be those that were built in 1945 and earlier.

The Bridgehunter's Chronicles is a column that brings the past of historic bridges to light, and provides support for preserving historic bridges for future generations to come. After all, historic bridges are relics that deserve our attention.

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I-35W Bridge Disaster: Five Years Later

There have been a lot of stories related to the five-year anniversary of the I-35W Bridge Disaster in Minneapolis, MN. On this day five years ago, the steel cantilever deck truss bridge collapsed during rush hour as many people were either returning home from work or attending a baseball game. 13 people were killed and more than 150 people were injured in that crash. The bridge collapsed severed the most important north-south link through Minneapolis and it would take over a year and a half until the new bridge was completed and opened to traffic. The tragedy created an outcry that the US was not doing enough to maintain its bridges and other infrastructure. It even started a crusade to eradicate structurally deficient bridges, in particular, the truss and cantilever bridges. Yet by the same token, it created awareness about the importance of preserving our past artifacts and has opened new opportunities for engineers, historians, technicians and bridge-lovers alike. While there is a lot to say about how things have changed in the five years since the tragedy, but I compiled an article which will describe the successes and shortcomings we have had since that time. While we haven't had a tragedy as severe as this one since 2007, we want to make sure that not only our bridges are safe, but our historic bridges receive just as much care as all the others. So read this narrative and think about what we have accomplished, what we should accomplish and what is yet to come in the next five years and beyond. Enjoy.


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Lessons learned from Eggner's Ferry Bridge

"Near miraculous." That's how one official from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet described how everything came together to allow the Eggner's Ferry Bridge to be reopened to traffic in time for the summer boating season. When an off-course cargo ship obliterated one of the bridge's through truss spans on Jan. 26, the situation looked dire. The Kentucky Lake region depends on tourism, and those tourists were likely to go someplace else during the summer to avoid the lengthy detours caused by the loss of the bridge.

Despite the total destruction of a 322-ft span, the rest of the bridge, including the piers, remained intact. That's when KYTC decided to try to reopen the bridge with a temporary span. Hall Contracting, the same company that performed emergency repairs on the Sherman Minton Bridge at Louisville, was hired to fabricate and install a temporary span at Eggner's Ferry -- with a very strict deadline of Memorial Day. They delivered two-and-a-half days ahead of the deadline.

Thanks to the early completion, KYTC decided to open the bridge to pedestrians during the morning of May 25 before allowing vehicular traffic. This was a repeat of the wildly successful "Bridge Day" at Owensboro, Kentucky, where a massive crowd came to see the newly refurbished Blue Bridge across the Ohio River. The Bridge Day at Eggner's Ferry, coming on a weekday with only several hours notice, wasn't able to attract the same overflowing crowd. But that didn't matter: a sizable crowd did arrive, and everybody who walked, bicycled, scooted, or golf-carted across the bridge had reason to be absolutely jubilant.

The new truss span, a simple Warren design, isn't nearly as intricate as the historic Parker and Pratt trusses, and it tends to stick out like a sore thumb. But it's better than 322 feet of thin air. Or a UCEB.

Now that the Eggner's Ferry Bridge has reached a happy ending (at least until it's replaced in a few years), we should consider some important lessons from this episode:

1. When disaster strikes, don't just scrap everything and start over

Immediately after the cargo ship struck the bridge, it seemed that the most likely outcome would be for the old bridge to be scrapped while construction would be expedited on a replacement bridge. That's the typical response in modern American society, after all: scrap first and ask questions later. If this option had been chosen, however, people around Kentucky Lake would expect to be making lengthy detours for two, three, or four more summer tourist seasons. Thankfully, circumstances made it feasible to repair instead of scrap; based on past experience, however, it's safe to say that not every highway department would have even entertained the idea of trying to repair the damaged bridge.

2. Trusses are still a viable technology

In the aftermath of the I-35W Bridge collapse, truss bridges took a bum rap, with "experts" appearing out of the woodwork to claim that truss designs are inherently unsafe because they are "fracture critical." We've seen campaigns in many states and counties to eliminate all truss bridges from public roads, conveniently ignoring that other bridge designs have their own Achilles' heels.

Nevertheless, it was a truss design that was chosen for the replacement span at Eggner's Ferry. The span was assembled off-site and then floated up Kentucky Lake by barge to the bridge site, where two cranes hoisted the superstructure into place. It was an economical design that could be rapidly put together and installed. The more things change, the more they stay the same: these are the same benefits that bridge companies have touted for truss designs for the last century-and-a-half.

3. Truss spans can be moved

In a recent forum comment, a letter from an Ohio legislative aide was posted arguing that relocating truss bridges was an "unheard practice in today's technological age." What a load of expletive. Even with all of these technological advances at their disposal, the contractor for rebuilding Eggner's Ferry Bridge still relied on the tried-and-true practice of moving a prefabricated truss into place. Meanwhile, just downstream at Kentucky Dam, a new railroad truss bridge was built in 2009 using the same method: floating the truss by boat and then lifting it into place. And let's not forget about the amazing development in Illinois last year where a UCEB was replaced by a historic through truss relocated from another location.

Trusses were meant to be moved, either for initial construction or for later reuse elsewhere. This was a selling point historically, and is still true today... except perhaps in Ohio.

4. Bridge events bring crowds

It was fun to see all of the camera-toting people studying every square inch of the bridge while it was open to pedestrians. Letting visitors get a sneak preview of the bridge repairs was a nice touch, something that other highway departments should embrace. With last year's Bridge Day at Owensboro and now the Bridge Party at Eggners Ferry, it seems Kentucky has stumbled across an offbeat, but successful, kind of tourist attraction.

5. Throw enough money at a engineering problem, and anything is possible.

Well, I think we all knew this. It's just too bad there aren't a whole lot of opportunities for politicians to throw money at repairing historic bridges.

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Missouri to name every new bridge after senator

Missouri already has two bridges named after former senator Christopher "Kit" Bond, but that's not enough to satisfy the Missouri General Assembly, which now wants all future bridges to be named for him.

"We're not satisfied with just the new bridges at Hermann and Kansas City named for Kit Bond, we want everything," explained a spokesperson for the Missouri Republican Party.

Next week, the Missouri Department of Transportation will cut the ribbon on a new 23 foot culvert in Audrain County, to be dubbed the Kit Bond Commemorative Culvert. That will soon be followed by a new UCEB built in St. Louis County, to be officially called the Christopher S. Bond Viaduct Sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.

The plan has drawn fire, however, especially from Missouri Democrats. "First they want to name everything after Ronald Reagan, and now this. Sheesh," wrote a left-leaning blogger from St. Louis.

Lirpa Sloof, a popular Missouri radio host, said on the air yesterday, "Has anybody seen the new bridge at Hermann? It's butt ugly! Instead of being an honor for Kit Bond, the name of the bridge is the ultimate insult toward him. What a joke."

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Missing span of Kentucky bridge to be rebuilt

When we last saw the Eggner's Ferry Bridge, a large cargo ship was stuck next to the bridge with the wreckage of an annihiliated truss span draped across the bow.

Since then, the wreckage was cleared away, the ship was repaired and sent underway, and now the state has let an ambitious $7 million contract to replace the missing span by Memorial Day.

Naturally, local residents are thrilled about the repair contract. This is much better than the alternative, a ferry crossing, which probably wouldn't be in operation before Memorial Day anyway -- and would be a bottleneck on a good day.

Details about the replacement span are sketchy, but it appears that it will be some kind of truss span (a Bailey-like design perhaps?). The local newspaper reports:

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet outlined the structure that will replace the bridge span in its bid request. The section will be a railing system at least as strong as the existing bridge, with comporting dimensions. The deck will be 20 feet wide, made of asphalt or concrete. The trusses will be painted to match the color of the adjacent spans.

This will certainly be an interesting sight, at least until the entire structure is replaced by a new four-lane bridge in a few years.

In other related news:

  • The name of the Eggner's Ferry Bridge has become the subject of debate -- maybe it's Eggners Ferry, maybe it's Eggner Ferry, or maybe it's even Egner Ferry.

  • Just down the road from Eggner's Ferry, a similar truss bridge over Lake Barkley was briefly closed following a barge strike. The bridge is fine, but I can only imagine the sickening "Oh crap not again!" feeling experienced by locals.

  • The doomed Ledbetter Bridge near Paducah, Kentucky, now has a 35-mph speed limit to go with the 3-ton weight limit. Weigh-in-motion sensors have been installed to enforce the weight limit.

  • The Mississippi River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois, has finally reopened to traffic following a more than year long closure. Unlike Kentucky, Illinois decided to shut down the bridge to all traffic in response to truckers ignoring the 15-ton weight limit -- even though funding for the repair work wouldn't be available for most of a year. Thankfully Kentucky is slightly more clueful in how to handle these situations.

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Finally, the winners for 2012

Without further ado -- or procrastinating -- here are the winners of this year's TRUSS Awards for the top bridges that are endangered and worthy of preservation. In no particular order:

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Honorable Mentions for 2012

I've spent the last week sorting through nominations for the TRUSS Awards (Top Ranked Unique Savable Structures). It's been tough: there's so many bridges that are endangered, and so many bridges that would be viable candidates for rehabilitation or adaptive reuse.

Some of last year's winners were re-nominated again this year. These are all important projects, but I decided to exclude them from winning again in order to make room for other bridges. Meanwhile, most of last year's honorable mentions are now facing an even greater threat of demolition, so I did consider them.

I had originally planned to pick 12 winners, but after changing and re-arranging the list several times, I decided to expand this to 15. And even that's not really enough.

Here are the bridges that didn't make the cut. These honorable mentions are still worthwhile bridges that should be saved:

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The mess at Eggner's Ferry Bridge

The previous 12 months have not been good for major bridges in Kentucky:

  • Last January, the Mississippi River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois, was closed to traffic after truck drivers ignored an emergency reduction in the weight limit (the bridge doesn't quite touch Kentucky, but is an important route for traffic between Kentucky and Missouri). The bridge is undergoing repairs but remains closed at this time.

  • In September, the Shermin Minton Bridge at Louisville was unexpectedly closed after failing an inspection. It, too, is undergoing repairs but is still closed.

  • Earlier this month, the Ledbetter Bridge (Clark Memorial Bridge) near Paducah had its weight limit reduced to only 3 tons. Law enforcement officers are now patrolling the bridge almost non-stop to prevent truck drivers from crossing. The alternative is to shut down the bridge to all traffic, just like at Cairo. (What I can't figure out is why Illinois and Kentucky won't install "headache bars" on the approaches to these bridges to prevent tall vehicles from crossing, which would effectively keep away overweight trucks at almost no cost or effort.)

  • And now, of course, the Eggner's Ferry Bridge at Kentucky Lake was shut down in spectacular fashion on Jan. 26 as a large cargo ship slammed into one of the spans.

I visited Eggner's Ferry Bridge today, approaching from the western side at Kenlake State Resort Park. The park offers ample parking and several overlooks of the lake and bridge.

It's quite a spectacle:

The ship went under the wrong span (the second truss from the east). This span is not as high as the main channel span (second from the west). In the collision between the ship and the bridge, the ship easily won, crumpling the 322-feet Parker truss like a wad of paper.

With the ship anchored in place, the wreckage of the truss is now draped on the vessel's bow.

Bridge inspectors have tentatively declared that the western spans are stable, with commercial boat traffic allowed to resume passing under the main channel span. However, the eastern span (a smaller Pratt truss) has been labeled as "possibly unstable", with evidence suggesting that the pier has shifted -- or perhaps continues to shift. It also appears, at least through a telephoto lens, that cracks have formed in the concrete.

Pre-construction work is already underway on the bridge's replacement (a "basket-handle arch" design), but construction wasn't expected to finish until 2016 or 2017. I'm sure that schedule will be accelerated, but a major construction project can only proceed so quickly.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet hasn't ruled out trying to repair the existing structure, but it's going to be tough. First, the 322 ft. gap will need to be filled by a temporary span (perhaps some kind of Bailey truss). That's a lot of distance to cross. It's also likely that at least one pier and the smaller truss span on the east side will need to be replaced or shored up. If feasible, I'd say that repairing the bridge is worth the effort, but I suspect a certain number of local drivers will be terrified to cross the repaired bridge and would rather take a lengthy detour.

Unfortunately, some of the media coverage seems to be clinging to the usual narrative that this "aging" bridge suffered a "collapse." This wasn't a collapse at all: it was a collision caused by an errant ship. The bridge was built in 1932, but it was not considered structurally deficient according to an inspection in Aug. 2010. A large ship veering off course by almost 1,000 feet would be enough to tear apart even a brand new bridge. Indeed, a simple truss bridge, where each span is largely independent of the others, is one of the better designs to handle this kind of collision. Sadly, this incident will likely provide yet another excuse to replace historic bridges with mundane replacements that are shiny and new -- but never 100% accident-proof.

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Site notes: Photo uploads hopefully fixed; NBI 2011 released

I think I've tracked down the source of the sporadic problems with photo uploads. A couple people had trouble uploading photos for their TRUSS Awards nominations, so I've extended the deadline for nominations until Jan. 31. Like last year, the sheer number of entries will make it hard to choose the winners.

In other news, the Federal Highway Administration has released the 2011 edition of the National Bridge Inventory. They've made two versions available: the old fixed-width ASCII format and a new comma-delimited format. The old format can be processed using my OVERPASS program. I haven't tackled trying to read the new format. Unfortunately, it appears that the wrong ZIP file containing all of the states was uploaded (it's the new format even though it's labeled as the old format). I had to download all of the states separately.

I've uploaded the new inspection data throughout the website. The next challenge is tracking down those bridges that appeared in the 2010 edition, but disappeared in the 2011 edition -- this means they were probably demolished.

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Send your nominations for 2012

With the arrival of the new year, is now accepting nominations for the 2012 TRUSS Awards (Top Ranked Unique Savable Structures). This award honors bridges that are threatened with demolition, but would make the most excellent preservation projects. To nominate a bridge, go to the page for that bridge and click the yellow "Nominate" button near the top. You can also nominate an unlisted bridge by going to this page. Nominations will be accepted for three weeks through Jan. 22, 2012.

I have good news and bad news about last year's TRUSS Award winners. From what I can tell, none of the bridges were demolished. But none of them were saved, either, and all remain in limbo. Here's the list with the current status of each:

Sadly, a large number of other bridges were lost in 2011. Our list of bridges demolished last year totals 145, and that list is certainly far from complete.

The year brought a shocking number of natural disasters to the United States. Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee were bad news for covered bridges as flooding unleashed by these storms destroyed Blenheim Bridge (New York), Bartonsville Covered Bridge (Vermont), Seigrist's Mill Covered Bridge (Pennsylvania), and many others.

Spring flooding caused extensive problems on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, at one point forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to intentionally breach a levee in Missouri, causing one bridge to be wiped out in dramatic fashion. Flooding also caused the partial collapse of the Ninth Street Seven Arch Stone Bridge in Illinois; the bridge was later demolished.

Fryer Ford Bridge in Arkansas succumbed to a different kind of disaster: a careless truck driver disobeying the posted weight limit.

As we've been dreading for some time, 2011 was the final year for several notable bridges, including:

Last year also brought surprise demolitions that were unnecessary:

On the bright side, 2011 brought some success stories, even in Pennsylvania and Missouri.

  • Mill Mountain Road Bridge (Luzerne County, Pennsylvania) - The Times Leader newspaper explains it best: "Some Luzerne County employees saved taxpayers more than a million dollars by redoing a historic bridge on their own, rather than hiring outside companies to design and build a new one."
  • Pine Creek Bridge (Lycoming County, Pennsylvania) - This spectacular Warren Lenticular truss was dismantled in 2008, repaired, and finally reassembled in 2011
  • Lake Taneycomo Bridge (Taney County, Missouri) - Located at downtown Branson, Missouri, this arch bridge was twinned by a parallel span and then rehabilitated to carry one-way traffic
  • Rock Island Bridge (Pulaski County, Arkansas) - After a long wait, this former railroad bridge opened to pedestrians this year as part of the Clinton Presidential Library grounds
  • Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge (Lane County, Oregon) - At one time in immediate danger of collapse, this covered bridge was rebuilt at a new location for pedestrians
  • Glover Cary Bridge (Daviess County, Kentucky) - Owensboro celebrated the rehabilitation and reopening of its Ohio River bridge with a special day allowing people to walk across the bridge
  • West Bureau Creek Bridge (Bureau County, Illinois) - In the most surprising story of the year, Illinois replaced a UCEB with a historic through truss bridge relocated from elsewhere

Here's to hoping that we will see more success stories in 2012.

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Two more important upgrades

I hope everybody is enjoying the holidays! During my Christmas vacation, I've been spending some quality time adding new features to the website.

Photo license tracking

To help prevent copyright violations and to keep the lawyers at bay, I've added a field to the database to keep track of the copyright license (if any) attached to each photo.

For photos that you've taken, you can decide what license to offer them under. This could be a standard "All rights reserved" position in which you grant permission for visitors to see your photos, but that's about it. You can also choose "Public domain" (renouncing your copyright and allowing anybody to use the photo in any way) or one of the "Creative Commons" licenses (which give various levels of permission for re-using the photo). If in doubt, just use the default "All rights reserved."

For photos that you've obtained from elsewhere, you must specify how they were obtained. If you have permission from the photographer/copyright holder, select "Have permission." If you found the photo on Flickr, Wikipedia, or another website with a Creative Commons license, then choose the applicable C.C. license version -- but be sure to follow their rules carefully, especially about providing attribution. For photos that are out of copyright or were produced by a Federal agency or program (such as HABS/HAER), then you can select "public domain." In some limited cases, you may be able to use a photo under "fair use", but first make sure you understand what that means before using this exception.

This isn't as bad as it sounds. When uploading or importing photos, you can choose the license for each photo from a drop-down menu. To make things easier, you can select the license (and credit line) for the first photo, and apply that to all of the other photos by clicking the little red arrows on the right. For photos that you've taken, it's safe to keep "All rights reserved" and not worry about this.

Expanded design types

I've always been puzzled why the various kinds of Pratt trusses (Parker, Camelback, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Whipple, etc.) have their own distinctive names, but Warren trusses are just called Warren trusses regardless of variation. To better keep track of Warren truss bridges, especially the more exotic designs, I've expanded the list of available design types:

  • Warren through truss
    • Warren through truss with no verticals
    • Warren through truss with all verticals
    • Warren through truss with alternating verticals
    • Warren through truss with sub-panels
  • Polygonal Warren through truss
    • Polygonal Warren through truss with no verticals
    • Polygonal Warren through truss with all verticals
    • Polygonal Warren through truss with alternating verticals
    • Polygonal Warren through truss with sub-panels
  • Lattice through truss
    • Triple-intersection lattice through truss
    • Quadrangular lattice through truss
    • Quintangular lattice through truss
    • Town lattice through truss

(I've added similar subtypes for pony and deck trusses as appropriate.)

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On This Date in 1967

On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge, that crossed the Ohio River between Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Kanauga, Ohio, collapsed during afternoon rush hour, killing 46 people. The eyebar suspension bridge opened in 1928. A similar bridge, upriver in St. Mary's, was immediately closed and demolished in 1971.

As a result of the tragedy, the NBIS was initiated, mandating that all bridges in the United States, longer than 20 feet, be inspected every two years.

Adding to the mystique of the region is "The Mothman Prophesies." Legend has it that the mysterious Mothman foretold the collapse. The Mothman Prophecies is a 1975 book by John Keel that was the basis of a 2002 movie of the same name.

For more about the collapse, see the listing for the Silver Bridge.

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More site upgrades

With the arrival of ugly winter weather, I've had time for more website improvements:

New tool for adding categories

I've added a new admin feature for adding/removing categories associated with a bridge. Look for the yellow "Categories" button on each bridge page, or click the appropriate button to jump to it after adding or editing a bridge.

You can add categories either by dragging-and-dropping (or double-clicking) suggested categories in red, or by typing in a category name in the box. The system provides auto-completion, so you don't have to guess the proper spelling and capitalization for the category name. If you try to add a category that hasn't been created yet, the system will give you a warning so that you don't inadvertantly create a duplicate category.

To remove a category, drag-and-drop (or double-click) one of the green boxes. Changes take effect immediately (you don't have to save changes), although you have the option of adding a note to the Update Log using the box at the bottom of the page.

Review county boundaries

When adding or editing a bridge, there's now an option to "Show county lines" on the Google map. The bridge's selected county will be highlighted in red, while adjacent counties will appear in blue. This gives you the chance to double-check whether the bridge is placed in the right county, or to see whether the bridge crosses a county or state line.

Rotate photos

If a photo is uploaded sideways, it's now possible to correct the problem by clicking the yellow "Edit this photo" link next to the photo and then using the "Rotate left" and "Rotate right" buttons.

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The Ammann Award Winners for 2011 and the Bridgehunter's Chronicles Pics for 2011

The results are out! The Bridgehunter's Chronicles has announced the winners of the Ammann Awards for 2011, the first awards devoted to historic bridges and ways to preserve them. In addition, the Chronicles also has the most striking pics for 2011. All the information and pics are found via link here:

The author would like to thank the photo candidates and those who voted for the best photos. The bridge candidates should take pride in the job well done in preserving bridges. As for the steel thieves......

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Assorted site updates

Here are some improvements I've made lately:

  • Related bridges: I've added a section to each bridge page for showing "related" bridges. For example, if one bridge replaced another one, that relationship can be shown, with links from one to the other. Look for the "Add related bridge" admin links to create these relationships.

  • Search engine: Keyword searches will now look for the entire phrase, instead of just matching any of the words. If you prefer the old method, you can go to the Search page and check the "Match any word" box.

  • Facts and figures: The new Website Statistics shows a quick summary of the bridges that are posted to the site, broken down by status and design.

  • Random county: In addition to the Random Bridge link, you can try out the Random County link to explore another part of the country.

  • To-do list: The To-do pages has been expanded to include more bridges that need attention, including those bridges that have had a sudden jump in their sufficiency rating, which usually means they've been replaced by UCEBs.

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National Historic Bridge Month 2011

November is National Historic Bridges Month. And for the first time ever, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will be awarding the Othmar H. Ammann Award for Excellence to three candidates for their roles in historic bridge preservation and bridge engineering. It will consist of three categories: The Lifetime Legacy Award to the person who has had an enormous impact over the course of many years, the Best Kept Secret Award to the person or group with the best example of historic bridge preservation, and the Best Snapshot Award to the candidate with the best photo of a bridge in general. Entries are being taken between now and 25 November, with the winners announced on 2 December. The winners will be interviewed by the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles (which will be posted) and receive a Certificate of Excellence Award. If you know of a candidate who has made an impact on the historic bridges community, please send his/her name via e-mail to Jason Smith ( before 25 November at 12:00am Central Standard Time. It is open to all candidates in the US and internationally. Minus the photo entries which you can do yourself, nominating yourself for the other two awards is prohibited; photos of the candidates must be of one’s own work and not that of another’s.

The Award is named after the Swiss-American engineer who designed and led the construction of over a dozen bridges in New York City as well as many others in eastern US and his home country of Switzerland. Among those included are the George Washington Bridge (1939) and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (1964), both located in New York City. The latter was the last of his engineering work (as he died eight months after it was open to traffic) and was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1981 and still is the longest in the USA today.

Pics for 2011: Also a first this year is the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles’ Pics of the Year. It will be divided up into the following examples- Best example of historic bridge reuse, worst example of historic bridge reuse, the best effort to saving the bridge, the salvageable mentioned, the worst reason to destroy a bridge, the best find of a historic bridge and the biggest bonehead story. You have until the 25th of November at 12:00am Central Standard Time to submit your candidate(s) to Jason Smith (, who will announce the winner and the honorably mentioned on 2 December.

The Bridgehunter's Chronicles will provide some stories about historic bridge preservation during the months of November and December, which will be posted here. Stay tuned.

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What new features would you like to see?

I've been rather distracted lately, mostly because of this. With that out of the way, I'm planning on making some upgrades to the site.

Some items on the drawing board include:

  • Mobile-optimized version
  • Improved search engine
  • Better tool for uploading multiple photos at a time
  • Method to attach PDFs and other documents to bridge pages and essays
  • Way to tag photos
  • Form for submitting news items
  • Expanded forum system

Anything else? What upgrades do you feel are the most important?

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