6 votes

Piano Bridge


Piano Bridge

Photo taken by C Hanchey in August 2009


BH Photo #145371

Street Views 


Restored by Davis Construction, BACH Steel & S&S Bridge Painting, Engineered by Charles Walker at TxDOT


Through truss bridge over East Navidad River on Piano Bridge Road
Fayette County, Texas
Reopened to traffic on April 2, 2012
Built 1885 by the King Bridge Company, rehabilitated 2011-12
- BACH Steel of St. Johns, Michigan (Restoration)
- Davis Construction Inc. of Lansing, Michigan (Restoration)
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio
- S&S Bridge Painting of Kerrville, Texas (Restoration)
Pinned, Pratt through truss (wrought iron)
Length of largest span: 79.1 ft.
Total length: 137.1 ft.
Deck width: 11.5 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.8 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+29.72762, -96.84485   (decimal degrees)
29°43'39" N, 96°50'41" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/708449/3290548 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2012)
Inventory numbers
TXNBI 130760AA0189001 (Texas bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 33018 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of May 2018)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 55.7 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • July 24, 2022: New Street View added by Jesse Sharkoman Berube
  • April 3, 2012: Updated by Julie Bowers: updated OPEN
  • October 8, 2011: Photos imported by Luke Harden
  • April 25, 2011: New photo from Markus Haas
  • December 26, 2010: Updated by Anthony Dillon: changed status as bridge is currently closed
  • August 15, 2009: Updated by C Hanchey: Bridge was actually built in 1885 by the King Bridge Co.



Piano Bridge
Posted August 31, 2014, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

think I have fully documented a wonderful two day road trip in the hill country of Texas. I would fly into Austin or Houston, and rent a car. Go to Schulenberg and see Piano Bridge. Hang out there. Go to La Grange and get your na na na na on at the Star Bar of Texas (think best lil whorehouse in ....) . Food abounds but the tacos at the Chevron Station are the best and new restaurants and growth seen in Schulenberg too. I met with the Commissioner, spoke with the judge and went to see my old cowboy friend Bobby who is not feeling so well these days. Send him some good energy, he let me ride the range with him during construction delays on the Piano Bridge, not to mention letting me plug in and live near his house.

Then head north to Milam County to see Worley Bridge and drive over this one a few times. Note the differences in restoration. We are grateful to see and make note of rivets or fake bolts, it doesn't change the strength, but the look is different. My vote - riveting. but then I am HOT to RIVET. Then head east to Robertson County and check out two more restored and drivable historic bridges. Hang out in Hearne and have breakfast at Penny's diner, then on to Providence Road Bridge and Wildcat Bridge Road Bridge, a study in dark and light. These spans were part of a multi span bridge from the Brazos River and now will live generations longer over the Lil Brazos. Hanging out in Calvert, Tx is also great. The Kolaches are outstanding, and the antiques and historic plantation homes (the owners all lived in town with their acreages outside of town with the quarters). It is a remarkable place and nice to see it rebounding with some new activity and sidewalks from a year and a half ago. I camped for a few days north of Calvert and was able to finally drive over a King Iron Bridge Co. bowstring pony truss. It had some major rehab going on and definitely needs work but it is still in use, I would say from the late 1870's. It's twin is just a few miles away in a park in Rosebud and it is ripe for a lesson in restoration. Falls County and Rosebud don't know what's coming but it is Workin' Bridges.

Piano Bridge
Posted October 26, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

And who knows? Maybe the third one as well, as the Piano Bridge has been nominated for the Ammann Awards for Best Example of a Preserved Historic Bridge! :-) Winner will be announced in December. :-)

Piano Bridge
Posted October 26, 2013, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Not a mention of who....Charles Walker senior engineer retired from TxDot...DCI (Davis Construction), BACH Steel and Cecil the painter.

Very cool.

Piano Bridge
Posted October 25, 2013, by Art S (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

The restoration won an award:



Art S.

Piano Bridge
Posted May 18, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

And the whole 44 minutes is pretty darn okay....lots of great up close information. And we would love to work on as many bridge projects as we can, but the education of everyone, from the owner/bridge lover to the craftsmen to the engineer to the operators - these bridges can be!!!!

thanks for watching.

Maybe we should set up some state wide viewing sessions - get your friends together for pizza and a movie....

and the music doesn't suck either...

Piano Bridge
Posted May 17, 2012, by JIM STEWART (JAMES [dot] STEWART [at] TYLIN [dot] COM)


Piano Bridge
Posted May 17, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

the trailer for the documentary is on You Tube at: http://youtu.be/fsbM9_g04j8

It shows just a bit of the construction project and why we do what we do.

The Historic Roads Conference in Indianapolis has accepted our paper for presentation as well and I will present a 20 minute version in September. Of course that costs money so we will have to figure that out.

Worth it to get the word out about bridge restorations as economically viable projects. Get America Workin' Bridges......

Piano Bridge
Posted May 11, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

the world premiere of the documentary will be held on june 7 @ 2 pm at the Capital Theater in Burlington, IA for the 1st Annual Snake Alley Festival of Films.

Piano Bridge
Posted April 3, 2012, by Julie (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Opening celebration, courtesy of Edwin Peters. Wish I could have been there but thankful that I have photos already.

Piano Bridge
Posted April 1, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks Tony, I know that Workin' Bridges made a difference in Texas and hope we can do more difference making in the future.

Wishing I didn't have to get a real job to keep it going because I know that time taken away from me doing this will impact on projects but a buck is a buck and I spent a lot of those bucks getting the footage for this bridge. Can't wait to start putting stuff together in the documentary.

Piano Bridge
Posted March 31, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A big round of applause to you Jules on a job well done!

Was very happy to see Nels & Co. back in action after the accident.

Piano Bridge
Posted March 31, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

The bridge dedication is set for Monday. Sadly, I won't be there to document the event. I will be spending time with her on the editing of the documentary, which showcases how you rehabilitate and do an in-kind restoration of a Bridge, a historic truss bridge, at that.

I enclose two articles from the local papers. Judge Ed Janecka was very instrumental in the restoration of this bridge, but the broader landscape of locals, are the ones that have and will take an interest in this crossing, for generations to come.

This little iron bridge has a lot to teach a nation of decision makers that most likely might be your neighbors or someone you know.

Glad that Workin' Bridges has a small part in this play and very grateful that the work that was begun with Nels Raynor at BACH Steel, ended with Nels, and his crew from BACH Steel doing the iron restoration. Bob Schwensen of Davis Construction Inc (DCI) out of Lansing, Mi. and S&S Bridge Painting of Kerrville, Texas, Texas for their contracting skills. The Department of Transportation, Jay-Cee Rivets, Michigan Pneumatic, Black Stallion Gloves, Commissioner Tom Muras, Leona Hoelscher, Edwin Peters and last but not least the Koenig Family, in particular that cowboy Bobby, for the donations, time and materials and good will on the job for allowing me access to be there and document this restoration.

It proves to me that these restorations back to vehicular traffic need to occur more often and that we can help by publishing our findings.



Piano Bridge
Posted March 9, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

what was begun...while not open quite yet,...she is finished.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 27, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)
Piano Bridge
Posted February 25, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I know Tony, it's been so great to watch all of the action. And to document it. It's an impressive job by all and music to my eyes and ears. Wait for the party. Charles Walker said it's going almost perfectly, he is the TxDOT engineer responsible for the design and is very passionate about his work.

Regarding the conference in Indiana, I'm sure you will come up with a ton of great bridges to go see and view. There is an historic roads conference in Indianapolis in July that I have presented an abstract for, haven't heard back yet, but it will be on saving bridges on roads that have little traffic and alternative routes being an economic boon.

We could rent a bus and save all some money if gas prices go that high.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 24, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The restored Piano Bridge, music to my...eyes!

Piano Bridge
Posted February 24, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

news....green hardhat and vest....

Piano Bridge
Posted February 22, 2012, by Julie Bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Not me. Just the video girl. But I have some great video. Workin' Bridges is is looking for welders for a workshop in iowa to train on how to work with these bridges.....

Piano Bridge
Posted February 22, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Looking good Jules!

Can't wait to see the finished product!!

Piano Bridge
Posted February 22, 2012, by Julie Bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Bridge reset today....

Piano Bridge
Posted February 11, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


just a little more press coverage of the restoration from the Schulenburg Sticker.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 9, 2012, by Julie Bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Todays interview with John Barton and Lonnie Gregorcyk was outstanding....they too love what they do and restoring bridges is part of that. 1. Knee jerk reacrion to Minneapolis bridge for all truss bridges is a mistake. 2. Confident on their engineers to combat fatigue and that shouldn't be an issue 3. Work with counties and cities to help them find a use for their 10% contribution so that it stays within. 4 agree that maintenance and education is key to better decisions.... 5. Agree that groups like mine make a difference in that education. 6. They give a ton of credit to engineer Charles Walker of TxDoT who is extremely knowlegeable and 7.. acknowledge that more success stories will create more successes.....

Can't wait to start editing all of the footage I have taken of heat straightening, hot riveting, welding old iron.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 7, 2012, by Julie Bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

The rivet hammer on this job was donated to Workin' Bridges by Michigan Pneumatic Tools. Check out their website. It is called the Thor, from 1943; and had been used by the navy. The rivets are from JayCee Rivets and vary in size. W'B is documenting all of tbe procedures for this project to continue the education of decision makers that hot riveting still exists today and can be done in the field. We haven't tossed any rivets yet.

Another process, heat straightening using clamps, force and heat was used on all of the eyebars and they will all go back into service. Pad welding on the fishbelly floor beams was used on nicks and creases, and one of the verticals with section loss was repaired by welding another piece of channel. These were all issues that engineers across the country say can't be done on old iron but all have been inspected by TxDOT engineers on this project. In this project new connectors and splice plates, and shoe plates were fabricated and drilled on site. The caissons have new riveted top plates as well. This bridge is better than new now.

If you are interested in learning about this hands on go to the Historic Metals Workshop in Lancing in early March. We are hoping that many more companies will join BACH Steel and Davis Construction in not only knowing and understanding these crafts and fabricating repairs, by becoming the experts of the future in each state, as we work with our nations cultural and historic resources.

If you would like to donate to our non profit tnat helps educate and do real construction don't hesitate. There is still a lot to do.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 6, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


We have talked about using pneumatic riveters for bridge work. I think they are smaller today than the old monsters of the past. You are right though, they probably are a lot different than airplane riveters.

Piano Bridge / riveting
Posted February 6, 2012, by Robert Thompson (rkt [dot] engineering [at] gmail [dot] com)


Aircraft riveting is a little different than structural steel riveting, in that it is generally done cold using aluminum rivets. Steel fabrication used hot steel rivets heated to around 1500 degrees F; at that temperature, the steel is still solid but has the physical characteristics of soft plastic, which allows it to be easily shaped. As the rivet cools, it contracts and actually pulls the pieces tighter together.

Fabrication shops used to have very large, heavy hydraulic riveters that could cold-form rivets, but these were large machines bolted to the concrete floor - you could not take them out on site.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 6, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


Some of the research that goes on in Michigan relating to restoring historic bridges led to the possibility of pneumatic riveting. Contact me at www.historicbridges.org and I can get you in touch with some people who might be interested in talking with you.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 6, 2012, by Anonymous

I do riveting on aircraft and I'm surprised they didn't use a pneumatic rivet squeezer on this job. It's right out in the open and using a pneumatic squeezer gives consistent results. Although this crew looks like they did just fine.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 5, 2012, by Robert Thompson

Wow! Somebody still has riveting skills! It's a little like shoeing horses - it used to be common, now its an anachronism.

I was fortunate - I got to see it done early in my shipbuilding career. It isn't used at all any more - welding is much more efficient.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 5, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Index of steel manufactured by the Phoenix company in 1906:


1856 Charter and Bylaws of the Phoenix Company:


Piano Bridge
Posted February 4, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks Tony. Great info

Piano Bridge
Posted February 4, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Some nice info in Wikipedia Julie, have a look here:


Interesting that they started in 1790 making nails.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 4, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

What do we know about Phoenix iron? Anybody....

Piano Bridge
Posted February 1, 2012, by Julie Nowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

More pics....cm

Piano Bridge
Posted February 1, 2012, by Tom Schwerdt

Also, some of the small pieces which were replaced (rivets, cracked end of a beam) are at the local museum in La Grange.

Piano Bridge
Posted February 1, 2012, by Tom Schwerdt

Blasting and priming of the individual components was completed, and hot riveting began yesterday. Most of the concrete work is done as well. Still to go: Touchup priming, full topcoat, reassembly and a new deck.

Piano Bridge
Posted December 7, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Glad to see the pick went well!

Piano Bridge
Posted December 7, 2011, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Your boyfriend Lee, his brother Derreck and Salvador, along with BOB DID A GREAT JOB. The bridge is down and ready to be blasted and primed next. So proud to be part of a success story. The bridge is ready for BACH Steel crew to come back after the first of the year to work on her even if Nels is simply the command post for the crew.

We saved one.... YAHHHHOOOOOO.

Piano Bridge
Posted December 7, 2011, by Jackie Feldpausch (jackie_72 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

My boyfriend Lee is actually one of the Davis crewmembers who is working on this bridge. I know they will do a great job! I would love to see some pictures of the reconstruction.

Piano Bridge
Posted December 3, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Yes Julie...prayers indeed for our friends! Here's to a supernatural recovery!

Piano Bridge
Posted December 3, 2011, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

The bridge was lifted successfully yesterday and placed near the site for disassembly. that joy was mitigated by the fact that our crew from BACH Steel suffered an auto accident on the way here and are in pretty bad shape. Good thing that the other experts, Davis Construction are able to continue the work here until Nels and Jimmy are in better health, hopefully they will recover soon. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, they are a couple of hurtin' puppies.

I have to image the photos to post but will do so soon.

Piano Bridge
Posted November 28, 2011, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Day 1

Piano Bridge
Posted November 26, 2011, by julie bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Perhaps the last painting before her big restoration. 8" x 8" watercolor & pencil on canvas.

Piano Bridge
Posted September 27, 2011, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I will do that Jason. and any history you dig up, let me know. I talked with Alan King Sloan today about images of Zenas and some of that history and am talking with HISTORY now about the documentary...Got that connection from the KEEPER. I'll talk to anybody!)))

Piano Bridge
Posted September 26, 2011, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Julie, perhaps you can post it here as well as in the Bridgehunter's Chronicles as people would like to see an example of how bridges like this one can be restored. Great job at winning the bid on the part of the co. you suggested. :-)

Piano Bridge
Posted September 26, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Can't wait to see the finished product Julie!

Piano Bridge
Posted August 26, 2011, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

At Workin' Bridges suggestion Davis Construction worked up an estimate and won the bid on this King Iron Bridge Co. restoration and will be utilizing BACH Steel's Nels Raynor to do the bridge iron work. This is such a cool thing for historic truss bridge restoration.

Nels and I started collaborating with W'B with this first project back in November and look where it's going - restored back into vehicular traffic. We will be documenting the process and detailing the story. Thanks again to Scott Miller at Davis for following through. The Texans are excited that the experts are going to be doing the work on this bridge.

Piano Bridge
Posted December 26, 2010, by Roger & Kathleen Schumacher (kathleen_schumacher [at] Yahoo [dot] com)

Bridge status needs to be changed to "closed to traffic". County has blocked off bridge and placed "road closed" sign. Bridge looked in fair condition, but we are thinking new deck may be the issue.

Piano Bridge
Posted December 26, 2007, by Larry Wilson (larryww1 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Rode over this in Feb, I was a bit disappointed because the deck has been replaced and doesn't sound like a piano anymore.