Traditionally, the choice of the stone used in stone bridges was primarily a reflection on what was locally available. Geological Variances In New England, there are many stunning stone arch bridges made out of the locally available granite boulders. These structures attest to the ingenuity of the masons who were able to create lasting structures using such irregularly shaped material. In the Midwest, the stone arch bridges are typically made of sedimentary rocks — … [Read more...] about The Choice of Stone for Stone Arch Bridges
Arguably the most difficult part of building a stone arch bridge is “turning the arch.” This phrase simply refers to keeping the correct angle on each individual stone so that the arch goes in a circle — not as easy, perhaps, as one might think. The Gothic Arch To begin with, some arch shapes are easier to turn than others. The Gothic arches in medieval bridges are surprisingly forgiving. As they terminate in a point at the top, this point takes much of the necessary angle to be made, allowing … [Read more...] about Stone Arch Bridges: Methods of “Turning the Arch”
Many of the old stone arch bridges around the world have names which, after a fashion, tell a tale of the history of the structure and, sometimes, the area around it. Others have obvious names that are not particularly informative, beyond, perhaps, what body of water the bridge is spanning. In Kansas, many of the stone bridges are named after various landowners who lived in the vicinity of the structure and whose land the bridge was on. Bridges in Ireland Frequently, bridges have more than one … [Read more...] about What’s in a Name?
The foundations of a stone arch bridge are the single most important factor in determining the life of the bridge. If the foundations are good, the bridge can last for centuries — or even a millennium! If the foundations are bad, the bridge may last but a few years, or even a few months. Failure of the foundations is by and large the most common cause of stone arch bridge failures. Curiously, stone arch bridges frequently have but shallow foundations. Setting the bridges a short distance … [Read more...] about Stone Arch Bridges: Foundations
Cowley County, Kansas, is reputed to be the stone arch bridge capital of Kansas and has many historic stone arch bridges. It is, however, unclear what the first stone arch bridge in Cowley County was. The reason for this is very simple — not all stone arch bridges were built by the county, and for some of them the documentation is very poor. Some were built by railroads, and others seem to have sprung up from nowhere. Stalter Bridge The Stalter Bridge, Cowley, Kansas, is an … [Read more...] about Four Early Cowley Bridges
This list of lesser-known bridges in Kansas is composed of bridges that are not well documented for various reasons. Some of them are off-road while others, even though they are actually on the roadway, have largely escaped the public eye — an easy occurrence if they are not on the national bridge inventory or are largely obscured. We will update this list as we find more. 1. Walz Ford Bridge, Butler County, KS Location: On Bluestem Road, head 1 mile south from the paved SE … [Read more...] about 4 Lesser-Known Stone Bridges of Kansas
Cowley County is known as the stone arch bridge capital of Kansas. While something of a latecomer to the stone arch bridge building trend of this part of the state, Cowley quickly rose to become famous for its stone arch bridges. Shortly after the county built a stone arch bridge over Timber Creek, they undertook the building of what was heralded as the largest stone arch bridge in the state — the Dunkard Mill Bridge. The Dunkard Mill Bridge is located outside Arkansas City and bridges the … [Read more...] about Record Bridges of Cowley Kansas
The North Branch Otter Creek Bridge in Greenwood County, Kansas, is a well-known, triple-arch stone bridge listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It was built by pioneer bridge builder Walter Sharp, as shown by the plaque. Walter Sharp is renowned for being the foremost builder of the famous Cowley County stone arch bridges. When Greenwood County decided to bypass this old stone bridge, demolishing it was considered. After the resulting protests, the bridge was preserved … [Read more...] about Otter Creek Bridge