Back in June we wrote an article on the Esch’s Spur Bridge (also denoted as Kirk Bridge), a well-known triple-arch bridge outside Dexter, Cowley, Kansas, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After further flooding, the middle arch sustained substantial damage.
A notable portion of the arch has collapsed, causing loss of part of the spandrel wall as well as fill, with a resultant hole in the roadbed. The collapse appears to have originated from where arch stones had been knocked out in 2016. It is likely that debris impacts during the May 2019 flooding knocked out more stones, causing the collapse. Where arch stones are missing, the rest of the stones tend to be loosened due to lack of friction. As the arch faces receive the brunt of the abuse in a flood, they are particularly liable to be damaged.
Fortunately, partially collapsed arches are repairable. Nevertheless, until it is either repaired or demolished, the Esch’s Spur Bridge is extremely vulnerable to further damage and, eventually, total collapse.
As an incidental aside, it is a testimony to the strength of arches how they can stand surprisingly solidly even when missing portions. Basically the stones of the arch form a corbelled “arch” within the arch, which is the case with the Esch’s Spur Bridge.
Additional resource: Index of the Stone Arch Bridges of Cowley County, Kansas