Bridges

 

 

Illuminated footbridge, leading out to the Ngoc Son Temple in the Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Basic bridges
Bridges come in many forms. A very basic type merely consists of a plank or a stone slab, spanning a narrow stream, whereas slightly longer bridges are made from rope, branches, or beams.

 

 

Asien 1972-73
These men in the Alborz Mountains, northern Iran, are crossing a river on a simple wooden bridge, constructed of tree trunks and branches, which rest on stone cairns, placed at intervals in the river bed. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing rivers in the Himalaya is not always a simple affair. On several occasions, I have made hair-raising crossings on simple ‘bridges’, which simply consisted of narrow tree trunks, planks, or stone slabs.

 

In 1982, I undertook a demanding hike in the Nanda Devi National Park, Uttarakhand, India, together with two friends, John Burke and Ajai Saxena. On our way back, we crossed the Rishi Ganga River on two rather thin logs, resting precariously on rocks on either side of the river. – This interesting hike is related in depth on the page Travel episodes – India 1982: Pleasures of Nanda Devi.

 

 

Nordindien 1982
My companion John Burke has come to a stop, crossing the Rishi Ganga River on very narrow logs, and our guide Gabar Singh is on his way out to assist him. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Another incident was during a hike in the Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh, India, together with Ajai Saxena and his wife Madhu. The trail along the Tirthan River had been washed away by heavy monsoon showers, and a new ‘path’ had been constructed, much of it leading through the river itself. This hike is described in detail on the page Plants – Plant hunting in the Himalaya: Abode of the deodar.

 

 

Himachal Pradesh 2007
Assisted by our guide, Madhu Saxena is crossing a bridge along the Tirthan River, which merely consists of tree trunks, onto which boards have been nailed. This bridge was rather civilized, compared to others that we crossed further upstream, which were merely thin logs, resting precariously on rocks. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Nepal 2009
During a hike in the Upper Langtang Valley, central Nepal, one of my porters is crossing a tiny stream on a simple bridge, consisting of stone slabs, resting on tree trunks. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Nepal 2000
This tourist is balancing across rather thin logs, leading across the Langmoché Khola River, Langtang National Park. Following heavy monsoon rain, the original bridge had been washed away, but in less than half an hour, our porters had constructed this provisional ‘bridge’. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Myanmar 2007
Early in the morning, this cyclist, transporting his child, is crossing a simple wooden bridge in the town of Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

This wooden bridge near Bouar, Central African Republic, has been partly damaged by rain, combined with heavy truck traffic. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Cantilever bridges
A more elaborate type of bridge is constructed by using cantilevers, a structure consisting of beams, steel bars, or steel-enforced concrete blocks, which project horizontally, or slightly upwards, from the shore into the air. Each cantilever is supported on only one end, which is secured in a pile of heavy stones or a concrete block.

In shorter bridges, the two cantilevers are then connected by tying beams or bamboo poles across the gap, whereas larger cantilever bridges, designed for heavy traffic, are made from trusses. A truss is an assembly of beams, steel bars, or steel-enforced concrete blocks, which are connected to make a solid structure, often forming a pattern of numerous triangles. The steel truss cantilever bridge was a major engineering breakthrough, as it can span distances of over 460 m. (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantilever_bridge)

 

 

Filippinerne 1984
These Bontoc people are crossing a high cantilever bridge, constructed of thick bamboo stems and lianas, which spans the Chico River, northern Luzon, Philippines. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan 2014c
The Xiluo iron bridge, spanning the Jhuoshuei River, western Taiwan, is 1,939 m long. It was completed in 1952. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

The Long Bien Bridge is a truss bridge, spanning the Red River in Hanoi, Vietnam, in Vietnamese called Hong Ha (‘Red Sunshine’) or Song Cai (‘Mother River’). It was constructed by the French in 1899-1902, using more than 3,000 Vietnamese workers. At that time, with a length of 2.4 km, it was one of the longest bridges in Asia. Cars are not allowed on this bridge, which is reserved for trains, scooters, and motorcycles.

Before the independence of North Vietnam in 1954, this bridge was called the Paul Doumer Bridge, named for Paul Doumer (1857-1932), the Governor-General of French Indochina 1897-1902, and later French president 1931-1932.

 

 

Every morning and late afternoon, thousands of scooters and motorcycles cross the Long Bien Bridge. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

On the Greek island of Crete, a number of old stone bridges have been preserved. Two examples are shown here.

 

 

This bridge, which spans the Megalo Potamos River, near the Preveli Monastery, was built in Venetian style in 1850-1852. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Stone bridge near Kolimvari, with a downy oak (Quercus pubescens) in the foreground. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

USA 2012a
This fine old stone bridge spans the Jessamine Creek, near Lexington, Kentucky, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

United Kingdom 1992-2002
Vauxhall Bridge is a steel and granite deck arch bridge, spanning the Thames River, London. It was completed in 1906. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal 1994-95
This simple cantilever bridge, spanning the Tamur River, eastern Nepal, is constructed from long bamboo poles, secured at both ends in a heap of boulders, and supported by simple wooden structures. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

The Makatote Viaduct near Ohakune, North Island, New Zealand, is a steel truss railway bridge, 262 m long, which spans the Makatote River, 79 m above the water. When this bridge was constructed in 1905-1908, it was the tallest viaduct in New Zealand. Today, the Mohaka and North Rangitikei viaducts are taller, at 95 and 81 m, respectively.

 

 

(Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Alperne 2017
Old stone bridge, Karner Valley, Berner Oberland, Switzerland. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Footbridge in a city park, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Asien 1972-73
Goats, resting on an ancient stone bridge near Izmir, Turkey. – Domestic goats are presented in detail on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Frankrig-Spanien 2007
Tall brick bridge near Accous, Aspe Valley, Pyrenees, France. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Sydasien 1978-79
Porter, carrying a heavy load of planks across a basic type of cantilever bridge, Dudh Kosi River, Khumbu, eastern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

In former days, the eastern half of North America held more than 13,000 covered wooden bridges, most of which were constructed in the 1800s. The covering was intended as a means to prolong the life-span of the bridge, which, without covering, would deteriorate after only 10 to 15 years.

Many of the covered bridges are truss bridges, and in a special type, called lattice bridges, a large number of small planks are placed diagonally to form a lattice.

About 1,500 covered bridges have been preserved in the United States, four of which are shown below.

 

 

USA 1998-99
Halls Mills Covered Bridge is a wooden lattice bridge, built near the town of Neversink, Catskill Mountains, New York State, in 1912. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

USA 2012a
Another lattice bridge is Hart Bridge, built c. 1864, 52 m long and 4.6 m broad, which spans the Housatonic River, West Cornwall, Connecticut. It was constructed of timber from red spruce (Picea rubens), using wooden pegs, or trunnels, to join the timbers. Blooming yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus) is seen in the foreground. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

USA 1998-99
Smith Bridge, near Plymouth, New Hampshire, photographed in rainy weather. This truss bridge, which is 45.5 m long, was constructed in 1850. Its arches are a later addition. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

USA 2012a
Bulls Bridge is a covered wooden lattice bridge from 1842, 33 m long, which spans the Housatonic River, near Kent, Connecticut. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Alperne 1968-2001
Europe also holds a few covered wooden bridges. This one spans the Rhine River, where it constitutes the border between Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Asien 1972-73
This ruined bridge in north-western Iran, made of bricks, has collapsed. The lower picture shows a kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), which has made its nest in a cavity on the bridge. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan 2018
Footbridge, adorned with rounded stones, presumably from a river bed, Taichung, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Lahaul-Ladakh 2014
Cows, chewing their cud, block the traffic on a bridge across the Parvati River, Himachal Pradesh, India. Judging from the large piles of dung on the bridge, it constituted a favourite resting place for these cows. – Domestic cattle are described in detail on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

The town of Nyaung Shwe, near Lake Inle, Myanmar, is criss-crossed by countless canals, spanned by a large number of wooden bridges, four examples of which are shown below.

 

 

Myanmar 2007
Three Buddhist nuns. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Myanmar 2007
Cyclists. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Myanmar 2007
This horse cart is crossing a large wooden bridge, spanning the main canal in Nyaung Shwe. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

Myanmar 2007
Boat, passing under the same bridge as above. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

During the Himalayan monsoon, torrential rain showers often cause landslides, which occasionally wash away houses, trails and bridges, forcing people to build simple temporary bridges, until new, stronger bridges can be constructed.

My hardships during the monsoon period is described on the page Plants – Plant hunting in the Himalaya: Rainy season in Nepal.

 

 

Sydasien 1978-79
In November 1978, these trekkers cross the Dudh Kosi River, Khumbu, eastern Nepal, on a temporary cantilever bridge, which was constructed, when a huge tidal wave, a few months previously, had washed away villages and several bridges along this river. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Norden 1967-86
Bridge, reflected in Lake Umnässjön, Lapland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Fog envelops the Macao Bridge, Yangminshan National Park, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Frankrig-Spanien 2007
Ruined bridge on the Tarn River, near the town of Le Rozier, Gorge du Tarn, Cévennes, France. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

In areas of the Himalaya, where the Tibetan Buddhism, or Lamaism, is the dominant religion, bridges are often adorned with Buddhist prayer flags. – These prayer flags, and other aspects of Buddhism, are described in detail on the page Religion: Buddhism.

 

 

Nepal 2013
This porter, whose burden is protected from rain by a bright blue plastic sheet, is crossing a cantilever bridge, spanning a tributary to the Ghunsa River, eastern Nepal. Numerous strings, adorned with Buddhist prayer flags, have been strung across the river. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

In Acadia National Park, Maine, United States, a total of c. 91 km of so-called carriage roads, besides a number of stone bridges, were constructed between 1913 and 1940. Motorized vehicles are banned on these roads, for the benefit of hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and carriages. They were financed by millionaire and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960).

 

 

USA 2002-10
This old stone bridge spans the Jordan Creek, Acadia National Park. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Bali-Lombok 2012
An old wooden footbridge, spanning a gorge in the town of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

USA 2016
USA 2016
Two bridges, one constructed of iron, one of stone, spanning the Merrimac River in the city of Haverhill, Massachusetts, United States. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Norden 1967-86
Footbridge, spanning a canal in the city of Trondheim, Norway. The buildings in the background are former warehouses for wealthy traders. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Everest 2010
This lovely cantilever bridge, which spans the Dudh Kosi River, near Pungi Tenga, Khumbu, eastern Nepal, is adorned with Buddhist prayer flags. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Norden 1967-86
Old stone bridge, spanning the Ljungan River, Jämtland, Sweden. In 1974, when this picture was taken, horse-drawn wagons were still a part of the traffic picture in Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Irland 1987-99
Droichead na Leathphingine, in English called Halfpenny Bridge (often shortened to Ha’penny Bridge), is a pedestrian iron bridge, spanning the Liffey River in Dublin, Ireland. It was constructed in 1816. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Tanzania 1990
These Makonde boys are playing with home-made toy cars beneath a bridge near Kitere, southern Tanzania. The road leading to the bridge has been eroded away by flooding. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Footbridge, made from boulders, Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam. The red flowers are poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima). (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

The Rainbow Bridge spans the Neches River in south-eastern Texas, connecting the cities of Port Arthur and Bridge City. The latter was originally named Prairie View, as it was located on coastal grasslands. In 1938, when the Rainbow Bridge was constructed, the name was changed to Bridge City, as you now had to cross a bridge to enter the city, regardless of the direction you came from.

 

 

USA 1992
(Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Falls Bridge spans the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls. This river constitutes the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

 

 

Zimbabwe-Kenya 1994
The shadow of Victoria Falls Bridge is reflected on rocks along the Zambezi River gorge. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 Zambia 1993
This person has just been performing a bungy jump from the bridge and is now hanging at the end of the rope. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan 2012a
Colourful iron bridge, spanning a river in the city of Taichung, Taiwan. A motorcyclist is seen to the left. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Bornholm 2016a
This rusted iron bridge, produced by a local artist in 2002, spans a gorge, created by quarry work, near the town of Vang, Bornholm, Denmark. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

The Blue Nile originates in Lake Tana in the Ethiopian Highlands, from where it makes its way c. 1,500 km to Khartoum, in the Sudan, where it joins the larger White Nile. The name Blue Nile is in fact a misnomer. During the summer monsoon, this river washes down huge amounts of soil from the highlands, which turns its water almost black. In a local Sudanese language, the word for black is also used for blue, so, in reality, the river should be called ‘The Black Nile’.

The first written account of the Blue Nile is from 1565, when a Portuguese, João Bermudes, who called himself Patriarch of Ethiopia, provided a description of the Blue Nile Falls, Tississat, in his memoirs.

Incidentally, to many Christian Ethiopians, the Blue Nile is identified as the sacred river Gihon, one of the four rivers flowing out from the Garden of Eden, as related in Genesis, 2:13.

 

 

Ethiopien 1996
This Portuguese stone bridge, constructed in 1632, spans a tributary to the Blue Nile, near Tississat Waterfalls, Ethiopia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Norden 1967-86
Old bridge, constructed of slabs of Öland limestone, Stenåsa, Öland, Sweden. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Asien 1972-73
This broken bridge once spanned the Karkheh River, Luristan, south-western Iran. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Californien 2011a
Old iron bridge, Coos Bay, Oregon, United States. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

When small, the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) is a very popular house plant, but in the wild it grows enormous, sprouting numerous aerial roots from its branches, which grow down to the ground, where they take root, over the years becoming additional trunks, creating an entire patch of ‘forest’, which is in reality a single tree. This species is native to the Indian Subcontinent, east to southern China and Taiwan, and thence southwards through Southeast Asia and Indonesia to northern Australia, and eastwards to the Pacific.

The weeping fig, as well as other fig tree species, are presented in detail elsewhere, see Plants: Ancient and huge trees.

 

 

Bali 2015
Footbridge in front of a gigantic weeping fig, growing near the Wenara Wana Temple (popularly called ‘Monkey Forest’), near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

Suspension bridges
As its name implies, this bridge type is supported by suspension cables, attached either to structures on both sides of a river, as seen in many mountain areas, or, as is the case with longer bridges, to tall concrete towers.

In former times, suspension bridges in many mountain areas around the world were constructed from bamboo poles or branches, which were tied together and supported by twine ‘cables’ made from liana bark that were tied to a large tree on either side of the river. After some years of wear and tear, these rather flimsy structures would finally break, often causing casualties among men and beasts. Today, most suspension bridges in the mountains are solid steel structures, secured with strong steel cables, built into concrete blocks at both ends.

 

 

Nepal 1985
In this picture, a porter is crossing an old-fashioned suspension bridge, constructed of steel cables, vines, and mats, spanning the Marsyangdi River, central Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal 2013
Another dilapidated suspension bridge, spanning the Tamur River, eastern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Taiwan 2014d
This simple suspension footbridge, made from rope, spans a stream in the 99 Peaks Forest, near Nantou, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Everest 2010
Nepal 2002
This suspension bridge, adorned with numerous Buddhist prayer flags, spans the Dudh Kosi River, near the confluence of this river and the Bhote Kosi River, Khumbu, eastern Nepal. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

This bridge in the town of Budai, Taiwan, is illuminated in the evening. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is a futuristic suspension bridge, spanning the small Waiwhakaiho River in New Plymouth, New Zealand. This bridge is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal 2000
These mules, heavily laden with planks, are crossing a steel suspension bridge, spanning the Kali Gandaki River, Mustang District, central Nepal. – Mules are presented on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

This suspension bridge in Aowanda National Forest, Taiwan, is 180 m long, situated 90 m above the river. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, is a suspension bridge, 2,737 m long, spanning the Golden Gate, the strait connecting San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. This bridge was opened in 1937, and, until 1964, it had the longest main span of any suspension bridge in the world, at 1,280 m.

 

 

Californien 2013
Californien 2013
(Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Lahaul-Ladakh 2014
Woman, carrying a huge load of fodder across a suspension bridge, Pandoh, Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal 1994-95
Steel suspension bridge, spanning the Tamur River, eastern Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

In 2004, when I visited the Bhote Kosi Valley, central Nepal, this area was controlled by Maoist rebels, fighting against the government. I had to pay a ‘donation’ of 1000 Rupees, or I would not be allowed to pass this village, but otherwise the Maoists were very polite towards me.

 

 

Suspension bridge across the Bhote Kosi River, near Jagat. The red banner on the bridge reads as follows: “Let us fight against the government. Help the low castes and get rid of the caste system.” (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, spans the East River, forming the border between Brooklyn, Long Island, and the island of Manhattan. This famous bridge, which is 1,825 m long, with a main span of 486 m, was the first steel-wire suspension bridge to be constructed. Work was initiated in 1869, the construction lasting no less than 14 years.

 

 

USA 1992
USA 1998-99
Brooklyn Bridge is divided, one section for motorized traffic, another for pedestrians. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

This picture from 1998 shows the bridge, and Manhattan, at night. The twin towers of the World Trade Center, which were destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001, are seen in the background. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

USA 1998-99
Jew, reciting from the Torah beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

 

 

Nepal 1994-95
A large flock of goats and sheep crosses a suspension bridge in the Lower Marsyangdi Valley, central Nepal. – Domestic goats and sheep are described in depth on the page Animals: Animals as servants of Man. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)

 

 

 

(Uploaded September 2017)

 

(Latest update March 2020)