Saturday, March 11, 2017


I'm no architect, so I can't begin to describe the designs of buildings or dams or bridges without running the risk of using the wrong vocabulary and sounding utterly foolish. But I do notice things sometimes.

Such as the piers of the old Ironton-Russell Bridge. This spring they will be blasted out of the water after the structural steel is removed from them. When I was in Russell, Ky., yesterday to get a look at how the demolition was proceeding, I noticed the bridge piers and found them interesting.

Modern bridge piers feature straight lines and all, but they lack the fine details that designers put into their work a hundred years ago or so. Take a look at the pier closest to the Kentucky shore and gaze at the details that were put into it.

Here is a closeup of the top of the pier.

And here's one at river level.

Remember, the river level is several feet higher than it was than when the bridge opened in 1922. Lock and Dam 30 maintained its pool at 490.5 feet above sea level. The Greenup Locks and Dam raised its pool in 1961 or thereabouts and maintains it at 515 feet, an increase of 24.5 feet.

All that makes me wonder what other details people used to be able to see but are hidden forever now.

That looks like a piece of angle iron or something that's been attached to the pier where the current hits it first. I don't know if it's original equipment or aftermarket.