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Update on Moscow bridge - May 4, 2010

From: James Crouse

The credit here belongs almost entirely to Larry, for sharing the information with us as it comes to his attention. I thought a few others, including those who write/edit the various CB newsletters/journals, might enjoy Doug's comments also. I recall that he made an interesting presentation at an OHBA meeting on this subject (old CB construction methods).

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Doug Kramer
To: James Crouse
Sent: Mon, May 3, 2010 7:44:45 PM
Subject: the Moscow CB, now and then

Just a quick note to thank you so much for keeping me, and all of us, so well informed as history is remade in Moscow. I really do appreciate it.

Moscow Bridge. Photo unattributed
March 18, 200

Dan's method, with the big cranes, is obviously the best way to go this these days. But the skillful touch of his hands and eyes is still there on each piece of timber, just like that of the Kennedy family over 100 years ago. Most of the timber cutter's "fingerprints" on the wood may now be from the neat-patterned marks of small blades in rows on a steel band or a saw chain, in contrast to the wider and a little more random lines from the handheld chisel or the manpowered adz of yesterday. But for Dan and his crew, it's still a labor of love. Wood makes you think first, maybe even twice as they say, before you act. There's no welding a little back in place to try again. So it's just as special to the Colloms as the Kennedys. Maybe even more so today. There's not nearly so much of it around.

You can bet for sure that, even knowing the Kennedys had to get to the job site with horses, if they had had chainsaws, they would have used them. A lot. And big cranes, too.

As I mention the big cranes, I had to think back over my several years of research lately as I have tried to learn about the methods of construction used in the days of the Kennedys in Rush County, Indiana, of E. S. Sherman, here in Preble County, Ohio, and the many other 19th century bridge builders. There was lots of lightweight and well braced timber false work, all across the river, or maybe a span at a time here, with the unpredictable Flat Rock tamed and squeezed a little bit to hopefully flow on the other side for a while during construction of one span. One or two gin poles to raise up the heavy stuff. Certainly every bit as carefully positioned as Dan did for his cranes. Carefully planned and organized. Each lift, each timber and each notch thought out well in advance, and carefully measured. Twice, I'll bet.

I've tried many times, including asking even there in Moscow, to find old photographs of the construction phases of the early covered bridges. But as one of Dan's old timer Parke County neighbors reminded me, it was just common timber construction back then, like so many barns going up in the neighborhoods around. Nothing newsworthy, really, so rarely were pictures taken. It was a road, for heaven's sake, not the president coming to town.

So thanks again, Jim. By recording the present, you have helped us to revive and appreciate the past, also. I may try to attach one of the old photos I have found, showing the old ways. As I have said when I have presented these to some groups, the methods are a lot different now, but the people not much different at all. The care, the organizing, the teamwork, and even the wood, is pretty much the same. As my grandkids say (I think), how cool is that!

Douglas E. Kramer, President, Kramer & Associates, LLC

Update on Moscow bridge - May 3, 2010

From: James Crouse
Sent: Mon, May 3, 2010
Subject: Moscow CB News & Photos

Here's a nice article about the Moscow CB:

Note that you can view pictures by going to: and selecting "pictures" at lower right (scroll down). You can view the photos, but they want to sell prints, so the word "preview" is in the middle of each view.

There's an error in the article; here's what Larry said about it:
"Shelbyville News did a nice story on the lifting of the Moscow Bridge on April 29th; however, I was misquoted. I never told him that 80% of the funding came from federal and state sources and 20% from county funds. This is normal procedure so I assume that he figured this was the case here. But I would be the last one to tell him that because it just isn't so. No government money involved.... Also, hats off to Jim Barker for his great work as the engineer. He seems to get overlooked in the media coverage."

Our thanks again to Larry for keeping us informed!

Update on Moscow bridge - April 30, 2010

Our thanks to Bill Caswell for letting us know about this link (see his message below) to the newscast - James Crouse

For those who haven't seen it yet, there is a nice video from channel 6 in Indianapolis at - Bill Caswell

On Fri, 4/30/10, James Barker wrote:
Dan Collom phoned to say the lift went smoothly. I spent Tuesday designing the lifting beams and shimming & clamping details, got behind on other things and wasn't able to come yesterday. If anyone took pictures yesterday they think nice, could you send a few my way? Thanks in advance - Jim Barker On Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 10:22 AM, James Crouse wrote: Here are two recent messages from Larry Stout -- our thanks to him and all the good folks involved for keeping us informed.

Update on Moscow bridge - April 28, 2010
WGN IN-70-07

Here are two recent messages from Larry Stout -- our thanks to him and all the good folks involved for keeping us informed - James Crouse

According to conversation last night with someone who talked to the contractor, the bridge "might" be lifted on Thursday (29th). Again, nothing definite. There will be 2 cranes used instead of one. I will let you all know as soon as I find out. So check your emails on a regular basis.
       Also check our festival website for festival info and photo of the framed span #1. The schedule of events will be added to the site later this week.
             Larry Stout

NEWS FLASH! Just got a call that the contractor's wife called to say that the cranes will be arriving at 7 a.m. Thursday morning to lift the bridge. Not sure how long it will take. Was told that lifting of a smaller bridge was done in a few hours; however, this bridge "should" or "could" take longer. So you might not want to wait until noon to come down to see it. It could still be going on but then it might be over by then. Observe from the west (Moscow) side and park up toward the church and festival grounds. Don't park on any of the neighbor's property. You can park in the festival lot if you wish. We will have a port-a-pot at the festival grounds for Thursday only for this event. Spread the word!
             Larry Stout

Update on Moscow bridge - April 22, 2010
WGN IN-70-07
Bridge Lifting Update

Span # 1 is in place ready for the crane to come and pick it up. Whenever the crane arrives, it will be started that day and not wait for any press releases to anyone. As soon as I get word, I will get on the internet and send emails to everyone that I can think of. So be sure to check your emails several times a day from now on. Everyone needs to be on the west (Moscow) side and not on the east because they will be in the way. It will probably be an all day event so bring a chair. And check with the local residents before wandering on their property.

Moscow Bridge. Photo by Nan Hoban
April, 2010
       We met last night (Wed.) on the east side. It had been the understanding that when "we" were ready, the crane company would bring the crane out but the crane company is saying that they wanted 2 weeks notice. A call from the Governor's office has speeded that up. It appears that it "could" be next Wednesday (28th); however, it may depend on the weather. The river is low enough now for work to begin but any rain in the area or even up river could change this. So, I guess, pray for NO rain for at least week.
       Again, if you want to come see this historic event, keep in touch with people in the area or wait for an email from me. I will try not to overlook anyone but no guarantees. And it is possible that they may arrive and begin operations before I get notified.
       As for the completion date of the bridge, it will not be by festival time (June 4-5-6). More likely late June or into July. So, NO dedication services during the festival as originally planned. This will be done when it is completed and ready to be opened for traffic. But we are hoping for big crowds during the festival. It will be our last festival. And you will see a lot of completion of the bridge if you come. Span #1 should be in place with flooring, roofing, siding being put on if not already done.
       I will pass on the festival events to you in a few weeks.
             Larry Stout

Update on Moscow bridge - April 6, 2010
WGN IN-70-07

I was able to attend the meeting yesterday at the bridge site with Dan, Jerry and Doug Blair from R. H. Marlin. The current plan is to lift the span into place late next week. Everything is going to be weather dependent. If we get as much rain this week as they are saying, it may delay the date. Jerry is proceeding with having an excavation contractor prepare the temporary road bed to and into the river. That effort is to begin today. They will need a few days for that. The weather may set them back a day or two. Dan is going to proceed with getting the span placed on large dollies so that it can be transported into the river bed. R. H. Marlin is prepared to have cranes in place next week. We'll need to see how the weather goes this week to see if we can stay on that schedule. I would think that by Monday we will know for sure what day the span is going to be lifted into place. I expect that Dan will coordinate with R. H. Marlin on Monday or Tuesday to finalize the day. So, notification of the media may be a two-step process. I would think that you would want to go ahead and let them know now of the approximate timing of the lifting of the span with the understanding that the final determination will be a day-to-day proposition.
       The same thing will need to happen in approximately four to five weeks to lift the second span into place.
       Once the first span is set, I believe that it is Dan's intention to commence with the placement of flooring, rafters, roofing, siding, etc. on that span as the second span is being assembled. Once the second span is set into place, the same work will need to occur for that span. If the second span is set into place sometime during the week of May 10, that will leave approximately three to three and a half weeks to complete the work on the second span in time for the festival. All of that is, of course, dependent upon weather and available manpower. Once the bridge is completed, Jerry will then need some time to remove the temporary road bed. I wouldn't expect that to be completed prior to the festival. When the festival occurs, it would be reasonable to expect that there will still be some minor work to be completed on the bridge, but, if all goes according to plan and if the weather cooperates, the bridge should be substantially complete by the festival weekend.

Update on Moscow bridge - April 3, 2010
WGN IN-70-07

Channel 13 in Indianapolis will have a special (30 minutes, I think) next Wednesday, April 7) beginning at 8 p.m. on tornados in Indiana. Covering 1925 tornado, Palm Sunday tornado and the 2008 tornado that took down the Moscow bridge.

Myself, Rush County Commissioner Marvin Cole (who lives just up the road from the bridge) and builder Dan Collom were interviewed a few weeks ago. Don't know how much of Moscow will be included but we will be in there somewhere.

Check out for a story that was in this week's paper on the bridge. Paper had 2 photos. Website shows a different photo. Perhaps if you play around on the website, you can see the other 2.

One of the 2 sections has been completed or nearly so. Plans are to get crane out to lift it in place. We are supposed to be given a week's notice so that we can notify media and everyone that we can think of. Haven't gotten that call yet but talked to Marvin this morning and he said that sheriff's department will be bringing scales out to weigh the bridge perhaps today or very soon. Then they might be bringing in the crane next week. If that is true, then our week's notice may be less than a week. I will keep checking on this to let you know. After #1 is in place, they will start on #2. Then another crew will come in to put flooring, etc. in #1.

If I recall correctly, cost for the crane is $12,000 per day. Could be cheaper to finish both sections and bring it in than making 2 trips; however, time wise in getting the project done, 2 trips will probably be the way to go. As you can see, we are still raising money.

Dan still says it can be done by June 4 (start of 25th annual - and final - festival). We all have our doubts but are planning a dedication service during the festival on Saturday, June 5, beginning probably around 1 p.m., following 12 noon parade. We will have a dedication service but may not have the reopening as it will have to be inspected after completed. Reopening may be a few weeks later. Hope not. Be nice to do it all at one time.

Of course, that makes it difficult for us to plan dedication service. In order to get key people (governor, Sen. Lugar, Indianapolis Colts, etc.) have have been involved in this project, we need to notify them several weeks ahead of time so their schedules remain open). That is why we are planning June 5 for the dedication. But, without knowledge of whether it will be open by then for traffic (foot or vehicles), we can't plan a band on the other side like it was in 1886. (If we have the band, it will be on the Moscow side). We also can't get various groups (antique car clubs, motorcycle clubs, etc.) to go thru the bridge. So we are searching for ideas. We do have a festival meeting at 1 p.m. tomorrow (April 3) at Don Miller's resident outside of Moscow if anyone wants to come down and share ideas.

All for now, Larry Stout

[Our thanks to James Crouse for forwarding this story - Ed.]

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted 04/04/201, updated 05/03/2010