Friday, 30 November 2012

Sepia Saturday - Bridges

This week's picture shows a bridge across a river that won't see many tall ships, be it with or without sail. The bridge hardly allows the passage of a rowing boat. If the man at the oars is distracted by the photographer for another ten seconds, he will surely lose his hat if not more. What really intrigues me is the body language of the lady on the bridge. The way she holds her right arm indicates either that she is giving the man a piece of her mind or that she has got a back problem. For the well being of the man I would hope it is the second option. But you may justly find this a woman unfriendly thought. In any case, this picture offers many possibilities. Nevertheless, I'll go for the obvious: bridges.
I know the two starting bridges from own experience. That almost automatically means they are not very sepia. I am not that old, you know. 
The first one is a French bridge. It is situated near Millau in the south of France, part of the A75 and it has been there since 2004. 
Viaduc de Millau
My wife looking up at the Viaduc de Millau
The bridge crosses the river Tarn and is almost 2.5 kilometers/1.5 miles long. The highest bridge pillar is 343 meters/1125 ft, the longest span between two pillars 342 meters/1122 ft. My wife (1.64 m/5 ft 5 in) felt like a dwarf looking up! It is a very impressive construction! Here is a 3min 15sec YouTube video worth looking at. 
The next one is a Canadian bridge. I never set foot on it but we saw it from the air when visiting friends in nearby Belleville.
Thousand Island Bridge
Thousand Island Bridge crossing the St Lawrence near Gananoque, ON
Our friends Tim & Diana knew of a seaplane operator in Gananoque. The carrier's name was 1000 Island Airways and we flew in a De Haviland B. So we made a very nice trip over the St Lawrence River.
Well, so much for colorful bridges, let's go back to the sepia era.
River Kyll near Kyllburg Germany
Bridge over the river Kyll near Kyllburg 50 km north of Trier, Germany
During my mother's high school period many school trips were spent in the western part of Germany. This photo dates from approx 1933. It is difficult to be sure where she is in this picture. She might also have taken it. The only known name is her teacher's name. He is the man on the very right, Mr. Van Ramshorst.
Dausenau a/d Lahn
Dausenau a.d. Lahn 100 km northwest of Frankfurt, Germany
During one of those school trips the above picture was taken in the small city of Dausenau in Germany. Again I assume my mother is part of this group but that is not the reason for showing this picture. It is the banner over the street showing the logo of the Nazi-party that makes this photo special. Although WW2 started in 1939, the Germans knew Hitler and his ideas long before that. The banner says:
Adolf Hitler
schaft Arbeit und Brot
Wählt Liste 2
Translated this says: "Adolf Hitler creates labour and bread, Vote list 2."
Obviously social circumstances in Germany were very poor in those days. And Hitler made use of the bleak future staring in the face of many Germans. Promises for a better future and at same time blaming a.o. Jews for the situation they were in, made excellent elections.
Usually the largest party has the lowest sequence number. In January 1933 Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and his Nazi-party the absolute number 1. In combination with my mother's age there, my conclusion is that this photo dates from 1932. Little did these boys and girls know how the banner over their heads would influence their lives in less than 10 years time...
For more ladies, rowing boats, bridges and anything else you would never have thought of, please see my fellow Sepia Saturday bloggers.

Update Apr. 7, 2014
Out of the blue I received the following email from Germany:

Good evening,

I've found this picture of Kyllburg in your blog by accident:

I was born in Kyllburg in 1958, but away from home since I'm 15 year old. I am very interested in the history of my home town. (By the way: Kyllburg is, with a population of about 900 people, the smallest town in the federal state Rheinland-Pfalz. Until  World War II it was a famous spa in the Eifel, specialy for the Dutch.)

The bridge over the river Kyll with your mother on it is probably this:

I have a very private request: Do you have any other pictures or other information from this trip of your mother's school form to Kyllburg in 1933 where this picture was taken? Needless to say that there are a lot of postcards from Kyllburg at the internet. But the private sight of such a trip is of course more exciting for me.

I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Best regards
Toni Nissen

Obviously I replied to Tony. Fortunately my mother's album is still in my possession and there are a few more pictures made in Kyllburg which I forwarded to Toni in the meantime. There was also this picture postcard. I was able to put a date to the bridge picture: July 23, 1932. So I was wrong by a year. 
Kyllburg pictured from up high
It is nice when the internet provides you with reactions such as the one above. Thanks, Toni!


  1. The banner adds a lot of interest to the second photo.

  2. Peter, an interesting view of different styles of bridges. The Viaduct de Millau a contemporary masterpiece; even the Romans would be impressed!

  3. I also love bridges very much. Essentially, bridges are the first conquest of mankind (ancient Romans) on the nature. They made possible the transit towards unaccessible places.
    Such a matter also make me think about an advantage of Euros versus our ancient national currencies: better to keep in our wallets views of beautiful bridges, instead of portraits of people who died.
    Happy December!

  4. I've been to Gananoque - took a boat tour up and down and in and out of those Thousand Islands. It's fascinating that a person could own and live on one. But I don't remember that bridge - how could I forget it? In your mom's school trip picture, the first thing I noticed was the Swastika. Your insight into WWII history always enriches my understanding.

  5. Impressive bridges here, but the wooden one is the most appealing. The banner makes thelast photo an historice shot.

  6. That Nazi cross in the last photo captured my attention, it seems to stand out doesn't it. Yes, I was aware from reading history of the pre-rise to full power...

  7. O do enjoy your posts Peter. They always make me smile, but you usually manage to educate me too! This is a fine set of bridge pictures and I especially like the colourful ones from your own album.

  8. A very interesting group of photos. I especially like the one of your mother's class on the bridge. Now that is a beautiful bridge. The French one is kind of amazing but not very pretty.

  9. The bridges are impressive, both new and old. One of the advantages of traveling is to see interesting places and beautiful bridges.

  10. Peter, this is an excellent post. I'd never heard of Thousand Islands before. What an intriguing name!

    And the bridge your mom was standing on in 1933 certainly did look precarious!

    But that photo in Germany with the Swastika was just chilling.

  11. I love,love history. Am reading the 2nd installment of Ken Follett's Trilogy about the 20th century. Learning all about the early years of Hitler and learning more about Stalin who I get mixed up about sometimes. I love the tiny bridge too.

  12. @Gio Ve
    Let's hope the Greeks agree too :)
    Some of the houses I saw from the air were very spectacular! The bridge may not have been very close to G. But it can't have been very far away as we flew just a little over 40 miles.
    @Little Nell
    Educating you? Knowing your professional background the other way around is more likely ;)
    I agree, it's more impressive than pretty.
    Agree, just seeing it still gives me the shivers.
    Indeed there were certain similarities: they both murdered millions and they both had a mustache, to name just a few...

    Thank you all for travelling to my SS-post on this side of the pond!

  13. An interesting variety of photos showing some great feats of engineering :-)

  14. I love Sepia photos, especially when they tell a story about history.

  15. The nazi banner is chilling. Knowing what we know and looking at photos from not too far before the horrors took place, makes me feel for the people in the photos who have little idea of their futures.

  16. A fine post with multiple layers, Peter. I recently watched a documentary on the extraordinary construction technique used on the French bridge, and have been driven underneath the Canadian bridge. Both are modern marvels.

    Your mother's photos are an example of how old photos carry threads of bigger world history as well as smaller family stories.

    And a special thanks for providing a larger theme photo so I could spot the black dog! My dog is equally difficult to photograph.

  17. Impressive display of bridges,
    something I like very much.

    That nazi banner gave me shivers as we all know now, in retrospect, what it came to mean...

    Never again, they say...

  18. A rare old chunk of history. Another example of how so often it is the accidental content, the poster, the banner the book cover or whatever, that makes some old photographs such a rich source of history

  19. Dausenau is located 2 miles away from Nassau, so that would probably have been a major target for the Dutch school trips. The tilted tower stil exists (although without a roof).

  20. @Kristin, @Mike
    You'll understand I was quite surprised when I saw the banner and read it with a magnifying glass. It was almost unreal.
    Indeed, they say but read the papers...
    So the lesson is, don't throw away old (family)pictures. Keeping a few albums doesn't harm anybody.
    I'll ask her!
    I looked for the tower in StreetView but couldn't locate it. Do you know the street in Dausenau?

    Thank you all for visiting!

  21. A fascinating group of bridges that I knew nothing about. I was particulalry interested in the Photograph of your mother and the Nazi banner, as I have just been following a TV documentary of this aspect of German history.

  22. @Peter: Germans are not so happy with streetview so there are not many German streets to view. But if you perform a Google Image search for Dausenau you'll spot the tower easily. BTW the answer is Lahnstraße.

  23. Do you know the location/country where the first picture was taken?

  24. @aussie
    Location is unknown but possibly Australia. For more info please see and scroll down a bit.

  25. Thanks Peter, I somehow thought about Oz, looking at the trees and buildings


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