Gölchtalbrücke viaduct – the biggest brick bridge in the world

Gölchtalbrücke – the world’s largest brick viaduct

This railroad bridge was built between 1846 and 1851, and over 26 million bricks were used in its construction!

A look at the amazing structure.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

The Gölchthalbrücke Bridge was built in 1846-1851 as part of the construction of the Saxon-Bavarian Railroad near the town of Milau.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

One of the biggest obstacles that had to be overcome during the construction of this main line, which runs from Leipzig through Plauen and Hof to Nuremberg, was the Gölch valley. Since the Saxo-Bavarian Railway Company did not have much money, it attempted on January 27, 1845 to find a profitable architectural solution for the bridge with a prize of 1,000 thalers, which was advertised in all German newspapers.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

One of the biggest obstacles that had to be overcome during the construction of this main line, which runs from Leipzig through Plauen and Hof to Nuremberg, was the Gölch valley. Since the Saxo-Bavarian Railway Company did not have much money, it attempted on January 27, 1845 to find a profitable architectural solution for the bridge with a prize of 1,000 thalers, which was advertised in all German newspapers.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

The chairman of the commission, Professor Johann Andreas Schubert, based on his own experience with static calculations, created a draft of a possible solution, using in it individual suggestions from the competition projects. This made this bridge the first statically calculated bridge in the world.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

The architect chose brick as the main construction material, a very unusual material for those times. There were large deposits of clay in the area, and thus brick was cheap and easy to deliver. Only in a few of the most questionable locations did Schubert plan to use granite.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

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The bridge was laid on May 31, 1846. 50,000 bricks of unusual size: 28×14×6.5 cm were used daily in the construction, and about 20 brick factories worked along the construction line. A total of 1,736 workers were employed in the construction, 31 of whom died during the work.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

When the bridge was completed and opened on July 15, 1851, the Göltschthalbrücke became the tallest railway bridge in the world, and the largest brick bridge it still is today.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

Gölchthalbrücke is both the name of the head railway station in the Gölch River valley that runs under the bridge.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

The bridge is now part of the so-called Saxo-Franconian Mainline, which underwent reconstruction in 1997-2000 and allows trains to traverse winding sections at speeds of up to 160 km/hour.

Ruprict 2020-06-15 09:40:02 # Reply

The Gölchthalbrücke Viaduct is the largest brick bridge in the world

The viaduct or Göltschthalbrücke Bridge is a stunning example of 19th century engineering. It is a 4-level arched brick railway bridge connecting the banks of the Gölch River in eastern Germany, near the town of Neckau.

General Description

  • The bridge is 574 metres long
  • Width at the bottom – 23 meters
  • Width at the top – 9 meters
  • The maximum height of 78 meters

The bridge consists of 4 levels, and the total number of arches slightly falls short of a hundred, there are “only” 98 of them. The upper level consists of 29 arches, the largest of which is 30.9 meters wide. The bridge has two railway lines.

Gölchtalbrücke

Construction history

The bridge was built from 1846 to 1851 as part of the railroad between Saxony and Bavaria. It is now part of the Leipzig-Hof line, near Nechkau station.

The booming Germany needed railroads. In particular a branch line had to be laid between Saxony and Bavaria. The main problem was the difficulty of laying the road in the Gölch valley.

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In the hope of finding an optimal, inexpensive and feasible construction plan, in January 1845 a competition for the design of the bridge was announced in all major German magazines. The main prize was 1000 thalers (in those days an impressive sum).

In the end 81 proposals were submitted. None of them was to the satisfaction of the authorities, because none of the applicants could prove through structural analysis that the bridge could withstand intensive operation by trains. However, the prize was awarded to the four most successful designs, which were never implemented.

The chairman of the jury, Professor Johann Andreas Schubert, studied all the submitted designs for a long time and subsequently designed the bridge himself. His work was based on data from the structural analysis of the viaduct in Lebnitz, which was commissioned in the summer of 1845.

Incidentally, the viaduct in Lebnitz was the first bridge on the planet to undergo a complete structural analysis.

The Göltschthalbrücke Viaduct was built mainly of brick. This unusual choice was dictated by the abundance of loam in the surrounding area, which made it possible to produce bricks quickly and economically virtually on site. Granite was to be used only in certain key segments of the bridge. The first stone of the viaduct was laid on May 31, 1846.

During construction, the plan was tweaked slightly due to the fact that some of the ground on which the bridge was to rest proved to be less solid than previously anticipated. To solve this problem, Robert Wilk, the project’s chief engineer, replaced the arches in the middle with one large central arc. This only added to the incredible impression of the structure.

Gölchtalbrücke Viaduct

Viaduct in numbers

The Gölchtalbrücke Viaduct was a great success for its time.

Every day about 20 brick factories along the railway line produced 50,000 bricks with non-standard dimensions of 28 × 14 × 6.5 cm. A total of 26,021,000 bricks were used to build the bridge. Their total volume was 135,676 cubic meters.

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For the construction of the scaffolding 23,000 tree trunks were used. The cost of the construction of the viaduct is estimated at 2.2 million thalers.

A total of 1,736 people were involved in the construction of the bridge. Thirty-one of them died during construction. Despite all the difficulties, the bridge was opened on July 15, 1851. At that time it was not only the largest brick bridge in the world, but also the tallest railway bridge on the planet.

Mankind evolved quite rapidly, so the title of the tallest railway bridge was soon lost. However, it still retains the proud title of the largest brick bridge on the planet.

Gölchtalbrücke Viaduct

The Göltschthalbrücke bridge in the modern world

The viaduct proved so popular that in 1883 a museum was opened in the nearby Castle of Milau. It devoted an entire hall to an exhibition of the Gölchtalbrücke viaduct. Here you can see a scale model of the scaffolding, copies of the original plans, a three-dimensional map of the region and photographs taken during the construction of the bridge. In 1930, the top layer of reinforced concrete was reconstructed.

Between 1955 and 1958, the masonry was completely rebuilt. The Göltschthalbrücke Viaduct is part of the so-called Saxon-Franconian highway, which was rebuilt from 1997 to 2000.

Gölchtalbrücke Viaduct

There are many hiking trails around the bridge. They give an excellent idea of the actual magnitude of this technical masterpiece.

Gölchtalbrücke Viaduct

The infamy of the Gölchtalbrücke viaduct

The bridge has a bad reputation. It is sometimes called the bridge of suicides. During the more than 150 years of its existence many people have jumped off the bridge.

In August 2001, three teenagers decided to end their lives by jumping off the bridge. In 2002, in just eight months, eight suicides were reported here. Since then, the bridge has been under close police surveillance.

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