Heemkring Westerring

Omvat Eine, Heurne en Mullem

The Ohiobridge (exposition)

Welcome to the exposition of the WWI in Brussels.

You are looking to the scale model of the Ohiobridge based on the real plans of 1921.
The ohiosqaure on wtih the monuments of Google maps.

The Ohiobridge Tentoonstelling 2018 (5)

Here you can find a lot of Photos (Flickr)

In memory of the Battle of the Scheldt, the American state of Ohio donated a bridge as a war memorial, the Thirty-seventh Division Memorial Bridge, on the site where the American troops

crossed the Scheldt. Bison and memorial plaques were placed on the bridge. The bridge was destroyed during the Second World War but later rebuilt, including statues and memorial plaques.

A first bridge over the Scheldt between the municipalities of Eine and Nederename, now part of Oudenaarde, was inaugurated in 1881. This metal bridge was blown up in 1914 by the Allies to delay the German attack. After their breakthrough in 1914, the Germans pulled up a wooden emergency bridge. The emergency bridge was destroyed by the Germans in October 1918 to prevent the crossing of the Allies.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, the United States of America was not involved in the war. Under pressure from the Allies and for economic reasons, the Americans committed themselves in this war. The destruction by the Germans of American merchant ships and warships will also have played a role in their participation in the battle. Another additional element was an intercepted telegram (Zimmermann telegram) in which the Germans tried to win Japan and Mexico for their cause. President Woodrow Wilson finally convinced the United States Parliament to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

On October 12, 1918 the Hindenburg line of the Germans fell on the Yser. The Allied armies deployed their attack and aimed their arrows at the Scheldt. The hostilities continued until the Armistice on November 11, 1918. This battle is called the Battle of the Scheldt. On October 30, 1918, during the so-called final offensive in Belgium, the American 91st and 37th divisions were deployed in the area between Scheldt and Leie. For the general attack to the Scheldt from 31 October to 1 November 1918, the base was the road Anzegem - Waregem and the railway Kortrijk - Deinze. The 91st division was deployed south of Waregem, the 37th division on the railway in Olsene.

On 1 November 1918, the 37th Division American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) advanced from Olsene over Kruishoutem to Heurne and Eine. The 148th regiment of the Buckeye division crossed the Scheldt. As a memento, the Thirty-seventh Division Memorial Bridge was later built by the American state of Ohio in Eine near Oudenaarde. The 91st division A.E.F. moved from Waregem through the Spitaalsbossen to Wortegem and so to Moregem. She reached Oudenaarde on 1 November 1918. During the fighting in the Spitaalsbossen between Wortegem, Waregem and Anzegem, the 91st division lost 49 officers and 920 troops. The fallen were buried in the American cemetery Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial in Waregem, on the Wortegemseweg close to the Spitaalsbossen. It is the only American cemetery in Belgium with fallen from the First World War and protected by ministerial decree of 01 April 2009.

Most soldiers of the 37th division A.E.F. were from Ohio. In memory of the Battle of the Scheldt, the American state of Ohio donated a bridge as a war memorial, the Thirty-seventh Division Memorial Bridge, on the site where the American troops crossed the Scheldt.

The creation of the war memorial and the construction of the bridge is fairly well documented in the records of the Thirty-Seventh Division Battle Monuments Commission in the Ohio Historical Society Archives, of which the city archives in Oudenaarde have a shadow archive. This committee, which was founded in 1923, had memorials set up during the interbellum in Europe at places where the Americans had been successful. In 1927 this committee wrote a competition question for the creation of memorial monuments for the 37th division in Eine and in Montfaucon and Hattonchatel in France.

The laureate of the winning project for the memorial in Eine was the architectural firm Walker & Weeks from Cleveland, Ohio (February 1927). The architect firm Walker and Weeks, founded in 1911, was based in Cleveland and was Ohio's most prestigious architectural firm. They were best known for their bank buildings, but also built several other large projects in the public sector, and bridges. Their designs evolved from neoclassicism and Beaux-Arts architecture to art deco and modernism. They worked together with visual artists, especially sculptor Henry Hering, for the architectural sculpture. One of the well-known examples of their collaboration is the monumental Lorain-Carnegie Bridge in Cleveland (1932) with sculptural elements in art-deco style and giant images of traffic wardens on pillars at the ends of the bridge. Also for the war memorial in Indianapolis, the Indiana World War Memorial (1929), the architects involved the same sculptor.

For the execution of the monuments in France and in Eine, the architects Pierre Lahalle & Georges Levard from Paris were engaged as representatives of the American architects. Their assignment was to establish the necessary contacts with the local government and to examine the construction site, estimate the cost price and appoint contractors. After consultation with the competent authorities and the investigation of the location, the award-winning design had to be adapted from a technical point of view without touching the external aspect. Edward Tashjian of the architectural firm Walker & Weeks was appointed as supervisor of the work on site and contact person between the Parisian architects and the local contractors.

The Wetterse contractor Jules Dutrieu took care of the foundation works, carried out with Franki piles. As a contractor for the general works of the bridge the firm of Leon Hiroux acted, the supply of the ornamental part, with the exception of the bison, was entrusted to L. Raynaud from Paris. The four buffalo on the bridge, the Walker & Weeks plan, were delivered by the French sculptor Paul Moreau-Vauthier.

The plans were approved by Chief Engineer-Director De Cavel and Chief Engineer A. Heylbroeck of the Administration Bridges and Roads in Ghent on 1 June 1928. The Cavel, as the competent government department, was responsible for the general supervision and the solution of the technical problems. . Edward Tashjian of the architectural firm Walker & Weeks served as supervisor of the works in the name of the architects for daily supervision. The works started on September 13, 1928. The festive inauguration in the presence of 300 veterans from Ohio took place on September 26, 1929.

The bridge in reinforced concrete had a span of 37 meters and was 9.6 meters wide. On both sides of the bridge, a reminder text was placed on the outside over a width of 31 meters in the concrete "In memory of the Scheldt by the 37th division A.E.F.", flanked by stylized art-deco motifs. The tight lettering of the memento gave the bridge a special accent. At the ends of the bridge, on heavy plinths, decorated with the American seal with eagles and stars, images of bison were placed in attack.

The ornaments, being four American seals with eagles, stylized garlands and stars, were cast in a special concrete finish with the view of Brittany's white granite. The composition contained quartz, white Carrara marble, black marble and white Portland cement. The special concrete of the cladding was executed simultaneously and in the same formwork of the prestressed concrete. At 5cm from the formwork a reinforcement with a grid was placed with a wire. After the decapitation, the cladding on the ground was sculptured by sculptors to the desired result of sculpture.

The bison statues were sculpted by the French sculptor Paul Moreau-Vauthier (1871-1936), former fighter at the Battle of Verdun. According to the contract, he was responsible for making the models and the execution in cast concrete on site and the finish, in the same concrete and according to the same technique as the concrete covering of the bridge. The buffalo had to be placed according to the original model, facing the center of the bridge. The statues were placed in December 1929, after the inauguration of the bridge. Bronze plaques were placed on the pedestals on the street side.

During the Second World War, on May 19, 1940, the bridge was blown up by the British genius. A temporary emergency bridge was built that served until 1954. In 1954 a new slightly wider bridge was built. The new bridge had to be identical to the destroyed bridge of 1929. The works, started on 27 April 1953, were completed on 17 July 1954. The bison were later placed on 2 June 1955. The fixed arch bridge over the Scheldt in Eine in prestressed concrete had a range of 37 meters, suitable for 300 tons of shipping, and was 12 meters wide. Massively erected in reinforced concrete cast in situ, consisting of heavy concrete nut and child beams with a flat floor slab, for this purpose preflex beams were used, an invention by A. Lipski of 1951.

The Administration Bridges and Roads put the company S.A. Entreprises Cerfontaine Frères from Brussels as a contractor. The company Entreprises Leon Hiroux, contractor of the first bridge, gave advice in the original composition of the concrete for the upholstery of the bridge and the decorative appearance. The Administration Bridges and Roads commissioned sculptor Jos De Decker of Dendermonde to renew the bas-reliefs and the four monumental bison. The bridge was opened on 8 November 1954. The bison, made of artificial stone, was placed in 1955.

In the period 1980 - 1982, when the Scheldt was being widened and the ships calibrated to 3000 tons and the straightening, this second Ohiobrug was also demolished and replaced by a standard design, the company A.A. Stevin (Antwerp) was responsible for the execution. The four bison, which adorned the railings, have been preserved and are now flanking the access road to the bridge. On the original bridge, the four bison stood in attack towards the Scheldt and towards each other. Now they are 250 meters apart and looking away from the bridge.

As a war memorial, the vanished bridge was a perfect synthesis of architecture and plastic arts, a creation of international cooperation. The current monumental images of upcoming American bison are in fact a creation of two artists. The original sculptures were the work of the French sculptor Paul Moreau-Vauthier, after the architects' plans. On a photograph of the original images one can read the signature and date on the base of one of the statues: "Paul Moreau-Vauthier / statuaire Paris 1929". This sculptor and former fighter was also the designer of the demarcation poles that were erected at the initiative of the French Touring Club in 1921 on the points where the front line crosses the major roads. 22 demarcation poles were placed on Belgian territory, in 3 variants depending on the sector in which they were placed.

According to a report of 17 December 1929 by Edward Tashjian, the overseer of the works for the American architects, the four buffalo had already been cast and the artist Moreau-Vauthier stayed in Eine to shower on the spot. The artist and the supervisor were very enthusiastic about the new material, with the special composition of the surface concrete. Also the cement malles (400 pieces) would be preserved for possible reuse.

In the first place, the symbolic meaning of the statues prevails as a memento of the American soldiers during the Battle of the Scheldt during the First World War. On an artistic level, the bison were fine examples of monumental animal sculpture from the interwar period. The strongly expressive images are designed in the French art-deco style with cubistic elements. Although Paul Moreau-Vauthier was not a real animalier he produced an artistic creation of high quality.

During the renewal of the bridge in 1954, the Administration of Bridges and Roads sculptor Jos De Decker commissioned the renovation of the bas-reliefs and the four monumental bison. The bison was cast into the original model in artificial stone. The sculptures were placed on their pedestal on 20 June 1955. Sculptor Jos De Decker (Dendermonde, 1912 - 2000) received his training from 1928 to 1933 at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dendermonde in the studio of Alfred Courtens. From 1933 to 1935 he took lessons with Egide Rombaux, Jacques Marin and Victor Rousseau at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels. From 1934 to 1940 he also works in the workshop of Egide Rombaux. After his studies in 1937 he traveled to Italy. Jos De Decker received the two prize of Rome in sculpture in 1941. He taught decorative arts (1947-1952) and sculpture (1952-1977) at the Academy of Fine Arts of Dendermonde. From 1970 to 1977 he was director of this Academy. He designed war memorials for the Second World War for the Blessed Virgin in Dendermonde (1934), Grembergen (1939, 1947), Hofstade (1947), Baasrode (1950), Oordegem (1950) and Anderlecht (1956-1958). The new animal sculptures have been carried out more simply than was originally the case, the typical geometric forms of the art-deco style and cubism have faded.

In the construction of the current Ohiobrug in the period 1980 - 1982, a standard design of the Ministry of Public Works, Bridges and Roads, carried out by A.A. Stevin (Antwerp), the four bison were kept and replaced, now at 250 m from each other. On the original bridge, the four bison stood in attack towards the Scheldt and towards the bridge. Now they stand at 250 meters from each other and look away from the bridge, which runs with a wide bend over the Upper Scheldt.

More info can be found on the following pages.

Sgt.paul Smithhisler en Paul Burke

De Ohiobrug