The bridge that Stach built: Man constructs Europe’s largest man-made bridge - just to avoid his neighbours
Few of us would consider what it takes to build a bridge, but it turns out it’s quite a lot. You need concrete, you need manpower and you need something approximating engineering knowhow.
Jan Stach had none of these but he still managed to build the biggest bridge in Europe made by a single man.
It was the 1970s and Stach was already in his 50s when he took it upon himself to build a stone bridge crossing the river adjacent to his land.
Stach’s property in Znamirowice, south Poland, was surrounded by cliffs and begrudging neighbours, something that forced him to have to rely on his friend’s boat to take his goods to market every week.
Sick of the situation, he campaigned the local authorities to build the bridge, but to no avail. The state was communist and concrete was scarce.
So instead, he decided to build it himself, one stone at a time.
Stach worked through the winter, at night and even on New Year’s Eve.
He worked with his hands and a hammer, forming wedges from the Carpathian belt rock.
After four years, the bridge -- 13 metres high, 20 metres long and 7.5 metres wide -- was finally built.
According to engineers who have over the years come to visit ‘Stach’s Bridge’, it is structurally sound, as if the farmer had constructed it with expert help.
And his efforts have entered into popular history, with a biography and a documentary both documenting his efforts.
Stach died on Christmas Day, 2011, but his structural masterpiece remains to this day a tourist destination, with everybody jostling to see the stone bridge that Stach built.