“The main part of the Nagara-gawa bridge [following the 1891 earthquake consisted] of nine independent thrust girders of wide span. The piers at the two ends of one of these girders are completely wrecked and the girders have fallen bodily into the bed of the river. The piers on either side of the two mentioned are partly wrecked and the girders between them and the first mentioned girders rest each with one end in the river bed the other on the top of the partly destroyed pier.
“The remaining girders are in their original positions or nearly so. It will again be observed that the portion of the bridge which has fallen relative to the part which remains standing has been thrown some distance out of a straight line. Examination has shown that this displacement is not simply a displacement of the upper work of the bridge but the ground with the screw pile foundations has been shifted a distance of several feet up the stream.
“The embanked approach to the Nagara-gawa bridge has been thrown into a regular series of undulations of such extent that looking along the line eastward from the eastern abutment the appearance is almost that of looking along a switchback railway.”
– The Journal of Geology, Volume 16, edited by Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin, 1908
“Earth fissures are seen everywhere, some of them as much as six feet wide and twenty or more feet deep. The effects produced on engineering structures are in many cases extraordinary. One brick railway arch between Nagoya and Gifu collapsed in consequence of its abutments, 14 ft. high and 5 ft. thick, having been thrown apart in opposite directions. The roadway beneath has a transverse crack four inches wide.
“Three great railway bridges within a radius of six miles from Gifu, crossing the rivers Kisogawa, Nagaragawa, and Ibigavva have suffered badly, the massive piers of brickwork or iron having been broken across – though the iron girders of English make withstood their terrible treatment wonderfully. All of these bridges were thoroughly good strong structures and have been in use for five years without suffering in any degree from such potent destructive agencies as the fierce typhoons and river floods of Japan.”
– Letters from the Land of the Rising Sun: With 76 Illustrations, by Henry Spencer Palmer, 1894