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Great Moments in Drinks History: The Beer Bridge


Yes, incentives matter. And beer is a strong incentive. Here’s the story of the American “beer bridge” courtesy of Alfred M. Beck et. al., The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany (1985):

“Work on the ponton bridge at Koenigswinter, which the 294th Engineer Combat Battalion built with the help of the 181st, 86th, and 552nd Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalions, began at 2210 on 18 March and was completed in less than seventeen hours. The treadway at Bonn, which the 237th Engineer Combat Battalion built with the help of a company each from the 238th Engineer Combat Battalion, the 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion, and the 990th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company, went even more rapidly. At 1,340 feet the longest bridge yet built across the Rhine, it was completed in record time. For one thing, construction started in daylight. Also, the men of the 237th had a powerful incentive. The VII Corps commander, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, who urgently needed the bridge near Bonn, offered to buy beer for every man working on it if the total construction time did not exceed ten hours. Work began at 0615 on 21 March and the first vehicle crossed at 1625 – ten hours and ten minutes later. That was good enough for General Collins. The following day he hosted a party in a hall at Bonn to celebrate with the engineers the completion of the ‘Beer Bridge.’”

You can see a larger print of the at the National Archives and Records Administration at

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