Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Bridge Over River Des Moines

Bridge Over River Des Moines

If you ever come to visit me for a few days and want to see some of the local scenery, you will inevitably see the bridge pictured above and walk across it. Although I was not yet old enough to drive when it closed down to automobile traffic when the new bridge north of town was completed, I was old enough to remember riding in my dad's car over that bridge several times and always wondering if we would make it to the other side. The subtle changes in the car direction to stay on the boards laid in the direction of travel for each tire, were enough to cause the whole thing to sway back and forth. Driving off the boards were sure to send the car tires through the bridge planking and causing the car to get hung up by its frame with wheels dangling above the river below until pulled out and the bridge patched up. In short, I can understand why the bridge was replaced.

Fortunately a group of industrious people got together and rather than tear down the bridge as they could have easily done, decided to preserve the bridge for historical purposes long before doing so was the "in" thing to do. The re-planked an area a few feet wide down the middle of the bridge and installed railings to prevent the absent minded pedestrian from walking across the original planking which is now fragile enough that a person might fall through and being smaller than an automobile frame, that person might not be as fortunate to get hung up before falling into the river.

The result is that you have a nifty pedestrian bridge between two towns on opposite banks of the river that just begs to be photographed whenever you walk across it. I have yet to walk across it without taking at least a couple dozen photographs here and there. There are a few places across the bridge where the new planking has been expanded to the full width of the bridge to allow for bump-outs with benches and better views of the river below. I have it on good authority, since I actually attended one, that those bump-outs make a great place to get married.

So during my vacation which coincided with a visit from a couple of my wife's relatives, I found myself on the bridge with camera in hand and now have a couple dozen new photographs on my computer hard drive, some of which I share with you here.

There are a few dents here and there...


... some missing planks and vegetation growing where it shouldn't...


... but oh so scenic...


... and the plants do like it there.


The path frequently taken.

10 comments:

Vince said...

Yes, it certainly looks flimsy. Sorta one step up from a rope bridge. But it does look lovely. And that river is very full looking. Lots of rain over your way ?.

R. Sherman said...

The water must be up. I've seen the Des Moines near Athens, Missouri on the border and it's nowhere near that wide.

As for the bridge, surely there still must be accidents thanks to goofy pedestrians who deliberately leave the planks.

Cheers.

Ed said...

Vince - For pedestrian traffic, it is quite solid. Lots of rain is an understatement.

R. Sherman - If you include this past week with no rain, our annual amount is now down to 5 or 6 inches above normal rainfall. We were at one point close to 12 inches above rainfall earlier this spring. But as I write this, it has rained continuously since yesterday evening and is supposed to continue on through most of today. We are also under a flood watch.

The big town of Bentonsport only has I believe around 40 residents and Vernon on the other side has probably half that. So I'm guessing with the lack of kids, the bridge is only a hangout for us adults who know full well that we are mortal.

Ron said...

Cool bridge... I'd be nervous walking on it though. Big man-made objects make me nervous. You just never know about those engineers... :)

Great view though. That's a lot of water.

Ron

Beau said...

Neat- I'd like to wander across sometime. Glad it's still there, but too many municipalities around the country would board it up and call it unsafe in the name of the public good...

Bone said...

I love old bridges. Maybe not enough to drive on them, but they sure make for great pictures.

There was an old drawbridge across the Tennessee River that they tore down several years ago. I always hoped they would preserve it. I remember there was some talk of turning it into a riverwalk with restaurants and shops and such, but I guess there wasn't enough support for that.

Ed said...

Ron - Who would have thought that the same engineer who designed the Tacoma Narrows bridge would go on to have a great career in rural SE Iowa?

Beau - The next time you are up this way, stop in and I'll give you the dime tour.

Bone - There was a hard time getting this one done too and the traffic on this one is probably less than a handful of people a day. That is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.

sage said...

nice bridge, there is an old iron bridge not far from here that is now only for foot traffic, I'm sure you have seen it in photos as there is a canoe launch on one side of it. I'm glad a few of those old bridges (as well as buildings and barns) are saved.

PhilippinesPhil said...

I love old decrepit structures. I'd like to buy a picture book of nothing but falling down barns and abandoned farm houses and bridges.

TC said...

How cool.

I'm such a fan of old bridges. There is one in La Crosse, WI, not nearly this old, but older anyway, that used to take traffic both to and from MN, but now only does it one way. I was devastated when they were talking about taking it completely down, so I guess that while I don't like seeing both bridges on that landscape where just my one, favorite bridge should be, it's better than the one I love being torn down.