Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bridge Over River Fox Revisited

Ten years ago, I wrote a piece for this blog on the bridge seen above, a favorite of mine that will probably not be in this world for too many years. Back then, I had pictures in the post showing a lightly ivy covered metal bridge that though recently closed, you could still drive up too and walk across. The pictures disappeared when blogger changed hands many years ago but as you can see in this more recent picture, the drive up to it is still possible though a bit sketchier and only the sure footed can cross over it. The ivy has pretty much taken over one end of the bridge and as I walked over the old plank decking, I could feel the bridge shake and pieces of iron clang together underneath. I imagine all it will take is one good flood and one of my cherished places will be gone. One sunny day when I was nearby, I decided to go for one last visit.

About four feet of decking has been removed on either side of the bridge for reasons unknown to me. However the beams are plenty wide enough to take a couple of steps to get across the gap.

The bridge crosses the Fox River which drains roughly 400 square miles in this part of the world. During higher water, I have canoed many miles of it as it winds through the farm fields of southeast Iowa.

Not it is apparently where people hang out and try target practice on the signs warning people on either end of the bridge that it has been closed to traffic.

I remember driving across this bridge shortly after getting my license and sweating bullets that I was going to fall off the planks in the center of the bridge and then fall through the other thinner decking and either high center my car or fall into the river. Of course with all the beams underneath the decking, I'm sure neither would have happened, however I had cause to worry. My grandpa drove his combine across this bridge one upon a time and actually fell through it up to the axle of the combine. It took a lot of work and a couple of wreckers to get his combine up and out of the bridge. While that was happening, it was a ten mile journey to get from this side to the other side of the bridge.

These are the river bottom fields that my grandpa and father were heading to at the time to farm. Being on bottom ground that flooded about two out of every three years during the time they farmed it, they never farmed it for long. Since they rented it from the owner who lived in the farm at the base of the hills in the background, they simply gave notice that they wouldn't be farming it and he rented it to someone else. Years later as I was visiting the farmer who owned these fields as he laid in his bed dying, he said that my father had said that by not farming it, "both of us would be making money."

Looking up at the vines interlaced among the old iron work, you can't help but regret that they don't make bridges like this anymore. Modern bridges are only designed to last a third as long and resemble a concrete block when built.


sage said...

Many old bridges like that have been restored as walking trails. You are right, the old bridges had a lot more character than today's concrete structures.

Anonymous said...

They do that here too. That sign thing, and the removal of bits from the deck of bridges.

Ed said...

Sage - We have many of those in our county too, including a favorite of mine over the river in my blog header. Sadly though, most of those less prominent bridges like this one are just falling apart.

Vince - I'm not sure why they remove bits of the decking. It may stop the very timid but in my mind, most will cross the gap and thus it just makes falling and getting hurt quite a bit more likely. I think if I was going to remove planking to prevent people from walking on it, I would do most if not all. It doesn't prevent people from driving motorized vehicles (ATV's) across it either because there was a well worn path on both sides where they obviously used the bridge to cross the river.

Anonymous said...

Not walking, driving. In Common Law it's very hard to close a road, totally. If the bridge is marked as a route 'anywhere'and someone drives over it the county/State is liable. But they don't have to fix a route. And since it's plane as a pikestaff it's a danger, it changes the direction of responsibility.

ErinFromIowa said...

When the time comes it would be nice if you were able to keep some of the iron work. Memorable and unique garden architecture?

Ed said...

Erin - It would be excellent to keep a memento like that!