my passion for bridges and tunnels
To me, it’s easy to see how a steel truss bridge or a concrete arch bridge can have a living soul!
After all, it does 'breathe,' according to the ancestral engineers who designed them. Standing on the bridge, you can feel it swaying back and forth, vibrating, moving up and down between the expansion joints, as vehicles are driven across it. The ole timers say the bridge is 'breathing.' If the bridge is named after someone or some place, that bridge has been given a personality all its own. It becomes a living, moving, 'breathing' part of our lives.
"The love of photographing an old steel truss bridge is like sitting down to visit with an old friend."
Think back in your childhood, the thrill of riding in the back of your grandfather’s pickup truck, or hanging out the window of your parents’ car. All of a sudden with a whoosh, these refined steel beams start criss-crossing fast in front of you and over your head! Wondrous images that never left your memory. Whoosh, whoosh! And then, just as quickly, sadly you were on the other side. As we grew up, these rugged bridges stood the test of time. becoming necessary structures in times of need, getting to the market, getting to church, getting to school, going on vacation, visiting Grandma’s house, even moving to safety in times of disasters.
When our friend was out of service, how many miles did we have to travel to get to the next one?
Unfortunately, our love of steel truss bridges becomes strained over the years. Almost on a weekly basis, these elegant monuments to our history are falling victim to the wrecking ball of maintenance budgets and replaced with newer, more modern bridges. Boring “monuments to mediocrity.” The newer bridges have no character, no substance, no feeling. They’re just structures that get you from one shore to another. No emotion, no love. Just a bridge.
The mastery of excavating tunnels and building truss and arch bridges is one of the last true art forms. I, and many bridge hunters like me, celebrate the history and legacy of old steel truss and concrete arch bridges in their ancient splendor. These works of art are worthy of our attention and devotion because there, standing right there in the middle of the bridge, are you and I! What we are and what our lives have been shaped to be, fall within the steel beams of a single bridge or two, that once stood proudly in our early lives.
We are them, and they are us.