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By Joseph Dempsey two bridges

Monday, September 7, 2009

Caution: The first time you drive across the U.S. Highway 70 bridge just north of DeValls Bluff, Arkansas, expletives (not necessarily profane) may temporarily fill the passenger compartment of your vehicle. This was certainly the case on my first trip across. You are calmly tooling along and all of a sudden the rusted hulk of the long since abandoned Cotton Belt Railroad bridge across the White River dominates your field of vision, giving rise to, “Ho-leeeeee cow, what in the tunket is that?” — or words to that effect.

Suffice to say, in rural Arkansas it is entirely unexpected to encounter the top of a nearby bridge from the top of another. So, to satisfy my curiosity, I made a couple of additional round trips across the bridge.


It being Labor Day weekend when I made this shot, the normal sources of information had departed to parts unknown. I was able to divine the fact that the bridge went out of service in the late seventies or early eighties. When that happened, a local businessman bought the bridge from the Cotton Belt for one dollar. That’s a pretty good claim to fame. Not everyone owns a railroad bridge.

control house

Just looking
at the bridge conjures up thoughts of the skill and determination it must have taken to operate it. Suffice to say, the operators were probably men of sterner stuff. Somehow, the bridge designer left out the elevators, making for taxing journeys to and from the control house. And the design provided little protection from the elements.

This old railroad bridge served a worthwhile purpose in its lifespan. Now, in its retirement years, though rough around the edges, its worthwhile purpose is new. To remind us of the old.

N O T E S:  
Nikon D300, Nikkor VR 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 G ED. On the bridge shot, camera held out the window and got lucky, 1/500 @ F11, ISO 400 The others, tripod mounted. The pictures are composites, so exposure varies. Post processed with Photoshop CS4 Extended and Genuine Fractals print pro.

See more pictures of the old bridge from the riverbank and, foolishly, on it. Also a through the windshield shot on the new bridge and one from the back of another guy’s pickup on our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

Click the jump wings
to see the previous
Photo of the Week.
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Photo of the Week.
weekly grist

Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog.  — J. D.


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