Last year I took a walk across the pedestrian bridge that connects Marietta with Old Town. It’s an old railroad bridge that crosses the Muskingum River and it is scary.
While the terrifying aspects of the trip were no fun, this bridge offers great views of the city and the river so I recently went back, planning to brave it once more.
And it was closed.
That’s right. My belief that it was a death trap was accurate. The bridge is now closed. The owners are so adamant about the closure, they actually disconnected a section and turned it around.
The bridge has an interesting history. The piers were built in 1857, according to the local paper. It replaced a covered bridge that once spanned the river. The iron work is old as well. It was last replaced after a big flood in 1913 – some 107 years ago.
The paper also said that it is one of the oldest swinging railroad bridges in the country and it is the only one of its kind that still turns.
Officials estimate restoration costs to be between two and four million dollars. I cannot imagine where that amount of money could be found for a pedestrian bridge but we can hold onto hope, I suppose.
When I saw that a section had been turned, I was overwhelmed with emotion- first shock because I had no idea that an entire section of bridge could just be turned like that. Then I couldn’t decide if I should be happy because I couldn’t take that long and scary walk, sad for the people who rely on it for utilitarian purposes every day or devastated that a piece of our history is at risk.
And part of me was irritated that I couldn’t face a fear that day.
It was quite the roller coaster of emotions as I stood on the shore, gaping at this spectacular piece of our heritage – literally a bridge to our past broken and possibly soon lost altogether.
And that just made me sad.