Friday, June 04, 2010

The Bridge
I have always loved this bridge. It crosses the St. Joseph River in the little town of Mottville, Michigan, not far from where I grew up.  It's narrow and old, the longest surviving three-hump camel back bridge in Michigan, and until twenty years ago it was THE only bridge to get from one side of the river to the other on U.S. 12, also known as the Pulaski Memorial Highway.  I crossed it countless times when I was growing up, and it gave a real sense of adventure if you met a semi while on it! 
The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1990 and a new, wider bridge was built.  Local groups fought to keep the old bridge from being razed.  It was preserved and is now open to foot and bicycle travel only.  For those like me who are passionately in love with all things watery, it is a place of great beauty and peace, even with the rumble of traffic traversing the new bridge just feet away.  It's not uncommon to see people fishing from it in the summer.
In the river to the east of the bridge there are the remains of a piling from a much-older bridge that was torn down when the camel-back bridge was built.  My father told me that the hand-hewn beams that were salvaged from the destruction of that bridge were used to frame up the barn where we raised sheep and stored hay and farm equipment at my childhood home.  When I was a little girl, the owner of a restaurant beside the bridge on the banks of the St. Joe would go out just before Christmas and moor a rowboat with a Santa Claus mannikin sitting in it to the old piling, We always looked forward to seeing the Santa Boat when we'd drive past, for we knew that its appearance meant that Christmas would be here soon.
There is a set of wooden stairs leading down to the water from the bridge.  Last fall we stopped at the bridge with friends visiting us from Texas.  We walked down to the water and crossed below the old bridge on the huge boulders that lie beneath it.  This past winter, I stopped one snowy day and got some wonderful pictures.

Here is the same view, photographed yesterday afternoon on my way home from work.

 We've had a great deal of rain lately, and the river is just about as high as I've ever seen it.  I walked down the steps to the water yesterday and found that the rock-strewn pathway we used last September to cross under the bridge is completely submerged.  If you look very closely, you can see the boulders under the water in the picture above.

This is a wonderful place...come visit it with me one day!