2006-08-19 / Viewpoints

Through An 'Old Timer's' Eyes

By Howard 'Mac' McDonald

It doesn't take much to send me off on a tangent, and a movie title that suggest a subject and then after you watch the movie you wonder why they chose that title, will do it to me every time.

One flick that I am referring to is "The Bridges of Madison County". It starred Merle Streep and Clint Eastwood and was about a photo journalist (Clint) who went to Madison County to do a story on Covered Bridges.

Clint got a room on this farm and you guessed it, Merle was the farmer's wife. The farmer and his son had to go away on business and Merle volunteered to show Clint the bridges. To make a long story short, there wasn't much picture taking going on, but a whole lot of hanky panky took place. Because I am a person who is fascinated by bridges I was very disappointed in this movie.

I have been across several bridges in my life and even burned a few behind me. That is a story you don't want to read. Most of the bridges that I have traversed you have heard of as they are pretty famous.

In Arizona at a place called Lake Havasu City is the much renowned "London Bridge". A piece of history moved from England and reassembled here in the USA. It attracts tourist and that is why it was moved.

The brilliant minds that design these modern marvels never cease to amaze me. The obstacles that these people conquer with concrete, steel and cables are awesome . The rail road industry pioneered bridge building and when the tornado took down the Kinzua Bridge, we lost a monument that should be rebuilt. One days money that is spent in Iraq could replace every timber in that bridge a hundred times over.

At Beckley West Virginia is the New River Gorge and the bridge that crossed here is the longest single span bridge in the world. If you happen to go to this area, don't pass up stopping at the visitors center.

One of the most impressive pieces of engineering on this planet is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Is seventeen miles long and on a bright sunny day one of the most spectacular drives you will ever take. The man made island that anchors the bridges is a mind blowing thing to behold.

When I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, not one person tried to sell it to me.

Before I-70 was completed, you had to cross the Mississippi on a span that was called the "Chain of Rocks Bridge". It zig-zags left and right before it reached the other side. Part of it belonged to Illinois and part to Missouri.

Twice in one day I had to cross The San Francisco Bay Bridge and I was in awe at the size of this gigantic structure. The wind was blowing pretty hard and you could feel it moving. Maybe it was my imagination.

I have seen it on T.V. but not in person and that is the bridge in northern Michigan that spans the Mackinac Straits. This suspension bridge is five miles long.

Summer is almost over and soon we will be in the fall season. With the leaves turning you might want to take a Sunday drive. If you are a camera bug you might want to head to where there are some covered bridges. Whatever your background or interest, there is something about covered bridges that will appeal to you. Pennsylvania has more covered bridges than any other state. There are over two hundred covered bridges in the Keystone state and the first covered bridge in the United States was in out Commonwealth.

In 1805, in the City of Brotherly Love, Better known as Philadelphia, Timothy Palmer built this bridge that carried Market Street over the Schuykill River. Bridges were covered to make them last longer. Pennsylvania had the longest covered bridge ever built. The bridge was over the Susquehanna River between Columbia and Wrightsville and was over a mile long.

The county with the most covered bridges is Columbia County. Nineteen bridges are within the county and four more span the border between Columbia and Northumberlund County. The eighteen hundreds was when these structures were erected.

My wife and I were visiting Lancaster County and took a buggy ride that took us through a covered bridge. The clop, clop of the horses feet is a sound that is hard to forget. The Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society founded in 1959 can answer any question you might have on covered bridges. Their address is, Theodore burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, Box 2385, Lancaster, PA. 17608-2383.

Bridging the gap between covered bridges and the present, it is time to announce the winners of the Nick Name contest: Nick-Name Contest Winners

First place- Mildred Hoffower, second Place- Cheryl Averill and third Place- Jeanmarie Mitchell.

The first place winner got a one year subscription to the Endeavor and a $10 gift certificate to the Cabin.

Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry in the contest.

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