Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Swinging Bridges

An anchor end of a still-usable swinging bridge
Swinging bridges remain as a reminder of just how hard it was to settle & live in the mountains. Travel & transportation meant traveling through stream & river beds; early roads were built in the waterways themselves. Later, roads were built just up from the water on the banks, filling what little level space was available, or digging & blasting out enough dirt & rock to build actual roads. All roads followed riverways, they were the only ways through the mountains & certainly the only ways to link the tiny openings in the hills called hollers. When settlers came it always meant crossing a waterway (river or creek) to reach any open places suitable to build a home. The narrow swinging bridge (named for the swaying caused by being attached only at its ends) became the lifeline over water between holler and road. One wonders how anything large could be carried over the bridge. For as fragile as they look & as dizzying as they can be to cross, swinging bridges were a practical solution for settlers in the mountains.

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