Bridges in the boondocks


Springfield Bridge over Cadron Creek near Springfield, Arkansas was completed in 1874. It was in continuous use for 117 years until 1991 when a new bridge was built upstream. Since maintenance has stopped on the bridge, it is rapuidly deteriorating. However, the fact that it is still standing after 135 years in the elements tells us someone did something right when they designed and built the bridge.

Springfield Bridge over Cadron Creek near Springfield, Arkansas was completed in 1874. It was in continuous use for 117 years until 1991 when a new bridge was built upstream. Since maintenance has stopped on the bridge, it is rapidly deteriorating. However, the fact that it is still standing after 135 years in the elements tells us someone did something right when they designed and built the bridge.

The story of  Springfield Bridge started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer.com.  Click here see more bridge pictures and find out how this thing started.

The bridge was bolted together. Nuts for the bolts are square shouldered. The bridge rests on native stone masonry supports on each end. The approaches are under gird with what appear to be 12″ x 12″ bridge timbers. These timbers for the most part,  are intact.

During winter months when the trees have dropped their leaves, you can get a glimpse of the old bridge from the road. Not so once the leaves sprout.

Leaves and vines dropping on the floor of the bridge have, over the years, created a layer of humus. No doubt, a good crop of grass will grow on the bridge in warmer months.

This is the east end of the bridge. In he lower right, you can see one of the 12 x 12 bridge timbers which support the bridge approach. Leaves and vines dropping on the floor of the bridge have, over the years, have created a layer of humus or compost. Take your choice. No doubt, a good crop of grass will grow on the bridge in warmer months.

A bit further north, just east of Morrilton AR is another abandoned bridge, Creek Road Bridge. Putting yourself next to Springfield Bridge is a short stroll from the highway. Creek Road Bridge is another story. The road to the bridge dead ends well east of the bridge. The dead end is solid underbrush. Closer inspection reveals a hint of a path, but it is helpful if you are a contortionist when you negotiate it. I’m not and my bones still ache.

Not far from the Creek Road bridge are these remains of an old vehicle. The right fender and the hardware which held the radiator in place are still there, but just barley. How it wound up in a creeks bottoms will remain a mystery.

Not far from the Creek Road bridge are these remains of an old vehicle. The right fender and the hardware which held the radiator in place are still there, but just barley. How it wound up in a creeks bottoms will remain a mystery.

You wind your way through a grave yard of former impromptu dumping sites, now overgrown, but still somewhat crunchy under your feet. While this sounds a bit on the gross side, it is preferrable to being up to your ankles in mud, an all-too-familiar condition in creek beds. I ran across the remnants of a late 30s or mid 40s pickup truck just a few yards from the bridge.

Here it is. Creek Road Bridge, east of Morrilton. Visiting the bridge is appropriate for hardy souls only. It is not far from the road, but the pathway is thick to say the least. I base these comments on late winter conditions before the "wait-a-minute" vines and "sticker" bushes have reached their warm weather potential.

Here it is. Creek Road Bridge, east of Morrilton. Visiting the bridge is appropriate for hardy souls only. It is not far from the road, but the pathway is thick to say the least. I base these comments on late winter conditions before the "wait-a-minute" vines and "sticker" bushes have reached their warm weather potential.

I came back from this trip bloodied, muddied and grinning like a jackass eating sawbriers. It’s a nasty job, but someone’s got to do it. I did observe one nicety at the old Springfield Bridge. As I was leaving the bridge site, a  couple in their twenties drove up to go see the bridge. There is hope.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe

Three rooms and a path


 Primitive house-barn combination

This old barn and house was under one roof. Not a bad idea in days gone by. What it missed in pleasant aromas, it made up in security, one would surmise.

Imagine rounding a curve on a remote gravel road and all of a sudden before your eyes is the skeletal remains of a homesteader place. Of all the places I have found in my wanderings, this is the most primitive. I’d hazard a guess that it dates back to early 1800s, though I have no evidence other than personal opinion on the matter. It is obviously a combination barn and residence. Past that, my humble opinions follow in this story.

If you’ve arrived here from the Corndancer dot com Photo of the Week, this continues the saga. If you’ve arrived here independently of the original story, and your curiosity is piqued, you can check it out here.

Looking at the barn-home from the back. The residence is on the right. Enclosed and pen space for the family critters is on the left.

We do not know who the residents of the barn-home were. I could have probably done a bit of local research in nearby Scotland, Arkansas, and someone might have known who lived there. However, it was Saturday afternoon and there were few signs of life in the town. The store was closed and it was likely that everyone else was glued to their tv sets watching Florida administer a good shellacking to the Razorbacks. Not a good time to interrupt fans with an unsolicited request for a local history update.

The structure shows evidence of maintenance and improvements after the original construction. The framing around the front door shows sawmill rip marks. The frame was attached with more modern looking nails. The doors on the critter side are similarly festooned with commercially prepared strips of lumber. Even the hardiest of souls can appreciate labor saving improvements.

Entrance to primitive cabin

The front door to the residence appears to have been built for midgets. People of average height must stoop to enter the premises. This is not uncommon for primitive residences.

The living quarters had little to offer besides shelter and protection from predators. In that day and time perhaps that's all that was expected.

The living quarters had little to offer besides shelter and protection from predators. In that day and time perhaps that met expectations.

Once you are inside the living room, den, bedroom, kitchen, closet, utility-room combination, you run out of amenities. Four walls, a ceiling, a floor and a door are it. There might have been a window at the back, but it’s hard to tell for sure.

You are nicely sheltered from the elements and there is a wall between you and those critters who consider you a menu item. Past that, there’s not much more to be said for the accommodations.

For these folks, a trip to town was a daylight to dark experience at the very best. Even by today’s standards, the home place is way back in the boondocks. The gravel road from highway 95 is good and well maintained now. It was probably little more than a primitive trail when this place was built.

Some things never change

If you were a husband, and you went to town by yourself, you were leaving your family to the elements and wild critters for an entire day. Who knows, maybe more. If  you were the wife left behind, as soon as husband was out of sight, the concerns mounted. What will befall him on the trip? Will I ever see him again?

Critter closets. Your nearest neighbors were your animals. Right across the breezeway.

Critter closets. Your nearest neighbors were your animals. Right across the breezeway. Hope the breeze was in the right direction.

If you both went, you had to be concerned about what might happen while you were gone. Would your home be plundered by a bear. Would a wandering miscreant knowing that if no one were home, it was likely no one would be home for a while. Long enough to do nefarious deeds.

Today, we complain of modern stresses. (Most of which are self-imposed in one way or another). In 18-whatever, in this neck of the woods, one of your stressful worries was being eaten. We should count our blessings. We don’t need old-fashioned stress. Losing the remote is far preferable to being today’s special for a hungry critter.

This backroad is a handy shortcut for 18-wheelers, an advantage to photographers who need to make a bridge photo interesting.

This backroad is a handy shortcut for 18-wheelers, an advantage to photographers who need to make a bridge photo interesting.

This trip started at Petit Jean State Park and meandered easterly through central Arkansas. On the way, I encountered a steel bridge across Cadron Creek east of Springfield AR. Since there ain’t many of ’em left, I’m including a shot of the bridge. The telephoto lens effect gives the appearance of an imminent run over by the 18-wheeler. Not a chance. Thank goodness for long optics.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey

All photos and content ©2008 Joe Dempsey.