Hold Me Up

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Have you ever taken a close look at what is under the bridge you drive over? Nah, me neither. And after I looked at the bottom of the bridge that goes over the Queechee Gorge in Vermont, I don’t think I want to!

Today’s photo was shot just this past August when we went for a walk down along the underside of the bridge. I shot it with a shallow depth of field, but you can still make out the rusty spots on the support structures underneath the bridge. This large tri-span, spandrel-braced, deck arched bridge is 285′ tong, 41′ wide, and sits 163′ above the dramatic setting of the Ottauquechee River.

163 feet above the river.  Not a place to walk if you are afraid of heights (like I am!), and if I had seen it before driving over it, I might have had second thoughts. Metal doesn’t last forever. And don’t you think that a bridge that was built nearly 100 years ago (1927), has to be weaker today than when it was built?

Still, it made for an interesting photo.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1421 a storm in the North Sea battered the European coastline. Over the next several days, approximately 10,000 people in what is now the Netherlands died in the resulting floods.

The lowlands of the Netherlands near the North Sea were densely populated at the time, despite their known vulnerability to flooding. Small villages and a couple of cities had sprung up in what was known as the Grote Waard region. The residents built dikes throughout the area to keep the water at bay, but fatal floods still struck in 1287, 1338, 1374, 1394 and 1396. After each, residents fixed the dikes and moved right back in after the floods.

Even the St. Elisabeth’s flood of November 1404 (named after the November 19 feast day for St. Elisabeth of Hungary), in which thousands died, could not dissuade the residents from living in the region. Seventeen years later, at the same time of year, another strong storm struck the North Sea. The resulting storm surge caused waves to burst hundreds of dikes all over Grote Waard. The city of Dort was devastated and 20 whole villages were wiped off the map. The flooding was so extensive this time that the dikes were not fully rebuilt until 1500. This meant that much of Zeeland and Holland–the area that now makes up the Netherlands–was flooded for decades following the storm. The town of Dordrecht was permanently separated from the mainland in the flood.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In Swaziland, the chance of a 15-year-old boy living to 50 years is 28%. For a girl it is just 22%. Before AIDS, it was 92% and 97%, respectively.

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2 thoughts on “Hold Me Up

  1. A fair amount of the legacy infrastructure in this country makes me nervous. Bridge collapses are becoming a common thing; many aren’t even making the national news anymore. And our current budgets don’t seem to account for proper maintenance and repair of much of this. Yikes.

    1. You’re telling me! And I never really liked going over bridges anyway, and then after that big one collapsed in Minneapolis a few years ago my angst only got worse!

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