Monday, February 8, 2016

February 8, 2016 - The Old Swinging Bridge

The old Swinging Bridge was built in 1892 specifically for people who worked at the Cabot Mill in Brunswick but lived in Topsham.  This old foot bridge connects the two towns.  It was damaged by a flood in 1936 and rebuilt in 1938.  In 2006 after more than 100 years of use, it was again refurbished, although the old original suspending cables are still in use.  It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is dedicated as a historic civil engineering landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

From here to there.

It has a pretty good track record for getting local people from one town to another over the Androscoggin River.  I often use it when I am in town.  It’s in a peaceful little spot that has, for the most part, been forgotten by many people except for those who live directly in the area.  In a way, that’s a shame since it provides a beautiful walk and a chance to get out of a gas-guzzling car.  On the other hand, because not many people know or care about the bridge, it seems like a secret refuge to me.

The ducks, gulls, and eagles feel the same way.  You’ll often find them in the area.  It’s amazing how wildlife can hide even in close proximity to a town.  I guess they know that humans are pretty lazy, and the bridge area is a good place to be for seclusion and safety.  The river provides plenty of food for them, and the banks of the river are steep and covered largely with brambles.  It’s perfect.

I’ve spoken a lot about bridges in this journal.  They’re special things.  They are the great “connectors,” the bringers from one place to another, from one idea to another.  Stepping out on to the Swinging Bridge and feeling it sway back and forth as you walk the span of the river is a real experience.  The movement of the bridge reminds you of exactly what you are doing.  It has a way of wiping clear those annoying and preoccupying thoughts, placing you in the precarious reality of the “in between” space.

A gull flies under the bridge.  Apparently, he does not need it.

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