Bridge on Hiawatha Trail

By William T. Hathaway

The Bridge

A relatively overused phrase, “To the uninitiated — rude enlightenment,” certainly applies to my picture. After several Saturday workdays in 1972, I observed my accomplishment with great pride. Fallen pines had supplied me with ample material for the construction of a rustic bridge over a small creek flowing across the Hiawatha Trail on the White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Many elementary students from our county schools had been bused to the area to enjoy hiking the trail. Now, instead of jumping over the small creek, the hikers could traipse across the stream by means of a royal structure befitting the woodland spirit.

With enthusiasm I showed a picture of my bridge to a good friend who was an accomplished forester. He said, “That bridge should last for at least one season, possibly two.” I attempted to conceal my crestfallen response. However, the forester was correct in his assessment concerning the bridge. During the following summer season the bridge crossbars had begun to rot away, and trail vandals had delighted in crushing the underpinning into a V-shape. When visiting any of our National Forests it is easy to understand why their crosswalks and bridges are constructed with 4 by 4 lumber and large bolts.