Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Tale of Two Bridges--Bridge Two

Bridge Two had more humble beginnings than the Royal Gorge Bridge from the previous post, and began to take shape in the spring of 1984. We dumped a bid on a building lot in a cornfield, and snapped up this wooded hillside with a tiny creek running through it. Unlike the Royal Gorge Bridge, it had no sweeping vistas, no river, no dizzying heights, but it came with work guaranteed. We had to find a way to cross the stream to build our house so the process began with buying mud boots so we could slop around in the creek and install plywood retainers to contain the creek while we built the footers and concrete abutments. 

My engineer husband designed a highway-worthy bridge and we started playing with rebars and concrete to build our tiny bridge which is only about 8 feet above the little creek--not too tall, but I wouldn't want to fall off because we lined the creek with huge rocks. Occasionally, the little creek floods and looks like a river, so the concrete abutments aren't overkill. Our son and his neighborhood buds played in the creek while we worked. 

After much agony and sore backs, We had two concrete abutments, topped by three painted, 17" steel I-beams.

Like the Royal Gorge Bridge, we attached wooden timbers which are 12" long, 12" wide, and 3" thick. We only needed 15, but like the Royal Gorge Bridge, they have to be regularly replaced. We don't replace them at the same pace, but to date, most have been replaced 3 or 4 times. Our deck looked like the Royal Gorge Deck, just smaller.

Ta-Da!!! We did it. The little creek flowed freely when this picture was taken and Typar lined the driveway awaiting the blacktop process. We installed two very strong pipes on either side with chains attached so that when we left the construction site of our house which was up the hillside, no one could bring in trucks to carry away construction materials. It was too far to hand carry away stuff. Every night, we locked the chain and had no problems.

These pictures are very old, as are we, and so is our little bridge. It is quite unique and we enjoy it when we aren't working on it. It is very satisfying to drive over it and remember all the work we have invested in it over the last 27 years.

In 2011, the work goes on.

This fall, we undertook a renovation of our deck to try to extend the life of the timbers. Like the Royal Gorge Bridge, our timbers are bolted to the steel beams but our spacing is a bit closer. The rain and snow weather the timbers and we wanted to protect them.

Our little creek isn't far below the bridge and is usually only a small stream. During heavy rains, it can be a raging river capable of moving huge rocks and trees.

The view under our bridge isn't as spectacular as the Royal Gorge Bridge, but we invested a lot of hard work to produce it.

Our project to protect the timbers included covering them with a triple layer of 6 mil mylar sheeting and laying tongue and groove yellow pine flooring to form a solid deck.

This is our finished project. It took about a week of nice autumn weather to complete. Our little bridge has wooden curbs along the side like the Royal Gorge Bridge, but we didn't add steel rails. I don't know if they apply water seal coats to their bridge, but we did. We first saw the Royal Gorge Bridge after we built our bridge but each time I visit it, I am amazed that our humble little bridge has so many similarities.

We once had fanciful dreams of building a covered bridge over it, but I think we'll pass on that notion. It's fun to rumble over our little bridge as we go about our lives. It is a constant part of our lives and a reminder of the worth of a hard day's work. It will probably outlive us.


  1. And it's a totally cool bridge! Congratulations on constructing it. :-)

  2. Fantastic! David and I could never have constructed such a thing!

  3. Oh my goodness! What an amazing project. You guys are a great team! It looks fantastic!

  4. What an endeavor when you built it and now to do some rehab work too. You are amazing.

  5. Hi CiCi, I recognized your style. I liked your old blog just fine. I'm still trying to figure out how to post comments to your new blog after trying six different approaches.I'm doing something wrong but I haven't discovered the cause yet.