Sunday, July 30, 2006

As the song goes, I was 'on the road again' last week, driving the hills and hollows and back roads of West Virginia in search of interesting bridges. Heading west from Cumberland, MD, I headed out along the old main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as it twisted, zigged and zagged through the valleys and over the mountains of northern West Virginia on its way to Parkersburg and the Ohio River crossing. What an experience!

Parts of the line are still being used by CSX for their freight runs, but other parts of the line, obviously unknown to Microsoft Streets and Trips (which I had used as my guide for the long trek west), must have been ripped up a long, long time ago, when Amtrak took over the running of passenger trains in the early 70's. As I drove west, I was often confronted with overgrown paths of where the rail line used to be and now was often a part of some hiking/biking trail, but sometimes simply overgrown and barely visible. So, as a consequence, I got 'lost' a couple of times, driving out on one lane paved roads which turned into one lane gravel roads, which then turned into one lane dirt tracks which eventually narrowed down to overgrown, weedy paths! I must say, gathering reference material has not been this 'interesting' since my last trip to Africa!

I managed to find my way out of the weedy, overgrown trails and found some very interesting bridges along the way, including this magnificent crossing of a creek (photos above) by the rail line and with the added interest of the vehicle bridge clinging to the sides of the arched crossing. I spent a good twenty minutes at this spot, nice and cool and shady and refreshing after a long afternoon drive in the heat of mid day and even took my shoes and socks off and dangled my tootsies in the cooling stream for a few minutes while I enjoyed a bottle of iced tea and the complete quiet and beauty of the spot. In the time that I sat, I saw no one pass by and it was as if I had left all semblance of civilization behind! And of course, I got some wonderful shots of the stone work, the arch and the stream. Watch this blog for works based on this reference to show up in the near future!

Then too, there were many other spots where I pulled over to the side of the road and found some quite interesting bridges to shoot, including a marvelous high line running through the old downtown of Parkersburg, WV that carried the railroad out to the bridge crossing over the Ohio River. The inspiration is churning within me and I can not wait to dig into this most recent batch of reference material!

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