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20 May 2008

my beautiful (but CLOSED) 1894 1-lane Iron Bridge / SAVE THE CLEMENT STREET BRIDGE!

Oh yes, please click for larger.

This one -- also a neighborhood feature to fill up my disposable camera -- is very heavily digitally edited.

This is the one-lane iron bridge across the Mill River in Northampton, one of the last 19th-century iron bridges in America. It was built in 1894.

I needed to modify it because the poor thing is CLOSED and blocked and full of BRIDGE CLOSED signs and other ugly barriers.

Nobody in the USA seems to know how to manufacture new replacement pieces for an iron bridge anymore.

Steel -- well, yeah, we can still do some steel stuff.

But Iron -- well, the Iron Age has apparently ended in the USA. You can find little foundaries to make wrought-iron fences and gates for your house or for 19th-century downtown office buildings. But these big iron girders and structural elements -- nobody can do these anymore.

When the Clement Street Bridge is open, it makes a very convenient shortcut from my part of town to the next town, Easthampton.

But over the last 10 years, the poor bridge has been CLOSED more often than it's been open. That adds a detour of about 3 or 4 extra miles to get to Easthampton.

I wish the powers that be -- the City of Northampton, the Massachusetts Highway Department -- would love this beautiful old bridge the way I do, and would finally repair it and put it back to use.

I suppose one of the problems is that the bridge was built for horses and carriages, and can't stand the weight and the load of modern automobiles, trucks and school busses.

When it's open, approaching the bridge and figuring out which car has the right of way, and pulling over to wait for the other car -- it's exactly like driving in the Third World, like rural Mexico or Montserrat since the volcano blew up all the infrastructure.

It crosses the Mill River at a gorgeous spot in the woods that looks exactly like where Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn spend their summertime skinny-dipping and fishing.

You can find newspaper stories about the recent woes and troubles of the Clement Street Bridge HERE.

Fix My Beautiful Old Neighborhood Iron Bridge! Don't let it rust away! Give us another century of pleasure and beauty!

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