Image © Louise Cloutier. All rights reserved.

The Wallace Swing Bridge, circa 1905

Wallace Swing Bridge

by Richard Dittami

Both highways are closed now.

The steel rail and the antediluvian river.

There are no more iron horses burning coal to fuel steam driven hearts.

They once chugged their way through here from the stiff bristle winds of the Atlantic to the kettledrum soundings of the Pacific.

The river which once buoyed river barques loaded with Wallace stone to the sea is now free of commerce.

Our planet is a giant clock spinning away minutes, hours, and years; apertures open and close.

For a time a solution was required to keep both highways open at their intersection.

People, half mad with industry and invention, designed and built the swing bridge.

Iron willed men engaged in vein-popping toil.

Ore was mined and smelted into molten steel which in turn was flame cut, gas welded and riveted. Stones were measured, cut, delivered and placed with mortar. Masonry piers rose above the river like Jehovah’s chess pieces.

Teams of horses and men placed the superstructure with blocks, tackles, ropes and rollers.

Rail crews laid the ties over ballasts and sledgehammered the rails down into precise placement.

Hard work unto dust.

These people’s stature in the cosmos is not diminished one whit by their anonymity.

The product of their industrial fever dream stands over the river amongst the pines. The swing bridge no longer opens and closes.

That frame of existence has flown.

The world clock continues to spin (counter clockwise).

Stone pillars and steel lattice remain as a monument to the ingenuity and industry of our forebearers, standing at an intersection where abandoned routes of commerce cross in silent remembrance.

A place where the doors of the past, present, and future are all thrown open at once.