Landmark Faces Demolition
|If there were a definitive history book
about life in Craig County in 1902, there would be at least one chapter
devoted to transportation. The importance of the railways and the roads
cannot be over stated.
The local road system made traveling from the rural homesteads to the larger communities possible. Without reliable roads to town, families could be stranded. unable to get parts to repair their farm equipment, or buy simple medicines, or basic clothing items like shoes.
A road might be passable most of the time, but in the event of heavy rains, it could stay flooded for days on end. When the flooding subsided, the road might be left impassable for long periods.
In other circumstances, accessibility was the only factor missing in the development of new farms or ranches. A man might have owned a prime piece of the countryside, but needed a direct route to deliver his products to the nearby commercial district.
As demand grew for dependable passage, engineers were hired to plan road routes and, perhaps most importantly, to design safe bridges over the winding creeks. Once the plans were made, the construction began.
Horses provided the main power source; human sweat and tears were the fuel. In 1902, modern building technology wasn't too much more sophisticated than pulleys, chains, picks and shovels.
A great example of this era in bridge building is located in southern Craig County on Road 345. The Cabin Creek Bridge was built a hundred years ago and was still in use until April of 2002. It is an overhead truss bridge, the last one remaining in the county.
Cabin Creek Bridge is special for many reasons: its handsome construction scenic location and historical significance, it is the kind of landmark that causes travelers to slow down and think about their ancestors and the different way of life a hundred years ago.
Men on horseback traveled over this bridge less than 40 years alter the Civil War Battle of Cabin Creek was fought just a short distance away. Families in carriages or wagons crossed the creek, wide eyed and grateful for such a fine example of modern building technology. It was a reassuring guide post, a safe passage, an assurance that isolation was defeated.
By all accounts it was built to last. Up until two months ago, several cars used the bridge every day. But now the Cabin Creek Bridge is scheduled for demolition because it comes under a man dated five-year plan for bridge repair or replacement.
According to County Commissioner Pee Wee Smith, the reason for its destruction is due to a liability burden on the county. Additionally, part of the building contractor's agreement with the state is for the removal of the bridge.
It will eventually be sold for scrap metal, much to the disappointment of many residents who believe that the bridge is a beautiful and important piece of Craig County history. These lovers of history envision the area as a park or outdoor gathering place for community events or private celebrations.
It is easy to look at the bridge and see suntanned boys fishing over the side, and families picnicking nearby. Bird watchers, arrow head hunters, and bicyclists would enjoy the peaceful locale, and relish the preservation of history.
Cabin Creek Bridge is one of a kind, and for a little while yet, it remains a romantic treasure in the midst of advancing progress. Al though it provided passage during the last 100 years, It will soon be broken apart; and piece by piece It will go down the road, across a new bridge, making room for the future.
By Kathleen Duchamp
Vinita Daly Journal, July 5, 2002