Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Walking the Straight and Narrow

Bridge Walkway (7838)

Well, maybe not so straight but certainly narrow.  This is an old (built in 1893, as the sign indicates) but still active railroad bridge that crosses the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  We revisited the place in October on our return trip from the southwest.  The walkway, I discovered, is kind of interesting because you can walk almost to the tunnel opening, visible in the distance.  What’s really interesting, though, is the feeling you get standing next to the tunnel when a train is coming through.  The old bridge shakes and rattles and you grab onto the railing.  Not that that would do you any good if the damn thing decided to fall into the river.

Harpers Ferry, if you don’t remember, is the site of the brief and ill-fated abolitionist insurrection led by John Brown in 1859.  Brown and 20 others – including 5 African Americans – seized the Armory there in hopes of instigating a more general uprising.  They failed.  A few were killed by Federal troops (led, ironically, by Colonel Robert E. Lee) and Brown was captured, tried for treason, and hanged.  The event did, however, play a part in the runup to the start of the Civil War.


2 Responses to “Walking the Straight and Narrow”

  1. Earl Moore

    Paul, I can just imagine how this old bridge must shake and rattle with a freight train crossing it. I’m not so good at heights anyway so no doubt I’d be clinging to that railing. Still it’s amazing it’s still in use.

    • Paul Maxim

      Yes, it’s an “experience” when you realize that a train is coming through the tunnel. I tried to get a picture of the train as it emerged but it didn’t come out so well.

      Actually, the bridge isn’t very high. Maybe 40 feet above the water? Although the Potomac was running pretty low in October. Just like a lot of the rest of the rivers in this country……..


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