Bridges

Bridges have been on my mind a lot lately both as a metaphor and physical structure so I invited the Just Write Virtual Writing Group to write about them this week.

We began by considering the history and description of bridges. A bridge is a structure built to span a physical obstacle (such as a body of water, valley, road, or rail) without blocking the way underneath. It is constructed for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle, which is usually something that is otherwise difficult or impossible to cross. There are many different designs of bridges, each serving a particular purpose and applicable to different situations. Designs of bridges vary depending on factors such as the function of the bridge, the nature of the terrain where the bridge is constructed and anchored, and the material used to make it, and the funds available to build it.

The earliest bridges were likely made with fallen trees and stepping stones. The Neolithic people built boardwalk bridges across marshland. The Arkadiko Bridge (dating from the 13th century BC, in the Peloponnese) is one of the oldest arch bridges still in existence and use. The bridge pictured above is the Big Four Bridge that crosses the Ohio River, connecting Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. I have walked that bridge and see it every time I travel to or through Louisville. I find its history as a railroad bridge transformed into a pedestrian bridge fascinating. Another bridge that has played a prominent role in my life is Natural Bridge (KY). My family has hiked around and on the bridge many times and it is a frequent destination when we have visitors. We have also spent a lot of time in the Natural Bridge State Resort Park as a family.

Our writing prompt also included exploring 7 Types of Bridges Every Engineer Should Know About:

  1. Arch Bridges (Arch bridges use one or more arches as the main structural component, with the arches positioned beneath the deck)
  2. Beam Bridges (Beam bridges are the simplest type of bridge, all that is needed is a crossbeam long enough to cover the span, and support from abutments under each end)
  3. Cantilever Bridges (A cantilever bridge is built using pillars securely anchored to the ground. The structure is then constructed outwards from each pillar with the horizontal beam often supported using diagonal bracing.)
  4. Cable-Stayed Bridges (This design uses deck cables connected to one or more vertical columns, towers, or pylons which can be connected in either a fan or harp configuration.)
  5. Suspension Bridges (A suspension bridge uses vertical towers or pylons constructed from steel or reinforced concrete. Attached Between the pylons are the main supporting cables.)
  6. Tied-Arch Bridges (A tied-arch or bowstring bridge uses features seen in both a suspension bridge and an arched bridge.)
  7. Truss Bridges (There are many different configurations of a truss bridge, but they all use triangular sections typically bound together by welded or riveted joints.) Note: The Big Four Bridge is a truss bridge.

We then considered the many definitions of bridge from the structures we just explored to something that connects people or things in a less tangible way. But we also use bridge to describe the place where a ship is steered, the upper part of the nose, a piece of dental work, and the part of a song that connects one section to the next. English is a wild language.

 We wrapped up our invitation by sharing Western Civ 101 by Alexandria Peary. I love the language play, imagery, and metaphor at work in this poem.

That evening I wrote about musical bridges but which bridge is important in your life or catches your whimsy?