Feb 05 2010
It’s not unusual for old bridges to be closed to vehicular traffic and be converted to footpaths. In that regard, North Dakota’s Fairview Lift Bridge is quite common. Its rails have been covered with mesh, so that pedestrians can safely cross.
The lift portion of the bridge was tested once, but its completion coincided with the discontinuation of steamboat traffic on the river the lift was never actually used.
It affords beautiful views of the Yellowstone River, just miles from its confluence with the Missouri River, and close to the state line near Fairview, Montana.
The new car bridge is not far away. (The foundations of the middle-generation automobile bridge are just beyond.)
The first thing that scared me about the bridge was its height, and the view of the rushing water beneath my feet. My five-year-old tried to keep me calm, but we didn’t make it out on top of the water very far before turning back. I don’t like heights.
The second thing that scared me was the sign saying to stay on the path, because there are rattlesnakes in the area. I don’t like snakes.
The third thing that scared me was the sign saying to take your own flashlight for walking through the tunnel. Tunnel?
Yes, at the east end of the bridge is a tunnel. Can you see it in the photo? (This is as close as we got to it.)
Perhaps the scariest thing about this bridge, however, is that for many years, it was used for both rail and automobile traffic. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t feel very comfortable driving over a long bridge knowing that a train could be coming through the tunnel at the other end. Even if there were a watchman on duty. But that’s exactly what happened from 1926 to 1955.
Does this bridge scare you? Or are you the adventurous type who would walk across the 1320-foot-long bridge and then have flashlight in hand to explore the 1456-foot-long tunnel, knowing there were snakes in the area?
I don’t know that I’ll ever be that brave.