Feb 05 2010

Photo Friday: This Bridge May Scare You

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.

Bridge 13

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.

Bridge 8

The new car bridge is not far away. (The foundations of the middle-generation automobile bridge are just beyond.)

Bridge 10

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.)

Bridge 11

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.

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27 comments so far

27 Comments to “Photo Friday: This Bridge May Scare You”

  1. Kayla on 05 Feb 2010 at 6:23 am

    I’d cross it! But I have a strange love for bridges, the older and creakier it is, the better.
    .-= Kayla´s last blog ..Junky Table, Cute Cat =-.

  2. Amy on 05 Feb 2010 at 10:01 am

    Nope. The snakes alone would have kept me away. Because I’d be thinking there would be snakes in the tunnel.

    In case you can’t tell, I’m not fond of snakes either. To me, they’re proof that Mother Nature screwed up at least once.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Friday food =-.

  3. Monna on 05 Feb 2010 at 10:27 am

    I’d definitely cross it (as long as the train was no longer running)… but I’d be scared too. You know what they say about doing one thing that scares us every day! (They say that we should!) Great post to get us thinking about what scares us and why.
    .-= Monna´s last blog ..two thousand words {paris and bangkok} =-.

  4. Dominique on 05 Feb 2010 at 10:54 am

    I remember a railroad/automobile bridge we crossed (in a train) in Alaska about ten years ago. It was a fairly new arrangement at the time as I remember because they had just opened that particular route (up to Whittier) to cars at that time…and the shared arrangement happened because it was logistically impractical to create separate tunnels for the cars through the mountains. That was in 2000.

    This is the only other place I recall hearing about a similar arrangement.

    As fascinated as I am with bridges, I think I might be with you in being less than enthused about the prospect of meeting up with a rattlesnake in the tunnel! Cool photos. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Dominique´s last blog ..Photo Friday: Photowalk at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan =-.

  5. Katherine on 05 Feb 2010 at 11:52 am

    The bridge – maybe.
    The tunnel – no way.

    I’ve been biking on a trail in WI from Elroy to Sparta that includes one very long tunnel – so long that you can’t see the other side. The temperature seemed to have dropped by 20 degrees halfway through.

    After that experience of desperation to see the light on the other side – I don’t see too many more tunnels in my future.

    And what about that tunnel/highspeed train that travels under the ocean to Europe. Would you do it?


  6. TheWordWire on 05 Feb 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Hmmm. I would like to think I’d be brave enough, because it looks like an incredibly beautiful area to explore. But I won’t even go in the snake exhibit at the zoo because 1. hello, there’s snakes in there and 2. it’s extra creepy that they’re usually dark and enclosed like a tunnel. Snakes in a tunnel? No thank you.
    .-= TheWordWire´s last blog ..Superheroes Need Walking-Around Money Too =-.

  7. Linda on 05 Feb 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Crossing this bridge would be impossible for me…it hits all my fears, heights, snakes & while not afraid of the dark, the tunnel would make me claustrophobic. I can’t imagine how they used it for autos & trains for so long.

    I once thought I wouldn’t live through a ride with my uncle through the tunnel under Chesapeake Bay. In addition to darkness and a closed in feeling, the air reeked for diesel smoke and by the time we got through it I was sick from the smell & gasping for fresh air.

  8. jessiev on 05 Feb 2010 at 3:48 pm

    i think i’d be too freaked out to cross it!
    .-= jessiev´s last blog ..Recipes from Italy: La Rocciata – Rustic Umbrian Apple Roll =-.

  9. Carolina on 05 Feb 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I’m not great with high bridges. I realized I had a fear of heights when as a young girl, we were crossing a bridge with my family, and my parents had to coax me across with a mild panic attack.
    So no, I probably wouldn’t have crossed unless I HAD to. (You should see me trying to walk across the Golden Gate.)
    .-= Carolina´s last blog ..Cool Kids’ Calendar Planner: Camping =-.

  10. Lora on 06 Feb 2010 at 12:52 am

    Are you kidding? Cars used it too? Now that would scare the bajeezus out of me. Its like tightrope walking with four wheels. Crazy.
    .-= Lora´s last blog ..Photo Friday: Guess How Big This Art Is =-.

  11. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:43 am


    You’re braver than me! I do think it’s a really cool bridge, though, and I wish I’d been able to make it farther across.


  12. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:44 am


    The snakes scare me too. I took the kids on a short hike in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and I was on pins and needles the whole time. Snakes and I are not a good combination.


  13. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:45 am


    You have an excellent outlook on crossing the bridge. I gave it a good try, but I bet you’d make it across!


  14. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:47 am


    Interesting about the bridge in Alaska. Money plays into the logistics of a lot of things, doesn’t it?

    Glad you enjoyed the photos.


  15. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:48 am

    The WordWire,

    Yes, even if I’d crossed the bridge, I’m not sure I would have entered the tunnel.


  16. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:49 am


    I walked around the Golden Gate Bridge once, but I’m not sure I’d be able to do it again. My fear of heights (and roller coasters) has increased exponentially since I became a parent.


  17. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:50 am


    Yes, cars and trains–isn’t that crazy? I’m glad they outlined the history of the bridge, because it’s so interesting and rare. But I’m also glad the new car bridge has no rails on it.


  18. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 7:52 am


    I’m with you on the snakes and heights. Tunnels don’t thrill me either.


  19. minnemom on 08 Feb 2010 at 8:05 am


    You’re not the only one who might not cross that bridge. It’s beautiful to see from below, though. If you ever get to the area, you should at least pull off the road and take a look at it from a safe distance.


  20. Chris on 08 Feb 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Yeah, bridges are a bit spooky in general, I think for everyone, adults and kids, but this one is definitely on the scarier side I think. I don’t think my kids would be to thrilled about that. Ouch.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Discount Tire Stores =-.

  21. livalips on 08 Feb 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I took my 7 year old nephew across this bridge this past summer. It’s quite sturdy and easy to walk on if you’re not scared of heights.

    My nephew was scared of walking over the bridge, but really wanted to get across to that tunnel.

    I was calm on the bridge, but freaked out completely when we got to the tunnel–it had a dank, crypt-like smell that was terrifying and there were animal tracks everywhere.

    Trying to show I coudl be braver than a 7 year old, I tried to persevere, and we went about 1/3 of the way through. But when we got to the point where we actually had to turn our flashlights on, I couldn’t go any further and we went back out. It was quite the adventure! The view from the bridge is beautiful…I did not see any signs warning of rattlesnakes…

    Later in the day we talked to some park rangers at Ft. Union who smiled at the story of my timidity. Apparently the tunnel is quite safe and I am just a big chicken.

  22. Sharlene on 08 Feb 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Yes! That bridge scares the ever loving crap out of me. No way. I’m not doing it. :)
    .-= Sharlene´s last blog ..Trailmix.net =-.

  23. darcie on 08 Feb 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I love love love that you show me things in North Dakota that I never knew existed – even though I lived there for 24 years!
    Amazing…so many new places to visit thanks to you! xxoo
    .-= darcie´s last blog ..Ah…Winter…and a pretty cool give-a-way! =-.

  24. Sherry on 16 Jun 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I walked across the bridge and through the tunnel with my brother and three cousins. All adults – 3 girls (including me) and 2 guys. Oh, and a dog that must have lived in the area, but became ours for the time we were there. To me the bridge was fascinating – the engineering and all. I loved looking at it and the river around and below me. However, I could not walk and look straight down through the mesh under my feet at the water – a little too much even for me. I just kept my head up and walked. The tunnel was awesome! Halfway through it bends and it’s black as midnight. We had no flashlights with us. At the height of the darkness you couldn’t see the person standing next to you! The only thing that scared me really was my brother deciding to play a trick on me and sneak up on me and say ‘Boo!’! He never did, though – I’m glad we are grown-ups now. I never thought of snakes or animals. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway – I’ve never had much fear of them. All of us grew up in a rural area with a large extended family and played outside a lot. My girls cousin and I (there were very few girls) played so much with the boys our age, we bacame quite the tomboys. The boys would play with creatures, as boys do. I didn’t so much, but spending so much time with them, I learned not to fear them-most are harmless. I know there are poisous snakes, but not in our area. Besides, that still wouldn’t keep me from an adventure! Anyway, we made it all the way across, turned around and came back through the tunnel and back across the bridge again. Between the bridge and the tunnel is some hills and in one side is a cave. Usually there is a fence over the opening, but on the day we were there, it was torn down (probably by vandels). The other four climed up there and sat at the opening and looked in. I didn’t only because I have respitory issues and it was a REALLY steep climb. When they came down, they half slid and half walked down. It was a great day and an awesome memory. My brother lives in Williston now, so we were out there visiting him. This is his favorite place.

  25. Murat on 02 Aug 2011 at 2:24 am

    It looks very non-secure. I would thinkg 3 times before any attempt to cross it :) )

  26. Donald on 23 Oct 2011 at 10:28 am

    I recall visiting my fathers uncle Earl Rose near Cartwright and crossing this bridge in a 1935 Ford starring into the tunnel, fearing a train emerging and meeting us in the middle of the bridge. This was more than 60 years ago and though I never saw a train the tracks were there.

  27. [...] and if you want to go somewhere really scary, try western North Dakota’s Fairview Lift Bridge.  It’s only 80 feet or so above the water, but it’s a railroad bridge that was used [...]

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