I visited one of my favorite train trestles the other day. I did not have any particular shot in mind. It was one of those days where I just wanted to be out exploring with my camera. Every time I come here, I always take a shot of the train trestle from the bridge that crosses the Duck River. It can be a bit dangerous getting this shot as the shoulder of the bridge is narrow. Most drivers are courteous enough to move over a little when they see me, but some don’t even slow down let alone move over. I remember the very first time I stood on this bridge years ago when a large truck came barreling by. The wind from the truck gave me a gentle shove while the bridge swayed beneath my feet. It felt like I was going to fall over the bridge; not a good position to be in when you are afraid of heights. This is about as risky as it gets for me when it comes to getting a shot. I do a good job of weighing the risks vs. the reward. After all, I’m still here to tell the story. It probably took me less than 5 minutes to get my photo. I made a lens change while on the bridge to capture the shot below.
I then drove a short distance (as I almost always do) to get a look at the wooden structure of the railroad bridge spanning across an open field. I passed on an wide angel shot and decided to walk across the entire field to the bridge. My path was already laid out for me from the remnants of cut cornstalks, which created many walking lanes. I quickly found out that going against the grain was not a good idea. When I finally reached my destination, I spent some time walking around the bridge. Nothing really peaked my interest. Maybe it was the lighting, but I just didn’t see anything different from what I’ve shot in the past. However, I did take a couple of shots.
I made the trek back to the car and drove to the location where I could gain access to the top of the bridge. Getting to the top at this location is not too bad, but it can be moderately dangerous if you’re not careful. That is mainly due to the loose rocks you have to climb to get to the top. I usually manage to do the climb without incident, but this time it proved a little more difficult as it was harder to keep my footing. However, I made it to the top without any injuries to me or my camera. Standing on the tracks looking down the 2 lines of steel rail converging into infinity, you could see the red iron of the tiny train trestle in the distance.
I’ve always wanted to shoot from within the ‘iron cage’, but never knew the best way to reach that side of the bridge. The obvious way to reach the other side is to walk the length of the bridge, but as I mention before, I do a good job at the reward vs. risk thing. I ran the dimensions of the bridge and train in my head and figured there was no room for me and a 200 ton diesel locomotive. I was not going to take that chance. Coincidentally, while I was thinking about this, I saw a couple on the other side walking down the tracks at the exact location I wanted to be. They were a bit more adventurous than I. They walked out across the span further than I would feel comfortable with. In fact, I was uncomfortable for them! Thankfully no train came during this time, but that might not always be the case. I may have felt uncomfortable with them being so far down the track, but at least they showed me that there was another way to reach the iron trestle from the other side. I just have to figure it out. With the sun setting, I would have to save that adventure for another day, so stay tuned! After shooting the shot to the east, I took a shot to the west. The sun was shining brilliantly through the trees casting its golden light on the vanishing rails.
I was about to leave when I noticed some writing on the top of one of the rails. Then I noticed more writing on the same rail nearby. I turned around to find even more writing on the rail on the opposite side. It was quickly evident, this was not the typical graffiti you see on the park bench with initials inside of a heart or names designating that someone was there on a certain date. This was a message from a troubled individual. Someone was writing down their feelings. You might even say it was a cry for help. Just in case you can’t make out the words, I put the message in the caption.
My first thought was that this had to be a teenage girl who just broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Guys typically don’t write down their feelings, especially in a public way unless this was the end. Because, if these messages are read together, they read like a suicide note. Thankfully, after some research, I did not find any recently reported suicides in the area. If not a breakup, someone might have Iost someone dear to them. Whatever the case, I hope the author of these messages is still swimming, and I hope they find the answers to help them move on.
With a little time left before sunset, I decided to ride around to see if I could by chance find the access point for the other side of the train bridge. A quick look at Google Maps had me looking for the C.A. Thompson Park. This was also the location of the city swimming pool, which was close proximity to the iron trestle. I understood there were trees and undergrowth between the park and the bridge, but I was hoping there was a trail leading down to the tracks. Well, I did not have any luck finding access to the bridge, but I did find an empty park with a closed swimming pool.
The sun was getting lower in the sky creating some nice light and long shadows. I found the absence of playing children and splashing water to be symbolic to the changing of the seasons. In the same way I find beauty in the remnants of desolation, I also find that same beauty in still life of any sort. There’s a story behind the images. With a little imagination, you can piece those stories together or create your own. I left the park area and played around at the pool.
I like these outings when I’m just out exploring. Every now and then, you’ll find a jewel of a shot. There are no jewels in this post, but I still enjoyed looking through the viewfinder. I should add that I did some more searching on google maps for an access point to the other side of the bridge. I believe I found a way. It requires a half a mile walk, but it looks doable. I will have to do more research on finding a place to park my car. The access point could be private property, but there may be an easement to gain access to the tracks. In the meantime, take a look at my last outing at the bridge. I used my SLR for that shoot. I shot the images on Fuji Superior X-tra 400 color film. I really like how they turned out. That post is called “Tracks.” Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Like and Follow me at Shuttering Thru Life.