River Towns & Their Bridges: Means of Departure

A rather obvious statement —> Historically, river ways have been vital to the development of human societies around the globe.

Fresh water means survival — in the basic sense, yes. Our earliest pre-urban ancestors made rivers central to growing their communities by gathering fish, water fowl, muscles, river rock, reeds, and numerous other food and building materials. As time passed, they figured out how to divert the water, to irrigate, to build dams and reservoirs. An obvious, basic means of travel inspired long-range boats, commerce with other river communities, and eventually, the incredible engineering feats of modern bridges.

I have always loved river towns. The reflection of a fiery sunset over a bridge … that sight calls to my soul.

The flow of southern rivers is much like the drawls you’ll hear in this part of the U.S. — slow, meandering. And those bridges! Rough, early industrial steel. Manmade broad roadways suspended mid-air. Every time I cross one of these glorious river bridges, I marvel over how we all seem to take it for granted so easily.

Think about it. Without the inspiration for, and the construction of that first bridge, mankind wouldn’t have gotten very far. Without that first bridge, would there have ever been a skyscraper, a naval aircraft carrier, an international space station?

Would we have such metaphorical fodder as burning bridges?


The character I am currently writing (and by writing, I mean thinking about a lot), made her home and centered her career in a river town. Its history is opulent, violent, tragic; but its commercial and sociopolitical history aren’t what she ponders when watching the sunset and reveling in the unlikely fresh, rural scents of good water and tall trees standing on the roof of an eighteen-story building. This place is equally precious to her as the ancestral home in the mountains she often visits.

Two bridges, one is a gnarley black steel pre-war affair connected to a train trestle, the other a cool blue, sleek six lane masterpiece — they are her favorite modern artworks. As she watches another glorious sunset, worrying over the news that a strange epidemic is taking lives in the tri-state area, an explosion rocks the skyline. She lands on her back, momentarily deafened, choking on smoke and debris.

When she is able to stand, the river is no longer shining with bridge lights and the orange glow of day’s end. Her bridges are gone.

The city below is panic-stricken.


What bridges must your character cross this November? Is it necessary for s/he to consider the vulnerability of post-modern infrastructure, or, will your character be busy taking the ease of travel for granted in the distant future? Give us a few hints, eh? We’re curious.

Journey with Us this November. The first installment of the month’s entries is due Sunday, the 15th.



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3 Responses to River Towns & Their Bridges: Means of Departure

  1. Guildenstern: We cross our bridges when we get to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.
    Tom Stoppard

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rio says:

    There are a lot of bridges in Zen practice. Often they are used as a metaphor for the teaching. But even the teaching, like an actual bridge requires use to have any meaning.

    I have found that bridges are points when we notice our own progress. These opportunities for awareness are profound and yet when neglected they just become causes of traffic jams, places to bomb during wars, or to jump from when we want to kill ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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