There is a hint of a chill in the air as the leaves of the trees bleed out their spectrum colors, fall is culminating and succumbing. The Hallows eve approaches, as the land of mythical and magical, fearsome and fanciful. I was shown something special, something of which I can only share a part of,
couldn't make up such a story as this. Aways off in the woods, not too far from
here, lost in an urban wilderness there in an obscurity, a curiosity, an item
left behind and almost forgotten. A historical relic, like a civil war belt
buckle, only this belt buckle covers many acres. Traversing the grounds we would find the odd bits
and pieces of a buried past, sleeping covered by a moss, and pine straw blanket,
old red bricks mixed in with cob rough pieces of mortar and concrete.
But first, you must first drive up the hill about a half a mile on an old brick road. A road laced with red brick pavers which should more rightly be painted yellow for they lead up to a ridge of fantasy, mayhem and magic. When you reach the end of this brick service road, there is an aging rusted steel guard rail separating yesterday from today, signifying the beginning and the end of our realm. The forest canopy was lush when I first saw it, turning a bright sunny afternoon to the light of shaded overcast. It was dark, with just a hint of moisture in the air, some how just enough, to let you know that this story is going to involve water.
Climbing up to the top of the ridge
you can see we are surrounded by water on three sides, bordered by a steep
terrain. To me at least, this says, that whatever the purpose of this facility,
confinement was at least a peripheral issue. Stepping beyond the rusting
monument and into the deep foliage, in a near ten steps she stands before you
in all her raging glory. She is a crumbling concrete bridge, fancy, with all
the trimmings. She's at least a hundred feet long spanning in an arc pattern
with concrete sconces build onto alternating arched bridge pilings.
This isn't just your everyday
walking across the creek bridge, she is beautiful and ornate. And with just a
tiny leap of fantasy she becomes, a bridge in medieval France,
or the bridge to Frankenstein's Castle. That's the kind of bridge she is all
right, a right fancy bridge that someone built up on a ridge, out in the boon
docks to do something, to someone. To do what and to whom, are merely your
first opportunities for conjecture.
At first, I thought this secret
bridge might have been built by the W.P.A. there are numerous examples of W.P.A.
& C.C.C. construction works still around in the area and I assumed that
this might just be one more of them. When I came back to visit for a second
time, I examined underneath the bridge and around the other structures.
Underneath the bridge on either side are large rooms built in and on the far
side of the bridge. On the far side, the room has an old iron fuel tank of some
kind; I'd guess the tank held maybe five to six hundred gallons. The tank is very
old, as its seams are riveted, but to hold what and for why, I can't say really,
this is a cafeteria ghost story, so you may take from it whatever you like.
So there's this elaborate bridge built to connect a remote ridge top to the community. A room with an old riveted fuel tank, and since commercial arc welding didn't come along until the 1920's, maybe, we can date the bridge by the tank. Just guessing, I'd say the turn of the century to prior to WW1, but what if, let's say, the bridge could be fifty years earlier? That would put the bridge's age somewhere in the 1850's or sixties. According to secret bridge folk lore, this place was originally a camp built during the civil war, possibly for the insane and shell shocked of battle, or perhaps, it was just wounded men recuperating.
As we continue investigating these relics, we find among them the teen hangouts, complete with Flintstone benches and logs dragged into a community square for communal beer, bowls, bonfires and teenage benedictions. We already knew they were here, we weren't surprised by them. If anything, we are the interlopers, adults going back in time, going through their perfectly wonderful teen theme park in the woods and remembering our own. But what is it? And what was in the room above the tank, because in the room where I found the tank, I also found a collapsed floor from above. What was its purpose, a big iron fuel tank under a big ornate bridge out in the woods?
On the ground beneath the secret bridge are the remains of a concrete footpath, complete with a concrete and stone footbridge to cross the body of water flowing under the secret bridge. The flow of water is so small you can almost leap across. The mystery deepens, why build this elaborate and ornate bridge for such a small body of water? At some point in time in the past, people were working under this bridge or else they wouldn't have needed the concrete foot paths. The secret bridge is an amazing and thought provoking spectacle even now, what must it have looked like back then, in all its newness and splendor?
Could this have really been a civil war camp for the insane? The lore says, that after the war wounded had all passed away, it became a children's home. A children's home with a Hollywood past, according to the legend, this children's home one night had a terrible fire. Many children were supposedly burned and died running in terror in these woods fleeing the fire. They say, their souls still haunt this place, and well, you can't prove it by me, but I'm not just ready to spend the night up there yet. We continue scouring the woods for relics, we find many small building foundations with two or three rows of brick still paying attention, while the rest lie scattered and lost in the weeds and moss of the undergrowth.
We also found a concrete sidewalk
going to and from invisible destinations, just a mysterious sidewalks out in
the woods, pretty cool huh? This sidewalk led us to where we could see there
was once a road which had been cut from out of the terrain, now overgrown, the
road led us directly to a steep chasm with a creek at the bottom. Soon we
discovered, down the hill a bit, pilings for another bridge. This one, of a much
lighter construction than the secret bridge, perhaps a footbridge which was now
lost to the past. Where do you suppose it would takes us? With lost history right under our feet, in a
strange cacophony of calamity or who knows, maybe it's just nothing at all,
except an old bridge out in the woods. But I wouldn't want to think about this
secret bridge like that, she is way far too cool a relic to waste on the
mundane in last week of October.