The Bridge and The Fence

by | Apr 4, 2017 | Places, Projects | 2 comments

What many may have seen as a dilapidated eye sore and safety hazard, I saw as an ideal location for a photo shoot. Hiawassee River Bridge - March 2017 | © Ronda L. Birtha. All rights reserved.

In 2011, I met the Hiawassee River Bridge, up close and very personal. I fell in love.

Some time after the Valley River Walk in Murphy, North Carolina was finished I wanted to see for myself what so many people were cooing over. The plants, the wildflowers, the rivers. Yeah, yeah, right, right. For me, it was the bridge.

When I first walked it, there were no guard rails, no fences, nothing – which in my head meant we were all good. The badly splintered boards didn’t bother me, nor the gaps in between them that gave a clear view to the river about a hundred or more feet below. The rust didn’t bother me either. In fact the splintered boards and the rust made it a nice spot for some photo shoots with people who didn’t mind walking the planks. I enjoyed introducing people to the bridge as if I were taking them to meet a special friend. I figured if the bridge wasn’t safe to walk across, surely there would have been gates or fences blocking one’s entrance to it.


Sometime last year I rented two “point and shoot” cameras (Panasonic Lumix LX 100 and the Sony RX100 MIII – the latter of which I am now the proud owner of) and wanted to take them through the paces along the River Walk. This time, I was devastated to find a fence blocking my path across the bridge. And my devastation was shared with this guy who had just walked across the bridge from the other side. We just laughed as we looked at each other across our common obstacle. We schemed on how to get past this, but neither of us was in shape to scale it, fit between the openings, nor squeeze beneath it.

I was disgusted.

This fence made me feel like my parents were telling me I had to break off a relationship with someone they knew wasn’t good for me.

It’s clearly a safety issue now and for all I know, it was a safety issue back then as well. Either way, you won’t hurt yourself looking at pictures of the bridge (circa 2011, 2015) before the fence went up.

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