Twelve Mile Trestle

Twelve Mile Trestle

Here in the South where I make my home, there are smaller bridges and trestles that remind me of times gone past.  Most of these are located in very rural areas. They are deep in the country and receive little use.  Many of these are constructed of creosote timbers and bolts.  They have not one bit of concrete or steel in their construction.  I know of one train trestle that crosses an old lake south of Shreveport.  The timbers have been driven into the lake bed and big freight trains still come flying over it.  The trestle shakes like a wet dog when there’s a train on it but it somehow manages to keep doing it’s job.  About once a year, I make the obligatory three mile trek out to it.  I watch before I go to see when trains cross certain areas because I know that once they have passed a certain point, they are forced to cross the trestle.  After I do this checking, I am almost guaranteed that a train will cross the trestle when I coordinate my time of arrival with the trains schedule.  The purpose of any of this!?  When the train approaches, it can see me because I am standing ON the tracks on the other side of the trestle.  It let’s it’s air horns shriek like banshees as it approaches.  Since it’s in the country, the train has speed of over 55 mph.  When it arrives on the trestle, the train begins to tilt back and forth, side to side as if it is going to leap from the trestle and crash into the lake.  The sound of groaning timbers, clacking wheels and rails, and air horns as the behemoth of a machine bears down is quite exciting.  But this story isn’t about that bridge, it’s about another bridge that’s actually on the edge of downtown Shreveport.

The abandoned Cross Bayou Bridge, aka “Kansas City Southern Railroad Bridge, Cross Bayou”, is one of two surviving bridges of Waddell “A” through truss design in the USA.  The other example is the Linn Creek bridge located in Missouri.

The bridge is located on the North side of downtown Shreveport, close to the river-front and the merging of Cross Bayou and the Red River.

This bridge was originally constructed in 1890 on the Arkansas River in the state of Oklahoma.  It was disassembled and brought to Shreveport, presumably by rail, in 1926 where it was re-erected in it’s present location.

The bridge was used by Kansas City Southern Railways until the 1980′s.  Shortly thereafter, it began to fall into disrepair with no care from KCS and was subsequently abandoned.  This seems odd to me as I wonder who has responsibility/liability for the structure.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.  I was on the bridge as late as a year ago and it is missing many spikes and other nuts and bolts that would seem to be paramount in holding the bridge together.  There are also large sections of missing timber on which to walk or stand and what wood remains is mostly rotten.  Although the bridge is not “signed” with danger warnings or no trespassing advice; it is very dangerous and no one should attempt to climb or gain access in any way to the trestle.  Some part fell off and into the bayou the last time I was up there; it’s a little disarming when what you’re on is coming apart beneath you.  I won’t be looking around up there anymore.  Oh, and the name…… well, we’ve been calling this “12 Mile Bayou” since I was a little squirt.

In the late afternoon when the sun is low in the western sky, the warm red rays light the rusty steel a nice reddish-orange color.  Foliage on trees makes the shot too busy so winter is the time to shoot this landmark.  The bare branches repeat the starkness of the rusty steel members of the trestle.  Though never a fan of bald skies, the darker blue of the northern late afternoon sky works well here.  I handled this image in a somewhat painterly fashion in my re-touch; I wanted it to have that old postcard feel.  I hope you like it.