I enjoy venturing off the beaten path up in Northeast Iowa where we live, scouting for old bridges to photograph. There is something intriguing about old bridges. If those old bridges could talk, I wonder what secrets they would whisper? Would they tell about a childhood crush whose secret tryst was at the old bridge or later when they would go for walks as a married couple to the bridge and watch the sunset? Would those old bridges talk about the different models of automobiles that passed through or the team of horses with holiday bells on carrying the sleigh over hill and dale to, of course, grandma's house? Would they tell us about the hard working farmers who passed that way from early in the day to early evening dusk as they hauled the season's harvest to town? Would it talk about the families who had cast their fishing poles in the water on that same bridge on a magically divine summer day that now holds memories to last a lifetime as other generations enjoy the same simple pleasure? It amazes me to think about how life has changed in one hundred years, yet these bridges are still sturdy and standing proudly. We may have come far, but one thing hasn't changed. The quiet countryside with the bluffs and old bridges off the beaten path's landscape in Northeast Iowa remain, hopefully for many more generations to come. We love and want to continue to protect these historic bridges because it takes us back to when life was simpler. If these old bridges can't be fixed, I hope they do what Motor Mill Historic Site by Elkader did. They erected one that looks close to the original, only sturdier. To some, like our family, it also holds memories of our past that are intertwined with a special old bridge.
My husband, Kevin, grew up with an old county bridge over a great trout stream by Protivin as part of his driveway. When we were first married we lived on the family farm and found family, neighbors and friends on the bridge from early morning to late at night when the fish were biting. We also spent time at the old swimming hole to cool off on those hot summer nights right beside the bridge. A flood tore the old bridge apart a few years ago and it wasn't feasible to replace it, so a Cattle Bridge was built instead.
There are so many places to visit in Northeast Iowa with paths that lead to historic bridges, from Elkader's Keystone bridge, Motor Mill's historic bridge, to the country roads around Protivin, Decorah, Ft. Atkinson, and many more. What is better yet, as the fall trees begin to turn, make sure you wander off the beaten path and see the fall foliage intertwined with the bridges and the bluffs. We have the best fall scenery around, just outside your door! Check it out either by canoe, bike, motorcycle, or car and don't forget to take your camera!