Too often old structures are torn down the moment they are no longer used for their original purpose. Unused and unloved they soon spiral into disrepair, graffiti and vagrants hasten their demise strengthening the voices of those that considered them an eyesore and advocate for their removal.
This steel truss railway bridge crosses the Brazo River in the heart of the city of Waco in Texas and has somehow managed to withstand the elements and the adversaries. For me this bridge stands today as a remarkable historical, engineering and architectural monument to early Pioneer America.
Built 136 years ago by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway of Texas, it was known as the Cotton Belt railroad and was part of the greater Southern Pacific system. The railway operated right up until the mid-1980’s and has since sat vacant. Today the steelwork superstructure has little or no paint, the wooden decking is rotted in places and the vines are taking over. Despite all this it stands with a sense of strength and permanence, almost challenging the onlooker “I will be here for a hundred more years, will you? “
I was pleased to hear there are plans for its restoration and for it to become part of a new river walking trail. I would however be sadden to see it all shiny and new without the character and battle scars it wears like a proud veteran.