Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Junction Bridge

The city of Little Rock just finished working on the area at the foot of the Junction Bridge, in Riverfront Park. Their optimistic plan was to dig out some of the dirt around the bridge, and hopefully expose more of the "little rock" there. That chunk of sandstone gave the city its name, but it had been neglected and ignored over the past century or so.

The rock was a major landmark in the early exploration up the Arkansas River. But in 1872, the city of Little Rock allowed most of the "little rock" to be blasted away, in order to serve as the base for a bridge. The poor "little rock" was cut, but of course, problems arose and that bridge was never finished. About ten years later, the Junction Bridge was proposed. More of the rock was taken out, and unceremoniously dumped in the river. The Junction Bridge itself was completed in 1884.

What I don't get is why they needed to put the bridge there in the first place. Three other bridges were built over the River around the same time period (the Baring Cross, the Rock Island and the Free Bridge). The first Baring Cross Bridge was built before the Junction Bridge, yet somehow they managed to construct it without needing to set it atop a small bluff. But that's old history now - all water under the bridge, so to speak.

But Monday night I drove downtown and walked by the bridge to see just how much of the rock is still there.
No, the other one...

There isn't much of the "little rock" that the city was able to find, most of it has been lost to history. So the city went with Plan B, and constructed a nice little plaza area around the base of the bridge. There are little signs giving the history of the "little rock," the history of the city and of the bridge. All are attached to sandstone boulders, which is a nice touch.

The plaza also opened up a lot more places to view and get pictures of the bridge, which I'm happy about. This is a view of the bridge, with the Arkansas Queen riverboat passing underneath.

While I was standing there waiting for it to get dark, an old friend from high school randomly walked by. He is a photographer also. Back in the our glory days at NLRHS, he took pictures for the school paper and I took pictures for the school yearbook. But we had a quick chat, and I was glad that he didn't make a close inspection of my camera. He would have surely seen the red "low battery" indicator. I made the brilliant mistake of going out to take pictures without charging the battery. I do have a spare battery, but of course, it was dead too. Whoops...

But I managed to squeeze enough power out of the battery to get a few more shots. Here is one of the last ones before the battery finally called it quits, with dusk settling in behind the bridge and what's left of the little rock...

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