Friday, September 2, 2011

Sidney and Sundheim

Wren, I am not positive what variety.

Tiny tracks in the sand.  I wonder who made them....

My dad skipping stones on the river.

My dad and me.


I love not wearing shoes.  We camped in the sand along the river.  The sand felt like velvet on my toes.

The American White Pelicans were out in full force over the river.  When they are floating along the river they appear all white, but when they fly you can see their striking black contrast.

Looking out over the river from the "front door" of the tent.

The Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartright Tunnel were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.  It was also my high school hang out.  We always called the place Sundheim.
The bridge and tunnel have been modified to be more accessible and safe (i.e. covered the ties of the trestle bridge with wire grating and put up short fences where the rails used to be, painted over the graffiti, adding lights and benches).  I am well over it now, but at the time the changes were being made I was horrified at what they were doing to "my" bridge...all the changes they were making on something so old and awesome.  On the bright side, my Dad more agreeably crosses the bridge now and we took Keleigh there, something we could never have done with the gaps still between the ties and the river swirling below.  So there is that.  It took a lot of the adventure out of it though.


The bridge was designed to lift up in the middle to allow steamboat travel, however the idea never really panned out.  It was lifted just once as a test run in 1914.  The lifting machinery, cables, gears, etc still are in place at the top of the 108-foot-high steel towers, and that is just 108 feet above the bridge which is about 100 above the water.  I am told it is quite the view.   I, however, was never quite crazy enough to go all the way to the top.  I knew folks that did.

The Cartright Tunnel, built 1912-1913 is the only train tunnel in North Dakota....it is a pretty flat state without much need for train tunnels.    I have read that much of the tunnel was dug by hand. 

Walking through the tunnel is tricky because of the darkness inside.  It is 1,456 feet long and when you stand on the inside of the curve at the middle you cannot see either end.  You cannot see anything at all.  Not even your hand in front of you face.  We used to play the swimming pool game Marco Polo there at night.  It is thrilling to be trying to escape capture in the pitch black.  The person who was "It" couldn't cheat because even if you opened your eyes there was nothing to be seen.  I spent many a night playing guitar around a campfire here as well.  The tunnel was my home away from home.

Out the other end of the tunnel you are dropped into a narrow, little valley.  Foxtail is one of my favorite grasses.  I believe this one is Foxtail Barley.  It is so soft and green at this point and feels nice to run your fingers over.  It will dry out and get quite sharp and pointy though in order to spread its seed.



I don't know who made these tiny hand prints (with little thumbs!).  My guess is raccoon, but I am no tracking expert.

The bridge is 1,320 feet long.   Car traffic used the bridge as well as trains until either 1955 or 1956 when the highway bridge was built.  The last train car crossed in 1986.  Now it is pedestrian use only.

I am laying under one of the two counterweights used to lift the bridge.  I've never heard a figure on how much they weigh, but the center section lifted by the counterweights is 1.14 million pounds so I figure they must each weigh quite a bit in order to lift that!  And to think they've been hanging there for a century!

We stopped to enjoy the scenery and have a little chat in the middle of the bridge.
Then it was time to head back to Sidney, Matt and I in our car and my Dad on his motorcycle.

4 comments:

  1. BUT THE BATS. yikes.

    have you ever heard the rumor that there's a man buried in the counter weight at snowden bridge??

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  2. Over the weekend I was just talking with Matt and my Pa about the bats in the tunnel! See, I always said that it was because of the bats that there were so few misquotes and other annoying bugs so I was peachy keen with them. And though I could hear them squeaking and catch an occasional silhouette against the sky, they never really got too close to my person. I had several buddies though who were less keen on them though. I do have a few recollections of the squeaking sending people scuttling out of the tunnel.

    No, I don't think I have heard that story. You'll have to tell me when you come over next! I have only been to Snowden maybe twice. Sundheim stole my heart and no other bridge could compare.

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  3. Curious how you came to call it, "Sundheim"?

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    1. You know, I am not really sure, Bob. That is what my oldest sister called it. I'll have to ask her where that came from. I suppose I always assumed it was called that after an area rancher, but never gave it much thought beyond that.

      I am going to ask and will shoot you an email when I learn more.

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