Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bridge Over Greasy Creek

Curved Bridge
Bridges allow people and vehicles to cross rivers, creeks, gullies, etc. and have existed since early man didn't want to get his feet wet.
   Greasy Creek flows into Lake Cumberland and is one of the many stream that contributes to this huge artificial water resource created as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Greasy is located outside of Jamestown, the county seat of Russell County, KY central home to Nash Black's fictional Ono County.
   There have been four bridges over Greasy Creek, all in near the same general location. Foundations of the first bridge are still visible on the banks, but the second bridge is the unique structure.
   Down a short lane, abandoned to general usage is a curved bridge. The only other structure like it, in Kentucky, that I know of is still in use. It was built to span a creek by the Kiwanis Club on the road from Corbin, KY to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, home to the only moonbow in the United States. Both structures are sturdy concrete spans similar in style and construction. My guess is they may have been designed by the same engineer.
   If you get out of your car and climb down beside the bridge you will see that its foundations, super structure, and pilings are still sound despite being subjected to occasional floods when lake levels push water up into Greasy Creek. I've seen the water so high it covered the bed of the bridge. Bank fishermen love to cast a line from the old bridge when the water is high and clear.
  When you turn away from the curved bridge you are facing the bridge that leads to Jamestown from the 127 By-pass. Looking up you will see where lower grade concrete was used in its construction. The pillars that support the bridge are crumbling away exposing the steel cabling. The damage extends down from the bed for an estimated 10 to 12 feet. High water marks are below the damage, but barely visible in the above photograph. The decomposition is the result of  weathering of the inferior materials. This bridge is in use everyday by cars and large trucks as the highway is old 127 to and from Jamestown.
   A sleek new span crosses Greasy Creek on the Bypass and is a lovely site reflected in the waters below the span of the modern superhighway. It takes a four-wheel drive to get to, but it is a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon if you like bridges, history, and change.
   Greasy Creek was named from ancestors who used the waters to clean the hides of bears and other fur-bearing animals they hunted in the woods of early Kentucky. They were the original polluters who left the carcasses of their kills to rot in the creek, taking only a few cuts for eating and the hides. Another common name given to streams where hunters left their prey was Stinking Creek. It doesn't take imagination to know the source of that name.
   Russell County may not have a covered bridge, but it does have a curved bridge which deserves consideration of preserving though it seems to be doing very well on its own.

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