Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Old North Bridge

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Photos of the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, site of the opening battle of the Revolutionary War. Gentle Reader(s) of a certain age might recall the Schoolhouse Rock version:

That, along with all the time spent on the actual Revolutionary War in grade school history class, left me with certain expectations about the place. I'd read that it was a small bridge over a very small river, but somehow it was still smaller than I'd expected. It's an attractive location, though. Tranquil. Bucolic, even. Which is surprising considering that this is essentially part of suburban Boston. I was in the area for a technology conference back in July, and was staying a couple of miles north and east of Concord, and that area was just generic suburbia, with endless malls and fast food chains and subdivisions. Somehow the Concord area managed to avoid that sort of suburban sprawl.

You might have noticed that the bridge doesn't appear to be particularly old. And you would be correct. A Concord Magazine article explains: There were bridges here long before the Revolution, which washed out due to flooding every few years and had to be replaced periodically. The historic> Old North Bridge fell into disrepair and was demolished shortly after the Revolution, and after that there was no bridge here until a replica was built for the centennial of the battle in 1875. It's been replaced a few times since then, more than once due to flooding. The current bridge was built in 1956 and restored in 2005. Much of the wood looks new. You wouldn't know it was a historic site at all if the 19th century monuments at either end weren't there.

I suppose this counts as a blog post about a bridge, and over time I've developed a few conventions for those that are probably of no possible interest to anyone but myself. The first couple of posts had titles along the lines of "How to walk bridge X and not die", since several of them were and are scary for pedestrians. Since then I've taken to adding a "not dying" angle to a lot of bridge posts, except for the ones where I forgot or couldn't think of one. It's usually a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly. I can think of a couple of boring possibilities here, but what I'd really like to warn you about today is the danger of randomly travelling back in time to exactly the wrong day, while wearing a red coat or other brightly colored apparel. Because, y'know, mistaken identity.

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