Monday, November 3, 2008

Swinging in the Air

Last month on the long drive home from our four day, three night hiking and camping trip in the Texas panhandle, I perused the latest edition of the Texas Travel Guide I'd picked up at the Caprock Canyons information center.

I've been reading and highlighting previous versions of this guide since even before I moved to Texas and have found some good information along with some oddball items and others that are definitely off-the-beaten-path. In some instances, I think the authors were just desperately trying to find something to list for each town. On the plus side, it's free.

After many hours on the road that day, my husband said, "I think we should be in Goldwaite in about an hour."

Me: "Okay." Well, actually it's GoldTHwaite.

An hour later, my husband said, "I think we can make Goldwaite before sunset."

Me: "Mm, hmm." What the [insert bad word] is your obsession with GoldTHwaite?

Fifteen minutes later, he asks, "So where do I turn in Goldwaite?"

Me: "Why do you keep talking about GoldTHwaite?"

Him: "The suspension bridge."

Me: "Huh? [41-second pause] Oh, YEAH, why didn't you remind me?"

Him: "You read about it."

Me: "Yes, but I forgot. I'm a year older since we started this trip! I don't remember something I said three hours ago. [laughing] I thought you were just bringing it up because of whole Goldwaite/GoldTHwaite talk we had on the drive up."

Him: "Huh?"

So I may have just given you too much ofn an insight into my marriage, but the point is that our way home, we made a slight detour from Goldthwaite to check out the Regency Suspension Bridge, which was listed in the Travel Guide.
According to the guide, the bridge it located 20 miles west of, you guessed it, Goldthwaite. (This website, which I could not access while on the road, says 18 miles. I'm not sure which route either references. We drove more than 25 miles outside once we turned onto FM 574 from 84/183.)

This post's first picture is of our GPS system (aka Glinda) as she tried to help us find the bridge. Usually, Glinda shows something, maybe a river, maybe a road, or in this part of the country, a driveway. But here Glinda showed us nothing. Not even the rocky unpaved road we were on.

Finally, she showed the Colorado River. We figured we were at least close as we knew the bridge had to cross the river.
As we turned a bend in the road, I saw this sign and wondered if we hadn't wandered into some strange hideout in the middle of nowhere. Granted, I was tired and older and just saw the first and last words as I read quickly.
Then we rounded the final bend and saw this:
The bridge, first built in 1939, is one of the last suspension bridges in the state. I think it's one of only two that still allow car traffic.
Our Toyota Prius weighs about 3,000 pounds empty. Loaded with two adults, one dog, and camping gear, we definitely felt the bridge swing when we crossed. Heck, we felt it swing when we got out of the car and just jumped up and down on it. I'm not sure I would recommend driving over it if you've got a much heavier car or occupants.
Some spots of the bridge looked more than a little worse for wear. The decking is wooden, with a few weak planks here and there.
But don't let any of that discourage you from walking across it. (Heck, this site says stop and have a picnic. There's almost no traffic.) The views are spectacular. The Colorado River runs underneath about 75 to 100 feet down. The cows not quite visible in this picture welcomed us with their moos. Okay, they might have been telling us to go away.
The historical marker gives a little more background on the bridge:

Regency Suspension Bridge - (near extinct town of Regency, 4.4 mi. S) This area's first Colorado River bridge was at Regency, on Mills-San Saba County line. Built 1903, it served ranchers and farmers for going to market but fell in 1924, killing a boy, a horse, and some cattle. Its successor was demolished by a 1936 flood. With 90 percent of the work done by hand labor, the Regency Suspension Bridge was erected in 1939. It became the pride of the locality, and youths gathered there in the 1940s to picnic, dance, and sing. Bypassed by paved farm roads, it now (1976) survives as one of the last suspension bridges in Texas. (1976, 1997)

What does this bridge have to do with plants, gardening, or insects? Nothing, absolutely nothing as far as I can tell. But I do believe that gardening makes you just a little more aware and appreciative of the small delights wherever you find them.


  1. And here, I thought I had seen everything noteworthy in Texas at least once. In so many years of Boy Scouts and family camping, I've never seen or heard of that swinging bridge up in Gol'waite. Vertie, thanks so much for posting this. Just the rhythm of those turnbuckles in that last picture makes my heart sing. It's a treasure. Your story reminds me of the time I looked up from my boots to see the Wise Co. Courthouse, while hiking through Decatur. The next time Iris and I drive up to Denton, we're definitely taking a detour over to Mills County!

  2. That is cool. I think I would definitely opt to walk it.

  3. I'm impressed that you drove over it. Thanks so much for posting about this bridge. I hope to walk on it one day.

  4. I've been across the old bridge many times through the years, usually in pick-ups and towing trailers. You didn't mention about not being able to see if anyones coming from the other direction till your well out on the bridge. Backing your rig off that with a trailer on is exciting.

  5. Nice photos of an interesting place, but I got seasick crossing a replica-type suspension bridge at a state park in IL, Vertie - so will just wave to you as you cross this one.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. A nice walking bridge! The Colorado River looks lovely, too.

    When I was visiting with Layanee in R!...her GPS would show us driving on the river. The software hadn't been updated for new road construction!


  7. How cool! I'd definitely be tempted to go have a picnic on the bridge with views like that. It's so creepy that you can feel it sway when you drive over it!