The train came through a tunnel, down to town
across a bridge that spans the Little Red–
a bridge of steel that reaches bank to bank
above the river flowing fast and deep
enough for young and old to dive and swim.
The angry flood of nineteen eighty-two
bear-clawed and pulled apart the cobbled streets
and quickly claimed an ancient concrete pier.
The boiling waters scarred a path so wide
the river steamed onto the shore and caused
the bridge’s portal to float free in stream.
But strong-willed men rebuilt the broken link,
restored the aged bridge–a tough, old bridge.
The railway bridge at edge of my hometown
no longer hears an engine’s chugging sound,
no longer shakes with jar of clacking wheels.
Old timers spin a thousand tales and more
of whistle blaring near the mountain bend.
Though trains no longer cross the Little Red,
the bridge has earned the honor to remain.
by Freeda Baker Nichols