A Tough Old Bridge

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

Train Bridge at Shirley, Arkansas

14 comments on “A Tough Old Bridge

  1. Warren Johnson says:

    I have scheduled a link to this page to post on Van Buren County, Arkansas: Thanks for the Memories, tomorrow morning at 7:30.

    Again I say, Wonderful πŸ˜ƒ


  2. Moving poem, Freeda.


  3. Nova Caldwell Scroggins Granddaughter of John and Pearl Ragsdale (Shirley) says:

    I remember my Mother talking about the railroad being a big part of Shirley and Mother & her Sister would write horses along the railroad tracks to their Dad’s ranch and pick peas and then try and get back to Shirley before it was time for the train to come through Shirley in the afternoon.


  4. Catherine Johnson says:

    Great poem, Freeda!


  5. love the bridge… We now have an old railroad bridge that crosses the Ohio River downtown…that has been made into a walking bridge…love it…and is now lit by lights at night!


  6. Warren Johnson says:

    Love it. Thanks for sharing πŸ˜ƒ


  7. vrpruett says:

    Love this picture of the bridge, and your poem. I can close my eyes and imagine a train going across. πŸ™‚


    • The bridge is still here, but the M & NA Railroad went out when I was very young. I never saw a train cross this bridge but my husband tells many stories of watching the train come through Shirley. The bridge has been prepared for cars to cross, and I’ve crossed it in a car. It’s a tourist attraction.

      Liked by 1 person

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