Lee Jamison

The Turning Bridge - Lee  Jamison

The Turning Bridge, 2015

Painting oil on canvas  
48 x 36 in

Location: immediately east of Tx. Hwy 19 on the Trinity River channel at Riverside

This is, so far as I know, the last turning bridge to have been built in Texas. It was designed to be turned by a single man using a hand crank. This particular bridge was built in 1915 to replace an identical structure originally built in 1911 and destroyed in flooding in 1914. That, too, had replaced an earlier structure designed to allow river traffic to get past rail crossings. Transitions in transport economy are fascinating because they are such an illustration of how our minds can fail to grasp a sea change as we are in the midst of it. It seemed very important to the people who built this bridge’s immediate predecessor to make sure riverboat traffic could pass unimpeded to ports up and down-stream. But the advantages of rail for transport of bulk shipments were so great that cost, not access, was causing the extinction of commercial river traffic.

It seemed appropriate, in the light of this obscuring of our minds’ sight, to present my reflection on this remarkable engineering feat in service of a lost cause through a screen of foreground limbs and branches.

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