Monday, June 7, 2010

Water Under the Bridge?

Below is a nice article concerning the Seven Island Bridge and possible efforts to reuse portions of it. If you are interested in this or Moratock Park in general, Please join us June 24th at 6:30 to see the unveiling of two notional site plans being developed for this purpose. Things are happening and we need your assistance and input. Special thanks to the WS Journal and Lisa O'Donnell this article.

Water Under the Bridge? Preservationists hope historic structure can find new life at Moratock Park
By Lisa O'Donnell
Published: June 5, 2010
Like an old Chevy that has seen better days, the Seven Island bridge rests on blocks in a clearing in the woods not far from where it spanned the Dan River for 100 years.
Weeds shoot through what was once the floor of the bridge. Rust chips away at the posts and bracings that supported the weight of countless wagons hauling tobacco, horse-drawn buggies, trucks and school buses.
When workers with the N.C. Department of Transportation disassembled parts of the steel truss bridge and unloaded it in a field in early 2005, officials with the town of Danbury and preservationists hoped that it would find new life as a pedestrian bridge over the Dan at Moratock Park, a few miles down the road.
At the time, town officials estimated it would cost between $200,000 and $800,000 to place the bridge in the park.
The town, which was given ownership of the bridge, had hoped to start a fundraising drive, but those efforts were almost immediately put on hold while the town dealt with more pressing issues, such as the potential loss of Sheppard's Mill, another historic site in Stokes County, said Jane Priddy Charleville, who served as mayor of Danbury for several years.
"We delayed fundraising to focus on Sheppard's Mill so that the two wouldn't compete with one another," Charleville said. "And the town, as things go, started work on a sidewalk project. It was put on the back burner."
Although the bridge is tucked away in a sharp curve on the lightly traveled Seven Island Road, the passion to preserve it and get it back in service remains strong.
Willis Overby, a former county commissioner, has been a longtime advocate for preserving the bridge for nostalgic and practical reasons.
The bridge on Sheppard Mill Road, which links downtown Danbury with Moratock Park, doesn't have a designated walkway, making travel unsafe at such popular park events as the Stokes Stomp.
"We have a lot of people at the park when there are county functions, and there is a need for a walking bridge," Overby said. "But aside from that, people just like to walk over the river, and if we have that bridge there, we could construct it for walking and viewing the river."
People such as Charleville view the bridge through a sentimental lens.
She recalled how generations of people picnicked and swam in the shadow of the bridge. Many couples were married on it.
"We've lost a lot of our history and our historical things in and around Danbury," Charleville said. One of Stokes County's truss bridges, for example, is on display in Davidson County, she said.
Jimmy Walker, the chairman of the Stokes County board of commissioners, said that he believes people would support a fundraising project to move the bridge.
"Folks who live in that area and who know the area well really have strong feeling about the future for the bridge. I have a feeling if there were a project undertaken to move the bridge, there'd be good public support for it in that area," he said

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