Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Dear Old Tunnel - Sepia Saturday

Until a few years ago there was a beautiful stone tunnel arching over a nearby road.













Part of the joy of this tunnel was that it was just wide enough for two cars:  drivers on opposite sides of the road were within arm's reach of each other inside the arch.  The speed limit on the road is 45 miles/hour.  What a rush we felt when driving through its arch with another car coming toward us.  Was I on my side of the road?  Was I so close to the side that the car would scrape?  Would the other driver stay on his side?  Whew!

There were other beauties to the tunnel, too.  In the top photo you can see the carefully crafted stones creating the arch.  At right you can see the inside of the arch lined with bricks.  Some drivers (probably of trucks) neglected to notice the sign telling the height limit:  12' 2".  I never saw a truck scrape the arch but the photo shows that it happened.

These photos below are of the giant stones used to create the sides and entrance of the tunnel.   The photographs may be deceiving regarding their size.  Most were about 24" tall and much too large and heavy for even a few men to carry.












From the photographs it's hard to tell that railroad tracks ran across the top of the tunnel.  It was originally built in 1902 by the B&O (Baltimore & Ohio) Railroad.  At that time the area would have been farmland with a few homes and barns dotting the land.  Automobiles were not yet common and I suppose the builders had horse and buggy traffic in mind, hence its narrow dimension. 

This dear tunnel was perfectly sturdy.  It had character.  It had a history.  It's only problems were its height and lack of width.  I like old and I would have preferred to keep the tunnel in place despite its challenges, but the county had other ideas.  They tore it down and built a new, expansive, modern bridge.

It's been gone a few years but I still miss the old tunnel.

Head over to Sepia Saturday 283 to see what other participants are sharing.

--Nancy.
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24 comments:

  1. I miss this old bridge too! It was such an important monument in the community!

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    1. The people I know who have mentioned it liked the old tunnel better. Progress is not necessarily beautiful, or charming, or comfortable.

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  2. The new bridge is attractive, but I agree that the character of the old tunnel is a big loss.

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    1. I agree, Wendy, that the new bridge is attractive. It just seems out of place to me on this rural road. I generally tend to go with old instead of new -- tunnels, furniture, etc.

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  3. Replies
    1. There was just something comfortable about it.

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  4. Shame they could not have found an alternative place to put the new bridge, but I guess it was in the ideal spot.

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    1. I hadn't thought about that, Jo. In the long run, I suppose it would have cost no more to build a new road than to tear down and old tunnel and build a new one. It's too bad you aren't one of our county engineers!

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  5. An intriguing little post on one tunnel - it is amazing what you can discover from a study of the stones. I agree with Wendy, the new bridge looks so soulless - as does so many modern constructions. Would later historians manage to deduce much of its character and history. - I doubt it.

    Family History Fun

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    1. Thank you, Sue. Soulless is a good word for that new bridge. As a general rule I think modern lacks warmth and character.

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  6. You remind me of my first experiencing navigating a canal boat down a tunnel - the rush was exhilarating, even though we travelling at a slow walking pace.

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    1. It's interesting what some challenges do for us, isn't it, Brett. It must have been an interesting experience to navigate a canal boat.

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  7. Darn! My post featured tunnels from the area where I grew up & Yosemite, but I completely missed a tunnel right here. Never even thought about it & I drive through it frequently. Like your tunnel, railroad tracks run across the top of it & it's very narrow with a limited ceiling height. I hope it's never replaced. Probably won't be as it's located on a 'back way' into the small town of Twain Harte.

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    1. Maybe you could add a post about your local tunnel? Or wait till a Sepia Saturday theme comes around that fits for it. Our tunnel was a "back way" for many years but housing developments in recent years have caused more traffic. I hope yours remains.

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  8. Oh Nancy - I just got to know it and now you tell me it's gone!

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  9. Welcome back Nancy - and with a theme too! Please join us more often and remember, you don’t have to theme!

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    1. Thank you, Little Nell. I've had a few Sepia Saturday posts over the past two months -- all on theme, too! Surprising.

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  10. I've always liked old underpass bridges like this because they usually include a road sign that says "Sound Horn!" A rare musical roadway!

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    1. This tunnel didn't have a sign but my husband nearly always honked when we went through. He could do that because he drove slowly. I was too busy paying attention to the oncoming car to think about the horn. You're always one to notice the musical aspects, Mike!

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  11. I just hate it when they take down old landmarks like that beautiful old bridge. I know they aren't as efficient for moving traffic, but it's still so sad to lose that history. We loved going through tunnels as a kids and dad, like everyone else, always had to honk the horn.

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  12. Damn. The tunnel should have been put on the historical register.

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    1. Yes, that would have been wonderful, Sean. I don't think the county gave any warning that it was coming down so perhaps citizens could have made an effort to prevent it.

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  13. I guess they figured it was a safety hazard, if two large vehicles met at the same time.
    But the old one is hard to beat for charm.
    :)

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