I am the young fellow in charge of the “Save Red Bridge” movement that has developed over the last year. I’d like to share my reason for doing this.
I love Jasper County’s history. I love it so much that I went to college to become a professional historian. When a job opened up at the Jasper County Historical Museum I jumped at the chance to work there. Every week people come into the museum with family heirlooms of all shapes and sizes. They want me to save it for them, so it doesn’t get thrown away. It is impossible to save everything, but I do my best to help people feel that their family memories and history will not be forgotten. That is the base purpose of any county history museum — to save what is best about our past.
I see the Red Bridge in a similar way. It is a 68,000-pound family heirloom. It is the last iron truss bridge in Jasper County, and losing it would mean losing an entire chapter of our development as a people. The bridge was built in 1892 by a group of local builders who built it using nothing more than horses, pulleys and hand-tools. It served the traveling public for 20 years as the main route between Monroe and Newton. When Highway 14 went in the 1920s, Red Bridge’s road then served farmers and people living in the country. But if you’re like me and spent a lot of time running around Skunk bottoms as a kid, then you know that bridges have a purpose far beyond letting vehicles cross a river. The bridges of Jasper County were places of refuge, where friends and families gathered to fish, swim or simply be outdoors when the weather was nice.
I am doing this because I believe Red Bridge is more valuable to the citizens of Jasper as a local landmark than it is to the taxpayers as a pile of scrap metal. Soon we won’t have that choice to make. We can’t save them all, but we should at least save one.