My entry for the Old Grumbleface May Bridge Challenge is going to be a history lesson. Not a very in-depth history lesson, but certainly an exciting and self-serving history lesson. When I set out this morning I thought I would simply meet the minimum requirement of a picture of my bike strategically placed in front of a bridge. Well, that’s just not my style.
But then, history lessons are not my style either, so this O.G.M.B.C. post will be a first for me. In a way, I guess you could say this post about a historic bridge is history-making (not to mention long-winded.)
The story of the famous Hastings Spiral Bridge begins in the year 1895. That’s the year it opened to connect Hastings to St. Paul via Highway 61. I do believe the bridge really WAS famous for two reasons: 1) All of the Hastings tourism brochures say it was famous, and 2) Thirty years ago, when my wife and I first moved to MY Town, my grandfather had a shock of recognition and said “Hmmmmm, Hastings? Isn’t that where they had some kind of spiral bridge? If an 80-year old man from Michigan knew about it, that’s famous enough for me.
At this point you’re probably wondering how I plan to take a picture of my bike in front of a bridge that was destroyed more than 70 years ago. Before I can tell you that, I have to relate a little more history.
Earlier this year I was bike touring in the deserts of the American southwest. My route took me through Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where The London Bridge now spans a portion of the Colorado River. Formerly, London Bridge was in London, England and it spanned the River Thames from 1831 to 1967, until London Bridge started falling down. At that time, a wealthy man named Robert McCulloch (of McCulloch Chain Saw fame) bought the bridge, transported it to Lake Havasu City, and rebuilt it.
My town has its own Mr. McCulloch. Our Mr. McCulloch is named Mr. Bauer and he owns an industrial and agricultural well-drilling company, a John Deere dealership, and a whole lot of land. He also buys historic buildings that are scheduled for demolition and rebuilds them on one of his properties. He built a smaller replica of the famous Hastings Spiral Bridge there as well. I only had to pedal south seven miles on Highway 61 to get my picture of the spiral bridge and my bike.
And that brings us to the end of today’s history lesson. I look forward to seeing more O.G.M.B.C. posts soon.