Living Dangerously

Fear is not a word in the vocabulary of the youth. There were many things I did regularly as a kid that I wouldn’t think of doing now.

My hometown was born as a meeting place for settlers. Originally named Fiddlers Green, this was where local families would gather and enjoy music and festivities. Eventually the railroad came, and with it business. Those were the booming times for my hometown. Prosperity has long ago left Springville. But the remnants of that time still stand. The most prominent is one of the tallest railroad truss bridges in America.

Standing several hundred feet high and over 700 feet long, this dinosaur stands as a reminder of days past. But also as a benchmark for local youth who wanted to prove their mettle.

This was a popular hangout for kids looking to have some unsupervised fun. The bridge was taken out of service long before I was born. The upper wooden structure was left to rot. But this didn’t stop thrill seekers from walking it. I did it once. Some of the gaps in the planks are wide enough to fall through and the planks themselves were quite weathered. It’s amazing no one has ever fell off.

At the bottom, concrete pillars rose from the water and met the steel girders. The tops were about 15-20 feet above the water. Perfect to climb up and jump to the water below. But that wasn’t good enough for the more adventurous types. I’ve heard the story a thousand times. A drunk Richie Perkins scaled the trusses and tied a long rope about 3/4 of the way up the bridge. This rope remained there for decades. From the concrete pillars, you had to climb up another 20-30 feet to reach the rope. Then from there you would swing your self away from the bridge and jump your way to manhood. It is the local rite of passage. Sometimes I think back on those times and just shake my head in disbelief that I survived my youth.

What is the most dangerous thing you did as a kid, or young adult?