|The Pruitt Bridge (1931) across the Buffalo National River|
on Scenic Arkansas Highway Seven.
When I was a young girl, I went many times to Dogpatch USA. The straight stretches of Interstate 40, though new, bored me but I always loved getting above Dover. The vehicle was a car on the best roller coaster ever, one that went longer than a minute and a half and that took me marvelous places… to Booger Hollow and the little burg of Jasper.
I always knew I was close when we crossed the Pruitt Bridge over the Buffalo National River. We’d pass the A-frame cabins of Little Switzerland, climb around a mountain, curl down into the valley and coast across the old steel frame bridge. Once the bridge was crossed, I’d put away whatever tablet or game or book I’d had in my lap, knowing that just a few curves away was Dogpatch.
|The view from the overlook south of Jasper.|
|Smokeshed at Booger Hollow, October 2007.|
That trip sparked in me a desire to chronicle Scenic Highway Seven. I wanted to capture what I found special about it, this ride through the mountains that had held so many memories. I started collecting stories, photographing the drive each time I went.
|The lady at Nellie's knew I was expecting.|
|Pruitt Bridge, April 2008.|
|My cabin at Little Switzerland Cabins.|
|Hunter with me at Jasper City Park, April 2009.|
The old bridge has been around 82 years. It was commissioned and built in 1931, one of four Pennsylvania-truss style bridges still remaining in the state. The old green bridge crosses the nation’s first national river… below it, during the warmer months, kids and adults play in the water, while in spring you’ll see canoes and kayaks passing by.
It has been a landmark in my memory my entire life.
|Grav Weldon's shot on the Pruitt Bridge.|
|Grav's interest the day he took the bridge shot|
was more piqued by these rock piles along
I left life on the road behind at the end of 2011 for the sure thing of a day job. Hunter started school soon afterward. I’ve gone through a lot since the day I walked the bridge… divorce, publication, growth, survival. Hunter has grown into a tall girl of five.
|The Excaliburger, photographed|
during that July 2010 trip, is on
the back cover of my second
April 2013… the story came… the Pruitt Bridge is being replaced. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department was looking for a buyer – but have decided to instead just build a new bridge alongside and close the older bridge to all but pedestrians. 82 years is a long time for a bridge, especially along Arkansas’s longest state highway.
But that’s neither here nor there.
The thing is, 2013 has been a very full year, very busy. I look back and see how packed it was, how every single moment seemed to be bursting with things to do, so much time in motion.
I’ve been rather ill this past week, with one of the worst colds I’ve ever caught. I’ve been too out of it to concentrate on writing, or even just mindless TV watching to be honest with you. It’s left me with a lot of time to think.
I’ve done a lot in my life… a lot of big jobs and a lot of big events. But I have been my happiest when I’ve been sharing stories of where I’ve been and the people I’ve met… oh yes, the food I’ve tried as well, but not so much. I’ve wanted to share what is now and what was… so there will be some record of these things for the days to come.
And I realized something. I am the girl on the bridge. I have told the stories about the chances I’ve taken and the adventures I’ve had… and that is more me than anything else.
I think I need to take another drive.