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Letter: The real Red Bridge: An update

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Yes, there really was a real red "Red Bridge" south of town. The bridge part was concrete with two iron pipe rails on each side. The rails at one time were painted red as you might guess, hence the name. In the 1930s the paint had pretty well been removed by weathering but the name stuck until usurped by the newcomer. Many of us from a much older generation are not as enthused about the presence of two red bridges in town. You can identify us when you mention the "red bridge" and are asked, "which red bridge are you referring to?" occasionally with a bit of disgust threaded through the question.

The "real" Red Bridge was the starting point for exploring nature by a few generations without X Boxes, computers, television and even radios. In the winter, we skated on the river above the dam and rode ice flows down by the real Red Bridge. Skating on "rubber ice" was a thrill as you didn't dare to stop or fall. Rubber ice for those who skate the artificial stuff is about one-half inch thick and will not hold a person who is stationary. You skated in a depression in the ice and chased large fish or an occasional muskrat. Fortunately we survived our indiscretions although occasionally someone would arrive home thoroughly soaked and pants frozen so stiff that the knees didn't bend. The "fake" red bridge was affectionately known for many years as the "foot bridge." Originally it was just that ... a series of posts with a single plank perhaps 10 inches wide. The bridge reached almost to the swimming area. Most of the park area was actually river at that time.

On the subject of bridges ... the bridge frequently referred to as the "trestle bridge" was and always will be the "railroad bridge" to my generation. The suggested weight limit of 1,500 pounds seems ridiculous. I would be very comfortable walking across that bridge in a group of 30 people (approximately double the suggested limit).

Continuing the historical note on local bridges ... I wonder how many citizens can remember when the dam could be crossed with trucks and cars? It was a big mistake to reduce that crossing to foot and bike traffic. It was single lane so when oncoming cars were present you waited your turn. A wider crossing that would normally be closed to cars would be a real bonanza in emergencies. The "city bridge" of course is no longer a bridge as it is now a culvert.

Finally, the end of gripes by a grumpy old man ... a 180 foot bridge to cross a 60 foot water obstacle seems excessive but about what one would expect from a bunch of state employees who are spending someone else's money and are interested in job security. The imitation red bridge is sound, has a pad to prevent snowmobile damage, and has nice blacktop approaches. Replacement is an unnecessary expense. It just needs to be painted a different color.

Don Wilkins

Park Rapids

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