If you take a little stroll all the way down to the east end of the valley, and then north towards the Fort, you will likely notice a few very big changes. Yes, we are making headway in completing the fort’s courtyard and towers, but you would first notice the bridge. Or rather, the absence of one. Our regal, long bridge to cross the stream is gone! Where did it go? Well, it’s quite an interesting story.
Despite the fact that the bridge has been there as long as the younger generation can remember, the bridge had only been there about 16 years. And it might bring you further surprise to find out that it did not even belong to Living Waters. Who then, you might ask, did it actually belong to? The Snowmobile Club. Yes, years ago, the local Snowmobile Club asked permission to place a trail across camp’s property. And in order to do that, they would need a bridge. And they happened to have one (hiding in the sock drawer I’d imagine.) A very large benefit to the Club using the property in the winter, was that Camp got to use the bridge year-round, and not just for snowmobiles! So a deal was struck, the bridge was placed, and it immediately became a very convenient commodity for Living Waters.
Until the fateful day when the club changed their route. Well, actually, it was 6 years after they changed their route, that it was decided they needed the bridge for another stream-crossing elsewhere. The other bridge on their current route was in shambles. So with nostalgia in our hearts, we helped the snowmobile club folks remove the bridge all in one piece, and it was hauled away using a tractor with a flatbed trailer. And what then? Would we ever have a bridge that looked as nice as that one? Probably not. But the intelligent minds of Tim Hadley and Tim Dehnart (lovingly referred to as Tim2) joined forces and put together an impressive bridge design.
Members of the Snowmobile Club kindly gave us some parts from their old bridge which were still very much in good shape and useful – in fact essential – for us to build a new bridge. Two very large steel beams from the Club’s old bridge were cut into four pieces and used as support beams in our new bridge. Using also some repurposed decking materials and a little bit of new supplies, a crew of two full time staff and at least four Summer staff built the bridge in just over a week. (If only road construction could go that quickly, right?)
The task came with some challenges. The crew was working in a stream, after all, which got them all muddy and wet. Pouring the cement footer amongst flowing water was only the beginning of the difficulties of working in water. It took some foresight to get the cinderblock supports level and even, and we are very grateful to have three men who had experience laying block.
And the bridge looks very nice. Its strongest suit is the utilitarian aspect. It doesn’t have rails, so large loads, such as a hay wagon, can cross without worrying about being too wide. And the weight capacity is impressive. After completion, we drove ten tons of weight over the bridge without a hiccup. So who knows how much weight the bridge can handle! But believe it or not, that is not the most impressive thing about the bridge project. What is to be most appreciated about the bridge, to be sure, is the colossal teamwork and planning that went on between the three experienced builders heading up the project. It is not every day that you can see three different people come together to make a project happen so quickly and with no arguments. It brings to mind this verse, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” Romans 12:18