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Lighted bridge marks start of holidays

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm

BridgeAn old iron bridge near the state line will welcome the holidays with a beautiful display of lights.

Head south on the Huntsville Highway near the state line, and you’ll see a sign for Roberts Lane. Off to the right in the distance, starting Nov. 1, the owner, Carolyn Williams, will once again light the bridge built by her grandfather.

The bridge was originally constructed by Virginia Bridge and Iron out of Roanoke, Va., in 1916, according to the label on the steel.

It spanned the Flint River in Alabama until it was going to be demolished in 1938. At that time, Carolyn’s grandfather, Robert Roberts, had the bridge disassembled and brought to the dairy farm to span the creek for access.

“Most of the information I have on the bridge is from my mother, Elizabeth Rogers Hunter,” Carolyn said. “She’s 80 years old now. She was one of six children, and they all worked on the farm.

“I moved back here to the home place in 1989. I lit the bridge for the first time in 1995 and did so for three years. Again from 2001 to 2003 we lit it, but it was always such a problem keeping the lights working.”

Since returning, Carolyn has raised her four children on the place, Robert, Max, Libby and Sara.

“This summer I had the bridge refurbished and decided I’d light it on a more permanent basis but still just use it during the holidays. Folks in the area always seem to enjoy it at Christmas time and were excited when we tested the lights this year.

“My grandfather never went to school, but he set the footers that still support the bridge today and reassembled the steel,” she added. “I’ve had engineers take a look at it to be sure it’s structurally sound, and they’re amazed at the work he did. I have to wonder how he did it.

“When my mother was small, they still used a horse and wagon a lot. She told me the story about a horse named Blackie who would carry the kids, one at a time, across the creek to catch the school bus up on the highway – then return on his own to take the next child across.

“My grandfather was a hard working man all his life,” she continued. “The life of a dairy farmer certainly wasn’t easy back then. There is a lot of sentimental feeling toward the bridge, for the work he did and the life he lived. I hope it brings some joy to everyone who sees it during the holidays.”