Art & Writing by Christina M. Turner


We Must Cover The Bridge

In 1877, a couple in Richfield went out one evening to visit friends. The weather grew worse, and as they were traveling home, they came to Furnace Run and realized they would have to ford the river in an unfamiliar location. The horses lost their footing, both man and wife tumbled into the water. Only the woman survived.

Who would visit friends in the winter if you knew you’d have to ford an icy river on the way home? No house party could lure me out in a wagon into a blizzard. But then, I’m sure none of the 20 people (statistically) that died today in a weather related car accident would have made the decision to go out had they known that whatever they were coming from or going toward would be their last earthly action.

Everett road bridge.jpg

What gets me, though, about this 130 year old story is the community’s reaction: the people of Richfield decided there ought to be a bridge over the creek, protected from the elements, so that people would no longer have to ford the river and risk their lives getting home. And the Everett Road Covered Bridge remains so beloved by people throughout Summit County, that schoolchildren raised the money to completely rebuild it in the 1980’s when it had reached the end of it’s first 100 year life span.

How often is technology the result of people saying: it is unthinkable to stop, but also unthinkable to continue this way. And so we must create a third option. Often, the best solutions offer benefits on all fronts: covering a bridge protects the bridge itself from the elements, allowing a wooden, single lane structure to survive 100 years as opposed to the 20 an uncovered bridge would typically survive.

For context, at the beginning of this winter, Richfield sent an email out to residents warning that they planned to be lax this year with road maintenance. Salt is expensive, so everyone should be prepared to take care of themselves.

We are given what we demand of those in charge, but not an inch more. Why haven’t we demanded of our municipal leaders the creative impetus to research and redesign winter transportation so that we are no long choosing between our lives literally and our lives practically? It is unthinkable to go on this way, but it is just as unthinkable to stop. We must create a third option.