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Edition #132, August 15, 2010

The Bridge at Beverly

Photographer: Dave Honan

                                                                                   Photo by Dave Honan

The Bridge at Beverly

A few miles south of where I-90 crosses the Columbia River in eastern Washington is a quiet town called Beverly. Tucked against the slowly drifting river in the shadow of the Saddle Mountains, Beverly's most arresting man-made feature hasn't been used for its intended purpose in nearly three decades, now merely hosting power transmission lines and an ever-growing collection of bird droppings.

On an early spring morning in 2007, I visited Beverly and the Milwaukee Road's Columbia River crossing. Standing on the river's bank with the cold water slowly sliding past my toes, I gazed up at the bridge and imagined I could hear a westbound train approaching, charging hard in advance of the climb to Boylston, the whine of the motor on the point being all but drowned out by the throaty roar from the pack of EMDs trailing behind...

But those memories are not mine, for the Pacific Extension had lain abandoned for more than a year before I was born; the electric motors had been for the most part scrapped and the diesels had retreated to the Midwest. Instead, my memory is of a striking structure stepping across the mighty Columbia, gradually accumulating graffiti, rust and other natural waste, yet still defiantly proclaiming to all who pass by that this place was once traversed by the last transcontinental railroad -- and standing as reminder that trains may one day again ascend the slopes of the Saddle Mountains.

Dave Honan

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Revised: 08/15/10 16:52:14 -0400