Along the banks of Bayou Teche in the heart of Cajun country sits a 1938 rim-bearing swing bridge. Misunderstood by some, but loved by others, the demise of this special bridge was imminent until the Historic Bridge Foundation received a telephone call in the spring of 2007. Despite his tears and my difficulty understanding his strong Cajun accent, the gentleman on the other end of the call was able to explain the story of the bridge and its importance to the history of sugarcane farming and the community where it stands. As I listened, I began to realize that a determination of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places had not been completed and that several federal procedures were not being followed.
Thus began the saga of the Vida Shaw Swing Bridge. Thanks to a team of dedicated people and a few miracles, the bridge stands today. Although its final fate is still unknown, the bridge is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places at the state level of significance. The federal Section 106 process continues. And a proud Louisiana gentleman continues to take his morning walk and gaze, at least for now, upon a noble bridge that is part of his heritage, and part of the story that defines Iberia Parish, Louisiana.
In many ways, that conversation was a pivotal moment for the Historic Bridge Foundation. We were beginning to expand our original work beyond Texas to the other 49 states and were learning more about the importance of grassroots support. As executive director, I was well aware that it “takes a village” to save a bridge, but not until that conversation on an early April morning did I truly understand how deeply a person or a community could love and find their identity in a historic bridge.
Saving a historic bridge is frequently a complicated and time-consuming process. Federal procedures are in place to help us save bridges, but the ways in which these federal rules and regulations are implemented seem to vary from state to state. And then there is the issue of money. Many times federal money is available. Sometimes state and/or local funds can be found. But regardless of the money source, replacement is almost always seen as the cheaper, and thus, best route. What is lost in the calculated costs of replacing or rehabilitating a historic bridge is the intrinsic value of the bridge itself. Across our country we devote million of dollars to the preservation of buildings, schools, and other cultural and historic landmarks. Often, however, when a community takes inventory of their historic properties, the local historic bridge fails to make the list. Somehow we must elevate the importance of our historic bridges in the stories that identify the communities of our nation and say “this bridge is part of who we are and it must be saved.”
The Historic Bridge Foundation exists to help individuals and communities pay tribute to their heritage by providing education about the importance of historic bridges and by joining forces to save these engineering landmarks. We invite you to contact us and tell us your story so we can work together to find solutions that will insure that the historic bridge in your community will have a place in the stories yet to come.
Call For Papers: 24th Historic Bridge Symposium
Posted December 17, 2014
The Society for Industrial Archeology invites proposals for presentations and poster displays at the 44th Annual Conference on Saturday, May 30, 2015, in the Albany-Mohawk Region, NY which includes the 24th Historic Bridge Symposium.
The deadline for proposals is January 31, 2015.
Poster displays can be works in progress. Presentations on all topics related to industrial archeology, technology, social change related to industry, and historic industrial structures are welcome. Papers about regional industries and transportation in New York’s Capital District are particularly encouraged.
Presenters on historic bridge related topics are encouraged to participate in the 24th Historic Bridge Symposium, which is planned to be one of the parallel presentation tracks. All presentations and poster displays should offer interpretation and synthesis of data.
Presentation Formats: Proposals may be for individual presentations 20 minutes in length, a group of three or four presentations on a common theme filling a 90-minute session, or a 90-minute panel discussion (formal moderator optional). SIA will provide notebook computers, projectors, screens, microphones, and speakers as needed in each presentation room.
Proposal Formats: Proposals should be submitted electronically (Microsoft Word .doc/.docx or OpenOffice Open Document Format Text .odt) unless special arrangements have been made. Each proposal must include:
- The presentation or poster display title;
- A 300- to 500-word abstract with a detailed discussion of points, findings, and conclusions;
- A brief biographical statement of 75 to 150 words for each presenter;
- Contact information including mailing address, telephone number, and email address for each presenter; and
- The software version used to create your presentation and a list of additional audio-visual requests beyond the standard equipment listed above. Please be aware that facilities for media formats other than Microsoft PowerPoint .ppt/.pptx, OpenOffice Open Document Format Presentation .odp, and Adobe Acrobat .pdf may not be available.
For 90-minute themed sessions or panel discussions, the organizer should submit all abstracts together as a group, accompanied by a title and a brief description of the theme. If any of these items is missing, the proposal cannot be considered. Note that the above word limits apply separately to each presenter in a group.
Presenters are encouraged to consider transforming their presentations into articles for IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology. Recording of audio for free distribution by podcast is also encouraged, but prior written consent must be obtained from each presenter being recorded and from the SIA Board. No conference proceedings are published.
The deadline for proposals is January 31, 2015. Send proposals or questions to: Maryellen Russo, SIA Presentations Committee Chair, email@example.com, 5 Lakeway Centre Court, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78734, (512) 695-4774.
All presenters interested in participating in the 24th Historic Bridge Symposium should submit proposals to Kitty Henderson, firstname.lastname@example.org, Executive Director of the Historic Bridge Foundation, P.O. Box 66245, Austin, Texas 78766, (512) 407-8898.
The conference hotel will be the Hilton Albany and presentation sessions will be held at the hotel. Please visit http://www.sia-web.org/2015-conference/ for further details.
Now Available: Chicago’s Bridges
By Nathan Holth, author of HistoricBridges.org, this book provides a discussion of the history of Chicago’s movable bridges, and includes a virtual tour discussing all movable bridges remaining in Chicago today. The book includes dozens of full color photos.
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