Best Bridge To The Past (1999)

Snow-Reed Bridge

Park your butt on the whitewashed concrete railing on either side of the 11th Avenue bridge, gaze out over the north fork of the New River, and squint. If the sun's low in the sky to the west of Sailboat Bend, and you clamp your lids down just enough to add a blurry sepia tone to the scene, you can imagine that it's 1925. Movies cost a nickel. Kids don't sass their mamas, and small bridges are cranked open and closed by hand. Be patient. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes for a boater to hail the bridge and ask to pass. Then the bridge tender will sound a bell and drop the stop arms. He'll walk to the center of the 48-foot span, poke the business end of an L-shaped handle into a hole in the steel-mesh roadway, and put his back into it, walking the crank in a circle like a pony harnessed to a grist mill. The bridge will swing parallel to the river channel, allowing boats to pass on either side. No motor, no noise, no hurry. Just like the old days. The Snow-Reed (named for two former Fort Lauderdale mayors) is the only metal-truss swing bridge operating in South Florida. Bridge junkies will surely appreciate its rim-bearing pivot design featuring eight rollers and a centrally located wheel. The rest of us will marvel at how smoothly the bridge carves a lazy arc after 74 years and be glad we don't have to crank it open and closed 20 times a day.

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