Special thanks to my dad, James Thomas Kiskaden for his never ending inspiration and wealth of information.
|Photo courtesy of Rose Publishing Co.|
|Example of the truss system used for the Sherburne Bridge|
|The Sherburne Bridge as seen from Bath County|
Travel through the bridge was not for the claustrophobic. A sign on the entrances warned drivers to illuminate their headlights and sound the horn on their vehicles as they approached. Imagine driving through a wooden tunnel or a barn for over 200 feet; that about sums up the experience a traveler would have had. In 1951, the transportation department added reinforcing timbers to the bridge's framework and installed cables down the span, creating a true suspension bridge; the only suspended covered bridge in the world at the time.
|View of the suspension system. Photo courtesy of the Traugott Keller collection,(c) 1953|
My dad, Tommy, was raised in Sherburne and when I was young, we would visit my great-grandmother, Nona Ensor, who still lived in the town. The bridge always fascinated me as it was quite an impressive structure to see up close. I remember walking through it looking in marvel at the large crisscrossed timbers and the massive bolts that had held them in place for over a hundred years. The floor of the bridge had fallen into some disrepair; some holes had formed and boards had fallen through. Some carved graffiti adorned the interior, but it wasn't damaged too badly overall. Dad always told me stories about his childhood and how he and his friends would climb to the top of the bridge and fish. The last time I was in the bridge was around summer/early fall 1980 when we visited family.
|The Sherburne Bridge as it was burning. Taken by the late Russ Metz.|
|An iron bolt found the day after the fire.|
Over the years, I have stopped in Sherburne many times, usually at the little store that is still there. My great-grandmother has since passed away, but the house is still standing. Sherburne is no longer the thriving river community it was, but the residents who still live there have never forgotten its history. The historical marker that was placed in 1976 still stands at the Fleming County entrance to the bridge and tells a brief, matter of fact history of the great covered bridge that once stood beyond it. A small brass plate with a picture of the bridge is posted with the historical sign that gives the date the of the fire.
|Courtesy of Angel Shrout.|
|The stone pier support as it appears now.|
|The Bath County entrance, 2013|
My dad and I always hold our memories of Sherburne and the bridge dear to us. I often wonder what if the bridge hadn't burned that night thirty-three years ago; if it would still be maintained as a tourist attraction or left by the wayside like the other buildings. If you visit the store in Sherburne, there are many pictures from years gone by displayed inside. For a moment, going in the store takes one back to a simpler time. For me, it reminds me of being a little blonde haired kid; curiously looking at the inside of a true wonder in Kentucky's history.
For more information about the Fleming County Covered Bridge Museum, go to http://www.kentuckytourism.com/Listing/2035/.
Sources of research for this post are as follows:
The Kentucky Atlas & Gazetteer
A History of Bath County, Kentucky by John Adair Richards (c) 1961 Southwest Printers
The Traugott Keller Collection ( http://www.handsomeproductions.com/tfkeller/index.html )
A Pictorial History of Bath County, Kentucky
Ramblings of a Southern Angel (singedwingangelspad.com)