The Sherburne bridge was a one of a kind and a gem of an old covered bridge. I had wonderful memories of it. It spanned the Licking River crossing at the Bath County and Fleming County line. It was a bridge of great history and even greater pride to residents of Eastern Kentucky and especially people in Bath and Fleming Counties. It was a landmark of immense proportions to the people of the area. It was built in 1867 and updated several times over the years. In the early days it served a stagecoach route between Maysville, Kentucky, and Mt. Sterling. It was 266 feet long and 14 feet wide. It was a one way bridge only wide enough for one car at a time.
I spent many a happy hour crossing over it in my travels as well as walking through it from time to time. I would stop and stand in the middle of it and enjoy all the history and the stories that were associated with it.
One of the stories I heard about was when a well known resident of Bethel was trying to cross the bridge in a truck that was too high to get through the bridge. Being a smart old country boy he let some of the air out of the tires and with the lowered profile made it safely across. Sherburne itself was once a very prosperous little town but is now largely relegated to history. I used to get country ham sandwiches from the little store in Sherburne.
The beautiful and historic bridge was burned to the ground in 1981 by a couple of teenage boys making a fire inside it to keep warm on a cold day. It can never be replaced. Today an ugly, plain concrete bridge spans the river and traffic is carried right on past the little town of Sherburne; strangers might not even know there is a town down by the river. I have a couple of old two foot long bolts that were used in the bridge from years ago.
It’s a shame when people do careless things. History changes forever because someone, maybe not intending to do so, did something carelessly or stupidly. It’s easy to see it when it’s something physical like a beautiful old covered bridge. But it’s even worse and even harder to see when we or anyone else does something to hurt another’s heart or causes a spiritual or emotional injury that changes the landscape forever. We have to be careful with the fires we start in the form of things we say or things we don’t say or do or don’t do that might hurt someone else forever. Words just like fires can be hurtful and sometimes start with barely a spark or ill considered remark.
There’s an old saying that it sometimes takes ten wise men to get the stone out of the well that one fool threw in it. So it is with words as well as stones. Maybe we all should be more careful with the words we use, the fires we set, the actions we take, the things we do in order to not hurt each other or burn down beautiful parts of life that can never be replaced. The burning down of a beautiful and old historic bridge, as tragic as it was, is nothing compared to our relationships and the lives of the people we share the journey with.