Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bryant Station Lives Again

Inspiration comes from a lot of different places. Take for example, Bryant Station Curves. The inspiration for the title and series came from an old bridge that terrified me as a child.

That’s right!

I said a bridge that terrified me as a child.

I grew up in Milam County, Texas. So wooden bridges, including the camelback style bridge (see all pictures posted of Bryant Station Bridge) were a common part of life, especially in the rural, gravel road areas. Unfortunately, I have a fear—an irrational fear—of these bridges.

Do I fear all bridges?  No.

I’ve driven over the Houston Ship Channel numerous times as well as the bridge going to Galveston, the bridge over the Sabine River, and have been on various ferries. I drive over the Guadalupe River all the time and don’t even think twice about it.

So, I’m not afraid of all bridges. I’m just terrified of the old wood and steel bridges.

Irrational, right?

Bryant Station used to be a thriving community, but today, it can’t even really be called a ghost town because the only things left are the cemetery and the bridge.

Bryant Station got its start in the 1840’s when Benjamin Franklin Bryant, a hero of the Battle of San Jacinto (Texas Revolution) was asked by friend and then president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston, to build a fort/trading post on Little River. He was basically a buffer between the settlers and the Native Americans.

The settlement that grew up around the fort prospered. Bryant Station’s prosperity was because of its location on the Marlin to Austin stage line, and over the years, the town became a commercial center in the area.  The town soon had a school and a post office that was sometimes known as the Blackland post office.

Bryant Station continued to prosper until after the Civil War when the Santa Fe Railroad built about three miles north of the town, and the rail town of Buckholts was established around 1881.

In 1809, Bryant Station Bridge was built by C. Q. Horton and the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company of Chicago, Illinois.

In 2002, the bridge was bypassed by a modern bridge.

For a time, people could walk across Bryant Station Bridge, but when I was there last year taking pictures, a fence was across the entrance to the bridge. Did I really want to walk across the bridge? NO! But a lot of people have, and you can find videos of their walks on the Internet.

I grew up knowing about Bryant Station and other ghost towns in Milam County, though I really didn’t know their histories. In my research, I’ve found several more ghost towns, which at their peaks, were thriving communities with various businesses, post offices, and schools. Even though they no longer exist, in some form or fashion, many of these communities will find their way into my stories.

As for Bryant Station Bridge, it will always be a source of terror for me, and will probably continue to haunt my nightmares for years to come.

But why my terror…maybe something happened at the bridge in a previous life….