The One Lane Bridge

BridgeThis weekend’s pedal took me toward Nokesville, where I viewed a scene I have always enjoyed with a new perspective.

White is the new black.

White is the new black.

But first, let me share my latest purchase – a pair of Shimano shoes to replace my Bontragers that served me faithfully for two years before finally snapping a strap.  I purchased the shoes online – a dangerous practice that I hope I won’t regret.  I like the way the shoes look and they feel quite nice when I first put them on.  Unfortunately, I developed a very painful hot spot on my right foot.  This is common for me but the intensity of the pain was not.  Lets hope a slight adjustment in the cleat and more miles on the bike (and less running) will solve the problem.

So back to the ride.  The weather was a little cool and there was a stiff breeze to contend with, but my pace was a crisp 16.5 mph all the same.  The shoes must make me faster, or perhaps it was my new white socks.  Clearly, I should have gone to white a long time ago.  Then again, it was only two weeks after I switched to white handlebar tape that I wrecked my Trek 2.1.  Perhaps white only works on your person, not your machine.  These things are always difficult to sort out.

After 22 miles, I reached my destination, a one lane bridge over the railroad on the outskirts of Nokesville:


I’ve been over this bridge a few times.  In preparation for this blog post, I did a little research on the bridge and discovered it is something of a local landmark.  Built for use by locomotives in 1882 by the Keystone Bridge Company out of Pittsburgh, the wrought iron construction and wood planks are definitely unique.  Within twenty years of its construction, trains had grown in size to the point where the bridge could no longer handle the load and it was converted for use as a highway bridge.  In 1977, it was placed on the National Historic Register and is considered to be one of the more significant landmarks around Nokesville, which may say something about Nokesville that its residents would not appreciate.


The bridge is in serious need of repair – shockingly serious, really.  Much of the metal is corroded and the deck’s wooden planks in such poor condition that the bridge was briefly closed in 2007.  The Virginia Department of Transportation lists it as “structurally deficient” and gives it a grade of 47 (out of 100) for a health rating and 24.3 (out of 100) in a sufficiency rating.  I don’t know much about bridge ratings, but those numbers can’t be good for the 2,200 cars which cross it every day.

Norfolk Southern Railroad owns the bridge and wants to move it to another location so larger trains can use the rails but the residents wouldn’t hear of it.  The bridge was patched together and the issue kicked down the road until this year, when VDOT decided to spend $4.6 million refurbishing the bridge and building a second single lane bridge next to it.  That should be an interesting project to watch unfold.

20 thoughts on “The One Lane Bridge

  1. Love bridges like this. There are a few of them in my area, you can hear the clackety-rumble of cars crossing them from some distance. Hope it keeps its character after they refurbish it.

    • They won’t be able to use wrought-iron but what I’ve read indicates they’re going to try to keep it intact. The wood deck seems to be problematic as it wears out every few years, so that may have to go. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted!

  2. Let’s hope the bridge survives for years to come and doesn’t succumb to the ravages of time as did the bridge in Washington State. Looks like it was a great day for the ride and clearly it was the white socks that made the difference – making you blindingly fast! 🙂

    Keep on riding and sharing!


    • In the great scheme of things, it’s not terribly old. Most Europeans throw out stuff like this since it is “only” 130 years old! Still, for us in the New World, this is quite ancient and deserving of respect.

    • There seems to be a general consensus that it was the socks and its hard to argue with that. The scariest part of the bridge is the concern over any cars that may be coming. They are quite good at slowing down, to be fair, so the real issue is the sense that you are inconveniencing local drivers, thus I didn’t pause to take pictures while on the span.

  3. Your bridge sounds great to ride a bike over, maybe not so good in a car and rush hour traffic. But my question has to do with your masthead photo … which doesn’t look like anything I know of in the greater DC area. Been spending some time closer to Tootlepedal? … Did I miss something?

    • The header picture is randomly assigned from about ten I’ve selected. I’m guessing you are looking at the pic of a London bikeshare, taken near Charing Cross during my visit in 2011. I eventually summoned the courage to rent one of these bikes but discovered the system wouldn’t accept my American credit card. Perhaps that was a good thing.

  4. Aww, a lick of paint will fix that bridge right up. Mind you, it would have to be structural, load bearing paint.

    White sock are well known to cause the photons to slide right off them, resulting in reduced light pressure and greater speed.

  5. Nice bridge!

    I purchased a very similar pair of shoes last year (maybe the same), and had some early numbness and discomfort that eventually went away as they broke in. Never had hot spots on that shoe or any others. Hope it goes away for you.

  6. Pingback: Weekend Mosy | There And Back Again

  7. I grew up as child with that bridge. There is a special place that very few people know about near the bridge. There is a secret civil war rock quarry deep in a wooded ravine behind that area. Its almost impossible to find it. 100 ft cliffs on the long side. Its a tiny they say bottomless pit in the earth. They say in the civil war era they mined that hole for the stone for the railroad. Back in the late 70’s a team of divers went down to discover it to be nearly 600 ft deep. And with that they reported they saw catfish the size of small sharks down deep/. Needless to say it was yesterdays news. I explored every inch of those woods. I know places in that region where secret graveyards loaded with relics are. Email for more history of this region. I was quite the explorer. We jumped from the cliffs into that water. Its a very spooky yet peaceful place. It can found, contact me and I’ll help you find it.

    • Great description! There were some old guys that lived beside the tracks, eyesight from the bridge circa 69. They let me and a fellow named Bobby have a half jar of white lightning I think we were around 16 at the time. White lightning or not the biggest bass I ever saw were in that quarry!

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