Sunday Night Journal — November 25, 2012
Lament For the Book


I did not know there was such a word. It means "fear of bridges." Coincidentally, apropos the discussion of bridges in the comments on the preceding post, I was reading a story on some news site and noticed at the bottom of the page a link to The World's Scariest Bridges, and that's where I found the word. Let me tell you, there are some truly scary bridges in that list. I don't have any particular fear of bridges as such, but I have a serious fear of heights, and just looking at some of those pictures gave me that weird shaky sensation in my lower body and legs that heights give me. So you've been warned. 

There is only one bridge in the list that I've been on: the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway. It doesn't bother me a bit. It's not that high, and you don't have the sense that you could drive off the side.


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I love the bridge on Lake Ponchartrain because in the middle you can't see land at all. I do hate it when it is pouring down terrible rain and you can't see the car in front of you, or at least only intermittently, and, of course, you know the car behind you can't see you, so that however nervous you may be there is no way to top or even to slow down.


Yes, and that was exactly the thing I said bothered me about the Chesapeake bridge. So I don't know. The Ponchartrain one is very much like the one I go back and forth on every day, except twice as long, so I'm used to the wreck potential. I'm frequently amazed at people who tailgate at 75 miles an hour in fog or rain.

I've been over the Royal Gorge bridge -- before the stabilizing wind cables. I was only 10, though, so I don't remember its being that scary.

A few years back we were at Rock City, though, and rather to my surprise I was almost paralytically afraid to walk across a suspension bridge, never mind let my kids walk across it. It was one of those bouncy, shaky ones -- I forget how high it was. Probably not really that high. I knew I was afraid of heights, but I didn't know that I would want to crawl across a bridge on all fours, in plain sight of many total strangers. (Not that I did, in the end, but it was what I wanted to do).

Driving across bridges doesn't scare me nearly as much, though I know the security of the car around me is a total illusion.

Once I had to walk a very large pipe over some kind of ditch or gully--not that high, but enough that it would have injured me to fall. The pipe was...trying to remember--at least 6, maybe 8 or 10, feet in diameter. I could have walked a mile on it had it not the fall been dangerous. I got into a sort of panic, feeling that I *would* fall, and I think I did end up getting on all fours and crawling the rest of the way.

This is the I10 Mobile Bay bridge, the one I generally take to and from work:

This picture is slightly misleading in that it looks like it has three lanes. But the right lane in the picture is just the merge lane from an on-ramp--it's two lanes (each way), with only a very narrow strip where you can pull over in case of emergency.

So, I forced myself to view all those bridges. I know what my dreams are going to be about tonight!

Some of them reminded me of that scene in the movie, The Man Who Would Be King, where Sean Connery is forced to walk out onto a rope bridge over a deep chasm and then a man begins to hack away at the ties that held the bridge to the land and then...

If you’ve never seen it, it can be seen here.

But be warned -- it will stay with you.

When I am on any bridge, I feel like I'm on that 'bridge of death' in Costa Rica.

How long is that bridge, Maclin?

The Tasman bridge, almost a mile long, 190+ ft high, has good walls at the side which makes it feel pretty safe.

Some better pictures are here.;_ylt=A0oGkmih.7VQ7i0AwUUL5gt.?p=tasman+bridge&fr=chr-yie9&fr2=piv-web

oddly enough the Bowen bridge bothers me more. I think it's because the sides are not as high and it seems to collect more cross-winds.

They were some pretty scary bridges you linked to Maclin.

I remember walking across a hanging bridge, rope and boards, on a trip to Gatlinburg when I was either 4 or 6--we made two trips. All I can remember is that I was terrified.


I believe I may have walked that bridge, too. I would have been about 12. Or maybe I just saw it and didn't walk it. I would probably have a more vivid memory if I had walked it.

Wow, Louise, your bridge (the bigger one) looks much higher and potentially scarier in those pictures. The Bayway, as we call it, is about 7 miles long, I think. Oh look, it has a Wikipedia page:

As the article notes, nobody here actually calls it the "Jubilee Parkway." It's not very high, but it would be scary if it were. The walls are sort of low. In fact someone went over the side within the past couple of months. I'm not sure exactly how that happened. But the water is very shallow, too shallow for a car to actually sink, except at the two or three points where you're over a river, not the bay proper. Parts of it are actually a mud flat when the water is really low. So the person escaped, I think with the help of some fishermen.

Makes me think of a bridge covered with squirming fish in the moonlight.


This is what my father said about the Russian bridge (which is noticeably waving):

it's a long bridge and the view is foreshortened. A long bridge will flex and the visual effect of the foreshortening is to exaggerate the oscillations

"Like a bridge over troubled water" -- what were Simon & Garfunkel thinking?

Or was the phrase not original with them?

Maybe the subtext of that song is a lot more threatening than we have all heretofore realized. ("Like a bridge over troubled water, I will *be* your phobiaaaaaaaa . . .")


How did you get the fish onto the bridge, Janet?

I was about to ask how you saw the bridge waving, Grumpy, but then I remembered some of those images were actually videos, which I didn't watch. But bridges have been known to flex dangerously. We all know about the Tacoma Narrows bridge, right?


I expect Paul Simon really wanted to say "Like a totally unscary bridge over troubled water," but just couldn't get it to work with the music.

Oh, I see, Janet. They call everything Jubilee or Bay here, so I don't really notice it. Fish mostly don't end up on the shore, btw, just in very shallow water, and with not much energy.

In case y'all want to feed your phobias.

Think I'll skip that.


In 1975 the Tasman bridge was rammed by the ship Lake Illawarra and sadly 12 people died. I was 5 or 6.

I suddenly feel very proud to live in a place with a bridge that looks so scary!

We live in a pretty hilly area, so maybe having a "hilly" bridge is just natural for us.

In "The Path to Rome" Belloc describes a time of sheer terror when he walked across a railway bridge over a deep gorge (I think). It's a great description. I wonder if it's online?

"... proud to live in a place with a bridge that looks so scary!"


Was just over and back across the Mighty Mac a few weeks ago. It's... intimidating, but it doesn't inspire the sheer panic and terror in me that those rope suspension bridges would.

I was even calm enough about it to let my son drive it one way.

The worst is driving on the inner lanes, which are some sort of cheese-grater mesh which makes an awful sound to drive on.

Not that I would want to be on it "when the gales of November came early"!

Which is the Mighty Mac? Something in the Great Lakes area, I gather? That song is a masterpiece.

The Mackinac Bridge, #7 in the list. It crosses the Mackinac Straits connecting Lake Michigan to Lake Huron, and connects Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Otherwise known simply as "The Bridge."

This is why Yoopers (U.P.-ers) call us in the Lower Peninsula "Trolls" -- because, of course, we live Under The Bridge.

heh. I've heard of Yoopers but not Trolls. Oh, I remember now--that's the bridge that's mentioned in the intro to the piece, as being the one where they will drive your car for you if you're too scared. I just noticed the other part of that: "plenty of similar programs exist around the country." That's wild. I guess this fear is not that uncommon.

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