Bernson's Corner: The Caretaker of the Old Richardsville Bridge
The recent flooding in southern Kentucky has left rivers overly full of troubled waters.
But spanning the Barren River near Bowling Green is a bridge that has had its share of trouble itself.
It's become a symbol of one man's love, in Bernson's Corner.
David Garvin says, "my folks have lived around here -- they've been driving over that bridge -- my father, grandfather -- when they closed it, somebody needed to do something. Like I said, nobody was going to do it, so I did."
What Garvin did was adopt the Old Richardsville Road Bridge and spend his own money to restore it. The state declared the span unsafe and prepared to tear it down with plans to replace it with an ordinary concrete structure up the Barren River.
Garvin says he had no intention of becoming a bridge restorer, but his bridge, he says, "was obviously architecturally significant, and really people didn't pay much attention to this bridge until after I restored it. And they began using it again. And then they realized -- man, this is neat."
The Old Richardsville Bridge is made out of iron instead of the steel they use now days. Garvin says that's one of the reasons it's lasted so long.
The triple-bow span bridge is the last of its kind in Kentucky -- built by the King Company of Cleveland in 1889. Mr. Garvin appreciates the labor that built the structure. He says it took "just muscle and ingenuity. And determination."
Garvin was just as determined to save the bridge. He says, "I did it just the way they had done it in the past."
He exlplains, that "these bolts -- those are big rivets and those date back to the 1880's. I saved every one of 'em 'cause you can't replace 'em."
The bridge has a few boards that will need to be replaced soon. But Garvin says his bridge has character. It has "soul," he says.
The bridge needed only one lane in horse-and-buggy days. But now, everyone has to be polite and take turns.
"Whoever gets on first, goes. And you can tell -- you let him go, wave at him, then you go," Garvin says.
"One of the things I love about this bridge is -- I live over here not too far -- when I come home in the afternoon, I come across, I get on the bridge and just kinda relax, and it sings to me. You heard that squeak there? I call it singin', you know? I love it."
The bridge was built more than a half-century before Mr. Garvin was born. Now that he's restored it, he says, he thinks of it as one of his children -- he has four others. And now that it's back in business, he fully expects his grandchildren to be able to drive across it."
David Garvin has spent well over $200,000 on his love affair with the Old Richardsville Road bridge. "Brought it back to life, mm-hmm. Look how pretty it is. You just don't see bridges like that any more."
But what inspired Garvin's labor of love? "Probably future generations. This will only become more appreciated down the road."
Mr. Garvin bought the bridge from the state for $1, but he fixed it up on his own nickel -- then sold it back for --yes, $1.
From Warren County Kentucky -- Barry Bernson, Fox41 News.