Woodward, IA, aug 5 , 2013
In september 1944, the allied armies were quickly moving towards Germany in an effort to liberate occupied territories and reach Berlin as fast as possible. In Holland, several rivers had to be crossed on bridges still defended by German retreating units. The most further north bridge was situated on the Rhine in Arnhem.
Arnhem was to become famous as “A bridge too far”, because the bold attempt of allied paratroopers units to seize it ended up in a bloody battle immortalized by a book and then an iconic film of the same title.
Across the Delaware, across the Hudson, across the Des Moines river and many others, traveling by bike in the US implies constant passing of bridges of all sizes and ages that tell the story of the conquest of this huge country and the strategic role played by rivers, whether they were used as lines of communication or whether they had to be crossed.
We discovered yesterday the Tressle bridge, a one half mile long trail bridge across the des Moines river valley, with its original design (see photo below). Day and night dozens of bikers of all ages ride across its trail. Didactic plaques explain to the passer by the importance of rivers and bridges in the development of a country. Communication and logistics is a part of history that is somewhat left in the backstage by historians who prefer telling the stories of brilliant battles. However, battles, as well military in the past as economic today, are mostly explained by logistics grounds. Maybe the history of bridges remains to be written?