The engineers who designed the new swinging bridge in Souris left out one important thing – the swing. The “attraction” to this site is that the bridge moves as you walk across it, it responds to your presence and gives you a little thrill because it is so dangerous and fun. It isn’t fixed, it swings!
I visited the new bridge on a hot August day as workmen sodded and landscaped the east end of the structure. A few visitors took pictures and grinned at each other. As I walked closer to the centre of the bridge I realized it wasn’t responding to me or to anyone. At the centre I rocked my body back and forth to get a response out of the bridge but it barely moved. Its footings are pulled so taut, its cables so rigid that it feels like you are walking on a wooden sidewalk not across a river. There was no fun, no danger, not even a little faux danger. I felt safe. It was boring!
I asked two people at Hillcrest Museum next to the bridge about the cost. A codger minding an amazing roomful of tools said about $3.5 million. The bored girl working out her summer contract on the museum porch nodded and agreed to the figure. She said the bridge lights up at night. There is a double row of solar lights that shine after dark. I didn’t stick around for the light show but thought it could be more exciting than “experiencing” the bridge itself, especially from a long view.
As you can see in the pictures at least four cables as thick as your arm support the all metal substructure. It’s a muscular affair, the metallic skeleton only partially obscured by the wooden walkway. A strand of rope, yes actual organic rope, runs along each side for the old schoolers who retain tactility and to soften the impact of the huge coiled cables. The bridge’s attraction has been subtracted from the actual structure and experience.
I wonder what Squire Sowden, who built the first swinging bridge in 1904 for his own convenience to access his property across the river, would think of the new bridge.
Here’s a shot of that room full of old tools.
As you can see in the above picture taken in late August 2013, the Stockton Ferry is back in the water and spanning the Assiniboine River. This is a picture of how the ferry looked two years ago – beached by floodwater.
In 2011 the ferry was pulled from the surging river and spent two summers on land, its infrastructure a tangle of steel beams and cables. Today, its support system rebuilt, the ferry plies the river once more connecting two gravel roads used primarily by locals.
The ferry is free and operates on limited hours: Monday to Friday from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. with no service on Saturday and Sunday. The site includes a small area where you can camp and fish in the Assiniboine. Facilities are limited.
Stockton is located 11 kms west of Glenboro on Hwy #2 and 3 kms north on signed road. The ferry is past the community across the tracks. Watch for signs.
Click on any picture to watch my 1:20 video report from August 2013.
This year’s model of mighty Avenger and I ventured out to Spruce Woods Park for my first hike to the Spirit Sands for 2013. Perfection in every direction.
Along the trail the rich yellow hoary puccoon is in full bloom. That’s a picture of it above. Delicate avens are starting to lift their furry magenta heads. Anemones and poison ivy abound in the shade. The trees are alive with birdsong as the young spruce already sport plenty of bright green new growth at the tips of the branches. Winter was unkind to the low growing creeping juniper. A lot of it is brown from winter kill.
Because of our late cold spring everything is about a month behind so today several flocks of geese arrived, flying northward.
The areas of the park severely flooded in 2011 have rebounded well this year. Work still continues on lower campground but upper campground and yurts are open for the season. Most of the hiking paths in the park have been restored after the flood damage. I noticed several are indicated by fresh white gravel.
One of the many uses of Spruce Woods Park is for aboriginal sundances. The first of the summer will occur June 6 to 9 on a dancing ground near the trailhead for Epinette Creek Trail. The event is open to the public, aboriginal and non-aboriginal. watch for signs near the trail entrance. This website gives you some details on the planned events.
UPDATE: As of May 15 2013, the flood cams have been discontinued. There won’t be much, if any, flooding this year so show’s over, folks, nothing to see here, move along…
It’s Virtual Flood Season again in Manitoba!
The Manitoba government has added some live flood cams to their Flood Information website:
- One webcam shows the Red River pouring into the floodway diverting the water around Winnipeg.
- Another shows a rather odd aerial view of Morris, MB, south of Winnipeg on the Red River.
- For awhile they had a camera at the inlet for the Portage Diversion which siphons off Assiniboine River water and sends it north to Lake Manitoba. Today (April 30) that cam has disappeared. The Portage Diversion cam shows the most contentious site of flood control in the province and, since the government likes to tightly control its flood information and spin, I’m not surprised it has disappeared. Perhaps it will be back…
- The fourth cam is at a bend in the Assiniboine River in Brandon looking west with an 18th Street bridge in the distance. As of today in Brandon the Assiniboine appears to be pre-breakup with lots of solid ice. Its headwaters received about six inches of new snow in the last 24 hours. Once again the Assiniboine is the river to be nervous about.
Click the vintage picture of the floodway gates to get to the 2013 flood cams.