The bridges of olde Lynn
Published 11:44 am Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Lynn looked a lot different in the late 30s and early 40s when I used to wait for the school bus there. To begin, NC 108 climbed up from Skyuka Road directly to the curve that is straight ahead when passing Skyuka Road coming from Columbus. Highway 108 then wound its way through Lynn by the grain mill on the right and the former Cannon store, former Post Office, Storys then-new brick store and the former Pacolet Baptist Church on the left.
Coming to Lynn from Tryon, Highway 108 passed closer to the Mimosa Inn and along the tall bank behind todays Post Office, to a hard left turn onto a very narrow concrete bridge aligned with what is now appropriately called Story Road. The accompanying photo was made from behind the Post Office, showing the concrete abutments of the old bridge just downstream from the new bridge over the Pacolet River.
When I returned to Rippy Hill to live in 1939, I started to Tryon School in the fourth grade in 1940, one of the worst winters on record here. Mother bought me some rubber boots that fit my feet, not over my shoes, so I carried my shoes as well as my books through more than a foot of snow to get the school bus at the Lynn Post Office. It sure was good to warm my frozen feet on the steam radiators at school when I finally got there!
The concrete bridge had solid concrete railings on each side, and was so narrow that cars could barely pass each other when they met on the bridge. Pedestrians would have to wait until there were no cars in sight either way before it was safe to cross. Many cars coming from Tryon were going too fast to negotiate the turn onto the bridge, and some of them took part of the railing with them into the river. More that ten feet of the railing was gone by the time the bridge was replaced, making it much easier for cars to land in the river instead of continuing on up to Lynn.
When the state built a pedestrian bridge just upstream of the concrete bridge, the school bus stop was moved to that bridge so the bus could just turn there and go up to Howard Gap Road. That bridge was made in three sections, with two supports in the river bed, and steel I-beams under the wood flooring. Its railings were made of a nice soft wood, some three and a half or four feet tall. As with the concrete bridge, by the time the bridge was torn down to make room for the new bridge, the first several feet of the railing had been carved away by the pocket knives of the men and boys who gathered at the bridge to while away their time.
At a recent meeting of the Polk County Historical Association, I was on a panel with several others who grew up in or near Lynn, and Sarah Cannon Thompson remarked when I mentioned the bridge carvers, that any woman who dared to cross the bridge ran a gauntlet of men commenting on their looks, dress, and physical attributes.
We younger boys picked up every large rock or dirt clod we could find in the vicinity to drop into the river from the center span to see the big splash. We also gathered in the center to rock the bridge back and forth some 20 degrees each way! I marveled that we did not drop the entire span into the river by that action.
W. S. McCall had a general store where the pedestrian bridge came ashore on the Tryon side of the river. Amos Kunkle had a simliar smaller store behind McCalls, perched rather precariously on the river bank. I expected to find Kunkles little store building in the river most any morning, but both buildings lasted until the new bridge displaced them.
Highway 108 now bypasses Lynn and crosses the Pacolet on a wide bridge in a sweeping turn such that one need not notice either the town or the bridge. When you stop at the Post Office, check out the road behind it and the bridge abutments. Then go on up to Lynn and look around. There are still people there during the day, and parking and traffic are not a problem.
The church people built a more permanent brick building around the corner on Skyuka Road and worship there now. Few there be who remember the preachers, Sunday School teachers, piano players, deacons, song leaders and faithful members who kept the church going in that big old building on what used to be the main road (NC 108) through Lynn. We sometimes had a regular preacher, but more often we shared the minister with another church.
The Rev. Brock Henry came over from Tryon First Baptist many times; another favorite of my grandparents was a Mr. Keels, I believe. Perry Coggins was one of my Sunday School teachers (W. W. Ballard taught the Mens Bible Class that I attended for some years with my grandfather). Floy Blackwell played the piano vigorously to inspire the hymn singing in the 40s.
A teacher asked her newest pupil whether he had a home yet, and he responded, Oh, we have a home, we just havent found a house to put it in. Likewise, the Pacolet Baptist Church left one house and built another one more suited to their needs. When their former house no longer suited anyones needs, it was taken apart to fill many and various needs. This is perhaps a happier ending than might have been, for as with organ donations, the tired old building lives on in other buildings as well as in our memories.