Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Candles In a Coal Mine

One tragedy seems to replace another in a week-by-week succession this year. Okay that’s a shoot from the hip generality, but something that was brought up by a young lady just getting her feet wet in my profession.

After hearing about the I-35W Bridge collapse in Minnesota she wondered if we were reaching an apocalyptic stage in the world given similar collapses and steam venting over the last few months. I told her no it’s just that a lot of our nation’s infrastructure went through a building boom in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s and now it’s aging. Little did I know from talking to local officials how right I was.

Still it gets you to thinking about the collection of tragedies during the past few years. As I write there’s a search for six missing coal miners in Utah. We can hope and pray that turns out okay.

During the first day I was reporting on the bridge collapse my mind kept wondering back to a movie I saw a few months ago on television “The Mothman Prophecies.” It’s a sci-fi movie about a reporter investigating Mothman sightings and visions. Richard Gere is the reporter who has visions about a disaster along a river. It turns out to be a bridge collapse in which 37 people are killed. It was based in part on the real-life 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge that claimed 46 lives. Isn’t it ironic that the Minnesota I-35W Bridge was built that same year?

I talked about bridges in one of my earlier blogs. One I didn’t mention is the Siphon Bridge in Manistique, Michigan. That’s my hometown. Supposedly the bridge was once in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not newspaper segment. It’s supposedly engineered so that water helps support the weight of the bridge. You can look it up: http://hunts-upguide.com/manistique_siphon_bridge_and_water_tower.html .

We’ve got a little less than five months left in 2007. I’m wondering what catastrophe is next. That’s sort of like tempting fate asking and hopefully the answer can wait until 2008. I think we’ve seen enough this year. Meanwhile let’s light a collective candle for the families of those missing miners.

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