Bridge the Gap
448 Skidmore Drive
My work in Harlan, Ky is winding down, so I don't get to get up there very often. Harlan, Ky isn't a big touristy area, and quite frankly, it is kind of a tough drive on windy mountainous coal roads to get there. It is funny what becomes a touristy area, and what does not. This area is a lovely mountainous area that has all the natural trappings of a desirable area to vacation, yet it never happened. Had the nation's political center ended up in southern VA, rather than northern VA, Harlan could have been the Greenbrier area. That all never happened, so Harlan became what it is today after many mine ownered closed down shop and moved their money out of the area. Harlan once had a vibrant economy on the backs of coal miners. Ford once owned his own coal mine in Harlan, Ky, and there was the Ford Mansion that sitting on a bluff overlooking his coal mine mountain. Ford used to truck the coal to his auto plants to fuel the energy needs to make the Ford cars. His house and mine are owned by others now.
In Harlan, there are many tributaries to the Cumberland River, the river that creates the water front in Nashville, TN over 300 river miles downstream. The tributaries have cut deep gorges into the mountainous areas. At one time, there were a number of swaying foot bridges to cross over the system of tributaries, and in some cases, these bridges were the only way to get from one side to the other. Today, all but one of these bridges have been replaced with a two-lane motor vehicle bridge. There is one last swaying food bridge left, it is not maintained anymore, and I have seen it in the distance for years now. As the years have gone on, the more scary it has become for me to cross over the bridge. I think the foot bridge is at least 7 stories above the shallow riverbed, so that idea even made crossing the bridge even more scary.
Finally on the day, I decided to cross this bridge before heading back to Harlan for lunch. My co-worker, as we drove closer to the bridge was telling me "ghost stories" about the bridge to psych me out Boy, did he do a good job. He was saying that kids would sway the bridge and sway it so much that kids on the bridge would fall over. He said that there is no way to survive a fall from this bridge. He was willing to point out all the rocky areas in the creek bed right under the bridge. Oh, was I scared. But, when we got there, I did it. It was swaying with every step I took in the rotting wood floor boards. I walked across without holding onto the rusting suspension wires. Oh, getting to the other side was scary, but I went quickly to get it over with. Then I turned around, and saw how far away my co-work was from me. He was not about to cross the bridge, and he does not care for that experience. I took a deep breath, and walked across the bouncy and swaying bridge back to terra firma. I DID IT! Boy did I work up an appetite!
My co-worker knew of a yummy locally owned burger and ice cream joint located at the south side of the town of Harlan. The Dairy Hut has recently been upgraded from a drive up window for Americana treats, to a sit in fast food restaurant. I was hungry at this point, so I got a big hamburger, cheesy curly fries and a soda.
The burger was fresh ground beef that the Dairy Hut formed and cooked. It was not a pre-formed burger from a food distribution service. The cheesy curly fries were made from spiced curly fries with shredded cheese sprinkled on top, not some fake orange cheesy goop plopped on top. This day, the Dairy Hut was quite popular for lunch with all the picnic benches outside full, and all the boothes inside full. I can see why, I really liked the freshness of my Americana lunch.
To finish off the lunch, my co-worker got a brownie sundae from the Dairy Hut. I mean, why go to the Dairy Hut without getting some of the signature ice cream treats. The sundae was way to high to be closed in on the small clam-shell take-away container, so he had to dig right in. He was more happy than a pig in slop. The sundae had 2 homemade brownies sandwiching a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream, then topped with dreamy hot fudge, fresh whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Mmmm, I am salivating just looking at the photo. If you find yourself in Harlan, Ky, and you want a burger and fries, skip the fast food chains, and head on down to the Dairy Hut.