This post does not center around a city or town, but William Least-Heat Moon (LHM) stopped here along the Kentucky River to talk to a man about a boat. I wonder if they ever finished it (this was 1978 after all). Click on the map to discover where you can find the oddly named Brooklyn Bridge and the Kentucky River Palisades.
"The highway, without warning, rolled off the plateau of green pastures and enterred a wooded and rocky gorge; down, down, precipitously down to the Kentucky River. Along the north slope, man-high columns of ice clung to the limestone. The road dropped deeper until it crossed the river at Brooklyn Bridge. The gorge, hidden in the tableland and wholly unexpected, was the Palisades. At the bottom lay only enough ground for the river and a narrow strip of willow-rimmed floodplain."
Blue Highways: Part 1, Chapter 10
Brooklyn Bridge/Kentucky River Palisades
Nowhere, as I researched why the Brooklyn Bridge over the Kentucky River is so named, could I find an answer. I've been presented with a mystery. Perhaps some reader who stumbles across Littourati can leave a comment and enlighten me. Of course, we have the world famous Brooklyn Bridge across the East River that connects Manhattan with the bridge's namesake borough across the river. Interestingly enough, a bridge that connects Cincinnati with Kentucky, known as the High Bridge, was designed by John Roebling, the designer of New York's Brooklyn Bridge. When the High Bridge (now known as the John A Roebling Suspension Bridge) was completed in 1866 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
But the Kentucky River Brooklyn Bridge is a mystery. Was it so named because, in that part of the country in 1871, it looked like a monumental achievement and on a par with the New York Brooklyn Bridge, then under construction? Did locals simply refer to it as their Brooklyn Bridge, and the name stuck? Considering that it crosses at a place where there aren't any major metropolitan areas, the siting of the bridge itself seems to me to be a mystery.
The Palisades, however, are no mystery. Having not been to this part of Kentucky, I have never seen them, but the photos look beautiful. I have seen similar rock formations in different parts of the country, but evidently the river and these formations stand out, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing.
LHM spends little time talking about the Palisades, however. He's more interested in a boat he sees being built down along river. He seeks out the builder, and finds an older, retired man and his wife who have invested their time, energy and sweat into building a boat that they hope will one day allow them to cruise the rivers down to the gulf.
Not being a seafaring type myself, partly because I seem to get seasick any time I am on choppy ocean water, I can still understand this call. Both of my uncles were commercial fisherman (one is now deceased but the other is still fishing in his 80s), as was my grandfather, and the ocean was in their blood. There is something between a captain and his boat. The captain loves his boat as if it were a spouse. LHM describes it well in talking with the builder, a man named Bill Hammond, and his wife Rosemary. He sees a sign above the kitchen table which reads "A boat is a hole in the water surrounded by wood into which one pours money." Rosemary adds "....And your life."
I remember my Aunt Betty, when my Uncle Elwin was out on the water up in Alaska, waiting for the radio to crackle so that she could make sure that he was all right. It's every fisherman's wife's fear that she will learn that something happened to her husband in rough seas, that the boat went down. Fortunately, that never happened because my uncle was a careful captain who made sure he and his crew were safe. My other uncle, Bob, still takes his wife fishing with him. If you're the spouse of a person who lives and loves boats, you have to indulge them, if not buy into their dreams.
I wonder if Bill Hammond ever completed his boat, Bluebill, and if he and Rosemary sailed away down the Kentucky River, below the geological columns of the Palisades silently standing and watching as they have for eons, to the Mississippi, the Gulf and beyond? I hope they achieved their quest.
If you want to know more about the Kentucky River Brooklyn Bridge or the Palisades
Bridges and Tunnels: Brooklyn Bridge
Get Out! Kentucky River Palisades
Jessamine County: Kentucky River Palisades
Nature Conservancy: Kentucky River Palisades
Panoramio: View of Kentucky River from Brooklyn Bridge
Wikipedia: Kentucky River Palisades
Next up: Pleasant Hill, Kentucky