History of Young’s High Bridge

I’ve been researching the history of Young’s High Bridge. Like the High Bridge, this is a railroad cantilever bridge crossing the Kentucky River. Young’s High Bridge, also called the Tyrone Bridge due to its close proximity to Tyrone, Kentucky, was constructed in roughly six months during 1889. A somewhat spindly looking bridge, it never received much railroad traffic, certainly not as much as High Bridge. The bridge has never been strengthened or modified, but remains today as it was orginally constructed. With its elegant angles it is a delightful bridge to view. The last train crossed the bridge in November 1985. The railroad lists the bridge as out of service and has abandoned the line.

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Jodie Wells, a Bluegrass Railroad Museum member, and the president of the Tyrone Bridge and Rail Company, a non-profit organization working to save the bridge. They are seeking to get the bridge listed on the Historic Landmark Registers in order to make it eligible for federal and state preservation grants. They are also raising money that they hope will one day help make the historic bridge a tourist attraction and state park. She points out how difficult it would be for a private organization to handle the liability on the bridge, but that it would be a different issue altogether as a state park.

With the nearby Wild Turkey bourbon distillery, and miles of abandoned line, this would make a beautiful biking and walking trail. Wells points to a similar project in Pennsylvania that she uses as a model: the Kinzua bridge and park. The Kinzua bridge was unfortunately partially destroyed by a tornado shortly after the start of a multi-million dollar strengthening project earlier this year, pointing out the urgency for preserving these aging structures. See the Kinzua Bridge Foundation for more details.

If the Tyrone Bridge and Rail Co. are not able to raise the necessary funding, there’s a good chance the bridge will be destroyed. Wells estimates that they need to raise a $5 million endowment as a starting point. Although that’s a significant amount, it may not be so unreasonable when you consider that cost estimates for taking down the bridge are in the $1 million range.

“I’ll guarantee you this,” Wells says, “if we can’t do it, it won’t be done.”

To contribute to the endowment or for more information write the Tyrone Bridge and Rail Co., P.O. Box 1202, Versailles, Ky. 40383.

Historic High Bridge color photos

The Elmer L. Foote Lantern Slide Collection has a number of pictures of High Bridge, including some of its original construction and some of the reconstruction. The collection is fairly large and includes many waterfall pictures as well as pictures of various mountain folk. The High Bridge photos begin around number 80 in the collection. Don’t miss slide 81 which shows the reconstruction of the bridge from near the stone towers. Slide 91 shows the completed bridge from the towers.

The pictures in this collection were taken by Foote, who was a Cincinnati photographer and public library staff member. His pictures appeared in the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune. Many of the slides are hand-tinted, which lends an almost color photograph feel. I love that the Kentuckiana Digital Library is making these pictures available.

Transportation trails in Kentucky

On November 19, I attended a meeting of the transportation advisory committee for the Jessamine County portion of the US 68 widening project. Part of the discussion was about what pedestrian and bicycling facilities needed to be included in the project. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet policy requires that these facilities be considered in every construction project.

The advisory committee ended up recommending that the road include wide shoulders for bicycle use from Lexington up to Catnip Hill road. At that point, the old Harrodsburg road will be used as both a bike route and for automobile traffic—it is expected that far fewer cars will be using the old road. The bicyclists and pedestrians will then join a shared use path for non-motorized vehicles only. It will cross under US 68 using a new tunnel (almost 150 feet long). The path will continue along Harrodsburg road up to KY 29.

I was a little surprised that most of the bicycle advocates wanted wide shoulders and to stay on the road. I was much more interested in the possiblity of a path along the road that could be used for various forms of exercise, including walking, running, strolling, biking, and skating. Walking beside a four lane highway on a shoulder isn’t that enjoyable. The advisory committee doesn’t want this to look like an interstate highway, so concerns for preserving the beauty of Harrodsburg road using grass shoulders won out. This led to recommending a separate 12 foot wide path. Similar concerns meant that we get a tunnel instead of a bridge crossing the road.

I was thrilled with the strong support of a number of bicyclists and those friends of rail-trails. It would be wonderful to be able to bicycle from Lexington to High Bridge along safe trails. There’s still work to be done to make that a reality. Wilmore would need to extend its existing trail from the veteran’s center out to Ky 29. And there’s the High Bridge rail-trail that would provide the last portion from Wilmore to High Bridge.

I’m excited about the future possibilities. I’ve dreamed of biking to work from Wilmore, but the present road conditions make it unsafe. The new path is a dream come true. Having this path may help tourism in Jessamine county and those living along Harrodsburg Road will also enjoy it.

Fixing bug 23460

Earlier this year I mentioned that I had developed a fix for Mozilla bug 23460. After applying the fix, Mozilla will show bookmark URLs in the statusbar when you hover over bookmarks in the personal toolbar or bookmark menu. Although I wrote the description of the fix for Mozilla developers, interested Mozilla users have asked about what they need to do to patch their Mozilla version. I’ve added instructions to help you.

I know this works with Mozilla 1.4. I’d imagine if you make the edits instead of just snagging the patch files it would apply to any recent version of Mozilla including 1.5 and 1.6, but I haven’t tried it. I also got a report that applying the file uncompressed worked better for one user. Not quite sure why that would be—perhaps it depends on your zip tool—but thought I’d point it out.

Of course, you could also use Mozilla Firebird instead as it apparently already supports this feature.

Russian Orthodox Seek Unity

After a recent visit by an official delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II expressed his hope for reunion.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia broke off after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. It was founded in 1920 by Russians fleeding Bolshevik rule. It severed all ties with the Russian Orthodox Church after Patriarch Sergiy pledged the church’s loyalty to the communist government in 1927, a move the Patriarch made to save the church from complete ruin.

The spirit and tone reportedly present in the meetings was described as “fraternal love”. Both groups voiced their desire to establish communion in prayer and the Eucharistic communion.

This meeting prepares the way for Russian Church Outside of Russia Metropolitan Laurus to visit early in 2004. It is is expected that official agreements will be signed during that meeting.

Sensitive inaction

The other day I left work and went out to grab a little lunch. As I drove back to my office with my “to go” order and turned into Lexington Green, I noticed a man standing on the median facing outgoing traffic and holding a cardboard sign. I couldn’t tell what was on the sign—I only saw the back of the man and sign—but I immediately thought that it probably said something like “Need Food.”

I recognized that especially during fast periods, such as the present Nativity fast, we should give alms. “I should go back there and give him my food,” I thought. “I don’t need it. I should at least go see what he needs—perhaps I can help.”

“But it’d be inconvenient to go back there,” the argument came. “I’d have to turn around twice and maybe he just is looking for a ride somewhere.” So I didn’t bother to do anything. Needless to say the meal wasn’t very satisfying. I chastised myself for only wanting to give when it was convenient or easy. Real love and charity is often messy.

“May the poor eat and be filled and may they who seek the Lord exult in him, and may their hearts live forever!”

I spoke with father about this and he pointed out that the poor are always around us. He encouraged me in growing a sensitive heart and to pray for another chance to give. He also suggested I remember this stranger in my prayers.

Lord have mercy. Show me and this man your loving-kindness.

New Mozilla.org

The new Mozilla.org website is up and while I somewhat appreciate the design change, the usability problems are disappointing—I know they got feedback on this. I never understand why designers mess with the link underline styles and colors to make them inconsistent. The site forces no underlining for links, which wouldn’t be so bad—indeed, it’s my preferred style—but it also has poor choices for link colors. Are links white, blue, brown, or red? Oh, that heading that’s blue and looks just like the links over there isn’t a link. Oh, that heading that’s brown and looks looks just like the links over there isn’t a link. Frustrating! I hate using my magic wand to find which of the text that looks like links really are. Worse, the designer decided that visited links should (almost) match the text color. So now you have to look through all the text for links.

Colors are also a problem on LCD monitors. Some of the text, particularly the brown when not bold, becomes faint so it isn’t read as easily. The visited link color might as well be the same as the text. The choice of the link colors seems to switch randomly as you progress through the site. Watch the colors in the left side navigation bar: sometimes they’re blue, sometimes brown, sometimes they become red when hovered, other times they become blue.

It’s really sad that the site suffers from these problems, because I really like the revised and much more user-centered content. If they’d just used the blue color consistently for links, the site would be a joy to use.

Running multiple versions of IE simultaneously

Webmasters and designers of the web rejoice: a way has been found to run multiple versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer on one windows partition simultaneously. No longer do you need multiple machines, partitions, or vmware. Just grab the relevant dlls and files and add a blank text file named IEXPLORE.exe.local to the directory.

The technique was discovered by Joe Maddalone when he examined the files Microsoft included in the developer’s edition of IE6 that was released in response to the Eolas lawsuit. He was surprised by the limited number of files and the fact that it ran side by side with his existing version if IE. Adapting the technique, he was able to run IE5.01, IE5.5 SP2, and IE6 all at the same time. There’s a few problems, such as using the favorites menu crashing the browser and that the about menu reports the wrong version, but I’ve used this to have both IE5.5 and IE6 running on Windows XP. I also used IE5.0 and IE5.5 on Windows NT 4. I noticed a few oddities when loading the same test page in multiple browsers. They apparently share the cache, so they don’t always show the appropriate page.

This is great news [via LCKY]! I look forward to seeing refinements of this technique. Personally I’d like to be able to use this to run not only different versions of IE, but IE with different versions of the Microsoft and Sun Java VMs. I don’t know if that will be possible. For those that need to test CSS and DHTML, this will be very helpful.

This Old House

I’m sure some of my faithful readers wonder about the eccentric juxtaposition of topics discussed on this site. I occasionally wonder at it myself, but then I run across other truly strange sites and enjoy a good laugh at how odd my site must appear in return. One recent site was The New Wookiee Workshop, a site that combines a love of woodworking, and of the New Yankee Workshop in particular, with Star Wars fandom. It’s a brilliant site that mimics and I’d say improves on the appearance of the original. As they say, it’s “Not Quite the Norm.”

A Sunday family tradition has been to watch This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop. We watch it enough that we were quite surprised to see Kevin O’Connor replace Steve Thomas as the host of This Old House. In trying to find out what had happened to Steve, I noticed that Steve was awarded a Daytime Emmy Award in 1997-1998 and has a total of eight nominations for “Outstanding Service Show Host”. How amusing! It always came across to me on the show that Steve was basically incompetent and therefore asked a bunch of questions. Apparently he’s fairly knowledgeable, has renovated several old houses of his own, and just plays stupid on T.V. He sure had me fooled. Kevin O’Connor apparently doesn’t have that benefit at the moment—he’s asking the questions because he really doesn’t know. Although I’m sure he’ll learn over time, it will be interesting to see how a bank vice president approaches the show. I was most struck by how similar he acts and looks to Steve. Perhaps that’s just because he’s been a long time fan.

I found a number of stories about Kevin joining the show and Steve leaving. This Post-Gazette story provides a nice background on Kevin’s hiring. And this North Shore Sunday article talks about the first episode as well as the hiring.

But what about Steve? In a footnote added to Kevin O’Connor’s new host bio, it says that Steve left voluntarily to pursue other creative opportunities both in front of and behind the camera. How will the fans react? As the Post-Gazette story says:

Steve Thomas fans will no doubt be disappointed at his exodus, but the show has weathered a change like this before: In 1989, when Thomas took over after the contentious departure of Bob Vila, Vila’s fans were slow to accept Thomas, who brought a confident manner and an eclectic background as a carpenter, sailor, writer and world traveler to the show.

In the years since, Abrams, Trethewey and Silva have slowly eased into more prominent on-camera roles than they had with Vila. Each one now hosts different aspects of the show, speaking directly to viewers instead of to the host. By the end of the Steve Thomas era, “This Old House” was almost an ensemble piece, sort of a “Friends” with toolbelts.

Yes, we certainly weren’t watching the show for Steve. I’m sure Kevin will do just fine.

Keeneland in the Fall

A couple weeks ago I got the chance to go to the Keeneland race track for the afternoon. Although I’ve lived in Kentucky for years, I’ve never gone to watch the horse races. It was always on my list of things that’d be nice to do, but that wouldn’t happen until the more important things got done. Management at work decided that going to the track was a good team building exercise (gotta love it!), so there I was. It was an absolutely beautiful fall day, the leaves were really showing their colors, and it wasn’t cool enough that you needed a jacket. Perfect.

We parked in the grass lot right off of Versailles road across from the airport and walked into the track. Some more experienced coworkers showed us newbies the routine: watch the horses when they walk out for display, place your bets, walk down to the track and watch the race, get a little snack or people watch, repeat. The horses were quite beautiful and races are always thrilling, especially as the horses pound by the cheering crowd. Since my primary horse racing experience to this point had been watching the horse race — the Kentucky Derby — I was a bit surprised that they didn’t do a full circuit of the track. The starting gate was placed on the far side of the track based on the length of the race measured in furlongs.

It was an enjoyable experience, although also somewhat boring. I didn’t lose more money than the entrance fee, since I wasn’t betting. It was a good thing, too. Every horse I “picked” to win was coming in fourth or worse.

More exciting to me was walking out to the car just in time to see Air Force One coming in for a landing. It’s an impressive plane anyway, but to see it coming in to land on the short runway and making a quick stop right across from us was a terrific end to a fun afternoon.