Dwellers in the Hills (Chapter 7, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 7

The road running into the south lands crosses the Valley River at two places,--at the foot of Thornberg's Hill and twenty miles farther on at Horton's Ferry. At the first crossing, the river bed is piled with boulders, and the river boils through, running like a millrace, a swift, roaring water without a ford. At Horton's Ferry the river runs smooth and wide and deep, a shining sheet of clear water, making a mighty bend, still ford-less, but placid enough to be crossed by a ferry, running with a heavy current when swollen by the rains, except in the elbow of the bend where it swings into a tremendous eddy.

Over the river, where the road meets it first, is a huge wooden bridge with one span. It is giant work, the stone abutment built out a hundred feet on either side into the bed of the plunging water, neither rail nor wall flanking this stone causeway, but the bare unguarded width of the road-bed leading up into the bridge.

On the lips of the abutment, the builders set two stone blocks, smooth and wide, and cut places in them for the bridge timbers. It was a piece of excellent judgment, since the great stones could not be broken from the abutment, and they were mighty enough to bear the weight of a mountain. The bridge rests on three sills, each a log that, unhewn, must have taken a dozen oxen to drag it. I have often wondered at the magnitude of this labour; how these logs were thrown across the boiling water by any engines known to the early man. It was a work for Pharaoh. On these three giant sleepers the big floor was laid, the walls raised, and the whole roofed, so that it was a covered road over the Valley.

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