Arch Creek And The Enchanted Forest
The original road into Miami that eventually became U.S. 1 goes along the top of a limestone ridge that runs along the coast. At one time there was a small waterfall in the Miami River where it crossed the ridge. In North Miami somehow Arch Creek managed to flow right through the porous limestone, eroding away a sizeable portion, and we ended up with Natural Bridge. The road ran over the bridge.
The Tequesta Indians were the first inhabitants, and white settlers built a village there. When I first moved to the area in the 1950's there was a trailer park in the oak hammock around the bridge. Eventually, around 1970, developers wanted to build hi-rise condos on the site but the community wanted to preserve the natural hammock. A group of citizens led by community activist Maureen Harwitz got the city to put a bond issue on the ballot to raise 12 million dollars. It passed, the city bought the property, and the state purchased the adjacent property so we now have a city park and a state park next to one another.
The bridge was made of porous oolitic (pronounced oh-ah-lit-ic) limestone and roots from the live oaks on either side ran all through it, with some dangling down to the water below. The parks people decided to "clean up the jungle" around the bridge by cutting down some trees, and to keep cars off of the bridge by blocking the road at either end. They bored rows of holes several feet deep at each end of the bridge, and set old railroad ties on end in the holes. There were plenty of ties available because the nearby Florida East Coast R.R. track, maybe only 50 feet from the road, was having the wooden ties replaced with concrete ties.
Early one morning a year or so later Maureen called, wanting me to meet her at the bridge "and bring your camera!". She sounded frantic. It seems that after cutting down those few trees nearest the bridge the roots had rotted away that ran all through the brigdge, and they were what really held it together. The post holes acted like the perforations on a postage stamp. The entire bridge had collapsed into the creek. Now there's a concrete and oolitic limestone "replica" bridge which looks nothing like the original.
When I take Mary on our weekly trips to the grocery we get to drive down U.S. 1 past the oak hammock on the state park side. I took this photo with the 15mm Heliar on my Bessa L.
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