I’ve been exploring parts of the river a little further south than I have in the past and recently had the chance to shoot an old railroad trestle bridge down in South Gate. It is a wonderful looking bridge that is covered with graffiti and rust and cuts a diagonal swath across the river and bike path. On the east side is an old trailer park with manicured lawns and residents who look like they have been there a long time and like it.
Train trestle bridge over Los Angeles River

The other side is more industrial and aside from an occasional cyclist or jogger, is pretty deserted. I was shooting there at sunset, something I have done at many locations over the years, but this place felt a little more sketchy than usual. I didn’t feel any better when I heard several gunshots coming from up the river a bit, right between the bridge where I was shooting and where my car was parked. Visions of my lifeless body splayed along the riverbank, a tangled mess of cameras and straps filled my mind as I wondered what to do.

I have to admit my heart was racing quite a bit as after what I hoped was a prudent period of time, I slowly crept back along the bike path to my waiting Prius, a great little car, but quite the sore thumb when it comes to empty industrial areas. All was well and I lived to shoot another day.

2 Responses to Old Trestle Bridge

  1. Cliff Stanley says:

    Love how the light is falling on the concrete and the surface of the water. Keep shooting Peter. (I know you will.)

    Meanwhile, what is it about bridges that always fascinates? There’s a strange bridge-moment to be had (and captured in a photo maybe?) here in the Bay Area these days. As you drive east after dark on the new Bay Bridge eastern span, you get a view at one point of the old,retired bridge — which has parelleled the new bridge 100 or so feet away up to this point but for some reason isn’t really in your field of vision — looming up and then angling away back into darkness (toward the spectacular array of port-of-Oakland container cranes). It looks like some kind of ghost bridge, and also like an antique, which is what it is, remnant of the machine age, all acute angles and dark, heavy steel. (The new one is all sweeps and curves; you can tell it was conceived and designed using CAD in virtual space.) I’d prefer that the old structure be left in place to preserve the almost surreal contrast (the kind of contrast one used to see a lot in NYC, but that now seems endangered even there.) But of course the old bridge will go soon. I hope that while it’s still in place many portraits of the two together are made, capturing the contrast.(And here’s a green story to be written: someone should trace the fate of all that old steel once it comes down.)

    See what thought-expedtions a good photo of the LA River — or anything for that matter — can send a person on?

    • Thanks Cliff. Bridges are like lighthouses, photographers keep shooting them and people love looking at pictures of them. They are iconic structures that lend themselves to mystery and romance and they evoke the past. I guess we like that.

      Don’t know a lot about steel, but I recently worked with a steel contractor who framed a new house I was shooting and he told me that steel is about 96% recyclable. I would assume that would apply to older alloys but who knows.

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