1972 & 2002 - Dames Point Bridge Flying High Over Mossy River Oak Trees

by J. R. Beatty

Dames Point Bridge <br>Over St. Johns River
Dames Point Bridge
Over St. Johns River
This high Dames Point bridge over the St. Johns River connects the South-side of Jacksonville, Florida to North JAX.

The broad river and the two tower, steel cables suspension bridge are used for commercial and recreational purposes. (Click on photo to see details like the speed boat fishing on the river)


Dames Point Bridge Towers
Dames Point Bridge Towers
A short distance to the East lies Blount Island where in 1972 the Westinghouse Floating Nuclear Power Plants were going to be designed and manufactured and installed directly on ocean-going barges. The finished nuclear power plant barges were to be towed over great oceans to breakwater berths on all continents. The real risky reality of on-sea weather dangers finally sunk in and these projects were abandoned.

Without the wisdom and kindness of the Chief Engineer at my job interview, I might have been employed in JAX there, worked for a few years, and have gone down with the nuclear barges!

Instead, I drove on down to Miami, FL (my wife's family home) to be employed by Florida Power & Light for 21-1/2 years! It was a blessing provided by God's Providential Hand!


Miracle Cruise Ship Visits JAX
Miracle Cruise Ship Visits JAX
Thirty-two years later in 2002-2005 I had the opportunity to work as a T & D "New Technologies" Electrical Research Engineer with the JEA electric utility in downtown JAX. During that time a large ocean-liner was scheduled to float up the river and under this bridge to berth temporarily for JAX passengers to board.

A cruise line ship, the "Miracle" was the first such ship to go under the bridge. I personally investigated both ship and bridge heights and their separation dimension. The top of the ship smoke stack was only a few feet lower than the 275 foot tall clearance height at the middle of the bridge! My math was right. "Miraculously" the ship just made it under the bridge!


Dames Point Bridge - Oak Trees Spanish Moss
Dames Point Bridge - Oak Trees Spanish Moss
This fourth photo does not show the wide river waterway. Instead, it emphasizes the bridge's great strength in steel/concrete beams and steel cables viewed from below.

It also shows the strength and longevity of the shady, old oak trees along the river's shore - including the grey, hanging-on-tree-limb, non-parasitic, epiphyte air plants, a.k.a. Spanish Moss. This moss is found over much of the Sunshine State.

But be sure to watch out for the Red Bugs a.k.a. "Chiggers" in the moss that has fallen to the ground! As a young friend of mine once said in crying pain back in the day, "Those bugs can BITE hard - down there!"
Oh, the Agonizing Humanity!