no avatar

Lone Oak Road bridge ready to open, sisters recall its past

Jennifer Sprouse • Dec 7, 2012 at 10:23 PM

Neighbors living on Lone Oak Road will surely share a sigh of relief with the completion of a new bridge over an old creek. But long before there was even a paved road that brought speeding cars and lots of reported wrecks along the curvy turns, two sisters remember when there wasn’t even a bridge at all.

Erma Walthour, 91, and Nadine Barnett, 85, grew up at their current residence at 1610 Lone Oak Road and will be the first two people to officially drive across the bridge Monday when the road will be opened to thru traffic.

Bridge construction began in August, which set out to widen the road and the bridge, as well as install sidewalks along Lone Oak, making it a lot different from what the sisters grew up with.

On Friday, the two women sat side-by-side on their living room couch and reminisced about their childhood, which included old dirt roads, the creek and various bridges over it through the years.

Walthour said she remembers a time when Lone Oak, then Brush Creek Road, was a dirt road that ended at the creek just a short distance from her house.

“I remember when there wasn’t even a bridge there and it seems like the creek was wider than it is now, but it ... wasn’t deep,” Walthour said. “Relatives that came to see us, they would park up there (on the other side of the creek) and walk down (to the house).”

She said eventually they did acquire a log footbridge across the creek, which gave them easier access to come and go to church, school and the store.

“We walked everywhere we went, nearly. We had churches on both sides (of the creek) and we walked to church and occasionally we got a cab if we had to go shopping or to town or something,” Barnett said. “Cherokee School was not on the corner at this time. It was on up the highway about a half a mile. There was a little grocery store on the highway up there ... but we could cut through the fields right here and go up to that store and not have to go on the road. We’d cross the bridge and then go up through the field to the left of it.”

Walthour said she had lots of memories associated with the creek and the old bridge.

“I remembered my brother carrying (a) watermelon across there and dropped it in the creek and (burst) it all to pieces,” she said. “We used to have to carry water from the spring. Half the time we’d be barefooted and stump our toes on the rock.”

Barnett said she remembers when gravel was placed on the old dirt roads and when workers came in to smooth it out.

“A group of the workers sat down on the little bridge down here under shade trees and ate and my mother let me pick up a little pot of Virginia Beauty apples and walk down the road and take them (to the workers),” she said.

She said her family used to sit on the porch and hope a car would come by, because not many cars came by during that time.

Walthour said when the first bridge was built so a car could go past was truly an exciting time.

“After I was in high school, the bus was able to come stop in front of the house and pick us up,” she said.

The pair said the area has changed a lot since they were little and that a lot of the changes occurred when they had both married and left town.

Barnett recalled her father pointing and predicting that the farmland across from the family’s front porch would eventually be covered in houses, a prediction that, from Friday’s assessment of the neighborhood, did eventually come true.

And with the addition of residential areas and better bridges built over the years, the sisters have also seen their share of wrecks and beatem up guardrails along the road’s dangerous curves.

“They put up side rails and they ran those down. We had a few cars that came off in our creek,” Barnett said.

After months of enduring all of the noise and dust that go along with a construction project, the sisters are ready for their big moment on Monday.

“(The road is) huge. It’s the biggest thing (we’ve seen) around here in a long time,” Barnett said. “We’re thankful that we’ve got to live to see a nice road and I don’t guess we’ll wear it out. We’re the only ones on this road that knows anything about the real thing. We just know that we’ve been here this long. We have had good memories. We had a good home, life.”

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos