Last night I drove down to The Graffiti Bridge around sunset. I wanted to explore the area around the 17th ave. trestle and venture into the surrounding countryside.
After the railroad tracks that make up The Graffiti Bridge crossed the 17th ave. trestle, they spanned the bay and continued on up the dunes on the other side.
The actual “bridge,” is only part of the appeal. Take a short hike under the trestle itself, and you come to the “trestle tunnel.” That’s what I like to call the part where the soil becomes sandy, and the trestle enters the water lapping at the shore of the bay. The night I was there, the water was so glassy, the sunset reflected off its surface, so only a ripple or two disturbed the flawlessness of the reflections.
Sitting on a stump under the trestle struts, I watched the the sunset reflected off the glassy waters of the surface of the bay. It cast a myriad of mysterious shadows and reflected sunbeams dancing along the support struts of the bridge. As they spanned the waterway, the rays from the setting sun lit up the water, like a shimmering mirror of chrome, and burnished steel. This light effect gave the illusion of a watery tunnel. A shimmering, wavering portal to another place and another time.
As the sea breeze ruffled my hair and tickled my nostrils with the delightful smells of surf and salt, I was immediately transported back to the 17th Century.
Captain Flint and his merry band of bloodthirsty buccaneers were pulling their long-boats up on the beach. They paused, and unloaded three stout, iron reinforced oak chests, and lined them up on the surf. Trekking up the beach, carrying the heavy wooden treasure chests, they entered the jungle beyond the palms, and then, barely audible, the clink of shovels, the scrape of earth as they dug the hole to bury the chest.
About an hour later, there was a commotion, shots were fired, there was yelling and screaming, more shots, the clashing of steel-on-steel, then silence.
Captain Flint stumbled out of the jungle, slashing through the vines with his cutlass. His left hand pressed his tightly wadded shirt over a gaping, sucking wound in his lower abdomen. He reached the beach, fell to his knees in the sand, and lay still.
Then the sun went down, and the “trestle tunnel,” closed. Once again, I was back in 2017, sitting on a stump under the CSX bay crossing.
Regardless of what you see, or what The Graffiti Bridge means to you, it has been a Pensacola landmark for over 100 years. Throughout the generations, it has been used as a primitive social media board to express the pulse of our times.