Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Under The Bridge to Nowhere

Earlier this year, uliveandyouburn beautifully documented the underbelly of the Boylan Avenue Bridge. Hidden from street-level view, the area serves as a transit point and temporary shelter for freight riders, hobos, and taggers. A few hundred feet away at the intersection of Mountford Avenue and Cutler Street is a smaller bridge, which tells many of the same stories.

Graffiti under the bridge in early 2004

I’ve found myself near or under this bridge on several occasions  (mostly when train spotting) since first discovering it early in 2004 . Each visit provides something new to look at — mostly graffiti, but artifacts of hobo life too.

Graffiti under the bridge in early mid 2009

The scenery changes, but the story remains the same —  discarded food containers, piles of clothes, blankets, car parts, remnants of campfires, and shoes — there are always piles and piles of shoes.

One likely reason it remains so popular for those seeking shelter (despite being almost within eyesight of a guard tower at the State Prison) is because of its proximity to the Wye, where passing freight trains provide an exit to far off places. It is central yet almost completely hidden and away from any sort of pedestrian traffic, except for the occasional curious explorer.

Each of the items tells a story, and often the gaps must be filled in with your own imagination. Some defy all, however, such as the 2009 Pug Calendar pictured above.

I refer to it as a “bridge to nowhere,” as it no longer serves as a path to anywhere. The bridge once led to the old prison’s main  entrance and the prison youth facility, both now demolished. The youth compound had been abandoned for many years prior to the compilation of this video I made from still images I took in 2006. About a year ago, to the annoyance of many area residents, the state began work on a $160 million hospital project on the site.

Now the bridge sits blocked with a simple “Road Closed” sign.

Construction on the hospital continues today, and two large tower cranes sit not far from the disused bridge.

The Bloomsbury Estates condos are within sight, passing motorists over the Boylan Bridge can be heard, and prison construction audible in the distance. Meanwhile, the quiet hobo camp continues on in the same way it has for decades–providing shelter and protection from the elements for those without any other place to sleep or rest.

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