Taken on my Canon Rebel t5i I used my EF-S 18-55mm mid-wide angle focus lens to complete the picture. I put my UV colorizing polarizer filter on the lens in order to tone down the sunlight streaming through the trees. The widening and ongoing trail made me use my mid-wide lens because I wanted to get as much of the detail as possible of the little board bridge and the surrounding foliage. It was a humid summer’s day, and I remember the peacefulness and quietness of the hike.
The trail in question is called the Alpine Trail and was constructed in the 1920’s and 1930’s as a walking trail within what is now known as Riverside Park. The trail was meant to take visitors across the James River, which winds it’s way on the outskirts Lynchburg. One could cross the James and onto YMCA land called Treasure Island. At the same time that the walking trail was being developed so was an overlook of the James River in what is now called the Riverside Park Overlook. Labors were paid $0.20 cents an hour, and there are placards detailing the construction within the park.
The entrance I took was the very first one built, alongside the Fink Deck Truss Bridge, and it was very steep. One had to go down worn and slippery rocks built in the form of a very steep staircase to get to the tail below. Once I got down to the trail, I was instantly overcome with the river’s peace. Well, it’s sensibilities I suppose. It was so calm, the river’s gentle flow ebbing to and fro. There was a tranquility there that I long fro.
Even though it is dead in the city; there’s not a sound of a car, or of city living. The only sound was the river’s voice, the voice of the birds, my feet crunching upon the dirt and gravel. I got to a point along the trail when a Norfolk Southern train and wagons came lumbering by. I sat down in the dirt to watch; the engineer sticking out a great big hand and waving cheerfully as he went by. I tipped my hat to him and continued to get lost in the sight, the sounds, the smell, the peace, the warmth of the summer.
I continued down the trail, past it’s many sights of the James, its off-shoots, its bridges made of wood and little planks. It drops a considerable amount of altitude till the humidity was replaced by the cool of a few creeks and streams coming out of the Blue Ridges. Down in the holler there was more abundant tree coverage and beauty everywhere. Following the trail and her quietness I made my way back up into Riverside Park. The tranquility of nature was shattered, literally, as instantly as stepping out from the thick forest canopy and right into civilization again.
Riverside Park was first known as River View Park in 1883 when the majority of the land was sold to the city of Lynchburg on 08Oct1883 by William Duval Adams. The city’s purchase of the land was to adjoin more room for the smallpox hospital on the outskirts of Lynchburg. In 1894, the city’s parks commissioner, E.C. Hammer, fenced in the park’s land to be used for fair exhibits. The lease was good for 15 years and used by the Industrial and Agricultural And Mechanical societies to showcase modern farming, mechanical, and industrial innovations and techniques each year.
From the late-1890’s onward the city did little to improve the park until 1922 when the city hired a Roanoke park architect, C.R. MacKan, who also designed the Alpine trail. He built a natural swimming pool as well. The swimming pool was very popular till the Civil Rights Movement in which it was filled in to prevent Blacks from swimming in it. Since then, the park has gone down from it’s highest attendance of 347,ooo people. But to me, it’s not about the park.
In conclusion, the park and its adjoining Alpine Trail have a unique history that adds complexity to a city distinguished since the late-1700’s. The city saw its plight during the American Revolution and Civil War, and since those days, it has remained an all important city for the region. It’s not about the city, but the trail for me. I am a man who enjoys the outdoors. Hiking calms my mental issue and relaxes me. In nature, I truly find peace and the Lord.