The citizens of County Bourne needed a way around the Hollybark Gorge. From the top of the gorge to the bottom was 18,000 feet. Along the bottom ran the Bourne River which flowed into a sinkhole so deep that the sound of the water hitting bottom could not be heard. The waterfall was named Wilson’s Silent Falls after Jamison Wilson who unsuccessfully tried to determine the sinkhole’s depth.
Eventually enough money was raised to hire Cleveland Givan, a young brilliant engineer, to design and build a span to connect both sides of the gorge. In order to finish paying for Givan’s Span, as it became known, Mr. Givan was asked to design a system of toll booths and to add a platform off one side of the bridge to hold an office for the county workers employed to man the booths.
The Givan’s Span gained national attention for its design, simple beauty and functionality. Providing its travelers with stunning vistas it became a popular destination for tourists.
Years after the bridge was paid for and an endowment created for its maintenance, the toll booths and the office were removed. A barrier was erected on the platform after a few thrill seekers and daredevils lost their lives by getting too close to the edge. More barriers were added over time and the County Bourne elders passed laws making it a misdemeanor to trespass onto the platform. This helped ward off other potential thrill seekers.
Then, one day, a lady by the name of Addie Shewsberry was arrested on the platform. She claimed that it was her right to stand there over the gorge since it was a public structure which the people of County Bourne paid for. Her case went to court and attracted a great deal of attention. People began protesting the unjust laws that kept people like Ms. Shewsberry from standing on the platform. Flowers began appearing on the platform along with wreaths draped in black shrouds declaring the end of human rights.
Eventually, after years of litigation the case made its way to the highest court in the land. On the same day that the Givan’s Span was opened years before, the court handed down their ruling forbidding laws to restrict access to the platform. The barriers were removed and a grand parade across the bridge was planned to celebrate the right of every person to stand on the Givan’s Span platform.
(To be continued)