As a youngster, I, with my dad and fraternal grandmother, went across the Yellow River to fish rather frequently. Sometimes the Yellow River itself, sometimes East River or East Bay was our destination.
The first span across the Yellow River that I remember was of wood construction with heavy railings along both sides the length bridge. The “floor” of the bridge was one lane with raised “tracks” for car wheels. The tracks were one board’s thickness, not higher, I suppose, so that if a car ran off to the side, no harm was done to the automobile, although they were higher off the ground than modern cars.
There was at least one, probably two turn-off tracks for a car to pull over if it met another vehicle going in the opposite direction. It was quite unusual, and rather exciting to a kid to meet another vehicle on the bridge.
Then, one day, while heading toward Navarre, we saw that another span was being constructed. To me, from the lower bridge perspective it seemed very high, and it was, compared to the wooden bridge. That new, concrete bridge lasted for many years.
When the toll road from U.S. Highway 98 to Santa Rosa Island (Navarre Beach) was built, traffic on State Road 87 South increased almost exponentially. This soon required another Yellow River bridge, one even taller and stronger. This one has been in existence for many years. At some point, tolls to the island were discontinued after that bridge was paid for. This also increased traffic to Santa Rosa Island.
Now, yet another Yellow River Bridge — wider and, I presume, stronger — is being constructed with the widening of State Road 87 South; increased traffic to Navarre Beach due to newer and plusher accommodations rising like Phoenix after hurricanes’ destruction.
It seems individual ownership of smaller vacation homes is on the decline on the island, giving way to larger, more “touristy” accommodations and more traffic.
As long as citizens sit by and tolerate subsidizing insurance for the “sand-builders,” both individual and corporate growth and destruction of the beautiful beaches will continue. And wider, higher Yellow River bridges will continue to be built.
Doris Melvin Kingry, a retired English and journalism teacher, was first woman elected to public office in Santa Rosa County, where she served eight years. She is a native Santa Rosan, living where her family has lived for several generations.