On 20 June 1993, this bridge was destroyed along with 17 hectares of farmland as the bank of the South Nation River collapsed after heavy rains in a landslide that in less than an hour left a crater some 320 metres wide and 18 metres deep. This event occurred only one year after the last of the residents of the town of Lemieux had been relocated. Earlier soil testing by South Nation Conservation had revealed the likelihood of a catastrophic slide of the deep, unstable Leda clay, and three years later it happened.
Wikipedia says that "an estimated 2.8 to 3.5 million cubic metres of sand, silt and liquefied clay collapsed into the river, damming it for 3.3 kilometers (2.1 mi) for several days."
From the long, sinuous span of the new bridge, the area where the slide occurred can still be seen, but it no longer looks like a landslide, as the generous nutrition supplied by the clay has resulted in a widespread growth of trees, shrubs, and oversize herbs.
Fred went down to walk the shore below her site, and had what amounted to an experience. He writes: "There was a trail down to the riverbank under the new bridge, and when I got there I found Goose feathers and Cocklebur, but not much else to see but clay. I proceeded upstream along steep shores, which required one to grip the vegetation to keep from slipping into unknown depths of clay-opaque water, wrenching one old Lampsilis shell out of the mud on the way.
Then I struggled up into dense Willow thickets on a clay terrace below the bridge abutment, and passed beneath Aleta and through head-high Goldenrod, to a slope down to a little flat area of mud, previously found by fishermen, as indicated by their rod-support sticks still standing in the clay on the water's edge. Here there were two old Elliptio shells, one with adhering Zebra Mussels that suggested that a fishhook had dredged it from the bottom. Underwhelmed, I gripped Willows to pull myself to another small patch of flat clay, where an old Leptodea shell buried in mud was available.
Upstream from here, there were only steep shores in view, and I headed up the slope, for the first 10m or so through Sandbar Willows that Beavers had thinned by nibbling off many of the stems, and then into a dense stand where the Beavers hadn't penetrated, and the only sign of management was scars of springtime ice abrasion. Here many of the Willow stems were standing dead, and swathed by such vines as Hops, Bindweed, Prickly Cucumber, and Twining Buckwheat.
Then a few metres of walkable Pussy Willows floored by Gill-over-the-ground, before I plunged into more head-high Goldenrods and then up a steep slope of small trees, where Beavers had been cutting Ash trees, and presumably dragging them along vertical trackways down to the river, and a final steep slope of Euiesetum hyemale Horsetail and Sensitive Fern (densest at the lip) to a terrace of the planted Red Pines of Larose Forest.
I then rejoined Aleta on the abutment until she finished painting at 18h45 or so - as we sat we saw big splashes in the river upstream but no wakes that might indicate a Beaver. Ringing three-notes calls up the river resolved into Yellowlegs-like Birds wading and walking on two mud islands upstream, and going a long way from the visible shore, suggesting very shallow water around the islands - and then they were off. Similar ringing calls of single notes matched a Picoides villosus (Hairy Woodpecker) flying across the river to the trees around where we were perched. Earlier a Warbler had come across and given a few notes as it poked through the branches overhead. There was a bird across the river that sang a variety of tentative songs, which we thought might be a young Catbird, also a few loud Robin notes, and sporadic singing of Melospiza melodia (Song Sparrow) songs; Parus atricapillus (Blackcap Chickadee) called briefly nearby, but all these ceased as dusk fell, and it was Branta canadensis (Canada Goose) overhead, flying west in small flocks, that provided bird-sound.
Listening to the new bridge had verified Bierce's analysis that noise was the "chief product, and authenticating sign, of civilization" as vehicles producing various, all loud, motor sounds zoomed past, with the bridge seeming to amplify their passing. One sounded like a small plane taking off from the roadway, and there was a variety of roars and rumbles, and only a few that provided a simple whoosh. One would think that, out of respect for Lemieux, the South Nation, and the Champlain Sea, most drivers would slow down as they passed this place with its flexible bridge and swept-away predecessor, but few showed any sign of such consideration. About 19h00, as we were retiring into our trailer, a pickup, evidently of unusually civilized demeanor, roared into the gravel road that goes south along the river, sprayed gravel as it fish-tailed the full width of the road a couple of times, and then accelerated loudly around the corner of the road."