By Erich Eipert
This story has a dejecting part as well as something heroic and uplifting. Let’s get the cheerless part out of the way first.
Litter on roads
I don’t think about litter much until I’m on foot and see great quantities of it hidden in the grass of the roadside ditch. Or drive past piles of filled plastic bags after a cleanup effort. There’s a surprising amount of rubbish out there. I seldom see anyone throw anything from a car window like in the old days, yet somehow the garbage accumulates. Maybe litterers are more active after dark. A study or two has probably addressed this, but I’m getting off track. I can understand drinkers who drive, and underage occupants, throwing out their empties, but who and what accounts for all the other trash? Fortunately Washington state, where I live, isn’t the worst place when it comes to offenders. I suspect the reason has nothing to do with the intellect-challenged “Litter and it will hurt” signs along the roads. But again, I digress.
Stone railroad bridge in NE Iowa – StockXchng/Kinsey
Sorry. No heroes in this post, just a little more historical context to round out the Kate Shelley story. And I found some of it right in my own hometown.
Historic Iowa bridges are a side interest related to my childhood memories of an old trestle and its use in my novel about an inventive teen battling an enemy and confronting a land conspiracy in a farm community much like my home town of West Point, Iowa. A photo of the trestle bridge of my childhood (the model for the one in my novel), and a number of other mid to late 19th century historic West Point structures can be found by visiting my Iowana page or directly through this link to Historic photos of West Point, Iowa. The railroad depot, the trestle, and the train itself are from the era in which my last hero, Kate Shelley, lived. Continue reading
Kate Shelley: train rescuer Part II
An Iowa trestle from the author's childhood: bridge across Pittman Creek near West Point, Iowa - photo taken by Mary Eipert shortly before demolition of bridge
For those who took an interest in the story of Kate Shelley, I’d like to share a few more interesting tidbits. According to the accounts I’ve read, after the death of her husband and son Kate’s mother not only lapsed into poor physical health, she also lost her spirit. I suppose that means she broke mentally and could no longer adequately care for and raise her children. This placed a terrible burden of responsibility on Kate, her oldest child, and Kate sacrificed her own childhood and later independence in order to fill this void and take care of her family. She was not recognized for this heroic act. Continue reading
Kate Shelley Bridge - 1900 replacement of original trestle. Flickr/David Wilson.
You won’t find a better example of real-life heroism than the story of a brave fifteen-year-old Iowa girl named Kate Shelley. I can picture what this girl went through because I grew up not so far from the Des Moines River, and near a railway with a high, scary trestle that I crossed a few times.