Davies Bridge (Petit Jean State Park, AR)

May 4, 2016

Davies Bridge, built in 1938 as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps project, spans Cedar Creek in beautiful Petit Jean State Park. Samuel Davies and his son, Ladd, were responsible for design and construction of the bridge. According to the Arkansas State Park website, a crew of 15 to 20 men built the bridge from sandstone blocks, quarried from Petit Jean Mountain. Davies Bridge is one of eight remaining masonry arch bridges in Arkansas and is the only one left that was constructed from finished sandstone.

As I researched Petit Jean State Park, in preparation for our trip, I became intrigued with this beautiful, stone-arched bridge and I made plans to photograph it. The featured image is the result of that endeavor, which included a few false starts but turned out well. My account is as follows:

6:30 AM:  I pulled myself out of bed and out of our cozy cabin. I loaded my gear in the 4Runner and headed to the bridge site where I would hike to a good vantage point for an image. I wanted to include a small waterfall, which is just upstream from the bridge, so I would need to find a suitable shooting location downstream of the bridge.

6:45 AM:  After driving around in the dark and making a wrong turn or two, I actually crossed the bridge in my vehicle and thought, “Well, I guess I found it.” I pulled in to the nearby parking lot at the park’s Boy Scout Camp and unloaded my gear.

7:00 AM:  Loaded with my Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 17 – 40 f/4 lens, and a lightweight tripod, I hiked over to the bridge and bushwhacked through the woods along the left descending bank. The farther I got away from the bridge, the worse the view of the waterfall became. Finally, I decided to head back to the bridge, cross Cedar Creek, and proceed down the right descending bank.

7:15 AM:  I started down the right descending bank along the nicely-groomed Boy Scout Trail, occasionally looking back to see well-framed views of the waterfall through the bridge. Unfortunately, all of those views were partially blocked by trees and brush. I finally made it to the base of a sycamore tree where I stopped and looked back to see a clear view of the waterfall. By that time I was pretty far away so I hesitantly looked through the lens, set at a full 40 mm, and found what I expected, a view of not only the bridge, but much of the road approaches and the park along with it. I would need a longer lens!

8:00 AM:  I made it back to the 4Runner and switched my lens out for a Canon 70 – 200 f/2.8, then retraced my route back to the sycamore tree. Fortunately, it was a cloudy morning so I still had soft light for a shot.

8:15 AM:  I settled in at the sycamore tree and leveled the lens on the bridge, zooming to 100 mm. Everything looked good, so I snapped a preliminary image. On the LCD I found that an overhanging limb had made a distracting blur in the left side of the frame. Drat!

8:20 AM:  I had an idea to solve the problem. I framed the image and locked down my ballhead. Next, I set the timer to 10 seconds and clicked the shutter. As the timer counted down, I ran to the site of the offending limb, grabbed it, pulled it toward me, and waited for the shutter to release. I returned to check the LCD on the back of the camera, and voila! — I had a clean image.

Before leaving the bridge, I took a closer look at the magnificent stonework and beautiful colors of the sandstone blocks. I took a second look at my image on the back of the camera to see if it did any justice to the historic site. It seemed okay to me, but no substitute for the real thing, of course. I hope this image further inspires some of you to head to Petit Jean State Park for a stay. After you’ve experienced the amazing splendor of Cedar Falls (see previous post), don’t forget to check out the gorgeous work of engineering and art called Davies Bridge.

Thanks for looking,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery/Prints:  Danny’s Website




2 comments on “Davies Bridge (Petit Jean State Park, AR)”

  1. Great description of the hard work and visualization (as well as the time taken) that goes into each shot of yours. Deepa

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