“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Robert Frost from “Mending Wall.”
Frost was talking about the stone walls of New England but his something doesn’t seem to love the stones of the historic Maeystown Stone Bridge either.
The 135-year-old stone bridge, the symbol of the quaint village on the bluffs in Monroe County, about 10 miles southwest of Waterloo, needs repair. The village of Maeystown doesn’t have the money, so the historic society of the village is asking the public for help through a GoFundMe campaign.
The one-lane bridge has had some repairs throughout the years, but nothing as extensive as what it now needs. Repairs are estimated at more than $30,000, and the village gets about $3,600 a year in road taxes. That is used for snow removal and mowing, so there is not much left for the bridge.
For many years, Maeystown Road ran through the village, crossing the bridge. But a bypass now takes Maeystown Road just north of the village, and the old road became part of Mill Street. It saved the bridge, but now the village is responsible for its upkeep.
The bridge passed a state inspection, so it’s safe for a while, but without the repairs, it won’t be safe in a few years, officials think. The southern side of the bridge looks fine. Its white stones sparkle in the sun, and painters and photographers come to capture images of the bridge and the old buildings in the background. But the north side isn’t nearly as nice.
That is where the stalwarts of the Maeystown Preservation Society stepped in. Christy Muertz, property manager of the society, decided to try to raise the necessary money because there is no way the village of 150 people can pay for it.
She said they are trying to raise awareness of the problem and are looking for publicity. They had a 50-50 raffle at the recent Oktoberfest to help get things started and are posting fliers and messages on social media.
Muertz riffed on the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child,” saying: “It will take more than a village to save the bridge. We figured other people enjoy our bridge, not just residents, and maybe they would be willing to help.”
She stressed how expensive the work will be.
“Some people say put a rock or two in there and it will be fine,” she said. “But it needs much more than that. First we need to build a culvert to divert water that hits the stone abutments. Then work will involve stone masons and a lot of handwork.”
The society is a non-profit organization, so donations are tax deductible.
The entire village of Maeystown is in the National Register of Historic Places. It was founded in 1852 by Jacob Maeys and attracted mostly German immigrants. Many of the stone buildings are built into the hillsides, and the village is especially protective of its beautiful white flagstone gutters.