Several years ago, I hiked to the east abutment of the historical and then-abandoned Young’s High Bridge in central Kentucky to photograph the sunset and blue hour. Little did I know that I was about to witness a suicide — or did I?
Parking around two miles east of the bridge, I hiked along the then-disused Louisville & Southern Railroad tracks. While the tracks were cleared of any vegetation, unlike my first journey a year prior, it was still a slow hike. Backpacking along loose gravel and railroad ties are never quick.
As I neared Young’s High Bridge, I walked by a few old Norfolk Western Railway boxcars and passenger cars. I climbed inside one of the passenger cars for a quick photo before venturing further west to the trestle.
As the sun dipped beneath the horizon, I set up my camera and tripod along the abutment and patiently waited for the blue hour, sitting down on the bridge to let the time pass. Out of the corner of my eye, I remarked two police cars approaching the “S Bridge” on US 68 from opposite directions.
I noticed the officers sprinting out of their vehicles and look over the sides of the bridge, which drops a significant extent down to the Kentucky River. Did a suicide just happen? Was I witness to someone taking their own life? Not long after the officers arrived, they withdrew for their respective cities.
The skies were turning into stunning, intense hues of blue and amber, so I stood up and began taking photographs of Young’s High Bridge, and it’s derelict wooden deck in the foreground, with the famed Wild Turkey Distillery silhouetting in the background.
Several minutes passed when I began hearing what sounded like grunting coming from the west. A police officer, panting and clutching his side for support, eyed me and asked if I was okay.
“Just shooting the sunset,” I replied.
The officer asked if anyone had jumped off of the railroad bridge or on the “S Bridge” below.
“No, although I’ve only been up here for about 30 minutes.”
It then dawned on both of us that someone had most likely seen my body standing near Young’s High Bridge and thought that I was about to jump off to my death. The officer asked for routine identification, to which I obliged.
With the sun now well below the horizon, twilight was advancing fast. We both watched the last remains of the light diminish and then said our goodbyes and best wishes. He began down the hill towards his parked police car while I packed my camera backpack and headed eastward along the railroad tracks to my car.