Several years ago, I hiked to the east abutment of the historic 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 two miles east of the bridge, I hiked along the disused Louisville & Southern Railroad tracks. While the tracks were cleared of any vegetation, it was still a slow hike, and backpacking along loose gravel and railroad ties is never quick. As I neared Young’s High Bridge, I came across 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 on the abutment and patiently waited for the blue hour. I sat down on the bridge to let the time pass. Not long after, I noticed two police cars approaching the highway bridge down below from opposite directions, and the officers inside soon sprinted out of their vehicles to look over the sides of the bridge—which drops a significant distance down below to the Kentucky River.
Did I just bear witness to a suicide on the highway bridge?
After watching the cops disembark from the bridge, the skies began turning into intense hues of amber and blue. I stood up and began taking photographs of Young’s High Bridge, focusing on the derelict bridge deck with the famed Wild Turkey Distillery silhouetting the background. Several minutes later, I heard grunts coming from underneath the bridge. 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 or highway bridge.
“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 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. He began down the hill towards his parked police car while I packed my camera backpack and headed east along the railroad tracks to my car.