Throughout reading Callings, I have come to see people who have found the profession that truly makes them happy. Reading through this I came across man named John Maycumber, which was a man who found his “calling” as a bridge tender. He talked about how it made him not regret going to work and how he enjoyed every minute of it. This made me interested in this profession and made me want to learn more.
A bridge tenders house we see today
Researching this topic was hard because it really didn’t have a lot of information out about it. After digging through some websites, I found out some things that surprised me. As in requirements go for this job, you must have at least 20/40 vision or better, you must be able to distinguish between red, amber and Green colors, you must be able to hear normal and pass a screening test, you must be 18 years or older, you must be drug free, and must be capable of cranking and/or removing a bridge gate. For such a simple sounding job, there was a shocking about of requirements.
As for this history of this job, Bridge tending wasn’t really a thing until the 1850’s. In Chicago in the 1850’s brought the first movable bridges which gave birth to the first bridge tender positions. In these early days, it was not uncommon for the bridge tenders house to be placed on top of the center of the swing bridges.
An older style bridge tenders house
Going back to requirements bridge tenders must be able to work at least 8 hour shifts, must be on time, and must be able to work past shift if the relief shift doesn’t show up. Also, along with opening and closing the bridge a bridge tender must also be able to do maintenance on their bridge. Training for this job only takes about a day and is valid for 12 months. All these skills needed for this job have not changed. After researching this profession, I could not find anyone famous who worked in this position.