The railway bridge in Pilchowice has become a fashionable topic thanks to Tom Cruise and his mission almost possible, i.e., a plan to blow up the most extraordinary railway bridge on one of the most beautiful railway lines in Poland, all of this just for one scene in upcoming Mission Impossible sequel.
The history of this engineering feat dates back to 1908 when its construction was completed. In the initial phase, it aimed to help in building the concrete-stone construction of the then-largest European dam, which would protect the riverside areas. The decision to build it was made after the disastrous flood of 1908, which killed over a hundred people and destroyed many villages. Emperor Wilhelm II himself came to the opening of the dam in 1912.
But it was not for the wealthy that this bridge became a part of life, but for ordinary people whom it served for many years as an element of the railway line, as a crossing point, as a companion for anglers, as an inseparable part of the extremely interesting landscape of this part of Poland and one of the most important touristic attractions.
My adventure with it and my great bond go back to the beginning of this century when I first came to visit it. At that time, there was no access road from Jelenia Góra, and it was only possible to reach it by slowly going through the overgrown path that led to it. The bridge quickly became a place of frequent walks for my family and me, and when the camera began to play an essential role in my life, my steel friend became an inspiration for many photographs. When I started running photography workshops in 2015, it became a tradition to start them by introducing the participants to this unique and charming place. The bridge began to play the role not only as a background but also as a model, and it became a cult place and a stage for other actors. With time I understood the influence that this bridge had on a given person's attitude, its ability to seemingly allow people to freely express themselves, and let those expressions transpire into photography. A wonderful release of authentic emotions that we strive so hard to hide within ourselves on a daily basis. At the same time, the bridge also played the role for which it was created; namely, it served as a crossing for trains passing through the dam reservoir.
When in 2017, in response to our shared passion for railways, I founded with my son the FP Kolejowa Strona Mocy, I already had a lot of photographic material with our beloved bridge. What amazing crossings we witnessed when heavy machines, often steam locomotives, were billowing their smoke around this steel giant. One of such shots with the passing Pt47-65 train won the first place in the annual competition organized during the Steam Locomotive Parade in Wolsztyn in 2018. Thanks to this, our friendly bridge could be admired by the crowds during the event and then at homes in the annual calendar.
Someone famous who thinks he knows best said recently that lovers of this bridge and the entire railway route from Jelenia Góra to Lwówek, the residents, fishers, and tourists, have no relationship to this object at all, that they do not have social, artistic and scientific ties. So then, how do you explain their current reactions, their fight for the bridge's protection, the efforts to put it on the listed buildings' register, how do you explain the multitude of stories so similar to mine?
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