Years ago there were two accidents that happened on the John Ringling Causeway bridge that caused the city to build the fishing pier and prohibit fishing from the bridge.
When one of the accidents happened I was actually on the bridge about twenty feet away from the man who was hit in the head by a car. He was an older gentleman who had set his tackle box up against the concrete divider that was about 8 inches high which divided the bridge’s sidewalk from the street. The man was leaning over to get something out of his tackle box with his head protruding over the curb and into the street. What a freak thing, a lady actually was driving so close to the shoulder of the road that she hit the man in the head. Myself and two of my friends heard the thud and turned to see the old man rolling. It was a horrible thing to be a part of.
At that time I was about thirteen years old. My friends and I used to hang out at Hart’s Landing several days of the week. We would get paid with food to catch pin fish for the bait shop to sell. We also fished for our own enjoyment catching bluefish, whiting, snook, stingrays, sharks, red fish, sheephead, lady fish and plenty of catfish. Wow, what fun summers we had back in the mid seventies.
There was a second accident that I heard about from the owners of Hart’s Landing where a bridge tender was killed. Apparently someone had a flat tire as they were traveling eastbound over the old John Ringing Causeway Bridge. The car stopped just east of the crest of the bridge (if you were traveling east, you couldn’t see that the car was stopped until you got over the center crest). The bridge tender was helping someone change their tire when two cars came racing at extremely high speeds over the bridge from the direction of Lido Beach and smashed into the stopped car, killing the bridge tender.
Eventually, the city put an end to all fishing from the old John Ringling Bridge and carried the restrictions over to the new bridge.
The bushes seen in the foreground of this pic are called Firecracker ferns.