Beautiful and Treacherous

V1 Staff |

The pedestrian footbridge connecting Water Street to the UWEC campus made headlines early in its history when students, not realizing the danger of jumping off into the water, lost their lives doing so. “Every four to five years, we have an almost complete turnover of students … so students wouldn’t know how dangerous jumping from the bridge was,” Robin Leary, Assistant Secretary for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation stated.

Not to bring you down or anything.

So in the late '80s, a plaque was hung on the bridge railing, just outside the Haas Fine Arts Center. This dull piece of metal has endured all kinds of weather, as well as the eyes of locals and visitors alike. But its message is not in its aesthetics. The first thing to be read is “The Chippewa River is both beautiful and treacherous,” a poetic, if chilling remembrance of students past and a warning to future generations. The plaque goes on to say the river is deceiving – and worthy of our respect.

We've always loved the phrase "beautiful and treacherous" – seemingly extreme adjectives to describe something in little ol' Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  And as all this snow is melting and racing into the river, they are good reminders of how much power the natural world contains – flowing right through the middle of our city.