Pet Render Bridge.
The picture on the top left is the approach to Rockport from the East. The photographer was on a levee that was built in the late fifties/early sixties and the picture was taken in July of 2007. Just prior to entering Rockport is a small bridge that crosses Lewis Creek. It is called the "Pet Render Bridge" and is "Pet Render Bridge" number two. It replaced "Pet Render Bridge" number one. This bridge, like the old Rockport Highway Bridge, just sits there and does nothing except what it is supposed to do. There is not much of a tale concerning this bridge as it has not caused any problems, nor is it dangerous. I don't remember a serious wreck on this bridge and if a wreck occurred, it was probably the fault of the driver. Well designed, well engineered and well build. Just a bridge.
Now look at the picture on the upper right. It is the same area, but the picture was taken over seventy years before the picture on the left. In the 1937 flood, and in floods about every other year in the forties and fifties, the Pet Render Bridge would be under water. It would not take a major flood to cause backwater to cover the levee and the Pet Render Bridge. Most of the time, traffic would continue. In those days, Highway 62 would make a right turn after crossing Lewis Creek and it would proceed up a small hill before reaching "Dead Man's Curve". Bob Decker lived in a house just to the right of the highway. After this dangerous curve and further up the hill, the old highway would enter back on the present highway. Elwood Stewart's place was on the right. Truman Everly's home was in line with the new highway plans that eliminated "Dead Man's Curve", and his house had to be moved a hundred yards or so to the South where it sits today. Modern construction of a new bridge, a by-pass around "Dead Man's Curve, and a levee "Build-Up" took a bad road situation and made it one for the betterment and safety of Rockport.
"Dead Man's Curve"-Well guess we all can figure out why this sharp curve was called "Dead Man's Curve". It was a dangerous curve and many a motorist tore up a vehicle on this curve or worse, lost a life. It was that bad. Pet Render bridge was a dangerous bridge and when the Green River backed up and covered the bridge, it got worse. "Pet Render Bridge"-Now where did that name come from? Well, I will tell you.
Hum, in my haste to inform you of the past history of "Pet Render Bridge", some eighty years ago, I realize that I do not know all of the particulars. Tell you what; I will start out, tell you what I know, maybe add a little to the mix and you can come back at me and I will make necessary corrections. Now that Pete Mason and George Devine are gone, Kelly Maddox may know more about "Pet Render" than anyone else. None-the-less, here goes.
Several years after the Civil War, Pet Render and his wife purchased several acres of land on Lewis Creek and near the town of Rockport. I have heard that "Pet" was part Indian, but that was strictly hear-say. This land was on the Rockport side of Lewis Creek and extended South and up Lewis Creek to about where Rayburn and Lola Robinson live today. The Render house was in the southern area of their property. This was many years before highway 62 and the hub of Rockport was by the river. Beaver Dam, McHenry, Echols, Taylor Mines, Ceralvo and other small towns existed in this era. Wagon trails were common between each town. This was a time before asphalt roads in this area. The automobile traffic was non-existent. Fifty years or so later a modern road was in the process of being built and a levee and a bridge were built on the east end of Rockport. The new bridge over Lewis Creek was to be called "Pet Render Bridge" after the owner of the Lewis Creek land where the bridge was built. A part of the Render property was also used for the new road that extended from Lewis Creek toward Dead Man's Curve. After the new highway was built, one of Pet Render's sons built a house up from Lewis Creek and on the South side of the new highway. Dee and Mary Render's home was located in the area where Danny and Judy Decker live now. They raised four boys and a girl. R. C., Billy, Buster, and Jasper Render were the sons and the lone daughter was Maureen.
Bonus information on part of the Render family:
Jasper Render, son of Dee and Mary Render was born in 1898. Jasper "Jap" Render was raised in Rockport and got a job with the Echols Coal Mine. He worked for the Rockport Coal Mine for a period of time and switched back to Echols Coal Mine. When Louisville Gas and Electric Company bought the Echols Mine, "Jap" went to Cherry Hill with the new company and retired from there in the 1962 time frame. The Jasper Render Family moved to Central City in 1948. Click on the following links to view pictures of some of the Cherry Hill Coal Miners.
Click here to visit the "Cherry Hill #1" Web Page.
Mittie K. Render was born in Butler County in 1895 of a poor "Share Croppers" family. At an early age, she was determined to get an education so that she could help others and she did. She entered West Kentucky Industrial College, in Paducah, and received a high school degree in 1929 and a two year degree in 1936. Twenty years later, in 1956, she received her bachelor's degree from Kentucky State College. Mittie married Jasper Render in 1919 and they moved to Rockport, where she became a teacher. Her first teaching job was in Butler Country in a one room school. A few years later, she transferred to the Rockport Dunbar Colored School. Mittie taught at Dunbar until it closed in 1937. The area black children were sent to Bruce School in Beaver Dam and Mittie followed them to teach at Bruce School. Bruce School closed in 1950 and Mittie transferred to the all-black, Central City Grade School and taught until she retired in 1965. The schools were integrated in 1960 and she helped assure a smooth transition. Her teaching career lasted for forty-one years and in 1989, the Central City Board Of Council honored Mittie with an "Appreciation Dinner" and named a Central City Street after her. Mittie died in 1999 at 104 years of age. During her span of life, she was awarded many honors and awards. Probably one of the best of these awards was just seeing the school children get an education. She was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Order of the Eastern Star, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Kentucky Education Association, Green River Valley District Association, General Baptist Association of Kentucky and was the first black person to serve on the Muhlenberg Community Hospital Board of Directors. She certainly will be remembered by all of those that she taught and those that she came in contact with.
Idea and encouragement by Hilma Stewart. Top left picture taken by jrd. Top right picture is from the book, "History of Rockport/Echols" by Shirley Smith and with her permission. Picture of Mattie is from the Times/Argus paper from an article published on 6/23/99. Thanks to Hilma, and Betty Sublett for material and all mentioned for the pictures and some of the information.
Thanks for looking.