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Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
6:27a - Tangent
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco took four years to build and cost $35 million. During it's construction, nineteen men fell from the bridge but were caught by a suspended netting which prevented them from falling to the water below. One man fell from the bridge who was not caught by the netting, and a disastrous ten men were killed when the suspended netting collapsed. The survivors were informally named the Halfway to Hell Club, and the bridge itself is considered to have the highest number of suicides in the world due to the bridge's great height and iconic nature. In the 1970s, a group called the Suicide Club held lavish parties every time a suicide occurred. All of these deaths have led some witnesses to report that they can hear screams trailing off in the distance during fog shrouded nights. Though now pedestrians are not allowed on the bridge at night.
In 1853, the Tennessee, a clipper ship ran across rocks and sank in the fog near the Golden Gate Strait. Now it reportedly passes under the Golden Gate Bridge, without a crew, sailing through the waters on dark foggy nights. In 1942, the USS Kennison passed by the ghost ship, and sailors and crew reported seeing the ship and watching its wake, yet nothing was registered by the Kennison’s radar. The Tennessee seems to always appear on fog shrouded nights, its decks are always deserted, and it fades away about a minute after first appearing.

This is a real-world example of a ghost story, loosely connected to a real-world landmark which has plenty of urban legends and myths purported about it. Now imagine what the context of such a bridge would be in a fantasy setting.

First off, an enormous bridge would require wizards to assist in construction, and learned sages would be on hand. Even if the total construction of such a bridge only took 4 years, and cost 35 million gold pieces, the death toll might look different, perhaps be quite high, unless plenty of high level clerics were on hand to assist with injuries. Suicides might be a problem, but in the medieval world resources would not be diverted to stop people from committing suicide, and in a magical setting where painful death can sometimes lead to undead, the shoals underneath such a bridge might become known for their wailing dead, or carnivorous scavengers.
In a low magic setting, certainly more deaths would occur around the bridge and perhaps construction would be delayed several times, pushing up costs. A very wealthy kingdom would see to it that construction is completed, even if the bridge ends up being worthless. And in a high magic setting, such a bridge could probably be constructed in a fortnight with little to no calamitous occurrences during construction. If a war breaks out, perhaps one side decides to destroy the bridge. What kind of spirits or deities might they upset by doing so, or perhaps the bridge is not so vulnerable to attack by being protected by multiple magical wards and armors.
Always, there will be suicides followed by rumor and legends of ghosts, if not actual ghosts.

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