For many folks in Runnels County, memories have been flowing back like the waters of the Colorado River since the 12-Mile Bridge burned on June 18. They remember the times of their lives.

“Good morning, yesterday…you wake up and time has slipped away,

and suddenly it's hard to find…the memories you left behind…

Remember, do you remember? The times of your life…

“The Times of Your Life,” Paul Anka

For many folks in Runnels County, memories have been flowing back like the waters of the Colorado River since the 12-Mile Bridge burned on June 18. They remember the times of their lives.

They remember their first kiss, jumping from the bridge into the waters of the Colorado River, and carving their names in the iron trusses on the bridge.

The bridge is located about 12 miles south of Ballinger off of Highway 83 off of County Road 129 near the community of Bethel.

June Harris Koch, who lives on the land where the bridge is located, carved her name into the iron rails, along with her then boyfriend.

"Everybody did that," she recalled after the bridge burned completely up about three weeks ago. "My sister and I both carved our names there, but I think that I carved mine first."

There would be generations of her family who made memories on the bridge, along with many generations of folks in Runnels County.

June did a little research and found that the Austin Bridge Company constructed the bridge in 1934. It was closed to traffic in 1990 after a concrete bridge was built adjacent to it.

Only 30 years ago, the Colorado River Municipal Water District, damned up Lake O.H. Ivie and the water came down, filled up the area and created more water in that area than the locals had ever seen before.

"There was a boat ramp there," June told me. "We had lots of fun down there."

Growing up out there was a treat June said, because the kiddos would meet at the bridge. "Meet me at the 12 Mile," they would say.

"We would go down there and hoop and holler all night," she recalled. "The next morning at the breakfast table my parents would say 'there was a lot of racket out there at the bridge last night. Do you know anything about that?'"

And the answer would always be, ‘I don't know anything...’”

It was a veritable "make-out spot" and that was no secret to the young'uns in Runnels County. And after the tragic fire, which authorities are calling suspicious, many locals shared their memories on social media.

"It may just be an old bridge but the past is slowly fading away," John Talbott, Sr. posted on social media. "One day all the past will be forgotten. Are we going to forget all of our dead family members? Some things remind us of happy times."

“(Went) Over it many times as a kid to grandma's "river place," posted Lu Worsham.

Many have memories of what June called "a right of passage," for her friends and family - they leapt off the bridge, into the waters of the Colorado.

"When the water level was quite a bit higher... it was the place to go to jump from and swim," posted Jason Gore.

"(I)Think the list would be shorter of who didn't jump off that bridge," posted Matt Garcia.

"I watched plenty of friends do it," posted Danelle Smith Schwertner. "I couldn't make myself jump - I have a fear of heights so I never got that far out on it."

"We called it 'Spooky Bridge," posted Donna Ripley. "Good times."

Celinda Hawkins is the managing editor of the Runnels County Register. She can be reached at 325-365-3501 or via email at chawkins@ballingerledger.com.

When asked if he jumped, Judge Barry Hilliard said, "No, but I was out there plenty! There were a lot of memories made there."