Love is in the air – or it was – before hundreds of padlocks on Paris, Texas’ very own ‘Love Locks’ bridge mysteriously disappeared.
Yes, in case you didn’t know, we have our very own love lock bridge.
For many years, couples would visit the bridge to declare their love and commitment to each other by writing their initials on a padlock (just like in France) and clasping it to the bridge; sealing their love forever.
The bridge, over Hwy 271 might not quite be as romantic as standing on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, France, surrounded by breathtaking historic buildings and throwing the key into the River Seine but, nonetheless, it was our very own version.
It seems only fitting that Paris, Texas, would have their own ‘Love Lock’ bridge, being the second biggest Paris in the world. Hundreds of countries and towns across the world have adopted the idea also.
Since late 2008, couples visiting the City of Lights (Paris, France) celebrated their love by attaching padlocks to the railings of Pont des Arts bridge and then tossing the keys into the Seine river.
According to Travel France Online, the romantic tradition of tying Love Locks on the parapets of the bridges of Paris was started by Asian newlyweds who traveled to Europe on their honeymoon.
It didn’t take long for tourists to catch on and it soon became a tradition for those visiting Paris to visit the bridge and profess their love.
As romantic a gesture as that may be, the locks eventually became a big headache for city officials and the bridge began crumbling under the locks’ weight.
“It’s the end of the padlocks,” said Bruno Julliard, Paris deputy mayor. “They spoil the aesthetics of the bridge, are structurally bad for it and can cause accidents.”
On June 1, 2015, Paris city officials removed the wire mesh panels that held close to one million locks weighing roughly 45 to 50 tonnes. Ironically, the city of love had fallen out of love with its unlikely tourist attraction.
However, overbearing weight of padlocks on the bridge doesn’t seem to be the reason the padlocks mysteriously disappeared in 2017 in our hometown.
“We have no idea who removed the padlocks from the bridge,” said Paris City Parks Superintendent Bill Loranger. “Northeast Texas Trail, Friends of the Trail, Chamber of Commerce…everyone has reached out to us over the past year wondering the same thing but it still remains a mystery.”
A quick search online also leads nowhere, with only a few photos of the bridge being posted by the Northeast Texas Trail Coalition on August 28, 2017.
“The popular and romantic “love locks bridge” is located in Paris over Highway 271 about 1.5 miles east of the Collegiate Dr trailhead. Here, mimicking the Pont des Arts bridge over the River Seine in Paris, France, sweethearts affix their lock which is usually etched with the couple’s initials to the bridge as a testament to their affection. Tradition has it that the key is then tossed down below to symbolize their unending love,” said the post.
But they too, don’t know where the locks went.
According to Loranger, city officials knew of the locks on the bridge but had no intention of removing them.
“We didn’t necessarily approve or condone putting the locks on the bridge but we certainly understood the meaning behind it.”
Loranger said the bridge is rated for 10,000lbs and unless the weight of the locks became a concern, they would have left them alone.
“We weren’t too concerned about that ever happening. It would take a lot of padlocks to cause a safety issue on that bridge.”
While the bridge over Hwy. 271 is fondly known in Lamar County as ‘Love Lock’ bridge, it isn’t the only bridge in Paris that loved-up locals visit.
“The Earl Erickson bridge on the south extension on the trail is 100 foot long with an observation deck on one side and we’ve noticed padlocks appearing on this bridge as well,” said Loranger.
However, those locks haven’t disappeared.
While digging around for answers, Loranger said they did get one possible explanation of where the locks went.
“Rumor has it, a lovers spat lead to the demise of the padlocks,” said Loranger. “Apparently, the couple broke up and the boy wanted to make sure his lovers locks no longer existed. However, when he got to the bridge he couldn’t find his lock so he just cut them all down.”
However, the story is just that; a rumor.
Today, roughly 25 padlocks are attached to the bridge, no doubt, new locks placed there since 2017.
With no solid leads on how the locks disappeared or where they went, couples who once declared their love for each other will have to live with only the memory.