Mungo Park Discovers a Toll Bridge made of Bamboo in the Western Sahel, 1797

DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture

During the several years of travel in the western Sahel of Africa, Mungo Park kept detailed records of the geography as well as of the people and flora and fauna of the areas through which he traveled.

In this brief entry, he describes the construction of a floating bridge that must yearly be re-built following the rainy season, and which he sketches in the following print.  In this picture, he also draws in himself (lower right corner) in the act of doing the sketch of the bridge.

This may be the earliest description of a toll bridge – at least, in Africa.

Two tall trees [bamboo stalks], when tied together by the tops, are sufficiently long to reach from one side to the other, the roots resting upon the rocks, and the tops floating in the water.  When a few trees have been placed in this direction, they are covered…

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