Today, we would like to invite you to Kurowo. The place may be easily reached from Łapy, Bialystok, Choroszcz and Tykocin. The seat Narew National Park is located there; not Kurowo itself but two other places situated nearby are the most important matters here. Driving next to the gas station in Jeżewo, we should turn not into Tykocin direction, but in the other way into direction of Sokoły. Then, about two kilometers further we turn again into direction of Kurowo.
We are diving through a bumpy road, both sides of which are overgrown with the weeping willows. These trees look as if they hide in their trunks some of devilish mysteries. The willows are twisted and very old, in some strange way they all look similarly: charred and cracked by the thunderbolts. We’re driving this way to the end. If we manage to turn in a proper moment, we would get to the seat of Narew National Park, but since it is not our place of destination, we keep on driving. The road becomes narrower, however, we will easily reach the place of destination by car. Swampy terrain is favorable to mosquitoes and other unidentified, flying insects. We eventually reach the dike. The bridge looks like many other bridges. We may admire the local nature form there; in order to experience the beauty of landscapes of Narew National Park, we need to go further, about 400 meters. We reach the second bridge, or rather its remains. And here the interesting story starts.
The dike that we reached, had been constructed in the period between 1900-1903 as the route that joined Białystok – Starosielce – Jeżewo. At that time, the wooden bridge, that joined two banks of Narew had been created. The bridge was 365 meters long, which is equal to the number of days within a year, as the local people use to say.
During the Polish – Soviet war in 1920 the bridge was destroyed. Its reconstruction occurred in 1928, but the constructional failure prevent it from the normal functioning. The bridge was swinging and rocking whenever a vehicle was crossing it. Local people said, that this is a work of a devil. Due to this fact, the maximum load (5 tons) and speed 10kmph limits were established. Buses were crossing the bridge only after all passengers got off and passed the bridge on foot.
When the World War II broke out, the bridge was burnt by the Polish army repulsing the attack of the German aggressor. Only the fragments of wooden pillars and concrete abutments has survived until nowadays.
In the 1950s an idea appeared to reconstruct the bridge once again, but the local people didn’t give their permission. People form nearby towns and villages share the common adage, that the reconstruction of the bridge would cause the World War III. Actually, each time the bridge was reconstructed, it was damaged by the military actions.
Ok, this is enough about the bridge’s history. Standing on the dike, we have a beautiful view onto the Narew Valley. On the left side, we can see shrubbery, 350 meters away from the place that we are. When the water level in the river is low, we may get there without soaking our feet. It should be said, why it is worth to take a risk of passing the swamps to get to this place. The shrubs and bushes hide the interesting historical monument – called Koziołek redoubt. Koziołek has a form of a bastion, with dimensions about 100 and 75 meters, consisting of 2 meters high embankment, which was risen in a shape of irregular hexagon, with six bastions, that are 2.5 meter high. On internal side of curtains, there is a tiny cavity for shooters located and on the external side there is a moat. Inside of the bastion, there is a rather low bank situated, with a diameter about 60 m. The scheme of construction clearly indicates the typical semi-solid work of the Dutch system. Most likely, the regular hill was used to construct the redoubt, however a certain portion of ground and sward was required in order to elevate the embankment.
From the left arm of Narew, sheltered by two bastions, there is a little dike, which proves that the rampart communicated most of all by the water. Location of the only one accessible entrance – the fort’s gate – indicates that the fort faced the North and Tykocin. The only one military action, with which Koziołek may be connected, was “The Swedish Deluge”, including the period when Tykocin was occupied by the Swedes from the end of 1965 until the town become liberated on the 27th of January1657 by the great Lithuanian hetman Paweł Jan Sapiecha, who launched an assault against Swedes.
Controlling Tykocin by the Swedes gave them an important road junction and cut off the major route, that joined the Crown with Lithuania. Tykocin was also a link of chain of fortresses, which enabled the Swedes to control Poland. Therefore, Paweł Sapieha, in February 1965, while entering Podlachia, tried to retake Tykocin. The attempt was foiled by the Swedish reinforcement troops from Nowy Dwór. When it became clear that Tykocin wouldn’t be retaken soon, the water way by Narew River should be closed and communication with Lithuania should be organized and secured. The passage could be organized 6 km from Tykocin, on the way from Kurowo to Kruszewo, where the terrain is elevated on both sides of the Narew Valley. In this place Koziołek was erected, controlling the terrain from the two Eastern bastions with the musket firing as well as with the artillery firing over both Narew’s arms (180 m). In this way the peace was provided on the route section that was cut off by Swedes. After retake of Tykocin by Polish and Lithuanian armies on 27th of January 1657, Koziołek lost its strategic meaning.
There is one more story connected with this place, a private one. In 1999 we arrived here on our bicycles. We haven’t been a couple yet, but everything seemed to indicate that, especially after I made an idiot of myself and fell down the river from the bridge. I was trying to come round for about half of an hour, fortunately, with a positive result. Therefore, this place has one more meaning for us – sentimental one .