Searching for Old Bridges in Central Illinois

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by rhino_adv, May 22, 2011.

  1. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    central Illinois (Bloomington)
    Today I met up with JUNIOR650 with plans to show him some old abandon iron bridges across the Mackanaw River. I found 5 such bridges last fall and winter and will continue to search for more old bridges in central Illinois as time permits.
    Below is a Google map of the locations of the 4 bridges we plan to visit today.

    UPDATE; Here is a gpx file of 475+ old bridges in Illinois.

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    We met up at the Caseys General Store in Mackanaw and the sun was shining bright (but this didnt last for long, more on that later). We headed west out of town on Route 9 to the first bridge (B3). This bridge is in rather good shape with a concrete deck. You can drive over it but the other side goes to private property. Location... N40 28'01.8" W89 26'16.2"

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    AS we leave heading to the next location we notice the weather changing very quickly. The sun is gone and the wind is picking up. Its getting dark off to the west. Bridge B2 cannot be accessed from the north so we pass it up and continue to bridge B4. This bridge is not crossable so we stop on the north side and look around and take a few pics.

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    Here are a couple pics from the south side of the bridge. This is the best way to come in, as there are several miles of gravel road.

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    Location... N40 28'36.30" W89 32'18.31"

    We start to here thunder and see lightning so we mount up and head out again to the next bridge (right into the storm). We only ride a couple more miles and the rain starts. Gental at first, but this does not last long. It is raining hard when we reach the bridge (B1). This bridge can be crossed and has a trail that leads into the timber where we retreat under the cover of large trees.

    Pic under trees.
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    I didnt get any pictures of this bridge as it was raining too hard. This is another nice bridge with a concrete deck. I will go back and get some pics and post them as time permits.
    location... N40 30'47.93" W89 24'08.5"


    We waited till the rain let up and headed back to the bridge we could not get to from the north. The rain started again along with the wind. We decided to pull into the Caseys General Store in Hopedale to wait the rain out. We grabbed a snack and rehydrated while the rain and HAIL fell outside. After 20 min we were ready to try it again. The GPS led us down a long gravel/sand road to towards bridge B2. When we arrived there was a truck parked by the opening in the fence to get up on the leeve to get around the fence to the bridge :( With no way onto the leeve we turned around and headed back. There was a large thunder storm off to the west again and we decided to head home.

    Location... N40 26'20.08" W89 34'2176"


    As I find more old iron bridges in the area I will update.
    #1
  2. JUNIOR650

    JUNIOR650 Adventurer

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    Great riding with you again! Hopefully next time we dont have to deal with the rain, lightning, and mosquitos.:lol3
    #2
  3. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    central Illinois (Bloomington)
    I got out for a ride this afternoon and ended up in Logan County at this old bridge I have crossed many times. I stopped and took a few photos to share. There are two old iron bridges just a few yards apart. They are just north of lincoln and cross the kickapoo Creek.

    Location: N40 13'21.4" W89 24'11.8"

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    #3
  4. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Here are some pics of a bridge I was told about earlier this week. A gentalman in his early 50s told me he used to fish off it in the 1960s and 70s. He wasnt sure the bridge was still there but gave me great directions and I found it just where he said it was. The bridge is just off Swisher Hill in Dewitt County.
    The bridge was nicely restored in 1987 and still open for traffic to cross the creek.

    Location... N40 13' 23.1" W88 49' 16.9"


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    #4
  5. smg94131

    smg94131 SF-CA R1200GS

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I am goof for historical bridges whether iron or concrete. I too nearly always want to stop for a picture.

    I can add to that staircases in cities with step hills....but you can't ride them very well.

    Keep going...

    S
    #5
  6. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Location:
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    Today I walked through the garage and noticed how sad the XT600 looked since it hadnt been ridden for sometime. So, I pushed it out to the driveway and grabbed my helmet and Fieldsheer jacket and headed for some gravel. I picked up a gravel road just west of my place and ran it south towards Logan County. I headed to another old iron bridge in the center of the county. Here are a few pics.

    location N40 12' 38.4" W89 20' 44.8"


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    nice road coming in from the west...
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    #6
  7. ClearwaterBMW

    ClearwaterBMW The Examiner

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    what a cool idea for a trip
    lovely, rustic scenery
    well done
    thanks for sharing
    #7
  8. kimzx1000r

    kimzx1000r Been here awhile

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    Love it, we did this this spring through Iowa next spring we will have to ride and see your bridges. Great post.
    #8
  9. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    central Illinois (Bloomington)
    Today I decided to look for old bridges in Fulton County. I had originaly packed the DR for 3 days and 2 nights in the Shawnee National Forrest, but the weather and a grandaughters birthday party pushed it back a couple weeks. I was given directions to two abandoned Iron Bridges spanning the Spoon River. The first is north of Bernadotte, Illinois.

    Location: N40 24'13" W90 19'15"

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    On to the second bridge.............

    This is interesting! A horse drawn road-maintainer

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    My directions take me up and down some really interesting gravel roads and then some grass and dirt (mud) road/trails. The Garmin says "Driving Off-Road", but I still see road signs at each intersection. This is some of the most remote area I have been in, in central Illinois. I am somewhere near Babylon, Illinois. I made a bad decission to get off the road and follow a grassy trail into the timber and end up here.....

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    I road DOWN this rutted gravel/mud road about 1/4 mile and decided I needed to turn around because the road was getting worse with every wheel revolution. This was no easy task!! I finely had the big thumper turned around and on its kickstand. I was very courious what lay at the end of this road so I continued down on foot (BTW mosquitos were terrible). I walked another few hundred yards and saw a small cabin off to the north. I started running the movie "The Hills Have Eyes" through my mind, and finding the bridge seemed much less important to me! I made it back to the DR and didnt look back.

    I got back on the main trail and ran a couple more miles to a black top. I ride this road across the river and back towards where I feel the bridge should be. A few more miles and I come to a road with a ROAD CLOSED AHEAD sign. I have found several bridges by following signs like this. The elevation was dropping quickly and I knew I was getting close. I came upon several houses/shacks and saw a couple older gentlemen sitting on lawnmowers talking to each other. I stopped to ask about the bridge. They told me to keep going down the road and I couldnt miss it, they also told me it is called the BABYLON BEND BRIDGE. THEN,..... THERE IT ITS!!!

    Location: N40 35'06" W90 20'53"

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    NOTICE THE DATES AND WATER HEIGHTS MARKS!!

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    MORE LATER!!
    #9
  10. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    If you dont know this bridge is here, you will never find it. The road on both sides of the bridge has disappeared into the timber.I parked the DR650 and hiked down a fence row to a bridge hidden a few hundred yards off a blacktop near the old McLean County ghost town of Pleasant Hill. Here lies a relic of a bygone era on the Mackinaw River. Named for its gracefully arched iron beams, the Rainbow Bridge is one of the few remaining iron bridges that still span the main channel of the river. Constructed in 1868 under the supervision of road commissioner Moses Cochran, it was the first iron bridge built in Lexington Township and just the second iron bridge in McLean County.
    The building of the “new” bridge was a direct result of an incident in which a man and his team of mules drowned while attempting to ford the Mackinaw River near this location. Rainbow Bridge became a great service to the citizens of Pleasant Hill and Lexington – particularly for those living south of the river, as most of the stores, schools and churches were located on the north side.
    The Rainbow Bridge was condemned to motor traffic in the 1960’s and its wooden deck planks have deteriorated and been carried away by the countless floods. As it stands today, the Rainbow Bridge is still in remarkably good condition for a structure that is over 140 years old.

    Location: 40°36'15" N, 88°45'16" W

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    #10
  11. lukasteam

    lukasteam Life is beautiful !!!

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    Location:
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    Great pics. and write-up!!! Love the old structures !!!
    #11
  12. begeberg

    begeberg That'll leave a mark..

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    Can you put together a GPS file of these finds and post it?
    #12
  13. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    central Illinois (Bloomington)



    begeberg, I intend to do just that, but will likely wait till this winter so the file will be much larger. As it stands, each bridge includes the GPS coordinates before the pictures. I hope to locate and photograph many more old bridges before the snow starts blowing.

    Thanks fort showing interest!

    Brad
    #13
  14. mygs

    mygs Adventurer

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    Columbus, Ohio
    Very nice write up and pics. Thanks for sharing and...inspiring!
    #14
  15. HARDHAT.223

    HARDHAT.223 n00b

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    Dude! I am from Bloomington originally and used to hang out in Lexington and El Paso and all around these parts. Canoed down the Mackinaw many times and rode to many of the places you're showing pictures of. You got me a little homesick right now!! Keep 'em coming please.

    Oh yeah, there's another good one right off Hwy 39 at Kappa...and several all the way down to the big river.
    #15
  16. HARDHAT.223

    HARDHAT.223 n00b

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    Duh, I guess that's the way you've been heading!
    #16
  17. Gnslngr

    Gnslngr Adventurer

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    I am in awe. You've taken the rather unremarkable geographic nature of my state, Illinois, and turned it into something I cannot wait to hear more of. Kudos to you, and keep it coming!
    #17
  18. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    HARDHAT.223, Glad I could bring back some good memories for you!

    Do you recall which side of 39 the bridge was located? I spent some time on google earth searching for it, but came up empty handed. I have good luck stopping at local coffee shops and talking with the older locals. They are usuall willing to help out and tell stories about their communities.

    thanks for the lead!!

    Brad
    #18
  19. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    central Illinois (Bloomington)


    Im glad your enjoying this! I will post more photos and history of the bridges as I have time (damn work cuts into my ride time :lol3)!!
    #19
  20. HARDHAT.223

    HARDHAT.223 n00b

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    I just noticed you're from Armington...I have family there so odds are you know them. Ackerson is their name, small world indeed.

    Not sure if you'd come from the North or South...coming from Bloomington you would go North on 39 to the Lake Road exit, exit 8 I think? If you go North on the service road (251 - I 39 used to be U.S. 51) there are actually 3 bridges there...the Interstate....the one you are on....and if you look East there is the old steel bridge. Drank many a beer and shot .22's off that bridge back in the day. Awesome whitetail herd in there, you can see hundreds at dusk to the South of Lake Evergreen.

    I think you can still get to it off of the Lake Road...when you turn off of 39 go East a little way and then take a left (North). There's some houses back in there and that road will take a big loop East and put you back on the Lake road so you can't get lost.

    My buddies own a lot of the bottom land on the North side so I always came from that side but it's all private property...and be careful most are pretty cool but there's eye's everywhere and like I said we used to do a lot of shooting down there.

    I know I'm getting long winded here but once you check that out go East on the Lake Road to the Tee and have a burger at Green Gables, really miss that. If Kevin is working tell him Mike (Burky) says hi and get directions to another bridge just North of the dam at Lake Bloomington, it's not steel but it's a cool little vantage point. If you keep following the Mackinaw there are a bunch of little bridges all the way down.

    Heck if you head into El Paso stop at Topsy's and mention me, you'll either get smacked or someone will buy you a beer!

    I expect pictures! http://maps.google.com/maps?q=kappa...code_result&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CCEQ8gEwAA
    #20