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

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    We next headed into Mahoment towards the "Old East Street Bridge". This ia a Pratt through truss bridge, built by the Decatur Bridge Company in 1912 over the Sangamon River on a pedestrian/bike trail (former East Street) in Mahomet. This is a well maintained bridge with nice timber decking and side rails to keep foot and bike traffic from falling.

    Location:N40°11'32", W88°23'54"


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    #41
  2. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    We road part of a D/S route out east of Savoy for a while, and about 4pm decided to head back home. On the way back we went through Piatt county and my GPS alerted me of a bridge I had entered cooridinites for, but not yet been to. So, a little detour and we photographed another bridge. This is a two-span through truss bridge over the Sangamon River on TR 51. The bridge is located just north of White Heath on a gravel road. It has a total length: 203.0 ft, deck width: 15.7 ft and vertical clearance above the concrete deck: 12.9 ft.

    Location:N40°07'16", W88°29'52"

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    #42
  3. Wolf_ADV

    Wolf_ADV mark six pack

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    Hey it was a great day Saturday ..It was really good riding with you and JUNIOR650.....Thanks for the invite RHINO081460.........Look forward to the next search........
    #43
  4. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Here are a few photos of a small wooden deck bridge over a creek in Dewitt county, south and west of Heyworth.

    location: N40 15' 50.1" W89 01' 47.2"

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    A few miles east of this bridge you can see this:

    It appears to be a 1955 Ford Customline Tudor that has been embedded into the roof of an old barn along the side of the road.

    Location: N40 15.046 W88 57.469

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    Brad
    #44
  5. Suruppak

    Suruppak Been here awhile

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    This is a great thread! I didn't realize other people on here liked old bridges too! Here is a site that I've been using to find them: http://bridgehunter.com

    I grew up in southern Shelby county and now live in Moultrie county. Once I get my bike fixed (R80ST - flywheel broke last week :cry) I would love to go bridge hunting with anyone willing.

    -Jeremy
    #45
  6. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Suruppak, Im glad you are enjoying the thread! I use bridgehunter.com as well as Google Earth to locate the old bridges. Funny you should mention southern Shelby county. I am planning on riding down to Shelby county next friday (7-29-11) to locate and photograph 8 bridges in the area. Good luck getting the R80 back running!
    #46
  7. begeberg

    begeberg That'll leave a mark..

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    I live in Mahomet and recognize a few of these, is the one just North of Mahomet near the twin silo farm? Its at an angle from the road today but you can walk over to it.
    #47
  8. Suruppak

    Suruppak Been here awhile

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    Rhino, here is a bridge I used to fish at when I was a kid, it's down some fun back roads if I remember correctly.
    http://bridgehunter.com/il/shelby/cowden/

    Also, here is where I grew up, starting here and heading south are some fun roads too. Also right near there is the Ridge Cemetery with some neat old gravestones from the 1700s. I think the oldest is right at the top of the hill near a large evergreen tree.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?daddr=U...8173&geocode=FTasVwId6uCy-g&gl=us&mra=mr&z=12

    I really wish I could ride there with you, but since I can't I'm really looking forward to the pics in this forum! :clap
    #48
  9. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Yes begeberg, this bridge is near the twin silo's and at an angle to the road. There is a break in the guard rail to allow foot traffic into view the bridge.
    #49
  10. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Suruppak, the Cowden bridge is one of the bridges on my list for next week. Thanks for the info on the Ridge Cemetery. I enjoy searching old cemeterys looking for old grave stones.

    Here is a Google Map of the location of the 8 bridges I wish to visit. Im not sure there will be enough time to stop at them all in one day, as its a 2.5 hour ride each way. If I have to return later to finish them all, I'll let you know.

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    Brad
    #50
  11. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Here is the Pony truss bridge over Little Mackinaw River on TR 240 just north of Hopedale in Tazewell county. The bridge was built in 1934 and is 84 feet long with a deck width of 20 feet.

    Location: N40°27'09" , W89°24'57"

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    Nice ride in.........

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    Brad
    #51
  12. cabinfever

    cabinfever Adventurer

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    Enjoy the ride this weekend... post some pics when you get back. It is always interesting to see an "outsiders" viewpoint of the area I grew up.
    #52
  13. vfrpilot

    vfrpilot Stress Relief Rider

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    The bridges that you have labled Becks Creek O-PT2 and C-PT3 are both closed and impassable, however the one labled Becks Creek O-PT1 is crossable on a bike but has some floated boards from high water. I suspect that it will be closed soon. I crossed O-PT2 just last fall, but found it closed and stripped a few weeks ago.
    If you need a riding partner PM me! I love riding in that area.
    #53
  14. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Today I met up with inmates tripleplay and vfrpilot with plans to ride to Shelby County and photograph several old bridges. vfrpilot had a gps track to the first bridge he claimed to be 50% gravel and dirt (he was correct:D), so off he went with myself and tripleplay close behind. We ran a lot of dusty dirt, grass and gravel roads till we arived at the Thompson Mill Covered Bridge.

    [FONT=verdana, arial]A few miles east of Cowden in Shelby County, the Thompson Mill Covered Bridge crosses the Kaskaskia River. It was completed in 1868 at the cost of $2,500, which was a ridiculous amount of money back then and caused much controversy. In 1868 you could buy a nice house and 100 acres of land for $250. This wonderfully restored piece of Illinois history is located on a once important route between Effingham and Springfield. It's named for the owner of a mill that was located near the bridge. It's the narrowest of all the covered bridges in Illinois, with a width of 10 feet 7 inches. This 105 foot-long Howe truss span is one of only five 19th century covered bridges remaining in Illinois. Covered bridges were constructed with a roof and sidewalls to protect the roadway from weather (not to keep horses from being spooked as many believe). Some say it was designed to keep people from fishing off the bridge, which spooked the horses. This treasure of rural Illinois transportation history is on the National Register of Historic places and, though closed to automobiles, is open to pedestrian traffic.


    Location: N39°15'31" , W88°49'05"

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    From there I took the lead and headed to the Abandoned Cowden through truss bridge over the Kaskaskia River on TR 439A in Shelby county. This Pratt through truss bridge was built in 1890 with a Total length: 167.0 ft and Deck width: 13.5 ft.

    Location: N39°14'30" , W88°50'30"

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    Next we headed to a Pony truss bridge over the Richland Creek on CH 40. This is a well maintained Riveted, 4-panel Pratt pony truss built in 1923 with a Total length: 63.0 ft. and Deck width: 17.0 ft.

    Location: N39°14'10" , W88°47'13"

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    After lunh vfrpilot led us to Williamsburg Hill and the Ridge Cemetery.

    Rising 810 feet above the the small ghost towns of Towerhill and Shelbyville, Williamsburg Hill is quite possibly the spookiest place in Illinois. So many reports of hauntings, strange creatures and UFOs have been reported here over the years it is difficult to pin down why Williamsburg Hill has such a bad reputation and such a bad attitude. Perhaps the trouble started sometime in 1839, when the town of Tower Hill was founded by Doctor Thomas Williams. When Doctor Williams first rolled into the area he was warned by the local Native American tribes that the hill and the surrounding area was a place of great evil and a home for all manner of evil spirits. Although the natives were afraid to step foot near the hill, Doctor Williams pretty much did what every other white devil of the day did, he ignored the warnings of the local tribes and established his town.
    For a little over forty years, Tower Hill became a bustling metroplis of over two thousand people and enjoyed incredible prosperity thanks in part that the town was smack dab in the path of the busy stagecoach line that brought the rich, famous and sometimes infamous to the town. However like many other things the party was over in 1881 for the small town when the stagecoach line was retired and the new railroad completely bypassed the town. Virtually overnight the town of Tower Hill became a ghost town when many citizens felt they needed to be closer to the railroad and moved east to Vandalia. As of 1900 all that remained of the town were a few folks eeking out an existense, a Methodist church and a few shops that were quickly failing. The high times were over with a vengence for Tower Hill.
    However as time rolled by folks who were seeking a more quiet genteel life began to move back to the shadow of Williamsburg Hill and this is perhaps when all the weirdness began. Many of the stories of terrifying apparitions are associated with the small overgrown cemetary that sits on the highest summit. Ridge Cemetary is home to the eternal remains of many of the early settlers of Tower Lakes and would have been completely forgotten if it were not for the vandalism that has been committed against the cemetary over the years and much darker rumors of occult rituals being practiced in the cemetary. Many folks have claimed to hear bizarre chanting coming from the hill and the sounds of humans and animals in distress.
    Over the years citizens of Tower Hill have reported seeing strange and frightening apparitions on the Hill and near the cemetary. The apparition of an old man that is said to be mad has been frightening those brave enough to step foot upon the slope of Williamsburg Hill. The apparition comes screaming out of the woods and dissappears as before he can assault the witness. One citizen claims that she witnessed a ghostly funeral procession in the vicinity of Ridge Cemetary. The witness, who was a little girl at the time, said she watched as a group of black garbed figures materialized out of the fog following behind a black casket, she could hear weeping and sobs coming from the ghostly procession and watched as the party vanished into thin air before her eyes.
    Others brave enough to explore the Hill and Ridge Cemetary have reported seeing large dark shadows and apparitions that attempt to entice people to committ suicide within the gates of Ridge Cemetary. One witness reported a strange occurence one day when her daughter caimed that the people who lived in the ground wanted her to come live with them. Needless to say such a terrifying experience caused the woman never to come near the cemetary ever again.
    Other witnesses have reported seeing a tall, hairy, bipedal creature haunting the mists and forest of Williamsburg hill. Teenagers have claimed that as they were walking along the path they would catch fleeting glimpses of the Sasquatch like creature following along side them darting from tree to tree. Apparently the Hill may also be home to it’s very own dragon but of course this story is highly suspect and is probably not a true phenomenon associated with the hill.
    Many citizens of the surrounding area have reported seeing strange bright lights hovering over or near the Hill leading many to believe that the hill is actually home to an alien base located deep with in the hill. One witness claimed to have seen a large red ball descend out of the sky and land on top of the Hill. The witness then reported watching as the large red ball took off from the Hill and flew over his car causing the car to stall.
    When you read the stories and eyewitness accounts of the bevvy of bizarre phenomenon associated with Williamsburg Hill one can not help but wonder what has caused this seemingly innocent hill to have such a crappy disposition. Perhaps the Native tribes that warned Doctor Williams was right, maybe this place is cursed. Native American tribes lived very close to the earth and were well aware of places to avoid because they were believed to be an abode of really really bad things and Williamsburg Hill appears to be such a place.
    One theory in the field of paranormal research is that certain areas are vortex or doorways to other dimensions from which spirits, demons and strange creatures from the ether region are able to gain access to our world.

    Location: N39 18' 02" , W88 55' 57"

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    After leaving Williamsburg Hill, vfrpilot leads us to 3 bridges crossing the Becks Creek. This is some of the best D/S riding central Illinois has to offer. We traveled on many miles of rutted dirt roads, some sandy gravel, through muddy areas, crossed a closed pony truss bridge, more rutted dirt roads, more mud.

    More bridge photos from this ride to come.

    Brad




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    #54
  15. nadams

    nadams Been here awhile

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    #55
  16. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    nadams, I remember crossing an open grate bridge across the Illinois river at Pekin in the late 1970 on a Suzuki GT-750 Water Buffalo. Trying to ride on the open grate was so difficult, I road up to Peoria to cross back. I never crossed an open grate bridge again!!

    Brad
    #56
  17. Suruppak

    Suruppak Been here awhile

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    The bridge crossing the Ohio River on route 45 to Paducah is open grate, and I will never ride across that bridge again!!

    Also, in the description of Williamburg Hill, I think the town of Williamsburg is what was meant, not Tower Hill. There are no remains left of the town of Williamsburg at all. This description strikes me as something Troy Taylor would write. :D

    Great pictures, I loved looking at them!
    #57
  18. alekkas

    alekkas Been here awhile

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    Rhino, to respectfully add because this bridge has been viewed with a little more respect than most of the old ones. Due to your influence, an overnight motorcycle / camping trip with my 15 year old wound up with an early morning visit to the Lyndon, IL bridge. I am adding because it seems to have a different fate from many old bridges. The town rescued it from demolition in 1995 and sells plaques for the foundation - you can "sponsor" a plank for $75. Just south of I88, I think it is north of your area.

    The bridge inexplicably connects the town to gravel roads and cornfields. Built in 1894, it is approximately 600 feet long. It is a Pratt Truss that you have photographed so well in other examples, so I'll just add two photos that set this apart from the others I have found.

    The town built a park around it. We met a man on his morning bicycle ride. He said it still gets used by walkers and bikes. The park gets used for parties and cook outs:

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    Most planks were memorials, sponsorships, and other things. This was my favorite - so sweet....
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    Gotta tell you, Rhino, this is not only an excellent "treasure hunt" type activity to add to rides. There are a lot of emotions attached to walking an old and noble or sad and neglected structure that is abandoned. The design and workmanship of these old bridges is pretty amazing. Thanks for the rides.
    #58
  19. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Next up are the Becks Creek bridges. I have located three pony truss bridges over this creek. Saddly two of them are closed to traffic and Im sure the third one will be closed soon as it is in dire need of maintanance which is not likely to happen with a bridge of this age.
    The first bridge was open last year but has since been closed and the deck stripped of its planks. This is a 4 pannel Bedstead pony truss bridge over Beck's Creek on TR 373, 5.4 mi. southeast of Oconee. The bridge was built in 1899 with a Total length: 64.9 ft. and Deck width: 13.4 ft.

    Location: N39°15'58" , W89°00'23"

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    It really saddens me (angers me) to see a piece of history (this bridge is 112 years old) lost because of negligence! I understand there may not be funds to maintain it properly, but rather than strip it of its planks and let nature engulf it for ever, why not lower the load limit to allow only light weight vehicles to cross or barracade the bridge when it is unsafe for all traffic. BUT, leave it intact for future generations to enjoy!

    The next bridge is a riveted, 5-panel Pratt pony truss bridge over Becks Creek on TR 32, 2.6 mi. northwest of Herrick. This bridge was built in 1909 with a Total length: 129.9 ft. and Deck width: 13.7 ft. The bridge is closed to all traffic, but we were able to ride across it with out any problem.

    Location: N39°14'55" , W89°00'52"

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    vfrpilot crossing the bridge......

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    tripleplay crossing the bridge.......

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    From here vfrpolit led us to the last of the Becks creek bridges. We road several miles of very poorly maintained dirt roads :clap and several short stretches of mud. We were on a grass road/trail that looked as tho it had not been driven on this year. I enjoyed this portion of the ride very much!

    The bridge is a 4-panel bedstead Pratt pony truss over Beck's Creek on TR 317, 5.6 mi. northwest of Herrick. This bridge was built in 1919 with a Total length: 60.0 ft.and Deck width: 13.7 ft. This is the only bridge of the three that can be legaly crossed. Im not sure how much longer the bridge will be open as it shows signs of deck planking starting to float up from a recent flood.

    Location: N39°17'58" , W89°00'13"

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    From here we headed north towards Moweaqua and the Flat Branch creek. The first bridge is a riveted, 6-panel Pratt pony truss over Flat Branch on TR 35A, 3 mi. southeast of Moweaqua. This bridge was built in 1916 with a Total length: 85.9 ft. and Deck width: 17.7 ft.

    Location: N39°33'59" , W88°58'18"

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    Here is the remains of a Pony truss bridge over Flat Branch on TR 86. The bridge was built in 1900 with a Total length: 69.9 ft. and Deck width: 13.8 ft.

    location: N39°34'18" , W88°58'30"

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    I dont know much about this bridge other than its location.

    Location: N39 19' 33.1" W88 48' 21.2"

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    Brad






















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    #59
  20. rhino_adv

    rhino_adv Gnarly Adventurer

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    Suruppak, thank you for the clarification! Im glad your enjoying the photos.

    Brad
    #60