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Homer Covered Bridge 13-10-02x

Photos 

Historic American Buildings Survey Chauncey Buck - Photographer - April 13,1934 View Of Ruins After Collapse On April 5, 1934.

Photo taken by Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #117930

Map 

A Local Newspaper Article-Sept 30, 1932 

Transcribed by Mike Roegner

Old Covered Bridge at Homer Saved As Bids of Wreckers Are Rejected
HOMER, ILL., Sept 30. (CNS)

The old covered bridge at Homer will remain for posterity.

M. S. Hardin, commissioner of highways of South Homer township, announced Thursday that he rejected all bids for the sale of the bridge and would not sell it. He had, on Sept. 17 accepted bids for the bridge, and a Danville wrecking company offered $120 for it.

All Homer, around which the old bridge and its history have been woven, rose in arms. The old bridge must not be razed, the cry arose. Petitions were circulated demanding that it be preserved.

Final action on the acceptance of the high bid was postponed for 10 days, expecting that the township board would act on it, eventually. Hardin’s action, however, ended all the trouble. The bridge will be preserved, he announced.

Huge timbers which had barricaded the old bridge will be taken down, and it will be reopened to traffic. However, large signs "Bridge Condemned" will be placed, and anyone traversing it will do so at their own risk, it was said.

Facts 

Overview
Lost Covered Bridge over Salt Fork Vermilion River on IL 49 north of Homer
Location
Homer, Champaign County, Illinois
Status
collapsed and removed
History
Built 1863, collasped on April 5, 1934
Builder
- George Spraker
Design
Covered Howe Through Truss
Dimensions
Span length: 132.0 ft.
Total length: 132.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.05535, -87.95987   (decimal degrees)
40°03'19" N, 87°57'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/418130/4434342 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Homer
Inventory numbers
WGCB 13-10-02x (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
BH 36910 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 26, 2013: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • April 1, 2011: Essay added by Mike Roegner
  • February 21, 2010: Updated by Robert Stephenson: Added GPS coordinates
  • July 23, 2008: New photo from Kim Harvey
  • July 22, 2008: Added by Kim Harvey

Sources 

Comments 

Homer Covered Bridge from From the Timber to the Prairie
Posted September 5, 2016, by Ray Cunningham (cunningham [at] uif [dot] uillinois [dot] edu)

Construction of the Covered Bridge

The years of the Civil War slowed progress in the town but the destruction of the Salt Fork bridge in the spring flooding of 1862 effectively cut North Homer off from the village. The ford was impassible during and after storms and a permanent solution to the destruction of the 1859 bridge was needed.

The Township Trustees included the older settler James Freeman. Freeman had been a resident of the Salt Fork area since the 1830s and was one of the signers for the Atwood tavern in Old Homer. Freeman, a pioneer of North Homer, was a Pennsylvania native married to Rebecca Ogden, the family namesake for the future town. Their 20-year-old son, James L., enlisted in the 26th Illinois Regiment.

In the early days of the republic a man from the country, unsophisticated in the ways of the city, would come to “see the elephant,” or gaze upon the ways of the city. Chicago was such a place and full of “sharpers,” awaiting the arrival of those less sophisticated. The spring of 1863 in Chicago was a time of confidence scams perpetrated upon travelers, farmers, and country men coming to trade. It was in this environment that James Freeman brought the down payment to the L. B. Boomer Company for the covered bridge.

Freeman arrived in Chicago and was walking down the street when he encountered a well-dressed man who called him by name and was delighted to see him. Being older, Freeman did not know the man but figured that he had forgotten. After speaking for a few minutes the man promised Freeman to take him to dinner. A moment later a man came up to the two and was obviously familiar with Freeman’s supposed acquaintance. He presented the man with a bill and Freeman watched as his “acquaintance” showed the man that had only a $100 bill for the $80 dollar debt. Freeman was asked if he could accommodate the request and be repaid when they went to dinner. Freeman handed over the money and they all went over to a building where the two would exchange receipts. The two men went inside for just a moment and promised to return. After one-half hour, Freemen went inside and found that the man had no office in the building and was unknown. He immediately went to the police. Freeman quietly replaced the money and said no more.

The episode would have remained a secret were it not for the Homer readers of the Chicago Times. Those reading the article could see through the pseudonym given in the paper and discovered Freeman’s folly. While the amount swindled was in dispute, the story was told in Homer as late as fifty years later by Levi Hall.

The covered bridge was completed in August 1864. The Howe truss bridge was brought by rail and constructed on the site of the previous bridge washed away by the 1862 flood. The covered bridge abutments were originally made of square timbers at each end, not the stone abutments known to generations. Grading of the approaches, digging of the north side, and building up of the south side cost $100, bringing the final cost of the project to $2836.66.

Footnote: The stone abutments for the covered bridge were installed by E. W. Burdick in September 1884. The bridge was constantly in need of work and was repaired and rebuilt numerous times, the first in 1876. Rotten timbers were found in 1907 and replaced under the approaches. The bridge collapsed April 5, 1934.

Homer Covered Bridge
Posted April 1, 2011, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Yeah....It was a little beyond repairing in that photo! Too bad they didn't make an attempt to restore it in those 2 years before it collapsed.

Homer Covered Bridge
Posted April 1, 2011, by Christopher Fisher (cfisher [at] mailbag [dot] com)

I remember my family telling me about the old Homer covered bridge (and the Conkeytown one as well) when I was a kid. It's fascinating that even back then, there was a public move to preserve something considered an integral part of the history of an area. IIRC, they build a rather large truss bridge in it's place, which was replaced a dozen+ years ago by an UECB.

@Ruth: Good idea, only about 75 years too late. :)

Homer Covered Bridge
Posted September 20, 2009, by Ruth Plencner (SundanceRuth [at] comcast [dot] net)

It sure is a shame this covered bridge looks like it once was very beautiful. Now it needs to be repaired. Maybe someday someone will have money to repair it.

Ruth