The Jones Crossing bridge was originally built by the Peoria Division of the Big Four Railroad in 1904. Like many bridges, itís named for an adjacent landowner, Bill Jones, who was a paper hanger by trade and lived in a large frame house near the bridge. The wooden bridge was built for horse & carriage traffic and had a high arch.
A road for westbound travel did not exist on the south side of the railroad at that time; that would come many years later when Route 10 was built through the area. Oakwood Ave. was the route out of town, and that was on the north side of the tracks. The Jones Crossing bridge gave residents south of the railroad access to Oakwood Ave. Jones Road was the only road crossing the railroad between Ave. G in Vermilion Heights, and Hillery to the west.
Sometime in late 1947 the original bridge was barricaded by the railroad. The railroad wanted to rebuild the bridge from the old timbers but found they had to build a new structure. The township also wanted the bridge reopened, but the wanted the steep arch in the middle of the bridge flattened. In order to do that without reducing the clearance above the railroad tracks, the approaches to the bridge would have to be raised. Kenneth Wonderlin, Danville Township Highway Commissioner, managed to get an agreement made at a hearing of the state commerce commission in which the railroad would rebuild the bridge and the township would contribute $200 toward the work. ( And I still have a hard time fathoming that at one time $200 was that substantial of a sum of money)
Work on the bridge also involved the cooperation of the Illinois Terminal Railroad, as their tracks passed immediately south of the bridge. Their tracks were raised 22 inches for a distance of 50 yards east and west of the bridge.
The new bridge was opened to traffic on February 8, 1948. Not only did it have a flatter arch than the original bridge, but it was also 2 feet wider.
On May 27, 1959, a crane on a flatcar of a P&E train struck the bridge and splintered some supporting beams. The railroad originally said it would be closed about a month for repairs, but had the bridge repaired and opened for traffic June 7th. A 7 ton weight limit was also placed on the bridge.
In October 1962 the railroad petitioned to have the bridge closed to traffic and removed. Excess height cars such as auto racks and HY-Cube boxcars were becoming common, and they could not pass beneath the bridge. A spokesman for the railroad said that the bridge was the only height restriction between Peoria, IL and Indianapolis, IN. The bridge was closed and barricaded on Tuesday, October 16, 1962.