1 vote

Big Four - North Fork River Bridge


Looking northeast, after the collapse.

Photo courtesy of Mike Roegner


BH Photo #236311


August 5, 1893

This bridge, consisting of 13 bents of trestle on the west end, two 60ft. spans, a 30ft. tower and a central span of 144 ft., was approached on each side by heavy grades. Four cars of a freight train, in going up one of these grades, broke off, the rear half running back down the grade. It was brought to a stop on the bridge and left standing with the brakes set. In this condition it was struck by another freight train. The bridge being in a sag, the speed of the second train was considerable, since the grade was operated as a momentum grade. By the sudden stopping of the second train, the brakes being set on the first train, the bridge was shoved forward allowing the rear end to drop off its pier, forming an incline down which the cars on the bridge rolled, smashing against the pier at the bottom. The missing section was replaced by a timber trestle.

References: Engineering News 1893, Volume 2, p. 159 - The Engineer, Volume 76, p. 265


Lost Deck truss bridge over North Fork Vermilion River on former Big Four Railroad in Danville
Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois
Replaced by a new bridge; filled in
Built 1868, main span collapsed in 1893, replaced in 1902
- Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (CCC&StL; Big Four)
- Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railway (IB&W)
Main span: 144 ft. Warren deck truss
Two 60 ft. Pratt deck truss spans
Approaches: Timber stringer
Length of largest span: 144.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.12956, -87.64312   (decimal degrees)
40°07'46" N, 87°38'35" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/445207/4442336 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Danville NW
Inventory number
BH 52994 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 24, 2015: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • July 26, 2012: Added by Jacob P. Bernard

Related Bridges 


  • Jacob P. Bernard


Big Four - North Fork River Bridge
Posted September 25, 2015, by Bob Hageman (rvhjr1945 [at] gmail [dot] com)

If you look at the far right side of the first picture and about 1/4 down from the top there is another bridge. At one time this bridge carried Logan Avenue across the Big 4 tracks. It is no longer there and there is a crossing instead. This picture is taken generally west looking east and has the bridge. The other three pictures do not include it. I know of no other picture of this bridge.