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The Arches

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Photos 

Overview, looking east from the south bank

Photo taken by Lori Bernard in November 2009

Map 

A Rocky Start 

Written by Mike Roegner

Before the Salt Fork river bridge was built, Big Four trains from the Cairo Division would switch to the Wabash at Tilton, IL and use the Vermilion River bridge to cross the river to Danville Junction station. The switch to the Salt Fork River bridge was made at the beginning of January, 1906. A few weeks later the new bridge was closed to traffic and trains were again switching to the Wabash and using the Vermilion River Bridge. There was a problem with fill material on the new route sliding down the embankment into the Salt Fork River. It got so bad that tracks on the approaches were left hanging with no support. It was believed that the contractor hadn't blasted deep enough into the surrounding shale. The remedy was to bring in slag from the steel mills in the Indiana Harbor area. That was the destination of most coal trains using the new Indiana Harbor division, so it was a convenient solution.

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Danville Commercial
Friday, February 9, 1906

The Big Four railroad is making preparations to begin the work of repairing the fills at the approaches to the Salt Fork river bridge which was recently constructed on the Cairo Division between this city and Lyons yard. Shortly after the bridge was constructed the approaches became dangerous for the reason that the dirt and gravel was constantly slipping and falling into the stream at the points where the two embankments formed a juncture with the ends of the bridge.

During the high water a few weeks ago such a large quantity of the dirt and gravel which composed these fills slipped into the stream that travel over the bridge was made dangerous. At that time the company made temporary repairs by driving in piling and dumping several carloads of dirt and gravel on the fills to take the place of the earth that had slipped into the stream. Since that time the dirt has been slipping away from the fills the same manner as before and the officials of the road were compelled to issue orders that all trainmen and enginemen to travel slowly over this point in the road.

Recently the civil engineers of the division have devised a plan for the permanent repair of the fills at the approaches to the bridge. It is believed that the shale rock that underlies both fills was probably not blasted away sufficiently before the dirt was piled on it to make the grade. This is thought to be the reason that the dirt would not stay in place and settled when dumped. It is known that something must be done to hold the dirt and gravel, of which the two fills are composed, in place. The dumping of slag on the track and along the sides of each embankment is thought to be the remedy for the trouble. Slag, in large quantities, is to be dumped on the side of the fills near the points of the juncture with the ends of the bridge. After a large quantity of slag is dumped it is to be covered with two or three feet of earth and gravel. As the slag is very heavy it will hold the earth and gravel in place until it has time to settle. When this is accomplished it will make the roadbed and the fills permanent.

Friday morning the first carload of the material came in over the Indiana Harbor division from Chicago and was dumped at the fills at the approaches to the bridge. A large number of carloads of slag will be hauled here within the next few days.

Facts 

Overview
Concrete arch bridge over Salt Fork Vermilion River on CSX Transportation southwest of Danville
Location
Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois
Status
Open to traffic
History
Built 1905
Builder
- Bates & Rogers Construction Co. of Chicago, Illinois
Railroads
- Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway (CCC&StL)
- Conrail (CR)
- New York Central Railroad (NYC)
- Penn Central Railroad (PC)
- Peoria & Eastern Railroad (P&E)
Design
Open-spandrel concrete arch
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 100.0 ft.
Total length: 375.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.11572, -87.64671   (decimal degrees)
40°06'57" N, 87°38'48" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/444889/4440801 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Danville SW
Inventory number
BH 37336 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 13, 2017: Essay added by Mike Roegner
  • January 20, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 2, 2013: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • October 18, 2011: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: updated cateogory
  • October 17, 2011: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • August 11, 2011: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • February 9, 2011: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • February 8, 2011: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • February 4, 2011: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • August 21, 2010: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • May 15, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • March 11, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • March 7, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • March 4, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • February 24, 2010: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • February 22, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • August 28, 2008: Added by Kim Harvey

Related Bridges 

Sources 

Comments 

CSX - Middle Fork Vermilion River Bridge
Posted November 16, 2014, by Robert V. Hageman (rvhjr1945 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This is actually the Big 4 bridge across the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River. It is misidentified in the title as the Middle Fork. The Vermilion River does not actually start until a couple hundred yards downstream where the North Fork of the Vermilion joins the Salt Fork. The bridge is not usually identified as either the Big 4 Bridge nor the CSX Bridge across the Salt Fork. The local name is "The Arches" given to it by scores of local kids who swam and fished near it.

Salt Fork River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 13, 2014, by Richard Tekulve (canoeindiana [at] yahoo [dot] com)

This is actually the Vermilion River not the Salt Fork Vermilion River. The Salt Fork ends aprox. 4 miles west of here just upstream from the Anderson Hill Bridge. The Salt and Middle forks form the Vermilion River and it flows to the Wabash. I canoed under this bridge last Sunday and it is 60 foot tall at normal water levels. There are several tall railroad bridges in the Danville vicinity.

Big Four Railroad Bridge
Posted July 22, 2010, by Hank Knuth (Hank [dot] knuth [at] gmail [dot] com)

There exists another nearly identical bridge near Marshall, IL

The date on the bridge is 1909.

Big Four Railroad Bridge
Posted July 22, 2010, by Hank Knuth (Hank [dot] knuth [at] gmail [dot] com)

There exists another nearly identical bridge near Marshall, IL

The date on the bridge is 1909.

Big Four Railroad Bridge
Posted June 1, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

If you like looking at engineering drawings, here's a couple.

The bridge was designed under the supervision of W.M. Duane, Superintendent of Construction for the Big Four, and was built by the Bates & Rogers Construction Company of Chicago.

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