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.
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.