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Vermilion River Interurban Bridge

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Facts 

Overview
Lost Deck truss bridge over Vermilion River on former Illinois Traction System in Danville
Location
Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois
Status
Demolished
History
Built 1906, closed to traffic April 8, 1946, abandoned October 16, 1946, demolished in 1947
Design
Main spans: Two 3-panel Warren deck truss spans
South approach: Deck plate girder
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 130.0 ft.
Total length: 1,584.0 ft.
Also called
Danville Interurban Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.12202, -87.63220   (decimal degrees)
40°07'19" N, 87°37'56" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/446131/4441491 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Danville SW
Inventory number
BH 44167 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 2, 2013: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • April 20, 2013: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • October 7, 2011: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • December 12, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • December 8, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • November 1, 2010: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • September 6, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • August 11, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • May 15, 2010: New photos from Robert Stephenson
  • May 10, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • March 15, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • March 10, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • March 7, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • March 6, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • February 18, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • February 17, 2010: Added by Jacob P. Bernard

Sources 

Comments 

Interurban Bridge
Posted October 30, 2013, by Bob Hageman (rvhjr1945 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Photo number 26 identifies this as the Beard Dam. This is incorrect. The Beard Dam was just a couple yards upstream from the ITS bridge that ran across the North Fork in Ellsworth Park. Before artificial ice, ice was cut out of the river, transported under South Logan Avenue and stored in barns between South Logan and the Vermilion River. The underpass is still there although filled with debris. You can see it easily when the foliage is off the trees just to the south of the current dam along the hillside. The dam in the picture was the Illinois Power Company dam which they used to generate electricity. Water was pumped up the hill and used to cool equipment. The steam that was produced was sent via underground steam pipes and used to heat many businesses in downtown Danville. My dad used to own Shepard's Garage on Walnut Street and it was heated by those steam pipes.

Interurban Bridge
Posted September 14, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

This is an article that appeared in a local newspaper January 19, 1906. The reporter wasn't so informative as to mention WHO they ordered the bridge from. How do you order a bridge when you haven't figured out where you're going to put it? Might be why they were laying ties in September, and not in June or July as mentioned in the article.

The largest bridge expense for the city in 1906 was repairs to the Gilbert Street bridge to fix damage caused by allowing the interurban cars to use it-a load it wasn't designed for.

Webmaster's note: The photo that was here has been incorporated into the main site.

Interurban Bridge
Posted August 9, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

It's "local legend" that the IT bridge was dismantled in the 1940's and the metal was used "to support the war effort" That phrase from Bob Wrights book on Danville history was also picked up by the Vermilion County Museums' book on Danville postcards. I thought that was a little problematic since World War 2 ended in August 1945 and the bridge was still standing in 1946.

Illinois Terminal service to Georgetown ended April 26, 1936, and the bridge saw little use after that, mainly freight shipments to a few industries. The Illinois Commerce Commission placed an embargo on the bridge in April 1946 because of its deteriorated condition, and Illinois Terminal applied for abandonment, which was granted in October 1946. Not much happened after that until May 5, 1947, when Illinois Terminal crews began taking up the rails out of South Gilbert street. The city complained that collisions occurred because motorists would slide on the rails in wet weather. The rails were removed from 3rd street to the bridge.

Bridge people know that once a span has been built, other utilities want to hang stuff from it. In a move that apparently made sewage news in 1943, the Danville Sanitary District hung a 8-inch sewer line under the bridge to carry poop from South Danville to the main line on Main street. July 15, 1947 Illinois Terminal advised the Sanitary district that the bridge had been sold for demolition to the Covins Iron & Metal Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, and that the sewer line would have to be moved by September 1st. The city's initial response was to plan to move the sewer line to the Victory Memorial bridge just to the west, but would need the State Division of Highway's permission to do that. As large as the Memorial bridge was, it only had a 15 ton load limit, and by 1947 was seeing loadings of 35-40 tons. The sewer line empty weighed 5 tons, and loaded with its intended contents weighed in at 14 tons.

The sewage problem remained unresolved, but by November 21st, demolition was underway. The bridge was cut into sections and pulled down with a Caterpillar, cut up and shipped to steel mills by rail. Covins removed about 200 feet per day, figuring on 10 days to reach the river. The sewer line had been removed and the newspaper reported that a large septic tank was being use for sewage disposal.

Two photos from microfilm show the sewer line hanging under the bridge, and another shows demolition underway.

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.

Interurban Bridge
Posted June 3, 2010, by MIke Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

Here are a couple photos of the bridge taken in 1914.

The first shows the south end of the interurban bridge. The interurban bridge is on the right, and the Gilbert street bridge, looking pretty narrow for 2-way traffic, is on the left. The area is much different now, with a 4-lane highway and bridge across the river. That tree might still be there, though.

The second shows a view toward South Danville from an interurban car.

I did read about one tragedy connected with the bridge. Two girls were wanting to take an interurban to Champaign one night, but as the car they were on started across the bridge, they realized they had gotten on a Georgetown car instead of one going to Champaign. They got off at Bluff street, the location in the first photo, but instead of walking across the Gilbert street bridge back downtown, they decided to walk back across the interurban bridge. They made it back most of the way when they were struck and killed by another train.

And then there was this guy:

Danville Commercial-News, Sept 22, 1914

ASLEEP IN AUTO ON INTERURBAN TRESTLE

Grover C. Willard, 34, farmer near Mayview, Champaign County, drove his big auto to Danville Monday. During the afternoon he visited Lyons. Shortly after 1 o'clock Tuesday morning he started home.

He became tired and the motion of the car rocked him to sleep. Grover missed the road over the Gilbert Street bridge. He found the car tracks leading to the interurban bridge over the Vermilion river. He started down the tracks. Just at the west end of the bridge the car stopped. Grover was too tired and too short of ambition to investigate. He just rolled over in the seat and went to sleep.

Police officers found the auto standing on the bridge with Willard asleep. He was arrested. Tuesday he paid a fine, thanking the officers for rescuing him and left for his home.

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.

Interurban Bridge
Posted May 15, 2010, by Mie Roegner (roegner [at] otec [dot] net)

The 3rd photo in this set, "ITS Bridge to Highland, Danville, IL" is a different bridge. That bridge was located on Illinois Traction's Grape Creek line. It was an extension of the Douglas Park streetcar line. It crossed the Vermilion River just downstream from where the present I-74 bridge is. The two bridges were similar. There was a ballpark at Highland that can be seen in the background. It was later to be the site of the Highland Park landfill.

Interurban Bridge
Posted March 4, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

Here's a Bill Janssen photo of an inbound lightweight car crossing the Vermilion River bridge in 1934. This car was orginally built for the Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria Railway, and would have crossed the Ottawa Fox River bridge (BH36912) many times. Two piers and the low-head dam at the Vermilion River bridge still remain.

Webmaster's note: The photo that was here has been incorporated into the main site.