2 votes

Old Seaton Hill Bridge


Remaining north abutment

Photo taken by Jacob P. Bernard in June 2010


BH Photo #167175



Lost Through truss bridge over North Fork Vermilion River on Old Seaton Hill Road north of Danville
Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois
Built 1916 for the Dixie Highway, bypassed in 1938-39, closed to traffic in 1989, removed ca. 1998
8-panel Parker through truss
Total length: 164.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.21599, -87.64018   (decimal degrees)
40°12'58" N, 87°38'25" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/445526/4451926 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Danville NW
Inventory number
BH 45463 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • June 6, 2010: Added by Jacob P. Bernard


  • Jacob P. Bernard
  • Mike Roegner
  • Ed Hollowell - erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com


Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted July 14, 2010, by MIke Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

In 1990 there was a flood on the North Fork that overran the Water Treatment Plant and closed several bridges in the area.

One photo shows a view looking south of water running over the south approach to the Route 1 bridge. The rise in the background is the road leading to the old Seton Hill bridge.

While the newer bridge was closed by the rising water, the old Seton Hill bridge sat above the flood, unfortunately not useable as it had been closed to traffic. I'm on the wrong side of the river from where I live, so about this time I was wondering how I was going to get home.

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

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted July 1, 2010, by Cliff Darby (clif30 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Plus, I'm willing to bet the roads were made much thicker. Take this picture for example. I took this in the abandoned WWII Army camp a few miles north of where I live. The concrete is probably 5 inches thick (or at least was when it was poured 70 years ago). The concrete roads through the national forest are in better shape than my driveway, or the concrete road I live on.

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted July 1, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

A few comments about things that have been discussed below.

-Someone mentioned the longevity of old concrete. Old concrete did indeed last far longer than modern concrete. One fun fact about modern concrete I like to share with people is that when concrete is patched, often the patch deteriorates before the original concrete next to the patch does. This is because citizens don't like being held up on the road, so concrete patches have an additive that reduced curing time so the road and open quicker. The downside is that this type of concrete doesn't last as long.

-In regards to the one dimensional coverleafs, having these "ramps" on rural roads like this was also done in Michigan, albeit on two-lane roads not these one-lane paved roads. Some in Michigan are on rural dirt roads, others are on busier state highways. In regards to state highways and some paved county highways, these are being phased out and removed these days. The agencies seem to have decided its safer to have people stop as a stop sign rather than merging onto the roads freeway style.

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted July 1, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

I would have just called them slab roads - I've been reading too much and it's affecting my writing. Half-road is good for the brick roads - you don't really think of them as being slabs.

Can't leave this off-topic without an intersection. They were like little one-dimensional cloverleafs. This intersection of two slab roads is in northern Vermilion county. The side with the bridge is a normal T intersection and the other side is a split Y - all designed to exploit the power and speed of the Model T.

And a view showing that even a little ditch bridge can be good looking.

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

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 26, 2010, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Segments of Route 66 in Oklahoma were paved with 9 foot wide concrete lanes referred to as "Sidewalk highway". You were expected to run with right wheels on the dirt in case of oncoming traffic. Some of this still exists between Miami and Afton OK. The road at Seaton Hill bridge might have been the same sort of a deal.

Photo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sidewalk_Highway.jpg

This is a photo by Abraham Ezekowitz taken near Miami, OK in 2008. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 26, 2010, by Christopher Fisher (cfisher [at] mailbag [dot] com)

Mike: Wow! Seeing the pics you posted of the old "half road" (I always heard such roads referred to as "single slab"-both may be proper terms though) west of Batestown Rd. was a real case of "Daja Vu All Over Again"! From the way it shoots off of US 150 I kinda figured even as a kid that at one time it was probably a part of that road originally. (Speaking of Batestown Rd., I think I remember the road leading to the Vermillion Co. Fairgrounds as being a "half road" too when I was a kid, but like most of them, replaced by a modern roadway sometime in the 70's.)

I agree that bridges and roads go together! I was just trying to be "polite" I guess by not letting things get too far off of what I understood to be the "topic". lol (Plus I've been online long enough to remember the days when if you got the slightest bit "off-topic" in some places, they'd flame you to a crisp! lol Good to see the bridgehunter.com folks aren't like that!)

Your comments on the "good roads" program scope pretty well with what I remember reading/hearing from "old timers" when I spent summers around Bismarck-that most of the roads were built during the time of WW I. I specifically remember hearing the Bismarck-Alvin road was the first, in 1913. One thing I remember from when I was a kid was that certain two-lane roads, specifically Bowman Rd. and Henning Rd. (maybe US 150, too), had a continuous "crack" running down the middle of each lane for pretty much their entire length-cracks that would correspond exactly with the edges of a "half-road", making me think even as a kid that when it came time to make those roads two lane, they simply added concrete to the sides and/or overlaid the original road with asphalt.

The book on the history of the Dixie Hwy is definitely something I plan on ordering this weekend! It looks like a fascinating read, and might fill in some gaps in my knowledge of the roads around Vermillion and Iroquois Co.

Nathan: AFAIK, all of those roads in Iroquois, Vermillion, etc. were built during the time of WW I or possibly shortly after. It's possible I suppose that some might date as late as the mid 20's, but I'd be surprised if it was any later. And actually, you'd be surprised at how well some concrete roads have held up over the years-there are parts of US 66 that are still running on their original late '20s concrete paving. I'm no engineer, but from what little I do know, I think that two things that may have something to do with the longevity of those pavements are the quality of the concrete originally used, and the fact that most of those roads are relatively low use roads, esp. in recent times.

THere used to be a sub-site on aaroads.com called "The Lost Highway" that chronicled old, abandoned, and bypassed roads that used to be major thoroughfares at one time. About 8-10 years ago it was updated quite regularly, but I think it's been several years since anything was added to it.

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 25, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

I don't think roads are too far of topic - roads and bridges go together.

Most of the half-roads were constructed during the Good Roads program in 1916. I think they constructed around 72 miles of road in Vermilion county. The county was divided up into sections and a different contractor was responsible for each section. Thought I read that McCalman Construction had the Seaton Hill area. The realtor associations ojected to the standards the county commissioners had established. The specs called for a base of concrete under the brick pavers, even though that was an accepted way of paving before the engineers realized concrete was good just by itself. The associations thought that it made the roads too expensive. The newspaper described industrial railways being built down the streets in town and small steam locomotives transporting materials to the work sites. Western Brick Company ran a full page advertisement in the paper showing photos of where their pavers were being used.

I was trying to find out who built the Seton Hill bridge, but since it was part of a larger project I didn't see it mentioned separately. I do think that it replaced an earlier iron bridge.

I've uploaded a couple of photos from the Orchard Hill area - that's south of Batestown Road near the Middlefork. This is part of the original road to Urbana-Champaign. That was a brick half-road most of the way, but most of it has been covered over. The area on the hill was 2 lanes wide. There's a right angle turn at the bottom of the hill - just what you like to see at the bottom of a steep hill - but it originally ran straight and crossed the river. It came out at the compground on the west side of the river - that part is still there.

A good reference showing some photos in the area is "The Dixie Highway in Illinois" by James Wright. It's part of Arcadia Publishings Images of America series. It's a current book and runs about $20. They don't show the Seton Hill bridge, though he mentions it in the intro, but there is a photo of the Sugar Creek truss bridge at Milford and the concrete replacement bridge.

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

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 24, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


When landmarkhunter.com gets put up maybe we can create a historic roads category! I think its an interesting discussion.

To be honest, I don't recall exactly which roads had the one-lane concrete design. I took the photos from in the car while driving between bridges we were documenting. Most of the bridges we visited were east of I-57 and south of US-24 so I expect they are in that area. They are on county roads.

I don't know how old the Iroquois County roads we found were. The concrete was in very good shape, and may not be as old as some of them you were referencing. But still very unusual, enough that they caught our attention.

By the way, here is a Google Streetview of the IL-49 Allerton section you mentioned... its a really narrow one!:


Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 23, 2010, by Christopher Fisher (cfisher [at] mailbag [dot] com)

Nathan, that is EXACTLY the kind of road I was talking about! Where did you find them? Are they still in existence? The ones I know of were all replaced sometime in the 70's or before. Ones I remember from when I was a kid/teenager were:

Bismarck/Jamesburg Rd., from US 136 to IL/IN state line.

Chicago Ave. from just south of Bismarck to it's northern terminus with Bowman Rd. (which may also have been a single-slab pavement as well at one time)

State Rd. from Homer/Catlin Rd. to State St. in Fairmount. (former main entrance to Fairmount until Main St. was extended from north edge of Fairmount to Homer/Catlin Rd.

Attica Ave. W. from the west edge of Rossville to ?, and E. from the east edge of Rossville to the IL/IN state line.

Poland Rd. from Bowman Rd. E. to IL/IN state line.

Supposedly Henning Rd. from North of Henning to Hillery was a single slab road at one time, according to my grandparents.

Potomac/Collison Rd. S of Potomac to Collison.

S. Oakwood St. from S. of Oakwood to Homer/Catlin Rd.

350 E. Road S. of Armstrong and going N. into Armstrong.

I know I also saw such roads in Iroquois Co., but can't remember exactly where, and in Champaign Co. too. (There is still a remenant of the single slab road from IL 49 to Allerton, albeit bypassed years ago and no longer used. As far as I can tell from Terraserver, it still exists.)

I'm sure I saw other such roads in Vermillion Co. during my youth as well, but can't recall them at the moment. I know there was a very strange remnant of one, made from brick, running from US 150 W. of Danville to property owned by a local gun club.

Anyway, I don't want to get too far off topic, since this site is called bridgehunter.com after all, not oldroadhunter.com, but still, I thought this might be of interest (since there were bridges of course on those roads), as well as a subject other contributors might have knowledge of themselves.

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 23, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


I have no idea if these are what you are talking about, but I found some unusual one-lane concrete roads in Iroquois County. One-lane roads are not uncommon in rural areas, but one-lane rural roads that use concrete (rather than asphalt) is fairly unusual at least in my experience. See attached photos from Iroquois County

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 23, 2010, by Christopher Fisher (cfisher [at] mailbag [dot] com)

Another part of my childhood gone, I guess! The Old Seaton Hill Rd. bridge was something I saw on a regular basis as a kid from the realigned IL 1, and rode (and after I got my license, drove) over at least a few times as well. When I was young, the brick paving on the original alignment of IL 1 (Dixie Hwy) was still very much there and drivable, but the county (or maybe township-who knows?) in their infinite wisdom decided to blacktop over it when I was in my teens (mid 70's). By the time I spent my last summer with my grandmother (1979), they had already posted weight limits for the bridge, but at that time it was still quite sturdy, as I recall the limits being high enough that probably only an 18 wheeler would have been precluded from using it (I think it was something like 25 tons or so). By the time I last visited the area (1998), the bridge had been blocked off, but I don't think it had been very long (IIRC, it was still open to traffic in the early 90's). There used to be a very similar bridge on an old IL 1 alignment on the south edge of Milford as well, which had been removed by the mid 1990's.

As a side note, when I was a kid, I knew one of the fellows who worked on the construction crew that built the brick pavement on the original IL 1 in that area. He was the husband of the organist at my grandparent's church. He told me that the roadway was paved in 1920.

Do either of you (Jacob or Mike) know anything about the old single slab pavements that used to criss-cross Vermillion, Champaign, and Iroquois counties, but which were all, to the best of my knowledge, replaced in the 1970s? I remember seeing something as a kid saying that the old Bismarck-Jamesburg pavement was built about 1916, and that the first pavement of it's kind was built in 1913 from Bismarck to Alvin.

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 7, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

This view looking east shows the replacement 1938 bridge on Route 1.

The next photo shows the south approach. The road was originally brick - which is still is through that layer of asphalt.

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

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 7, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

Here's a few detail photos. I don't know when the bridge was last painted, but except for a little rust the silver paint looked good. That's how all the bridges in the county looked when they were taken care of- before they turned rusty brown.

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

Old Seaton Hill Road Bridge
Posted June 7, 2010, by Mike Roegner (roegner [at] soltec [dot] net)

I used to ride my bicycle over this bridge whenever I went north on Route 1. It was a good break from the insanity of Route 1 traffic, and just nice to ride across an old bridge. Fishermen seemed to like that spot, too.

The bridge was built in 1916 as part of the original Dixie Highway. It was bypassed in 1938-39 when the State regraded Seton Hill and repaved Route 1 as a 2 lane concrete road (the Dixie Highway was originally a brick road through here) and built a concrete bridge at the river. The old bridge remained open to traffic until it was closed in 1989. Then it's fate took a bad turn. A lady that lived near the bridge said that she liked seeing the bridge when she looked out the window of her house, but was concerned about kids climbing on it. She called the State to see if they could do something about it. She's quoted as saying "I never thought they'd tear it down!". I think we've all said that about a bridge at one time or another.

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