Illinois Laurels All-Illinois War Memorial
One of the first large municipal war memorials in the country is the new Victory bridge over the Vermilion river at Danville, and its construction is in the hands of Illinois men. Lorado Taft, '79, designed the memorial plaza at the north approach and R. A. Skoglund, '20, is in charge of the landscape work. The contractor for the bridge is O. K. Yeager, '11, and Harlan H. Edwards, '17, city engineer of Danville, is in charge of the entire project. The bridge, which will cost $400,000, makes a handsome northern terminus for the Danville St. Louis highway. It is a six span reinforced concrete arch highway viaduct, 75 feet above the river, the longest span being 195 feet. Three short approach spans are at each end. There is a 30 foot roadway and two walks.
Engineering news-record, Volume 84 (1920)
Construction of Bridge
Sealed bids will be received by the City Council of Danville, Illinois, at the clerk's office up to 7 p.m., May 24, 1920, for the construction of a bridge over the Vermilion River. The work will be let under one contract. The bridge will be of reinforced concrete and will consist of six arch spans varying in length from about 108 feet to about 196 feet, and seven approach girder spans each about 31 feet long, the entire structure being about 1,038 feet long between abutments. The bridge provides for a 30-foot roadway and two 7-foot clear sidewalks. Pavement and approach embankments are not included in contract. Approximately 300 tons of reinforcing and miscellaneous metal, and 7,000 cubic yards of concrete will be required. Bids shall be accompanied by a certified check made payable to the order of the City Council of Danville. Illinois, for Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000), to be forfeited as liquidated damages in case the bidder who is awarded the contract fails to execute the contract and give a satisfactory bond for fifty per cent of the contract price within twenty (20) days after the award. Contract will be awarded to the lowest responsible and competent bidder, but the Council reserves the right to reject any and all bids and to waive informalities.
Plans and specifications are now on tile in the office of Harlan H. Edwards. City Engineer, Danville, Illinois, and in the offices of Harrington, Howard and Ash, Consulting Engineers. Kansas City. Mo. Copies of the plans and specifications may be secured from the Consulting Engineers by depositing $15. When such plans and specifications are returned $10 will be refunded.
By order of the City Council
L. S. FRANKENBERGER, City Clerk.
By September of 1921 all the spans except the river span had been poured, and work was beginning on pouring the floor slab on the fifth span.
The big event for the summer of 1921 was the August completion and dedication of the Dixie Highway. In Danville, the original route of the Dixie Highway was down Vermilion Street to what was then called Redden Square (the intersection of Vermilion and Main Street) and then east on Main to the Indiana state line. Several veterans from the local American Legion post wanted the city council to consider placing the Victory statue in Redden Square, rather than at the north end of the Victory bridge as originally planned. They argued that many people would be traveling the Dixie Highway and more people would see the monument if it were in the square, whereas comparatively few people traveled over the Gilbert St. bridge except those people living in South Danville.
Opponents argued that the people had voted for a memorial bridge and they expected the monument to be where they voted for it to be. They also argued that the Dixie Highway was not paved completely to the state line, and the road south of Danville was paved to Paris, IL, and more people would eventually use that route.
As it turned out, not moving the statue was the best move. By the 1930ís businessmen downtown asked that the Dixie highway be routed away from the downtown area because traffic was getting too heavy. The Dixie was routed over to Gilbert Street south of Fairchild Street, directly toward the statue. By the 1950ís the statue had become so visible as to be considered "in the way". On November 9, 1955 the statue (called "Miss Victory" by the press) was dismantled by McCalman Construction Company and moved to a triangular island on the west side of Gilbert, where it stands today. This was done after consultation with all local veterans groups and city and state officials. The move was also part of the preparations for the building of the 4-lane replacement Memorial bridge.
This bridge was built as a WWI memorial following a statue being erected at the corner of Main and Gilbert Street near the north approach as seen in picture #3. It was 1,037 feet long and 75 feet tall from the river. By the late 1930's and early 40's, the heavy traffic from the Dixie Highway on Gilbert Street and the bridge was starting to become a problem. The bridge had a 15 ton weight limit, but was carrying loads of 35-40 tons. It was finally replaced in 1957 with the modern "Memorial Bridge".