4 votes

Denmark Ford Bridge


BH Photo #185584


Brief History 

Written by Mike Roegner

The village of Denmark was at the foot of the present Denmark Hill on the North Fork River. It was settled around 1826 and at one time was in the running for the county seat of Vermilion County. One history of the village mentions a bridge being built there around 1830, and Thelma Eaton in her book The Covered Bridges of Illinois, 1968, says it was a covered bridge. There was just a ford there when this bridge was built, the location being called the Denmark ford. I originally gave the build date of this bridge as 1890 because that’s when our historical society says it was built. Looking through the 1895 paper for an unrelated subject though, I found this:
Jan.1, 1895 - The supervisors and the commissioners of highways of Blount township met in the county clerk’s office yesterday afternoon and closed a contract with Stilling Bros. for the approaches to two bridges - at Denmark and Albert’s ford. Consideration, $1,285.
That could have been for repair work, but on Jan 3rd was this article: A team belonging to William Taylor was badly injured Tuesday, while hauling stone for the new bridge being erected at the Denmark ford of the North Fork, by Stalling Bros.
In light of this information, I would put the build date for this bridge as January, 1895.

The bridge remained in place while its steel replacement was built. It survived late into the Lake Vermilion project. After a few days of heavy rainfall a Sept. 15, 1925 article stated "The water was over the old Denmark roadway, and the floor of the old bridge, which has been left standing, was more than one foot underwater."

I thought at one point that perhaps the old bridge hadn’t been removed. Lake Vermilion, which would flood the remains of the old village of Denmark, was to be a reservoir for Danville’s drinking water. The Lake Vermilion project was often compared to Lake Decatur, and there were many stories about the recreational activities that would be available once the reservoir was filled. It seems, though, that some city council members had second thoughts about people boating and swimming in water that they would be drinking. They proposed a wildly unpopular ordinance to "sanitize" the lake - it would prohibit any boating, swimming, or any recreational activity in the lake. The legality was in question - Lake Vermilion was, and still is, a private lake owned by the water company, and at the time it was built it was outside the Danville city limits and the city council didn’t have jurisdiction. In the middle of the controversy, though, someone mentioned to the supervisor of roads that since boats wouldn’t be using the lake there wasn’t any reason to remove the old bridge. By all accounts, however, the old bridge was demolished. At the time water was a foot above the deck of the old bridge, the lake had 9.5 feet remaining until was filled. When the lake was at its maximum depth, the structure of the old bridge would have still been visible.


Lost Through truss bridge over North Fork Vermilion River (now Lake Vermilion) on Denmark Road in Danville
Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois
Replaced by new bridge
Built 1895, replaced in 1925
- Massillon Bridge Co. of Massillon, Ohio
- Stalling Bros. (approach work)
Pin-connected Pratt through truss
Also called
Old Denmark Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.16445, -87.64516   (decimal degrees)
40°09'52" N, 87°38'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/445061/4446209 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Danville NW
Inventory number
BH 46865 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 25, 2010: Essay added by Mike Roegner
  • November 9, 2010: Added by Mike Roegner

Related Bridges 


  • Mike Roegner


Denmark Ford Bridge
Posted July 1, 2014, by Sandy (Setrn [at] comcast [dot] net)

Was the ford bridge exactly where the Dallas Bowman bridge is now? Did the town of Denmark get torn down prior to flooding or is it still down there? Where would it be? Near strawberry island? I find the thought of a flooded town fascinating and am surprised there aren't scuba divers that check it out.

Denmark Ford Bridge
Posted July 1, 2014, by Shirley Milled (shirleyrohrermiller [at] gmail [dot] com)

I remember my mother and her sisters telling about walking around Denmark before it was flooded. My mother was Buelah Bailey Rohrer born 23 Aug 1914,Her sister Loreenbe Bailey Hickman born in 1910 and the third daughter of Carl and Nellie Bailey was Helen Bailey Phillips. Carl Bailey and his wife had a grocery store in Germantown and also on Warrington avenue and Avenue B.