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Sutherland Ford Bridge


Welcome to your new home. The re-located Sutherland Ford Bridge sits in flood water in Harrison Park in 1939.

BH Photo #185580



Written by Mike Roegner

The Sutherland Ford was a long used crossing of the North Fork on Hungry Hollow Road. Sutherland was a property owner adjacent to the ford. Two projects that were planned for 1876 was a bridge across Stony Creek at Fairchild crossing by the city, and a bridge across Sutherland Ford by Danville Township. The local newspaper took up the cause and advocated that both bridges should be iron bridges. Not only made of iron, but also built by a local firm, the Wrought Iron Wagon Works. "Home contractors ought to do this work, and as the iron bridge is the best and cheapest in the end - we take for granted that they will be made of that material, and these works make iron bridges one of their specialties. We believe the citizens of Danville - city and township- as represented by the commissioners of highways, will save money by having this done by the Wrought Iron Works, even if their bid may be a hundred or two dollars more than that of contractors from abroad."

I don't know if the Wrought Iron Works had that much experience in making bridges. They ran an ad in the paper, and "Iron Bridges" was jammed in with all the other products they made. Any experience didn't show up in their bidding. The paper reported on March 23, 1876, "The Clinton Smith Bridge Co., of Iowa, secured the contract of building the bridge over North Fork. This company's bid was considerably lower than our home builders. A.C. Garland has the contract for the stone work, and work will commence, as soon as the roads become passable." No mention was made of the fact that the bridge would be made of wood instead of iron.

A person who was living at the time the bridge was built said that his family went into Danville July 4, 1876 for the Centennial Celebrations. The abutments were in, but the bridge was not built, and they had to ford the river. However, an article July 27, 1876 says " The Sutherland Ford bridge is nearly completed. Is has the appearance of very strong and substantial piece of workmanship. A few more of the same sort in this county would be of great benefit to both city and country."

By the 1930's the bridge was in need of a great deal of repair. Hungry Hollow Road was the site of many family owned coal mines, and trucks loaded with coal often passed over the bridge on the way into Danville. Harrison Park west of the river was open to hikers and picnickers and the bridge saw a lot of traffic on weekends. Tires breaking through the decking became frequent, and these were repaired by placing planks over the holes, making a bumpy course for people traveling over the bridge.

The bridge remained in place while the steel Hungry Hollow Road replacement bridge was built. It was later disassembled and moved to Harrison Park, where it lasted until the mid-forties, before falling into the river. The south abutment for the bridge still exists.


Lost Through truss bridge over North Fork Vermilion River on Hungry Hollow Road
Danville, Vermilion County, Illinois
Built 1876, relocated to Harrison Park ca. 1935, collapsed in 1945
- Clinton Smith Bridge Co.
Combination truss with wood chords and verticals, and iron diagonal rods. Possibly double-intersection Warren design.
Also called
Hungry Hollow Road Bridge
Red Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.13661, -87.65477   (decimal degrees)
40°08'12" N, 87°39'17" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/444220/4443125 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Danville NW
Inventory number
BH 46863 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 21, 2013: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • July 31, 2012: New photo from Mike Roegner
  • November 10, 2010: Essay added by Mike Roegner
  • November 9, 2010: Added by Mike Roegner

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