11 votes

IC - Grayville Bridge



after 2 spans washed away

Photo taken by Norm Bredenkamp in January 2005

View this photo at crh.noaa.gov

BH Photo #128531

Street View 


A new steel bridge is to be erected by the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville Railroad across the Wabash River, at Grayville, Ill.

American Machinist, Volume 14 - 1891

MATTOON, ILL.-Bids are wanted Sept. 1 for the construction of bridge piers along the line of the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville Ry. at Evansville, Ind., Grayville, Ill., and Newton, Ill. A. J. Davis, Engr.

The Engineering Record, Volume 36 - 1897

E.O. Hopkins, Reciever, Evansville, Ind., informs us that a draw-span bridge is now being erected over the Wabash River, near Grayville, Ill.

Engineering News-record, Volume 39 - 1898

Advices from Grayville, Ill., state that the Illinois Central R. R. Co., will replace the old railway bridge over the Wabash River with a new steel structure to cost between $160,000 and $200,000. The old bridge is said to be too light for the heavy engines. It was built in 1881. Work on the new bridge will begin as soon as material can be placed on the ground.

Engineering and Contracting, Volume 40 - 1913

Although the truss spans appear to have been built in the 1880s, a portion of the bridge was rebuilt in 1898, and again in 1913. Other build dates include 1880, 1882 and 1885. Regardless, this bridge is certainly the oldest still standing over the Wabash River.

The Peoria, Decatur and Evansville Railway was completed from Parkersburg to Evansville in 1881. Ownership was then transferred to the Illinois Central Railroad in 1900. In 1972, a section of the west approach trestle was replaced, as well as the third easternmost pier. The line was acquired by Indiana Hi-Rail Corporation in 1990. In late July 1996, the last train crossed the bridge when an Owensville Terminal crew collected scrap on its way back to Evansville.

In 1985, a cutoff was formed on the river just north of the bridge, which may have contributed to one of the piers sliding in the riverbed. In the early hours of January 12, 2005 the second easternmost pier gave way, and the two westernmost truss spans collapsed. The first east span was cut up and hauled away by the Army Corps of Engineers for scrap, while the second east span was washed away. As of 2012, the first east pier has also given way due to a caving river bank.

According to a 1945 Illinois Central Track Chart:

4-157' Pratt Through Truss Spans (Built 1892) 238' Draw Span (Built 1897) 95' Through Girder (Built 1924) No mention was made of the deck girder spans, so they were added post-1945


Through truss bridge over Wabash River on former Illinois Central Railroad south of Grayville
Grayville, White County, Illinois, and Gibson County, Indiana
Partially destroyed by flood
Built 1892, 1897 and 1924, rehabilitated in 1972, abandoned in 1996, partially destroyed by flooding in 2005
- Smith Bridge Co. of Toledo, Ohio (1892 Spans)
- Illinois Central Railroad (IC; ICG (1972-1988))
- Indiana Hi-Rail Corporation (IHRC)
- Peoria, Decatur & Evansville Railroad (PD&E)
- Wabash & Ohio Railroad (WOHO)
From east to west:
Timber stringer approach
One 95ft. Through girder span (built 1924; originally 3-panel, pin-connected Pratt Pony truss)
One 238ft. 10-panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss swing span (built 1897)
Four 157 ft. 8-panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss spans (two westernmost spans destroyed)
Six Steel stringer spans (built 1972; originally timber stringer)
Timber stringer approach
Length of largest span: 238.0 ft.
Total length: 2,700.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Also called
IC - Wabash River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.23091, -87.98341   (decimal degrees)
38°13'51" N, 87°59'00" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/413930/4231892 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
New Harmony
Inventory number
BH 38214 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 22, 2022: Updated by John Marvig: Added builder
  • September 12, 2018: New photos from Carl Crasher
  • February 28, 2018: Updated by John Marvig: Added Build Date from IC Track Chart
  • February 18, 2017: New photo from Daniel Barnes
  • August 22, 2014: New photo from Richard Dale
  • January 12, 2013: New photo from Robert Thompson
  • October 12, 2010: New photos from Richard Dale
  • July 5, 2010: New photo from Richard Dale
  • April 15, 2010: New Street View added by J.P.
  • March 7, 2010: Updated by Kim Harvey: changed truss type to pratt, SHAARD information exists for this bridge
  • February 22, 2010: Updated by Kim Harvey: corrected GPS, approach types
  • August 1, 2009: New photos from Kim Harvey
  • December 21, 2008: New photos from Nathan Morton
  • December 1, 2008: Updated by Nathan Morton
  • November 23, 2008: Added by Kim Harvey

Related Bridges 



Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted December 27, 2011, by Michael Page (mike [dot] page [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I've heard a couple rumors, but that's all. One is that the spans that are still in the river will be removed and scrapped, the other is that they'll remove the entire bridge; but I'm not sure either is true. They've been pulling rails from Griffin to the river since early summer. According to the article, they plan to pull out the rest of the line all the way to Poseyville now.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted December 27, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Are they planning to demolish the actual bridge? The article was not clear. The swing span is an extremely old and significant example of its type.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted December 27, 2011, by Michael Page (mike [dot] page [at] hotmail [dot] com)

There will be no repairs nor new bridge. ISR officials made the announcement today that all remnants of the old line will be dismantled. Sadly, none of the groups or the town that wanted to buy the old line could come up with the means to do so.


Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted June 2, 2011, by Martin Davis (martindavis57 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Trains Magazine July 2011 has an extensive article about the decline and decay of this line, mostly operated (after Illinois Central got out) by various entities under the Indiana Hi-Rail shortline corporate umbrella. The bridge already was unstable in the mid-80's and had a pier shift in a flood, repaired only after a lot of debate over whether it was worth the cost. Hi-Rail never kept up the track and traffic was gone by 2005, when a successor planned to try and generate some business (don't know if some of the rails hadn't already been lifted at that point.) That's when this latest pier shift dropped two spans into the river and put an end to the line forever...

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted January 20, 2011, by Richard Dale

You can still get to the indiana side by driving down the access road under the I-64 Bridge and parking there it is a short quarter mile walk to your north and you are there. That's how I was able to get all those photo's because I found the access road had been blocked too.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted January 6, 2011, by Anonymous

It's interesting that the swing span seems to be so high and dry.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted January 5, 2011, by James Simmons

The Bridge is on private land that is now gated off on the Indiana side, however it is still accessible from a county road on the Illinois side.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted August 14, 2010, by Ron Johnson (mfpd24 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

According to this website:


This rail line was never actually abandoned, the S.T.B. would only allow them to pull the rails. Furthermore it states that in late 2005 the S.T.B. granted permission for a southern Illinois agri-businessman to purchase the line, re-lay track, and operate the railroad. So maybe this bridge will be rebuilt/replaced in the near future.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted August 10, 2010, by Richard Dale

I know a couple of people that have tried to get out there and they told me the indiana side is not to bad but you need to go in the winter because the trestle has growth on it that makes it hard to navigate. As for getting there my timing is off because the flood waters prevent me from reaching it because all the roads were underwater.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted July 31, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

It definitely ISN'T......past a certain point.......

Picture #8 of this bridge is amazing!

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted July 31, 2010, by James Simmons

Is it safe to walk out on this bridge?

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted July 5, 2010, by Richard Dale

I once again tried to get to this bridge but was stopped again by flood waters. I guess I will have to wait until the winter.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted June 3, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

When I edited I didn't get the pictures back on.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted June 3, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

Some more pictures of the washed out spans of the Grayville Bridge from I-64. This bridge fascinates me as the MacArthur does.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted May 29, 2009, by R Dale (richdale75 [at] verizon [dot] net)

I was at this bridge the other day, I was trying to find a way to get to it but the river was flooded and that caused a problem, I found the illinois side of the trestle to grown with weeds and trees to walk on safely, I then tried to get the other side but the road to the bridge was underwater. I guess I'll have to try when the river goes down. I remember the section that collapsed had been leaning off the pillar for a long time, I guess it finally could not take the strain, anyway good work on the pictures I really liked it.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted December 22, 2008, by Don

You can get a good view of the collapsed span from Google Earth. You can also see the bridge from the nearby interstate with street view.

Grayville Railroad Bridge
Posted December 21, 2008, by Nathan Morton (morton890 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

It was hard enough side-stepping missing rail ties to take my photos, but a little bonus incentive was applied by the 15 mph sustained winds gusting to 35 and the -12 windchill on Dec. 21st. I really didn't want to go for a swim...