Wabash Cannonball Bridge

Wabash Cannonball Bridge Wabash Cannonball Bridge Wabash Cannonball Bridge Wabash Cannonball Bridge
Wabash Cannonball Bridge
Wabash Cannon Ball Road St. Francisville, IL 62460

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This bridge is a most unusual historic bridge, both because this large, multi-span structure is composed of spans from three different dates and also because of its conversion for vehicular traffic. Originally a railroad bridge, the railroad company did not engage in wholesale demolition and replacement of the bridge at any given time, but rather replaced individual spans as needed. As such, spans on the bridge date from 1897, 1904, and 1924. Later in the 20th Century, the bridge was abandoned by the railroad. The bridge did then at a later date find new life in an uncommon way: a farmer named Frank Stangle bought the bridge in 1970 and opened it for vehicular traffic as a toll bridge. What is interesting is very minimal changes were made to the bridge by this private owner. The railroad ties were left in place, and running planks for cars were simply put in place. The rails were removed from the deck, but did not leave the bridge, since the guardrail that was added to the bridge uses the railroad rails as guardrail posts. In 1995, the bridge apparently was sold to the city of St. Francisville. In the 21st Century, the bridge was sold to the State of Illinois in 2009 who claims they will maintain the bridge and keep it open. However, given the striking lack of historic bridge preservation in Illinois, especially with IDOT owned bridges, from other Wabash River Bridges such as the Mt. Carmel Bridge (for which IDOT was lead agency), to the Seneca Bridge, some concern and uncertainty for the future of this bridge due to this transfer of ownership seems warranted. It is hoped this bridge will receive a higher level of care and attention than those bridges, given its historic significance.

credit: historicbridges.org


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