Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thebes Bridge over Mississippi River

(Bridge Hunter, including some construction pictures, 2011 flood pictures, and concrete arch approach spans; Historic Bridges; Google Photos: 12, 3)

Dave Honan
The St. Louis & Southwestern ("Cotton Belt," now UP) crossed the Mississippi River at Thebes, IL with this unique cantilever structure. The bridge, opened in 1905, has five main spans comprising a length of 2,750', along with 490' of concrete arch approaches on the west bank and 325' on the east bank. (March 23, 2002)
Dave Honan
A view of one of the east approach piers from ground level. (March 23, 2002)
Illinois Central Railroad Scrapbook posted two photos with the comment:
A couple days I posted a mystery photo of an IC auto racks/auto parts train rounding a curve on March 21, 1970, and asked where it was taken. Several folks correctly replied "Thebes, IL". Unfortunately there is no prize for giving the correct answer.
The train in question was a test train for General Motors. Auto parts and fully assembled cars from GM plants in Michigan were shipped by PC, Grand Trunk, and C&O and delivered to IC's Markham Yard in Homewood, IL.
At Markham Yard the cars were assembled into a single train and dispatched south over the IC to East St. Louis. The train was handed over to the Cotton Belt and then to the SP for final delivery to GM plants and dealerships on the West Coast.
An unknown IC company photographer caught the train as it charged around the curve leading to the Mississippi River bridge at Thebes, IL. The photographer also caught a going away shot of the train, included here.
BTW, many fans are familiar with the MoPac's and Cotton Belt's "Joint Line" operations across the Thebes bridge, and that in recent years MoPac owned 60% of the bridge, and Cotton Belt owned 40%.
The Thebes Bridge was built by the Southern Illinois & Missouri Bridge Company. When the company was formed, the SI&MBCo. was owned equally by the Cotton Belt, Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railway, the MIssouri Pacific Railway, the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Southern Railway, and the Illinois Central.
IC reached Thebes via a branchline from Carbondale, IL. Traffic never reached expectations and by the early 1930s (the exact date is unknown to me) the southernmost part of the branch had been abandoned. IC sold its interest in the SI&MBCo. to Missouri Pacific, which also took over the St.LIM&S Railway, and thus became majority owner of the Thebes bridge. Eventually the C&EI abandoned its line into Thebes and sold its interest in the bridge to the Cotton Belt. Of course, today Union Pacific owns both the MoPac and Cotton Belt.

Russell Barber posted
1960 C & EI diesel # 225 at an unknown bridge.
Steve Rodgers commented on the above posting
Thebes bridge today looking toward Thebes Illinois
Steve Rodgers commented on the above posting
North side of the bridge looking southeast at IIllinois from Missouri
Steve Rodgers commented on the above posting
 Dan Tracy took this great photo of some MPs on the the bridge
Abandonedimages by Michael Wright posted
Union Pacific train going across the old bridge ( built in 1905 ) at Thebes ,Illinois.
Damon C. Poole That's the Missouri Pacific Railroad they're on, it was originally owned by Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Cotton Belt, & Illinois Central, in conjunction with the MP. MP merged with C&EI in 1967, then UP in 1982, UP then merged with SP which owned Cotton Belt in 1996.

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