Friday, July 11, 2014

Marseilles Illinois River Road Bridge

(IDTO: simple detailed) Lovell Kimball named the town of Marseilles and recorded the first plat in 1834. And one of the first businesses he started was a ferry across the river (Story). In 1857, Roderick Clark joined O. W. Young and Isaac Underhill and developed the land where the present business center is located today. As their first work in the early part of 1865, they built a bridge for $40,000 across the Illinois River. It was washed out by an ice gorge in February 1866, but they rebuilt it better than before (p 802). In 1885 a new bridge was built with iron and stone abutments by the contractor Mr. Barber (p 803). I'm still looking for the build date of the steel truss bridge that was removed in 1988.

1927-47,, the left side is the south side
It was replaced in December, 1977, by the current steel girder bridge.

John Weeks III has drive-over views and views from the canal (south) side.

This is the first span from the Marseilles (north) side.


And the remaining spans that can be seen from the north riverbank.

In the following view that is taken from further downstream, note that the dam has seven gates closed. The picture after that shows that the eighth gate is about half open on July 10.

A comparable view of the river and bridge that I took on June 27.

I think the "waves" in the June 27th picture are from water turbulence caused by the heavy river flow whereas the "waves" in the July 10th picture are probably caused by the water hitting rocks in the river bottom. That is, the depth of the river on the 10th was low enough that the rough surface of the rapids is being exposed. I'll have to visit again during a dry season to take another look at the river bottom. The flow on July 10th was about 8 kcfs. I did not discover the flow data until the oldest available value was June 29. And it was 25.1 kcfs.

And for completeness, the underside bracing.


  1. I have to start out by saying that I was pretty sure I'd found my favorite new website, but when I saw your blog about the PVTX Lasalle bridge with my 5 year old comment from it sealed the deal. The present Marseilles bridge opened in 1997, the truss bridge it replaced was named the Clark-Addams bridge and was built around 1932 when the lock and dam were built and the barge channel was dug. At first, only the south end of the bridge was completed over the channel, there was a ramp to the new island where you could then cross the river on the old bridge. Eventually they demolished the old bridge but the interesting thing was that they left the ramp to the island in place for about 25 years, so you could drive to the middle of the bridge and turn down the ramp to the island. The bridge was pretty narrow and had an s-curve at the south end, I've been a member of the Marseilles Fire department since 1993 and crossing the old bridge with the fire trucks was always a challenge.
    Keep up the good work!
    Ron Johnson, Marseilles.

  2. The south most span of the Clark-Adams Bridge was built in 1925 when the navigation channel that flowed down stream 2.5 miles to the new locks was built. At that time there was a wooden ramp built down to the newly formed Bell Island with a road the wrapped around to cross the old bridge that crossed the rapids. By 1933 the new dam was finished and the rest of the Clark-Adams Bridge was completed. The wooden ramp leading down to the island remained until the early 1950's.