Preservation, Road Trips

The General Dean Bridge

You don’t see many suspension bridges here in flyover country.

1859 General Dean Suspension Bridge

This one was built in 1859 in Carlyle, Illinois, on a mail and stage road between Vincennes, Indiana, and St. Louis, Missouri. US 50 follows much of that 1806 road’s path today. I read conflicting reports of whether US 50 ever crossed this bridge, but motor vehicles did travel along it until 1932, when it was closed and a new bridge built nearby. The bridge was built with horses and buggies in mind, and so a few trucks broke through the deck! The bridge sat abandoned for more than 30 years and deteriorated rapidly. This 1936 photo is from Historic American Engineering Record; see more historic photos at the Library of Congress’s Web site.

Fortunately, the bridge was restored in the 1950s and was renamed for Major General William Dean, a Carlyle native who served during the Korean War.

1859 General Dean Suspension Bridge

It has been a pedestrian bridge since, and was a popular spot on Memorial Day when a friend and I went out to see it.

1859 General Dean Suspension Bridge

The deck is narrower today than it was when it carried regular traffic. I don’t think my little car would fit!

1859 General Dean Suspension Bridge

ReadMore This suspension bridge too puny for you? Check out the one in Wheeling, West Virginia. It’s a real man’s suspension bridge.

It’s named after Major General William Dean, a Carlyle native who served during the Korean War.
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4 thoughts on “The General Dean Bridge

  1. Lone Primate says:

    This is great! That bridge was really hurtin’ 70 years ago, but now it looks fantastic. I love it when they do things like that — especially when they don’t just convert a bridge but really go out of their way to rehabilitate it.

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  2. That’s a wonderful little bit of history and some great pix.

    My question is simple: How the heck do you find all the places about which you write in your blog? It’s hard to believe that you drive around for hours until you see something interesting. What’s your secret?

    Like

    • I find these places from a number of sources. I learned about the bridges along this corridor from a bridge fan whose photos I follow on Flickr; he visited them all last year. I learn about some routes from a road forum. I also make some road trips after only exploring aerial maps, seeing stuff that looks like it ought to be interesting, and then just making the trip out there.

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