I visited Vincennes, Indiana, on my State Road 67 road trip in October, because that’s where SR 67 ends. It gave me a good chance to revisit two old alignments of US 50 as they cross the Wabash River into Illinois.
When Abraham Lincoln’s family moved to Illinois in 1830, in Indiana they followed the Buffalo Trace to Vincennes and rode a ferry across the Wabash River into Illinois. Many years later, a road that would become US 50 was built just north of that spot, and a bridge was built to cross the river. In 1932, US 50 was realigned to just south of that spot where a new bridge was completed. Much later still, US 50 was realigned again to bypass Vincennes entirely. But for many, many years, driving US 50 from Indiana into Illinois put you within sight of that ferry landing.
I parked on Main Street in Vincennes, which was US 50’s original alignment, and walked to the river. Part of the last block before the river is paved in brick dating back probably 100 years. Here’s that segment eastbound, with the river behind me.
This is where the original bridge crossed the river. A new bridge was built one block south in 1932, but the old bridge remained for a little while after that. The old bridge reached land again at about the middle of the photo below.
Over the years I’ve scraped a few post card images of the old bridge off the Internet. They’re small images, but better than nothing. The bridge had two bowstring arch spans, a central swing span, and then two wooden covered spans. At some point, the wooden covered spans were replaced with Parker through truss spans.
The 1932 Lincoln Memorial Bridge is a stunner. I made this image while standing where the older bridge once began.
Between these two spots is a small marker for the place where the ferry used to cross.
I walked up onto the Lincoln Memorial Bridge. Traffic was light, so I got this photo of the portal.
I walked across the bridge (on the sidewalk) and entered Illinois. This memorial to Lincoln’s crossing stands on the other side.
See the house that lurks behind this memorial? Its driveway is the older alignment of US 50, ending where the former bridge once stood.
The newer alignment is elevated over the older one. I walked down the hill to photograph the house and the old (brick!) alignment. Notice that a hill was built over the old road.
But the old road emerges from under that hill, as you can see. The house’s gravel driveway curves around this little hill and meets those bricks on the other side.
I turned around from this spot and photographed this old alignment westbound. The Lincoln memorial is on the left, up high on ground level with that retaining wall.
A short concrete segment is at the end of the bricks, where the later alignment of US 50 curves in. It looks to me like it was built when US 50 was realigned, given how it curves slightly left.
I headed back to the bridge and back across into Indiana. Here’s the Wabash River, looking north from the bridge.
The George Rogers Clark memorial is visible to the southeast of the bridge.
Here’s one last look at this beautiful bridge, from near the Clark memorial.