The King Bridge Company was active in both these states during its six decades of bridge building, including the construction of swing bridges as well as bowstrings, through and pony trusses, and beam girders for the railroads. Only a few examples remain.
The company played a major role in the development of Downtown Chicago where it built three of its swing bridges across the Chicago River, all of which were featured in its catalogues of the era. All of the King swing bridges have been replaced by bascule structures.
The 12th Street Viaduct was built in 1884 and shown in the etching on the left, then as a photograph in all the company catalogues from then on.
The swing bridges at 18th Street and Adams Street were built subsequently and were also prominently featured in company literature. (See the Moveable Bridges section in HISTORY for more details.)
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
There are not many major King bridges left in the state, but there are structures built for the railroads that still survive.
1. The Wabash Cannonball Bridge – 1906- St. Francisville, Lawrence County
This bridge has a most interesting history. It was originally erected in 1897 in Wilmington, Delaware, then dismantled and move to serve as a railroad bridge over the Wabash River between Indiana and Illinois where it carried the famous Wabash Cannon Ball train. Its center span was a swing bridge. The bridge is maintained as a limited toll facility and local attraction by the City of St. Francisville. (See Railroad Special and Moveable Bridges section In HISTORY for more details.)
2. Five RR Beam Girders- Tunnel Hill State Trail 1905-1912 Johnson Co.
In 1912, The King bridge Company built a series of beam girder bridges for the Old Big Four Branch of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad between Harrisburg and Karnak in Southern Illinois. There are five of these bridges that are now part of the biking trail built on the abandoned right-of-way, a number with King plates. ( see 2005 Update and the Midwest places web site for more details)
3. Beam Girder Railroad Bridge- 1912- Sagamon Co. – Ted Montrey of the Illinois Office of Water Resources sent us photos of a 1912 railroad bridge which the state plans to convert to pedestrian use as part of a rail-trail. It still has its builder’s plate. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Lexington Pony Truss -1896- McLean County
At one time there were a number of King bridges across the Mackinaw River in McLean County, (including a still standing bowstring which may be a King). While there are old photographs of some of these, the pony truss near Lexington, with it bridge plate still in tact, is the only one confirmed to be still there. Bridge enthusiast Douglas Coulter has a great deal of interesting information on his website: (http://www.douglascoulter.com/BridgeSigns/body_king_gone.html).
NO PHOTO AVAILABLE
5. The Maquon Foot Bridges -1898 – Knox County
The King Bridge Company built two foot bridges across a small valley to connect two parts of the town. At the urging of the local citizenry, the town fathers are repairing the bridges so that they can continue their important function.
6. The Stone Quarry Bridge -1883 – Coles County
This through truss bridge over Embarras River on TR 135D, 3.0 mi. northeast of Charleston is still open to traffic. (See http://bridgehunter.com/il/coles/stone-quarry/)
Indiana has a very interesting collection of old King bridges and a number of enthusiastic supporters of their preservation, including CLR Construction/Engineering of Vincinnes which has been undertaking a number of bridge rehab projects in the region.
The Boner Bowstring (Peyatt’s Mill Bridge)- 1869 – Warrick County
This three span 160 foot bridge across Little Pigeon Creek consists of one through truss on cast iron supports and two pony trusses. It was built by a local contractor using the Z. King patented design and is probably the oldest King bowstring still standing. It still carries traffic with a three-ton limit and has recently been rehabilitated.
(see PRESERVATION section and http://www.historicnewburgh.org/boner_bridge.htm
The Furnas Mill Bridge- 1891- Atterbury Wildlife Area – Johnson County
This handsome bridge has just been rehabilitated to serve as access to this nature preserve. (see PRESERVATION section for more details )
3. The Main Street Bridge – 1884-New Pekin, Washington County
This is reported to be one of the oldest Pratt trusses built by the King Bridge Company as described in “Iron Monuments to Distant Posterity”’ by Professor James L. Cooper of DePauw University. It is one of the outstanding bridges on the Indiana Historic Bridge Inventory and is scheduled to be rehabilitates in the near future.
4. The East Swinney Park Footbridge -1898- Fort Wayne, Allen County
This is a unique bridge built for pedestrians only across the St. Mary’s River.
5. The Madison Heritage Trail (Overton) Bridge – 1885- Jefferson County-
When the Overton Bridge, built by the King Bridge Company in 1885, was replaced in 2002 by Washington County, it was bought by Jim Barker of Barker Engineering and granted to the Heritage Trail of Madison. It is in storage in a stone quarry in Jefferson County awaiting funds for its engineering and reconstruction on the Heritage Trail.
( See PRESERVATION section and http://www.heritagetrailofmadison.org/ for details).