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US Army Corps of Engineers Obtains New Historical Artifact for Illinois Waterway Visitor Center

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”10378″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]With Eastern National’s assistance, our US Army Corps of Engineers partner at Illinois Waterway was recently able to make the most of a unique opportunity. From an auction for a local business that was closing, park rangers Gary Shea and Robert Petruney were able to obtain an important historical artifact for the site: a hand-built scale model of the Peru, Illinois, swing bridge.

Displays at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center include photos of the original bridge in place—across the Illinois River—as well as the key originally used to open the bridge. This was the longest single-span structure in Illinois when it was completed in 1870. The design is a Pratt Through Truss Bridge, patented in 1844. The bridge was removed in the 1950s when the modern Illinois Waterway opened. It was replaced by a typical high-rise bridge. Adding this replica to the displays at the visitor center allows the site to better interpret the story of the Illinois Waterway.

The swing bridge model was designed and built by a local man named Jerry Welch many years ago. It is believed to be the only one ever made. Jerry was a master carpenter who loved bridge engineering and the Illinois River.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]