Christmas 1951: The Silver Creek Bridge

Champaign, IL

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The Silver Creek Bridge woodblock print card

The card’s interior

1951 was the Centennial year of the Illinois Central Railroad. In Champaign-Urbana, only one reminder of the earliest days of the railroad still existed in 1951. It was the little stone arch bridge over the north branch of Boneyard, hidden by weeds, vines, and a scrawny patch tree – and used as a neighborhood foot bridge.

The bridge was built in the late 1850s by the Urbana Railroad Company for a horse car line from the Court House in Urbana to the Illinois Central Depot in West Urbana (West Urbana became Champaign by legislative act in 1861). The Urbana Railroad Company operated the horse carts over the old right of way from 1860-1893, when electric carts began to operate over a new route.

By 1951, the original stations were gone and the Urbana Railroad Company was relegated to the annals of transportation history; only the sturdy stone arch remained. The Turners’ full research on the Bridge is accessible in their Christmas 1951 note.

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