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Old 07-29-2011, 09:01 PM   #54
rhino_adv OP
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Apr 2010
Location: central Illinois (Bloomington)
Oddometer: 632
Shelby County

Today I met up with inmates tripleplay and vfrpilot with plans to ride to Shelby County and photograph several old bridges. vfrpilot had a gps track to the first bridge he claimed to be 50% gravel and dirt (he was correct), so off he went with myself and tripleplay close behind. We ran a lot of dusty dirt, grass and gravel roads till we arived at the Thompson Mill Covered Bridge.

A few miles east of Cowden in Shelby County, the Thompson Mill Covered Bridge crosses the Kaskaskia River. It was completed in 1868 at the cost of $2,500, which was a ridiculous amount of money back then and caused much controversy. In 1868 you could buy a nice house and 100 acres of land for $250. This wonderfully restored piece of Illinois history is located on a once important route between Effingham and Springfield. It's named for the owner of a mill that was located near the bridge. It's the narrowest of all the covered bridges in Illinois, with a width of 10 feet 7 inches. This 105 foot-long Howe truss span is one of only five 19th century covered bridges remaining in Illinois. Covered bridges were constructed with a roof and sidewalls to protect the roadway from weather (not to keep horses from being spooked as many believe). Some say it was designed to keep people from fishing off the bridge, which spooked the horses. This treasure of rural Illinois transportation history is on the National Register of Historic places and, though closed to automobiles, is open to pedestrian traffic.

Location: N3915'31" , W8849'05"

From there I took the lead and headed to the Abandoned Cowden through truss bridge over the Kaskaskia River on TR 439A in Shelby county. This Pratt through truss bridge was built in 1890 with a Total length: 167.0 ft and Deck width: 13.5 ft.

Location: N3914'30" , W8850'30"

Next we headed to a Pony truss bridge over the Richland Creek on CH 40. This is a well maintained Riveted, 4-panel Pratt pony truss built in 1923 with a Total length: 63.0 ft. and Deck width: 17.0 ft.

Location: N3914'10" , W8847'13"

After lunh vfrpilot led us to Williamsburg Hill and the Ridge Cemetery.

Rising 810 feet above the the small ghost towns of Towerhill and Shelbyville, Williamsburg Hill is quite possibly the spookiest place in Illinois. So many reports of hauntings, strange creatures and UFOs have been reported here over the years it is difficult to pin down why Williamsburg Hill has such a bad reputation and such a bad attitude. Perhaps the trouble started sometime in 1839, when the town of Tower Hill was founded by Doctor Thomas Williams. When Doctor Williams first rolled into the area he was warned by the local Native American tribes that the hill and the surrounding area was a place of great evil and a home for all manner of evil spirits. Although the natives were afraid to step foot near the hill, Doctor Williams pretty much did what every other white devil of the day did, he ignored the warnings of the local tribes and established his town.
For a little over forty years, Tower Hill became a bustling metroplis of over two thousand people and enjoyed incredible prosperity thanks in part that the town was smack dab in the path of the busy stagecoach line that brought the rich, famous and sometimes infamous to the town. However like many other things the party was over in 1881 for the small town when the stagecoach line was retired and the new railroad completely bypassed the town. Virtually overnight the town of Tower Hill became a ghost town when many citizens felt they needed to be closer to the railroad and moved east to Vandalia. As of 1900 all that remained of the town were a few folks eeking out an existense, a Methodist church and a few shops that were quickly failing. The high times were over with a vengence for Tower Hill.
However as time rolled by folks who were seeking a more quiet genteel life began to move back to the shadow of Williamsburg Hill and this is perhaps when all the weirdness began. Many of the stories of terrifying apparitions are associated with the small overgrown cemetary that sits on the highest summit. Ridge Cemetary is home to the eternal remains of many of the early settlers of Tower Lakes and would have been completely forgotten if it were not for the vandalism that has been committed against the cemetary over the years and much darker rumors of occult rituals being practiced in the cemetary. Many folks have claimed to hear bizarre chanting coming from the hill and the sounds of humans and animals in distress.
Over the years citizens of Tower Hill have reported seeing strange and frightening apparitions on the Hill and near the cemetary. The apparition of an old man that is said to be mad has been frightening those brave enough to step foot upon the slope of Williamsburg Hill. The apparition comes screaming out of the woods and dissappears as before he can assault the witness. One citizen claims that she witnessed a ghostly funeral procession in the vicinity of Ridge Cemetary. The witness, who was a little girl at the time, said she watched as a group of black garbed figures materialized out of the fog following behind a black casket, she could hear weeping and sobs coming from the ghostly procession and watched as the party vanished into thin air before her eyes.
Others brave enough to explore the Hill and Ridge Cemetary have reported seeing large dark shadows and apparitions that attempt to entice people to committ suicide within the gates of Ridge Cemetary. One witness reported a strange occurence one day when her daughter caimed that the people who lived in the ground wanted her to come live with them. Needless to say such a terrifying experience caused the woman never to come near the cemetary ever again.
Other witnesses have reported seeing a tall, hairy, bipedal creature haunting the mists and forest of Williamsburg hill. Teenagers have claimed that as they were walking along the path they would catch fleeting glimpses of the Sasquatch like creature following along side them darting from tree to tree. Apparently the Hill may also be home to it’s very own dragon but of course this story is highly suspect and is probably not a true phenomenon associated with the hill.
Many citizens of the surrounding area have reported seeing strange bright lights hovering over or near the Hill leading many to believe that the hill is actually home to an alien base located deep with in the hill. One witness claimed to have seen a large red ball descend out of the sky and land on top of the Hill. The witness then reported watching as the large red ball took off from the Hill and flew over his car causing the car to stall.
When you read the stories and eyewitness accounts of the bevvy of bizarre phenomenon associated with Williamsburg Hill one can not help but wonder what has caused this seemingly innocent hill to have such a crappy disposition. Perhaps the Native tribes that warned Doctor Williams was right, maybe this place is cursed. Native American tribes lived very close to the earth and were well aware of places to avoid because they were believed to be an abode of really really bad things and Williamsburg Hill appears to be such a place.
One theory in the field of paranormal research is that certain areas are vortex or doorways to other dimensions from which spirits, demons and strange creatures from the ether region are able to gain access to our world.

Location: N39 18' 02" , W88 55' 57"

After leaving Williamsburg Hill, vfrpilot leads us to 3 bridges crossing the Becks Creek. This is some of the best D/S riding central Illinois has to offer. We traveled on many miles of rutted dirt roads, some sandy gravel, through muddy areas, crossed a closed pony truss bridge, more rutted dirt roads, more mud.

More bridge photos from this ride to come.


Old Bridges Thread
Riding the TWAT
475+ Bridges in Illinois,
985+ Old Bridges in Missouri

rhino_adv screwed with this post 08-02-2011 at 02:17 PM
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