Carlyle in Clinton County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
General Dean Suspension Bridge Display
In 1811, John Hill settled near the Carlyle ford and built a block house in which to protect his family from Native Americans. He began a small ferrying service at the ford. Seven years later, the Slade brothers, of English descent, opened a small mercantile business near the site. Charles Slade laid out the town and began to advertise Carlyle as an “up and coming” city. The spirit of speculation soon took hold and great tracts of land were sold.
At this time, the Slade brothers purchased Hill’s ferry
In the early 1850’s, Slade’s second bridge began to show signs of decay but area residents still needed this important crossing over the Kaskaskia, and plans for a new bridge were laid.
Construction began on the new suspension bridge and it was opened for use in 1860. With a structural span of 280 feet, and four 35 foot support towers, the suspension bridge was quite an engineering feat. Much skepticism was heard through the county for its design and construction. The bridge stood for 65 years serving residents such as Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, Horace Greeley, and William Jennings Bryan.
What could have been the beginning of the end for the only successful suspension bridge in Illinois began in 1925. The only thing saving the bridge was the newly construction U.S. Highway bridge drawing all but the occasional foot traffic away from the suspension bridge. After 20 years of idle decay and erosion tearing away at the bridge, the Carlyle Suspension Bridge Restoration Association was formed.
In 1951, Legislators Haage and Branson sponsored a bill to allocate $20,000
In the fall of 1953, restoration of the suspension bridge was completed and on November 11, 1953, the bridge was formally dedicated as the General William F. Dean Suspension Bridge. General Dean, a native of Carlyle, was a prisoner of war for three years during the Korean War. Honored by the United States, General Dean received a Congressional Medal of Honor.
In 1973 the General William F. Dean Suspension Bridge was added to the Federal Register of National Historic Places.
In 1989, due to concerted efforts of city administrators and legislative officials the Illinois General Assembly appropriated $250,000 to undertake major renovation and rehabilitation work on the structure. Work was completed in 1991.
Erected by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Location. 38° 36.665′ N, 89° 21.412′ W. Marker is in Carlyle, Illinois, in Clinton County. Marker can be reached from Franklin Street (U.S. 50) 0.2 miles east of 1st Street, on the left when traveling east. Marker is located at the General Dean Suspension Bridge / Boat Access area at the east end of the bridge; the above directions are to the driveway entrance to the access area. Touch for map Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Goshen Road (a few steps from this marker); The General Dean Suspension Bridge (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line).
Also see . . . Suspension Bridge, Spanning Kaskaskia River, Carlyle, Clinton County, IL (HABS). (Submitted on October 19, 2016.)
Categories. • Bridges & Viaducts • Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers •
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Credits. This page was last revised on October 10, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 19, 2016, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 216 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 19, 2016, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. 6. submitted on October 19, 2016.