Oakridge Bridge in Divernon Township

The Covered Bridges of Sangamon County
Submitted by Friends of Genealogy

In the heartland of Illinois, surrounding the capital city of Springfield, and reaching to the south, north, and east before it moves westward to join the Illinois River is the Sangamon River which, with its tributaries, touches a dozen counties in the central part of the state. Whether more bridges were built in the central part of the state is unknown. Both large and small covered bridges were built across the Sangamon River and its tributaries, many of them in the period after the Civil War when iron bridges were gaining acceptance.

On April 24, 1880 a cyclone demolished the Willow Ford Bridge across the south Fork of the Sangamon River, four miles southwest of Taylorville. Rumor has it that at one time there was a covered bridge east of Taylorville and another one west of the town. There was also a covered bridge west of Edinburg, near the Star School. It was called Star Bridge and had a star painted on the portal. It was still standing at late as 1928.

More covered bridges were found in Sangamon County than in any other county in the state. A total of 30 bridges appears in the list by counties and fifteen of them were in Ball Township, south of Springfield. The earliest toll bridge across the Sangamon River is dated January 24, 1832, which permitted John Adams to build a toll bridge one mile in either direction from the mouth of Fancy Creek. This would probably place the bridge in section 6, of the present Clear Lake Township. In 1836 the state asked Sangamon County to build a free bridge over the Sangamon River at or near Stephenson's ferry on the road from Peoria to Springfield. This bridge was to be at least twenty feet wide. It was to be paid for by Sangamon County from taxes levied for that purpose.

Other bridges that were built could be paid for the in the same way. In March of 1843 permission was granted to build a free bridge across the Sangamon River on the Peoria to Springfield road on piers that were already standing.

Side view Oakridge Bridge

Four miles east and one mile north of the town of Rochester, in Cooper Township, there was a bridge over the North Fork of the Sangamon River. It was known as the Old Buckhart Bridge, possibly because it was near that village, or as Old Joe Miller Bridge. The 105 foot wooden structure was removed in 1901. This bridge was built in 1831.

Two miles north of Rochester, in the center of section 4, Rochester Township, a covered bridge was photographed in 1936.

Rochester Township - across Horse Creek

In the northwest corner of Rochester Township a covered bridge was standing across Sugar Creek in 1898. A covered bridge is said to have spanned the South Fork of the Sangamon River on a road between sections 20 and 29. This bridge was reported as standing in 1936 but was abandoned as unsafe for traffic.

A little more than a mile further west a covered bridge crossed Horse Creek. It was built in 1884.

Clear Lake Township

Another covered bridge in Clear Lake Township, removed after 1898, crossed the North Fork of the Sangamon River about two miles farther east.


Glenwood Park - Sangamon County

There is another bridge in Glenwood Park six miles southeast of Springfield.

The records of two bridges in Gardner Township have survived. The Farmingdale Bridge about a mile north of Farmingdale and about ten miles northwest of Springfield was built across Prairie Creek about 1870.

Farmingdale Bridge - Gardner Township

The other bridge known to have been built in this township was burnt down. The bridge is located about four miles west of Springfield on Washington Street Road and a short distance to the north on a gravel road. The bridge, which crosses Spring Creek, has a span of 80 feet with short approaches at each end.

The construction is Burr arch. The bridge was probably built in 1883, by Thomas Bucher of Bucher and Horton. This bridge is usually called the Riddle Hill Bridge, although it is about a mile from Riddle Hill. It has also been referred to as the Curran Bridge.

Crow's Mill Bridge

There is also another bridge across Spring Creek in Curran Township.

There is also a bridge located near Carpenter's Mill north of Springfield and another bridge two miles north of Springfield over Spring Creek.

Ball Township south of Springfield is a traditional mid-western township six miles by six miles in sizes with a narrow piece taken off the edges of the western sections. Here in this area of less than thirty-six square miles at least fifteen covered bridges were built during the last half of the nineteenth century.

Hedley Bridge - Glenarm

The bridge at Glenarm is called Hedley Bridge. The major stream through Ball Township is Sugar Creek. The first bridge across Sugar Creek was built about 1827 by Thomas Black and his neighbors who felt the need for something more than a ford. It was a wooden bridge but not a covered one. It was built in Auburn Township, but close to the Ball Township line. Sugar Creek is joined by Panther Creek in the southern part of the township, before Sugar Creek reaches the Sangamon River. The other stream through the township is Brush Creek which flows through the eastern part of the township to join Horse Creek in Rochester Township.

Some bridge sites are now covered by Lake Springfield.

Covered Bridges in Ball Township


Name of Bridge


Panther Creek   Between sections 19 and 30 on the Ball Chatham township line
Panther Creek Fletcher Section 30, quarter mile north of center of section
Panther Creek   Between sections 29 and 30, eighth mile south of crossroads bounding sections 19, 20, 30 and 39
Panther Creek Crooked Between sections 20 and 20, one eighth mile east of crossroads bounding 19, 20, 30 and 29
Panther Creek   In section 20, quarter mile east and quarter mile south of center of section
Sugar Creek   Between sections 31 and 32
Sugar Creek Tansey In section 28, quarter mile south and quarter mile west of center of section
Sugar Creek Hedley Between section 28 and 21. This bridge is still standing
Sugar Creek Ball In section 21, three eighths of a mile north, and a quarter mile west of center.
Sugar Creek Glasser In section 9, quarter mile south and three eighths of mile west of center
Sugar Creek Walner Between sections 4 and 9, road now covered by the lake
Sugar Creek Crow's Mill At Cotton Hill, between sections 3 and 2
Sugar Creek Lederbrand In section 2, quarter mile north and quarter mile east of Center
Brush Creek Oakridge In section 34, Ball-Pawnee township line
Brush Creek   In section 25, quarter mile south and quarter mile west of center

Near the Hedley Bridge in Glenarm the Sangamon County Historical Society has established a park, called Pioneer Park, in memory of the first settlers of the Sangamon County. The park area includes the site of the first settler's home, built by Robert Pulliam, October 20, 1817.