When Keith and I saw the sign for the Thompson Mill Covered Bridge. We were interested right away. Historic signs when we have a minute are a sure way to make us stop.
Getting to the Bridge
We were on our way back from an event in Effingham, Illinois. The sign for the covered bridge was near the town of Cowden. We had seen it on the way to our event and almost missed it on the way back. To get there, we had to drive several miles on twisty turning roads to find it. We almost gave up until Keith spied it off to the right.
The bridge’s story
You can read about the Thompson Covered Bridge’s history on a sign above the bridge. I also found the history on the Robin Hood Woods Campground Resort website . They state, “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. “
Details about the Thompson Covered Bridge & Mill
On the sign above the bridge it was interesting to learn that this is the narrowest of all the covered bridges in Illinois. It is only 10 feet 7 inches wide! The bridge provided area residents access to the Thompson Mill, a corn mill and sawmill that operated from 1843 to 1914.T he mill was rebuilt in 1872, then torn down in 1914.
According to the form completed by IDOT to place this bridge on the National Register of Historic Places, a log home community once flourished in the area, but these buildings now are gone.
The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in March of 1975. The IDOT application also shared that the bridge was originally fabricated in Michigan, then shipped to Shelbyville. The bridge was then moved to the site by horse drawn wagons!
The Thompson Covered Bridge is a 105 foot-long Howe truss span. It is one of only five 19th century covered bridges remaining in Illinois. We were able to pull off and park and go up and check the bridge out. It is quite beautiful although there is a bit of graffiti desecrating some of the logs.
Perfect place for photos
This is a perfect place for taking family photographs or just wool gathering. Keith and I were so glad we took a few minutes and took the road less traveled! Any covered bridge catches my attention, but this one right in the heart of central Illinois holds a special place .
If you enjoy covered bridges read on about the one we spied in Mahomet at the Grand Prairie Museum!