2013 Fall/Winter Galenian
The old Jacknife Bridge for the Illinois Central Railroad was destroyed in a 1978 train derailment.
Above: The “new” bridge, the Spring Street bridge, in the early 1900s. Below: The Illinois Central Railroad bridge before it was replaced by the Jacknife Bridge.

sentiment is strongly opposed to a fixed bridge. . . it would be a tacit recognition upon the citizens of Galena that the Galena River is no longer a navigable stream.” The story went on to report that a large amount of wood, sand and other commodities were brought to Galena by water.

There was no intention to convey the idea “that immense steamboats line the levee as in olden days but an effort was made to show that there was really more traffic on the river than it was being given credit for.”

It was a difficult decision to make because no one wanted to turn their back on Galena’s river history. In April 1907 a new swing bridge was officially opened at Spring Street, and Galena could still cling to the fact that it was a river town. Looking back on the history of this city, there have been many bridges that have spanned the Galena River. A number of them have served as railroad bridges or pedestrian bridges, while others have been witness to many parades and celebrations of the past that included a march from the old Illinois Central Railroad Depot to the Main street area.

The Spring Street bridge location dates back to the early times in Galena’s history since it was one of the original sites chosen for a crossing. The present U. S. 20 (Spring Street) bridge dates back to 1984 and was named for former Galena Mayor Frank Einsweiler who was devoted to historic preservation of pieces of the past. The bridge continues to serve both east and west Galena, as well as those that want to share in that unique historic experience Galena offers. 89