Then and Now: West Light Street bridge


Back “Then” in 1926, railroad travel was a big thing in Urbana, with trains going east, west, north and south, conveniently bringing raw materials into Champaign County and shipping goods produced here to customers all over the USA. Good transportation was and is important for businesses. The Big Four Railroad Company, which became New York Central about 1926, decided to speed up its routes through Urbana by constructing two sets of new train tracks elevated over streets, highways and other train tracks.

The “Then” 1926 photo shows construction of the overpass on West Light Street. Trains could travel faster this way since they weren’t a hazard to car traffic on roadways. There is so few other structures then in the picture it is difficult to determine whether this photo is looking East or West. Come to the Champaign County Historical Society Museum at 809 East Lawn Avenue, Urbana, Ohio, to see and learn more about our local heritage. Open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 to 4, staffed with volunteers, and open one Sunday a month at 2 pm with a program. It is also opened by scheduled appointments.

The “Now” picture taken by Ward Lutz of the Champaign County Historical Society Museum looks west to view West Light Street. Notice all the utility poles and overhead wires now marring the view. Of course we do like our streets lighted, and electricity, phone, and cable service those wires represent. With the higher semi trailers we have these days, some might not be able to drive under this viaduct with an overhead clearance of only 12 feet 6 inches. Now it is pleasurable to have the Simon Kenton Pathway Bike Trails now conveniently crosses over top of the roadway along with only one set of train rails which makes biking a safer more enjoyable activity with great views.

Constructing the West Light Street bridge in 1926 the West Light Street bridge in 1926

Today’s West Light Street bridge’s West Light Street bridge

By Sheryl Virts

Champaign County Historical Society

Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.

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