The “Then” photo is of the Pennsylvania Railroad arch bridge over Nettle Creek (looking south) in Mad River Township, south and west of Westville (circa 1900). The photo certainly was taken during the construction of the bridge, as the final railroad bed was approximately 15 feet above the top of the bridge as shown in the “Now” photo. At this time two tracks were added and their westward upward grade was made gentler. The original track laid in 1853-1854 carried the Lincoln funeral train. It was one of the steepest and longest grades on the Pennsylvania Railroad system in Ohio. A “pusher engine” was kept in Urbana to assist trains up through the “Blue Hills” (approximately from Troy Hill Road to Kite Road). Even after the grade re-alignment, on occasion westward steam engine trains would have to be assisted by a “pusher engine.”
The “Now” photo of the same location was taken in 2017. Amazingly, after all this time there are no obvious cracks in the concrete. Note that the creek predominantly runs through the east arch. (Champaign County Historical Museum #’s A1363 & A1565)
Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.