Steel remnants of the former Franklin Street Bridge between Peoria and East Peoria, Illinois, now make up a unique sculpture along the banks of the Illinois River. The monument stands near the spot where the steel truss and bascule (drawbridge) structure spanned the river for eight decades.
The Franklin Street Bridge was built in 1911, after an earlier concrete span collapsed into the river soon after it was opened. Engineers said the structure failed when the concrete piers were undermined and weakened. By incorporating a 30-degree curve into the design, engineers were able to place the new bridge on bedrock and avoid the wreckage of its predecessor.
The Franklin Street Bridge was closed and replaced by the modern (but much less interesting) Bob Michel Bridge in 1993. The East Peoria monument in its honor was originally located about a quarter mile north, closer to the actual crossing point, but was moved to accommodate a new hotel and conference center. Created by local sculptor Nita Sunderland, the monument uses steel grids from the bridge deck and massive gears and pinions from the electric lifting mechanism.
There are two monuments: the original, on the East Peoria side of the river (at 230 Conference Center Drive) and a twin, on the Peoria side (at 432 SW Water Street).