Friday, August 21, 2015

Station 144+27 Bridge

I call this bridge Station 144+27 because that is what it says on a plaque on the bridge. The same plaque also says it was built in 1932. Bridges of this sort were once common in this part of central Illinois. Now almost all have been replaced. The lighter section of the road on the right is an eight foot wide concrete pavement that was probably built around the same time as the bridge. This was a common pavement choice in rural areas when they were first putting in hard roads. Such an arrangement meant that one vehicle would need to yield and get onto the soft part of the road when they met head on. At first the lane to yield on was just dirt or sometimes gravel. Later on that side was paved with asphalt as can be seen on the left side of the photo.

Fairland is the name of the town that the road over the Station 144+27 bridge leads to. The building above is all that is left of Fairland's business district. While I don't think the business district here was ever large, I do seem to remember that there once were a few more buildings in this area. I remember a few years ago I was talking to a guy who worked for the C&EI railroad and he said that he once worked as a station agent in Fairland in the 1950's. So there once must have been a fair amount of business in Fairland to have justified a full-time station agent.

There is a small park across from the brick building. Across the street from the park I saw this old church. I would imagine this church was once an important place in Fairland. Today it doesn't look like there are many more than 100 people living in Fairland. Fairland is located in the northeastern part of Douglas County IL. Probably most of the people who live there work in nearby towns. Fairland would certainly be a ghost town if it had to depend on local jobs. One thing that is striking to me is that for many years the people who lived in small towns like Fairland also had some kinda job right in town. Until there were good roads and cars people didn't commute much to other towns for a job. I imagine that towns like Fairland will keep going on for as long as transportation by car remains affordable.

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