Update on Allenville RR Bridge

Allenville RR bridge 03-05-2016I’ve photographed the removal of the rails between Gordonville and Delta (one of these days I’ll get around to printing them), but I didn’t know if the flooring and rails were still intact on the bridge spanning the Diversion Channel south of Allenville. Here’s what the bridge looked like in 2013.

The first thing that stood out was the door ripped off the cabinet that I assume contained the electrical equipment for the warning lights where the tracks crossed Hwy N. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Trees blocked the way

Allenville RR bridge 03-05-2016Walking was easier than the last trip when Friend Shari and I visited. Pulling up the rails and ties provided a nice surface. The roadway was probably TOO nice, so someone felled trees across the way in several spots to keep people from driving down it.

Either that are there are some highly selective square-toothed beavers at work.

Ties pushed off to the side

Allenville RR bridge 03-05-2016It’s obvious that steel rails were worth salvaging, but there was no value in the rotted ties that were pushed off to the side to go back to nature.

Riddle of the Spinx

Allenville RR bridge 03-05-2016When I encountered the final barrier, I realized that I could no longer leap, scramble and scamper like I once could. Now, better than when I was young, I could interpret The Riddle of the Spinx.

In Greek legend, the Sphinx devoured all travelers who could not answer the riddle it posed: “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?” The hero Oedipus gave the answer, “Man,” causing the Sphinx’s death.

On the way back, I snagged a branch suitable for a walking stick because, alas, I felt that I had reached Evening.

The bridge

Allenville RR bridge 03-05-2016When I finally got to my target, I was glad to see that it was still mostly intact. A few feet of rails at the ends of the structure had been removed, but the bulk of the 1918 bridge was still there.

I’d like to have stuck around longer, but the light and the temperature were both falling rapidly. I didn’t want to try to pick my way through the barriers by feel.




The End of the Line

St Louis and Iron Mountain RR Allenville 07-07-2012_3908When I wrote about the Allenville railroad bridge and the petition the Jackson, Gordonville and Delta Railroad Company (JGDR) filed to abandon 13.3 miles of rail line between Delta and Gordonville, I didn’t realize how quickly they’d start ripping up track. As I read it, the petition gave until June 1, 2013, for anyone to object. The ink must have been hardly dry before rails were being pulled up.

Here was the Renfroe Street and E. Second crossing in Allenville July 7, 2012.

Rails were spread in 2012

St Louis and Iron Mountain RR Allenville 07-07-2012_3912It was obvious little or no maintenance had been done on the tracks in this area. The rails had spread north of the crossing.

Tracks torn up in 2013

St Louis and Iron Mountain tracks Allenville 07-12-2013_6118Here’s a view north of the crossing July 12, 2013. The ties have been removed and the rails pulled up.

Split rail, gravel and brush in 2012

St Louis and Iron Mountain RR Allenville 07-07-2012_3935A train would have had to negotiate a split rail, hop a gravel-clogged intersection and plow through brush south of the intersection when this photo was taken in 2012.

Brush gone, but so is track

St Louis and Iron Mountain tracks Allenville 07-12-2013_6119Last week’s photo shows the brush has been cleared from the right of way, but the tracks are gone, too.

Tracks overgrown NE of town

St Louis and Iron Mountain RR NE of Allenville 07-07-2012_3897The tracks northeast of Allenville were overgrown in 2012. You wouldn’t know a railroad ran there except for the raised roadbed and an occasional glimpse of steel.

Bolted, not welded

St Louis and Iron Mountain tracks Allenville 07-12-2013_6125This railroad was built long before trains ran on continuous ribbons of welded tracks. Each individual piece of steel had to be bolted together. The short pieces in this scrap heap are the ones that connected the rails with huge nuts, bolts and lockwashers.

Cutting the bolts

St Louis and Iron Mountain tracks Allenville 07-12-2013_6135I didn’t look closely enough at the bolts to see if they were ground off or if, more likely, a cutting torch was used on them.

Is there a railroad lost here?

St Louis and Iron Mountain RR NE of Allenville 07-07-2012_3894Nature had pretty much reclaimed this section northeast of Allenville in 2012.

The same spot in 2013

St Louis and Iron Mountain tracks Allenville 07-12-2013_6130

The right of way would allow the passage of a train today, but there wouldn’t be any rails for it to run on. I would love to see this land preserved for a future rails to trail, but that’s probably too much to hope for.

The demolition hasn’t gotten too much outside Allenville to the north. I don’t know where they started or if they’ve ripped up the bridge over the Diversion Channel yet.

Older stories

St Louis and Iron Mountain tracks Allenville 07-12-2013_6131I’ll run other photos taken last summer of where the railroad ran between Gordonville and Allenville just so future historians can see what the line looked like. Here are some earlier stories I’ve done about the JGDR, also known as the St. Louis and Delta Railroad Company. Based on the looks of the rolling stock in Jackson next to Mario’s Pasta House, I wouldn’t count on the railroad being around very long.






Allenville Railroad Bridge

Allenville railroad bridge over Diversion Channel 02-12-2013The flood threat to Southeast Missouri had been downgraded a bit, but it looks like we’ll still be getting two or three feet of water on our property in Dutchtown. That’s quite a bit less than we got in 1993 and 2011.

I’m not sure how high it has to get to cut off Allenville, but when it gets really high, the old Allenville railroad bridge owned by the Jackson, Gordonville and Delta Railroad Company (JGDR) is the only access to the town.

Railroad wants to abandon line

Allenville railroad bridge over Diversion Channel 02-12-2013The JGDR, which once was the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railway, has petitioned the Department of Transportation to abandon 13.3 miles of rail line between Delta and Gordonville. Having seen the condition of the rails and bridges like the one over Williams Creek, I have to agree that it would be impossible to run a train over most of that section without practically rebuilding the road bed..

Here is a link to the formal petition. If I read it correctly, if nobody objects to it by June 1, 2013, then it’ll be a done deal. If the railway is to be abandoned and salvaged, I’d like to see the right of way held in trust for possible use for a rails-to-trails sometime in the future. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Bridge built in 1918

Allenville railroad bridge over Diversion Channel 02-12-2013When I did the earlier story on the bridge, reader and railroad buff Keith Robinson provided this tidbit: “The Allenville Railroad bridge was built in 1918 by the Bethlehem Steel Bridge Corp. Ist design is known as a riveted, 6-panel Pratt through truss. These old bridges are succumbing to age and the desire by some to eliminate risk while preserving nothing.”

I walked about halfway across the bridge without feeling too uncomfortable. Some of the ties on the south end show charring where someone started a fire under the bridge.

Aerial of bridge

Aerial Allenville railroad over Diversion Channel 11-06-2010_8925

I took this November 6, 2010.

Allenville photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the side to move through the gallery.

Marcescence or Not?

Allenville railroad bridge over Diversion Channel 02-12-2013I stumbled across an interesting leaf thing, then I stumbled across what might or might not explain it. I don’t dabble in plants. I have a very simplistic view of nature. I divide animals into two camps: ones that I can eat and ones that can eat me.

Even though Wife Lila has a fascinating gardening blog (worth checking out, I have to say), I divide the plant world into two camps, too: weeds and not weeds. How do you tell the difference? You chop ’em all down. The ones that grow back are weeds.

Leaves were stark white

Having said that, I stopped to take a picture of this bush / tree / weed along the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad tracks south of the Allenville Diversion Channel bridge. It was the only thing around that held onto its leaves and they were a stark white.

It just so happens that I saw a story that explained what might be going on here. It’s a long piece, so I’m going to send you directly to the Northern Woodlands site for the whole drink of water. Bottom line is that different trees shed their leaves differently.

First trees were evergreens

The first trees on the planet were evergreens, Northern Woodlands points out. They appear to be green all the time, but entire age classes of needles die, turn brown and drop off every year. “On the other end of the spectrum are deciduous trees [like the birch, maple, cherry and aspen], which seem to drop their leaves all at once after a pigment party every fall.” I like that phrase. I’m probably going to steal it one of these days.

The story continues, “But then we have a third class of tree in beech and oak that seems to represent a middle ground of sorts between evergreen and deciduous. Their leaves die, but many don’t fall when they die. Botanists call this retention of dead plant matter marcescence.”

It goes on to explain why there might be an ecological advantage to being the last guy on the block to go naked, but I started tuning out. If anybody knows what the white-leaved thing is, let me know.