September 3, 2008

A Journey into the Past ~ The Historic Lyndon Bridge

Bob and I like to travel the back roads and see pieces of the past and research what we can, any info about them. Yesterday was such a day. We drove over to Lyndon Illinois, a small community that is located in Whiteside County. We followed a small dirt and gravel one lane road back to the bridge, which the road was obviously seldom traveled and closed when you get to the bridge. We were surrounded by cornfields and pastures. The Rock River flows next to town , where the historic old bridge still remains .

The Lyndon Road Bridge was a one-lane 5-span bridge that crossed over the Erie Canal and CSX railroad line. A camelback structure spanned the Canal, with pny trusses spanning the railroad. I can see the wooden planks and pedestrian walk ways on each side. The 1911 structure had become inadequate for vehicular traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists. By 1993, in deteriorated condition, it was open only to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Historic Lyndon Bridge 1911...Whiteside County

Bridge to the past by Shaw Publishing company

Restoration of Lyndon mural ‘labor of love’Published: Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 3:27 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 


LYNDON – Blues, greens, browns and reds adorn the west face of a Commercial Street building, tattooed on a wall with a unique scene of Sauk Valley history: the historic Lyndon Bridge

When there was talk of removing the mural – it had been in a state of disrepair, with bleeding colors and chipping paint – its creator sought to bring it new life.

“This ... bridge has always caught my eye,” Howard “Bud” Thompson said of the venerable structure, completed in 1894. “It’s a beautiful old bridge, and you don’t see any like this anymore.”

Thompson, 84, along with members of the Prophetstown High School art club and its instructor, had collaborated over 15 years to paint 11 murals in the area, including this one in Lyndon, which was installed in 2004.

In the design and transfer to the wall, Thompson acknowledged, the mural suffered a critical flaw that had caused it to peel and wither.

“We didn’t prepare the wall as we should have,” he admitted, “and we paid for it.”

With the strength of God at his side, he said, the octogenarian spent about 2 weeks in sweltering September heat to complete the touch-ups.

“Even at my age, I thought, ‘I don’t know if I can do this or not, but I’m going to try,’” Thompson said.

Gail Goodell, a close friend, brought him a used ComEd bucket truck to reach the highest spots. He worked 3 or 4 hours a day. A 3-day break during an exceptionally hot stretch was the only time he wasn’t on site, he said.

“The folks that own this building were very cooperative,” Thompson said as he looked in the direction of the structure that once housed “a whole row” of businesses, including a grocery and a hardware store.

Thompson, a Whiteside County Board member and former Prophetstown mayor, said he got his start in the arts in 1948 when he took a drawing and perspectives class at Augustana College.

A gifted student, he pursued a grant to study at the University of New Mexico under Chilean-born artist Enrique Montenegro, then a budding figure among expert mural painters and artists in the southwest.

The adventure was put on hold when Thompson learned about his father’s emphysema diagnosis. At 17, he returned to Illinois to take care of his father’s livestock.

“Close the family business and go to art school, or stay home and run the family business,” he said of his options then.

In his retirement, Thompson said, he has helped to produce a creative collection of 11 area murals, 10 of which are in Prophetstown, and has completed other pieces in surrounding areas such as Annawan and Rock Falls.

Through his church work-study program, he has seen more exotic locations such as India, where he painted a sign in Hindi, and Puerto Rico, where he put together a piece that included Jesus as a Puerto Rican on the wall of a new chapel, he said.

“I was so pleased. Now and then people would stop and say, ‘Let’s see what this old fart’s doing,’” Thompson said with a chuckle, referring to his work on the Lyndon Bridge mural.

About a week after finishing the project, Thompson received a thank-you note from the village of Lyndon, which he promptly cut in half to share with Goodell, to whom he had promised half of any proceeds from the effort.

“It was a labor of love"


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