The landscape of Monroe
County is dotted with a number of European-style stone arch bridges. The
arch was first used by the Roman Empire for bridges and aqueducts and is
still a popular design because it can withstand extreme conditions. German immigrants to Monroe County in the mid
18th century borrowed this
design and used the abundance of local limestone to construct bridges over
area streams and creeks, many which are still standing and a few that are
still in use. greatriverroad.com has put together an easy driving
tour to see a few of these structures. The scenery along the route is
especially nice during the autumn color season.
tour starts in Columbia near the intersection of IL-3 and Gall Road at the
southern end of town. Follow Gall Road and almost immediately you will see a
red brick building on the left. The stone bridge (below left photo) will be
near the brick building. Following Gall Road will lead through changing
scenery of farms with livestock and shaded forest lanes and ends at
Hanover Road. Take a left on Hanover Road and travel east until you reach
IL-3. Take a right on IL-3 and travel south into the town of Waterloo.
downtown Waterloo IL-3 intersects with IL-156 and you should take a right on
IL-156 and an immediate left onto Lakeview Drive. Follow Lakeview Drive south
towards Wartburg and Maeystown as it turns into Maeystown Road. In Wartburg
you will see the Holy Cross Lutheran Church. This first Lutheran Church in Monroe
County was organized in
1841 and the current
building was built in 1863. English
services were first introduced in 1946 while monthly
services in German lasted until 1967. Approximately 1/2 mile past this church you will see a stone bridge
(above right photo) in the middle of a field on your left.
on Maeystown Road until you see the sign directing you into Maeystown. You
will cross over a stone bridge (photo left) as you approach the center of
town. This quaint village is situated in the hills just above the
bluff line that separates the American Bottom lowlands and the interior uplands.
In 1852 Jacob Maeys, an immigrant from Bavaria, founded a village he called
Maeysville by laying out part of the property he
owned into lots. The entire village
was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, one of only
a handful of communities in the country to have this distinction. Visitors
can see a variety of stone structures including houses, the arched bridge, the
church, the flourmill, and numerous retaining walls. Although the
historic enterprises of the village are long gone, there are several local shops, a
B&B, and a tavern that continue to operate.
next bridge is located on Baum Road, which is near the western edge of town. Take Maeystown Road west out of the
center of Maeystown and take a
right on Baum Road and travel 1/2 mile up the hill. At this point it gets a
little confusing, as you will need to take a right to continue on Baum
Road. After traveling approximately 2 1/2 miles on this scenic winding rural
road (top right photo) you will notice a stone bridge (top left photo) that
crosses a creek on your left.
on Baum Road until it intersects with County Road KK and take a left. Follow
County Road KK
through the town of Monroe City until it intersects with Bluff Road and take a right. Bluff Road is a scenic
route with the tree-lined bluffs on one side and the American Bottom on the
American Bottom is a sixty mile strip of fertile lowlands that attracted
French colonists before the Revolutionary War. This area of the country was
considered the bread basket of French controlled territory along the
Mississippi River all the way down to New Orleans. Bluff Road will intersect
with IL-156 (Main Street) in Old Valmeyer. Take a right on IL-156 and go
the left, one mile past the water tower in New Valmeyer, will be D Road.
This last section of the tour has a number of scenic spots as you wind your way through both
agricultural fields and forests (above right photo.) Take D Road one mile
until it intersects with Trout Camp Road. Take a right on Trout Camp Road.
The last bridge on the tour (above left photo) will be a little less than 1
mile on the right. Continue on Trout Camp Road, bearing left when it
intersects with Deer Hill Road until Trout Camp Road intersects with IL-156. Take a left
on IL-156 and travel east until you are back in Waterloo.