Day 6: November 1, 2015
Buildings, Bridges, & Bugs

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As if co-hosting Saturday night's Roadie Bash wasn't enough, Rich Dinkela offered to guide any who were interested on a visit to the MacArthur Bridge. Many were interested and on Sunday morning eight (or so) cars set out behind Rich and his Adventure Truck. That's it just starting to slip behind the trees at the front of the caravan.

Stopping at the Majestic Theater on the way to the bridge was a no brainer. If the devil is in the details here, he's in good company. The Majestic opened in 1928 and closed as a theater in the 1960s. A 2012 look at the interior can be found here and Rich's own video of the exterior, shot when parts of the adjacent Murphy Building were still standing, is here.

The Majestic Theater may be the foremost example of what East St Louis once was and what it has become but there are plenty of others.

Getting to the east end of the MacArthur Bridge involves slipping through a hole in a chain-link fence and following a narrow path worn through scraggly foliage. The bridge was a double decker with the cars that traveled up this ramp crossing the Mississippi above trains that came in from the south. The bridge first opened for automobiles in 1917 and for trains in 1928. It is still used by trains but auto use ended in 1981 and much of the deck and some of the approach ramps have been removed.

Rich cautioned us to avoid the sidewalks and he explained why but seeing those sidewalks definitely reinforced his warnings. With cameras blazing, we jerkily worked our way to the end of the remaining bridge deck. The return was a little more direct but only a little.

We then crossed the river on a properly decked bridge to visit the Eat-Rite Diner on a one time Route 66 alignment. This eatery was known as the White Kitchen when it opened in the 1930s. It was given the Eat-Rite name when it became part of a chain in the 1960s. It's now all that remains of the chain. Note that, not only has the design been erased from the counter top by many sliding plates and elbows, the laminate has actually bee worn through to the wood in spots.

I've been here before but had never tried the signature Zinger. It really isn't the sort of thing that I would normally eat but I got caught up in the moment and ordered one. I think I convinced my self that a Zinger -- hash browns, eggs, cheese, sausage, onions, and chili -- was something like a Cincinnati 3-way. It's good but it's hardly the same.

The group essentially split up at the Eat-Rite and Fred Zander and I made one more stop before he headed west an I turned east. Yes, I have taken nearly identical photos of Ted Drewes concretes in the past and I'm going to keep doing it until I get it right. And probably awhile longer.

I'd decided earlier that US-50 would be my basic path home. I picked it up around Ofallon, Illinois. The General Dean Suspension Bridge near Carlyle, Illinois, is named after a Korean War general so I was surprised to learn that it's 156 years old. Originally constructed in 1859, it was named after Carlyle native General William F. Dean when it was restored in the early 1950s. It is now restricted to foot traffic and I'm guessing that the towers are the only nineteenth century bits remaining. When I stopped, ladybugs covered both of the east end towers. A couple hitched a ride on my shirt to the car then rode with me for several miles before flying off to find new friends.

Several abandoned sections of old US-50 parallel the current route between Salem and Olney, Illinois. I've been through here before and grabbed a few photos of the blocked off roadway and closed bridges but this section really does deserve some serious attention.

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