cairo bridge-winter 2012 issue

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cairo bridge-winter 2012 issue

  • I spent the first twelve years of my life just north of fhat bridge. My late parents were victims of the 1937 flood and spent some time living in a boxcar at North Cairo. I was born four years later.

    Can anybody identify that little white building under the Cairo side deck girder?

    Btw, I was taught to pronounce the citys' name CAIR-o. Only low class people said KAY-ro (ha ha).


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  • Thanks for adding your comments about my article.  I always enjoy hearing stories about the involvement of railroads in a person's life.

    Regarding the "little white building", it is likely a temporary building brought in by a contractor.  Note that it is sitting atop the levee, which would not be permitted of a permanent building.  The same building is visible in the aerial photos on pages 60-61 and 64.  Also on page 66 it is visible directly under 2-8-2 1538.

    I'll let others debate the pronunciation of Cairo.  I've lived in the area most of my life and most everyone says "KAY ro" , regardless of race, education, or financial status.  No matter of how pronounce the town's name, there is no denying that Cairo is no longer the bustling river and railroad town it used to be in the early 1900's.

    Cliff Downey

  • Thanks for responding. My family left the area in 1953 so maybe pronunciatiion has changed in 58 years. We squatted on land just north of Klondike between rte 3 and the GM&O rr. Spent many summer days at north Cairo station watching IC steamers clank past.

  • A bit off subject, but I've always heard "Kay-ro" as the pronounciation. My Dad lived in Illinois in the 1930's and that's how he said it.

  • The one thing we can all agree on is that nobody in the area pronounces it "Kigh-row" as in Egypt's Cairo. 

    I was thrilled to see this article!  One of the prizes in my library of resources on bridges and trestles is the Final Report by Modjeski and Masters addressed to Mr C.H. Mottier, VP and Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central, on the construction of that bridge, dated June 1, 1953, and hard-bound.  It is filled with drawings, and some photos (including the entire sequence of launching Span 2 into the water), and a great deal of technical (and cost) data about materials (including mill, forge, foundry and shop inspection info for the steel), sources of supply, soundings, soil borings, tensile strength and other such engineering matters, and technical drawings with time lines and other information.  There is a reasonably non-technical narrative of the building and design process (including info on the prior bridge) but the article is easier for a non-engineer like me to follow. 

    I have not re-read the entire report to see if it discusses this small building, but at one point under Superstructure it does say "The contractor began assembling crews and equipment on April 24, 1950.  Preliminary work included the erection of a field office....

    Dave Nelson

  • I lived in Pinckneyville from 1937 until 1960, and people there always pronounced it KAY-ro.

  • I still have nightmares about that bridge. It was the only place between Chicago and New Orleans (to this day) that I couldn't sleep through. On one of my first trips over the road, I was in the open dutch door with the conductor who had his own horror stories about "the bridge." From then on, every time I went over the bridge, I would wake up. I was in an upper on Amtrak 58 with my son in the lower. I became wide awake at one point in our trip to Chicago. He asked what was wrong. I told him, "We're on the Cairo bridge." He looked out the window: "How did you know?!?"

    MUCH later in life, I ran a 14,000 ton mixed freight over the bridge one night. I still can't believe I did this and stayed sane (maybe I didn't stay sane). I remember two things from that trip. It was raining miserably and I was thinking all the way across that if a rail broke, we would ride a 200 ton engine down into a big patch of mud. What a way to go>