Thompson Mill Covered Bridge  LbNA # 43156

Placed DateAug 30 2008
LocationCowden, IL
Last Found Dec 30 2009
Hike Distance?


This box is placed near the Thompson Mill Covered Bridge. It is located approximately 2.5 miles East of Cowden, IL.


I remember this bridge from when I was a kid growing up in Cowden. At the time, it was still in use and the road went through it, but it was long ago closed to traffic. There is a plaque on the bridge (added in 1972) which reads:

“The road on which this bridge is located was once an important route between Springfield and Effingham. The bridge was completed in the autumn of 1868 at a cost of $2,500 and named for the owner of the first mill near here. It is the narrowest of all the covered bridges in Illinois, with a width of only 10 feet 7 inches. It is 11 feet 4 inches high and the siding stops before reaching the top cord to allow light to come in under the roof. The Howe Truss System, which the bridge uses, consists of panels in which two members cross one diagonal. The truss of this bridge is 105 feet long. The roof of the bridge protected the truss from the weather.”


You can get to the bridge by leaving east from Cowden on Locust Street and traveling roughly 2.5 miles. You will see a sign pointing the way from the blacktop to the bridge. This road is 1725E. Alternately, you can also get there by taking the Mode Road west from Route 32 just north of Stewardson. Again, look for road 1725E.

Once you get to the bridge, park in front of it and take a few minutes to explore. A local tradition for many decades has been to carve your name or initials into the timbers. We saw some from the 50’s during the plant.

Cross the bridge and you will notice a few paths leading from it on the other side. One goes down a flight of stairs to your right. Feel free to explore that way, but the box is planted off the wider path straight off the bridge. Begin walking on this path and you will notice on your left 2 trees with intertwining roots. One of these trees has a small twin growing out of it. What you seek is hidden in the roots. If you pass the ‘security camera’ sign, you have gone too far.

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