The newest big bridge of the three highlighted here is the stunning wooden Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve structure that spans a 40-foot ravine, providing gorgeous views of the surrounding forest in a preserve known for great biodiversity. Goodenow Grove is home to several state-threatened or endangered animal and plant species including Kirtland's watersnake, the spotted coral-root orchid and ear-leafed foxglove.
The 267-foot-long bridge is 12 feet wide and provides passage on the 3.15-mile Plum Creek Greenway Trail over a tributary of Plum Creek. Timbers up to 50 feet long were used in its construction, and the bridge features 500 deck boards that measure 6,000 linear feet.
Seventy-five sets of “X” braces bolster the bridge, which was secured with 6,000 deck screws when it was constructed by Signature Bridge Inc. of Willoughby, Ohio.
The bridge debuted in 2012 when a grand re-opening was held in September for the preserve and for Plum Creek Nature Center, Goodenow Grove’s visitor center.
While its two sister bridges have more history and girth, the Goodenow Grove bridge is nestled deeper in the woods and offers a more intimate view of the surrounding forest.
“These are just a few of the many bridges you’ll find throughout the forest preserves,” said Ralph Schultz, the District chief operating officer. “Without these bridges and others, many of the most beautiful elements of the Forest Preserve District would be inaccessible.”
The bridges’ existence illustrates man’s ability to harness the wilderness and they provide access to and through nature for all who care to search for the beauty around them.
Additional photo credits: Chad Merda, Library of Congress.
17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, IL 60433