Discover the Highest Bridge in Illinois

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: July 31, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge passes over the Illinois River.
  • The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge this bridge spans the waterway between LaSalle and Oglesby.
  • The bridge’s primary span is 620 feet long.
The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge crosses the Illinois River, connecting LaSalle and Oglesby. Its main span measures 620 feet in length.

With a nickname like the “Land of Lincoln,” there’s no question that Illinois would name a bridge after the beloved president. Although there are bridges all around the state, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge is the longest and tallest in the Midwest state.

Let’s discuss everything you’ll ever want or need to know about this historic area of Illinois. 

Illinois Ties with Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) seated and holding his spectacles and a pencil on Feb. 5, 1865 in portrait by Alexander Gardner.

Lincoln is known for his work to end slavery.

©Everett Collection/

The reference to Illinois as Lincoln’s starting point for his political career. Since 1955, this phrase has served as Illinois’ official state tagline. The United States Congress gave Illinois a unique copyright for the sole use of the “Land of Lincoln” emblem during that year. 

A young Abraham Lincoln started his career as a politician in Illinois with a failed campaign for the Illinois General Assembly in 1832. This was despite being born in Kentucky and having resided in Indiana before going to Illinois. 

Lincoln finally wins the election and was appointed to the Illinois General Assembly for four terms, which he held from 1834 to 1841. Lincoln also resided in Illinois as he was elected president of the United States in 1861.

Size of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge

Looking down the Illinois River to the Lincoln Memorial Bridge.  LaSalle, Illinois, U.S.A..

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge passes over the Illinois River.

©Eddie J. Rodriquez/

At river mile 225.8, this bridge spans the waterway between LaSalle and Oglesby. The construction consists of a main bridge above the river and 43 approach spans on either side. It bears Abraham Lincoln’s name, who served as the sixteenth president of the United States.

The primary span is 620 feet long and is mesmerizing through-arch. The distance between the low steel girders of the structure and the average water level in the body of water below is 66.0 feet. The bridge’s overall length, including the approach spans, is 7,120.8 feet. Its massive size renders it Illinois’ longest bridge.

Location of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge

This old bridge is located in La Salle County, IL. It’s about 94 miles southwest of Chicago. It spans two distinct train tracks, the Illinois & Michigan Canal, the Illinois River, and IL-351 throughout the course of its more than mile-long length. 

I-39 was constructed as a link between the system of Interstate roads in central Illinois and the tolls in northern Illinois. The state began construction of I-39 in two stages, beginning in Rockford and moving southward before moving northward from Bloomington. 

The Illinois River Bridge didn’t have the proper funding at the time, eventually leading to the bridge we know as the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge.

History of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge

The bridge became a reality in 1987 as part of the initial Interstate 39 expansion southward toward what currently constitutes Illinois State Route 251. Since that time, the length of the road has expanded, making it possible to travel by car from Chicago to the Bloomington-Normal area.

Down the Illinois River past the LaSalle Rail Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial Bridge.  LaSalle, Illinois, U.S.A..

This bridge is less than two hours from Chicago.

©Eddie J. Rodriquez/

The builders of the bridge first requested and were granted authorization to forego dismantling the wooden forms prior to laying the concrete deck. This decision dramatically shortened the structure’s longevity.  

The concrete degraded, the wood absorbed water, and critical steel connections developed rust. Just a few years later, the only feasible option was to completely demolish the bridge and rebuild it from scratch. 

Flora and Fauna near the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge

Because the bridge spans over the Illinois River, there is plenty of wildlife that calls the region home. As you can guess, there are a plethora of fish in the river. At one point, it wasn’t safe to consume the fish within the waters. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health modified previous recommendations and removed a recommendation against consuming fish captured in the Illinois River. Recreational varieties include largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, drum, and crappie species. 


Bluegill is one of the most popular fish in the area.


You can frequently find them in the river, along with bullhead, bluegill, and many types of sunfish. The bluegill is actually the state fish of Illinois. The name of this species alludes to the vivid blue gill coverings that are present on many of the males. Anglers occasionally refer to this fish as “bream” or “brim.”

Locals can find common watersnakes, bald eagles, the American white pelican, and the red-spotted admiral in the area. The state animal of Illinois is the white-tailed deer. In 1980, a group of schoolchildren opted for the doe-eyed animal to represent the state. 

You’ll find plenty of deer near the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge. In the water below, you could also spot the state amphibian! Following a referendum by residents of Illinois in 2004 and the acceptance by the General Assembly in 2005, the eastern tiger salamander earned the title! 

Where is the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge Located on a Map?

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge in Illinois is a four-lane, two-way road bridge that stretches across the Illinois River, Illinois Route 351, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, as well as local roads and railroads.

Here is the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge on a map:

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Eddie J. Rodriquez/

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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