LONG GROVE, Ill. — Of the more than 26,000 bridges in Illinois, one stands out for what you might call its tenacity.
The Long Grove Covered is known, not only for its historical significance but for its ability to withstand near-constant assaults by careless drivers.
Residents say collisions are practically a weekly occurrence.
Built 1906, it was initially called the Buffalo Creek Bridge, named after the waterway over which it spans. The wooden cover was added in 1972. The bridge measures 8 feet 6 inches.
Some have nicknamed her the Queen and the Protector of Long Grove.
But this queen has needed some protection of her own.
In June 2018, just two weeks after the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, a box truck demolished the structure.
“It gets hit a couple of times a year, but this was by far the worst hit, ended up closing the bridge for a year or so,” historian Aaron Underwood said.
It was restored but 23 hours after the official reopening in August 2020, another driver in a chartered school bus not only hit it, but got stuck. This time, however, there was only minor damage to the bridge.
I-beams were installed as part of the bridge’s more than $1 million renovation two years ago. Since then, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has recorded 32 strikes by vehicles.
Yet the bridge stands strong.
It baffles residents. How can drivers miss all the signs posted in front, back and on top?
Despite a boost to some businesses, residents aren’t particularly thrilled about all the media attention following a bridge strike but each hit solidifies the reputation of this stately and strong jewel of the Village.
“I guess I tolerate the continued run-ins it has,” Underwood said. “I know it’s not doing much damage to the bridge if any so it’s the ‘little bridge that could.’”
Drivers don’t want to make that mistake. Fines for striking the bridge start at more than $700.