A derelict train bridge originally built in 1919 is living a very different second life: as a two-bedroom family home. Located over a creek in the small town of Ursa, Illinois, the train bridge was originally used by the CB & Q Railroad Company until it was abandoned in 1986. After CB & Q stripped the bridge of any reusable material, only two concrete pillars remained. But Dwayne Shaffer, who grew up in the area and played on the bridge as a kid, saw a future for the deserted site. In 2000, Duane and his son Tom set to work transforming the old bridge over Ursa Creek into a two-floor home that would be spacious enough for Tom, his new wife, Janelle, and their newborn baby. After three years of hard work, the old train bridge was rebirthed as the Ursa Creek Lodge. Click here to read more about Ursa Creek Lodge.
Father and son transform abandoned train bridge into cozy cottage
Situated over the Ursa Creek, this home was built atop two concrete pillars originally from a train bridge. The home’s frame is made of wood and steel, which was salvaged from other abandoned road bridges in the area. A metal deck wraps around the 88-feet-long home, offering plenty of space to entertain outdoors.
Inside, the kitchen, games room and living room are on the main floor. The floors, walls and ceilings are all made of finished wood, while windows situated on each side of the home keep the space airy and bright.
The kitchen is tucked away at the front of the house. A lack of windows is made up for with sleek overhead lighting, and a lack of counter space is remedied with an island on wheels. A circular dining room table doubles as a games table.
Located at the back of the home, the living room feels like a cozy cabin with its ikat-style rug, rich leather couches and wood paneled walls. Duane and Tom built the fireplace by hand, using rocks sourced from the Ursa Creek. Windows peak behind the gas-powered fireplace, adding extra light to the space.
A spiral staircase leads up the second floor, where the master bedroom and washroom are located. A smartly placed mirror opens up the tiny space.
Upstairs, a metal catwalk leads to a second bedroom. When Tom and his wife Janelle first moved into the home, this room acted as a nursery for their newborn baby. After living in the home for nearly three years, the Shaffers moved out. Now, the Ursa Creek Lodge is open to the public and can be rented out for family gatherings, meetings and tours.