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|Wikimedia Commons: Bernadotte, Illinois|
Bernadotte is the location of the only dam on the Spoon River. The dam was erected by U.S. Army Engineers to impound water for Camp Ellis and replaced an earlier mill and mill dam. The dam is still a fishing site for area fishermen.
Bernadotte is named for the French Marshal who later became King of Sweden. The town was first settled in 1826 and was known as Fulton. Bernadotte was a milling site for grist and saw milling.
The two noted landmarks at Bernadotte are the dam, the only dam on Spoon River, and the iron bridge which was constructed in 1915 replacing the old wood covered bridge which had served many years as a crossing over Spoon River and along the Underground Railroad in Illinois.
Bernadotte has the distinction of having once been considered as the site for the capital of Illinois, prior to the capital being located at Vandalia in 1820. Vandalia was selected over Bernadotte by the difference of one vote in the state legislature.
Until the early 1940s, Bernadotte had a population of about four hundred people when it was razed, with the exception of one building, to become part of the Camp Ellis prisoner of war and training camp during World War II. The population of Bernadotte is well under one hundred persons and was not recorded on the 2000 U.S. Census.
The Bernadotte Bridge is one of the few iron bridges still standing in Illinois. The bridge was built and placed into service in 1910 replacing a covered bridge that once crossed the Spoon River at Bernadotte. The iron bridge at Bernadotte has been closed to vehicular traffic for a number of years, but still remains a major attraction for residents and visitors to Spoon River country.