Points of Interest: Eli Bridge Company... Manufacturing fun

Eli Bridge Company is a staple of Jacksonville, Illinois.

You're driving through Jacksonville, Illinois and while you are driving you see what looks like a Ferris Wheel in front of a factory.

That wheel is the first wheel of a part of carnival history.

Only it's not a Ferris Wheel ... it's a Big Eli Wheel.

"We call it the Big Eli Wheel because Mr. Ferris has the only Ferris Wheel," CEO of Eli Bridge Company Patty Sullivan said.

Eli Bridge Company is a staple of Jacksonville, Illinois.

William E. Sullivan began the company in 1900, when he created his first wheel.

"My great grandfather was a bridge builder in the 1800s and in 1893, he went to the Chicago Worlds Fair and saw the Ferris Wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris' wheel. And he just fell in love with it, and rode it, and checked out the mechanical parts of it. How it moved, how it ran," Sullivan said.

The Big Eli Wheel can be found in locations as far as Australia, and as close as a summer fair in Quincy. A company out of Imperial, Missouri bought a wheel and brings it to Quincy in the summer time.

This wheel has quite the famous history.

"One of the carnivals, the shows that goes to Quincy has the wheel we originally built for Michael Jackson, and it stayed in Neverland Ranch for quite a while, and after he passed, and after he passed away, all the rides were sold off," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the business runs in the family.

"It's just important to us to bring excitement and happiness to people who need to get away from their everyday lives of working, or going to school, or whatever they are doing, and having something different and something exciting and something that will make memories for them," Sullivan explained.

Other rides Eli Bridge Company creates are Scramblers, Kiddie Rides, and Spider Mania rides to name a few.

Their biggest wheel has 16 seats.

Eli Bridge Company has created more than 1,400 wheels over the years.

They also run a metal fabrication company out of the same building.

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