This is my third installment detailing the bridges and structures of a
great American river. In this survey, we visit the bridges, locks, and
dams on the Illinois River between its confluence with the Mississippi
River to the formation of the Illinois River at the junction of the Des
Plains and Kankakee Rivers on the southwest side of the Chicago metro
area. The Illinois Waterway was once the major route for goods to
flow from the Great Lakes to international markets via the Mississippi
River. Both the railroads and the Saint Lawrence Seaway caused traffic on
the Illinois Waterway to drop off. Today, the waterway is still regionally
important as a water highway for farm goods and petrochemical products.
The Illinois River is noted for having a concentration of big metal monster
bridges. While the big metal monsters on the Mississippi are being replaced
by modern bridges, the state of Illinois has elected to rebuild and refurbish
their steel truss bridges. The result is a number of large and unique truss
bridges that are like new and have long lives yet to stand and carry
traffic over the Illinois River.