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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Beardstown Rail Bridge
Illinois River Railroad Crossing
Beardstown, IL

Beardstown Rail Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A
• Location: River Mile 88.8
• River Elevation: 430 Feet
• Railroad: Burlington Northern Santa Fe
• Daily Traffic Count: ??? Trains Per Day (Estimated)
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss W/Lift Span
• Bridge Length: ??? Feet, 300 Foot Longest Span
• Bridge Width: ??? Feet, 1 Track
• Navigation Channel Width: 300 Feet
• Height Above Water: 20 Feet
• Date Built: ???
The railroad arrived in Beardstown in the 1859, but that track ran along the river rather than crossing the river. The first bridge was installed just after the end of the civil war in 1869. At that time, a flurry of activity resulted in several other rail bridges being built across the Illinois River prior to the depression of 1873.

Until relatively recently, this was a swing span bridge. The swing span was removed and a lift span was put in its place. A lift span is much safer since the navigation path through the bridge is twice as wide. The span at Beardstown is normally in the up position except when a train is using the bridge. This minimizes the impact to river traffic. The lift span is operated remotely rather than having an operator on site.

The lift span was built in an interesting way. First, the piers at each end of the swing span were beefed up and widened. The lift towers were built along side and above the rail line. When the time came for the switch-over, the lift cables were attached to the swing span. The swing span was lifted, allowing the center pier and all the equipment that turned the bridge to be removed. The bridge was now a lift span, using the same truss from the swing span bridge.


Beardstown Rail Bridge
Beardstown Rail Bridge
Beardstown Rail Bridge

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