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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Pekin Railroad Drawbridge
Illinois River Railroad Crossing
Pekin, IL

Pekin Railroad Drawbridge

• Structure ID: N/A
• Location: River Mile 151.2
• River Elevation: 430 Feet
• Railroad: Union Pacific Railroad
• Daily Traffic Count: 8 Trains Per Day (Estimated)
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss W/Lift Span
• Bridge Length: 1,508 Feet (Estimated), 175 Foot Longest Span (Estimated)
• Bridge Width: ??? Feet, 1 Track
• Navigation Channel Width: 150 Feet
• Height Above Water: 34 Feet
• Date Built: 1912
This bridge was built by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway as part of a line from Peoria to Benld, Illinois, which gave the C&NW access to the Saint Louis area. The C&NW became a part of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1995.

A US Coast Guard report states that this bridge is the second most frequently struck bridge in the US, with 95 collisions between 1992 and 2001. The most frequently struck bridge is also on the Illinois Waterway, the EJ&E Bridge in Morris.

Photographing railroad bridges is nearly always a difficult task. The bridges are usually in an industrial area when they simply don't want spectators, or they are built in the wilderness miles from the nearest road. This bridge is no different. It is behind a major factory, so there are no roads in the area. One side is blocked by a lake, the other side by a canal channel. Even if you could get close to the river channel, the river banks are heavily forested and would block your view. The Pekin Railroad Drawbridge did leave one photographic angle open, and that was shooting down the river with a long telephoto lens. This photo was taken from a platform in a park next to the McNaughton Bridge, 1-3/4 miles up stream. A telephoto has the effect of pulling the background up closer to the viewer. That makes the river look like it is bumper to bumper barge traffic, when in reality, these barge tows are reasonably spaced for safe navigation.

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