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

Ottawa Rail Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A
• Location: River Mile 239.4
• River Elevation: 459 Feet
• Railroad: Illinois Railnet
• Daily Traffic Count: 4 Trains Per Week (Estimated)
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss W/Lift Span
• Bridge Length: ??? Feet, ??? Foot Longest Span
• Bridge Width: ??? Feet, 1 Track
• Navigation Channel Width: 167 Feet
• Height Above Water: 21 Feet
• Date Built: Dates Back To 1868
The first bridge built at this location was part of the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad mainline heading from Chicago to the Mississippi River. The key rival was the Santa Fe, which had a Chicago to Mississippi River mainline that crossed the Illinois River at Chillicothe. The CB&Q became the Burlington Northern Railway. In 1998, the BN sold this subdivision and the bridge to the Illinois Railnet, a private short-line operator.

The 1868 bridge did not have to worry about a navigation channel in the Illinois River. Rather, the I&M Canal was the major transportation system of the day. The canals gave way to the railroads in the late 1800s. Newer and bigger barges required first the 6-foot navigation channel in the Illinois river, and in the early 1930s, the 9-foot channel was built. This would have been the time that the old railroad bridge would have been refit to accommodate wider and taller tows. A new lift span would likely have been installed, along with raising the rest of the bridge to match the height of new lift span. These retrofit projects often used the existing piers, so some original components would remain part of the bridge for the long run.

As of 2007, trains run twice a week, southbound at 11:00 AM and northbound at 3:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The main cargo is sand hauled from U.S. Silica and Wedron Silica to be attached to Norfolk Southern trains on the mainline at Streator. Trains also haul lumber to a lumber yard in Streator. Due to infrequent use, the bridge is maintained raised up in the open configuration. It normally takes 15 minutes to lower the span, allow the train to cross, and raise the bridge.

Ottawa Rail Bridge
Ottawa Rail Bridge

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