The Rock Island attempted to merge with the Union Pacific starting in 1964. The railroad assumed all costs of the merger, and as a result, lets its facilities become run down. The merger failed 10 years later, and after several lawsuits and bankruptcies, the line was ordered to be liquidated in 1980. The International Mining Company ended up high bidder for the section of track from Joliet, Il, to Bureau, Il, which includes this bridge over the Illinois River. The Chessie System, now known as CSX Corporation, entered into a long term lease with IMC to operate this section of track. The lease runs through 2030.
The bridge sits in a location surrounded by private property, all posted as no trespassing. It is not possible to get a good photo of the bridge from public lands. One would have to take to the water to do any better. It is highly unlikely that this is the 1853 era bridge. In fact, that was likely a wood or iron bridge that was replaced by 1870 with a steel bridge. The current bridge likely dates to the early 1930s when the 9-foot navigation channel was established, and rail bridges had to accommodate river navigation traffic. Prior to the river navigation projects, barge traffic was on much smaller boats running on the I&M Canal, which did not require high clearances under its bridges.
As this is written in 2008, there is a major debate going on in Seneca about the possibility of a CSX intermodal yard being built near town. An intermodal yard is where trucks and containers are loaded and unloaded from trains. CSX claims that it will be 4 to 6 trains per week. Opponents say that is a bluff, and it will bumper to bumper trains with up to 80 trains per day in the city. Yet another faction says that the trains are going to have to go through Seneca no matter where that yard is built, so Seneca might as well host the yard and grab the tax money that will result.