The railroad bridge at Clinton was built for the Chicago & Northwestern
Railroad for their mainline between Chicago and Omaha. The original bridge
at this location was the second bridge to cross the Mississippi River. It
was involved in several litigations from steamboat operators. The third
such lawsuit was conclusively settled in favor of the railroads, ending the
war between the bridge operators and steamboat operators. That did not,
however, erase the fact that the narrow swing span of the original bridge
probably was a navigation hazard.
The bridge that we see today was built in 1909. It is brute of a bridge
and it contains a lot of steel. It has to. Since it serves one the
most heavily used Union Pacific Railroad mainlines, it takes a pounding
from over 150 trains a day. Interestingly enough, no two spans of this
bridge look alike.