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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
C&NW Illinois Channel Rail Bridge
C&NW Mississippi River Crossing At Clinton
Clinton, Iowa

C&NW Illinois Channel Rail Bridge

• Structure ID:
• Location: River Mile 518.0.
• River Elevation: 572 Feet.
• Railroad: Union Pacific Railroad.
• Daily Traffic Count: 50 Trains Per Day (Estimated).
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Length: 1,437 Feet Overall, 205 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: Two Tracks.
• Navigation Channel Width: 185 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 19 Feet.
• Date Built: February 1909.
There are three river channels to cross at Clinton. The main channel on the Iowa side features a swing bridge. The backwater channel on the Illinois side is known as Sunfish Slough. In the middle, we have the Illinois Channel, which is crossed by this truss bridge.

Most of the truss sections are hidden by trees on Little Rock Island, and are not visible from either the main land or the adjacent highway bridge. There is also no way to stop on the highway bridge, so photo shots out the car window are the best that we can do for photos here.

This bridge consists of a short plate girder section, a humpback truss section, and 8 flattop truss sections. This bridge is the third to be built at this location. The first was the original 1860 wood trestle, which was followed by an 1869 iron bridge. Note that the first bridge was built here before the Civil War. The Mississippi River wasn't fully bridged until after the war. In this case, trains crossed two of the three channels, but used a ferry boat to cross the main river channel. The main span of the Illinois Channel is often called the Raft Span. While the age of the steamboats is widely known, the river raft traffic is less commonly known. The rafters and steamboats did not want to tangle, so they often took different paths when there were options. In this case, riverboats took the main channel along the Iowa side, while the rafters used the Illinois channel on the east side of the river.


C&NW Illinois Channel Rail Bridge
C&NW Illinois Channel Rail Bridge

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