In 1899, the Streator and Clinton began construction of a line connecting Streator to a point on the Illinois River south of DePue, Illinois.
The line would be completed by the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Railroad, who also built from DePue, through Ladd to Churchill.
The critical missing link was the bridge over the Illinois River.
In 1906, the II&I would become part of the Chicago, Indiana and Southern Railroad. The CI&S began a project to fill the link, which included three large bridges.
This would be completed by early 1908.
This line began to serve as a beltline. On the north, it would connect to a Milwaukee Road line between Ladd and Rockton.
The Milwaukee Road would use the line between Ladd and Granville, where it would leave and head to Oglesby.
In Kankakee, the line had major intersections with an Illinois Central line to Chicago.
The CI&S became a part of the New York Central Railroad in 1914.
NYC merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad, a rival in 1968. The new railroad was named the Penn Central. However, this company went bankrupt within two years.
When it fell apart, it was considered to be the largest bankruptcy in United States History.
The Federal Government took over the railroad, and passed the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976.
This act ensured that Penn Central would be pushed into a merger with 5 other failed railroads, and become known as Consolidated Rail, or "Conrail".
By this point, Conrail decided not to continue service past Granville, and the Milwaukee Road took over operations from Ladd to Granville. The Churchill branch was abandoned.
When the Milwaukee Road fell in 1980, the railroad from Moronts (near Granville) to Ladd was abandoned.
In 1999, Conrail was divided between CSX and Norfolk Southern. NS came into control of this line, and currently operates it between Moronts and Kankakee. It is known as the Kankakee Branch and Granville Industrial Lead.
In 2015, talk has resurfaced about the viability of reconstructing the line from DePue to Moronts, to once again form a beltway around Chicago. So far, no decisions have been made.
Located near DePue, this through girder bridge crosses the former Rock Island, now Iowa Interstate.
Built in 1907, the bridge consists of two through girders and a concrete arch. The bridge sits on concrete and steel substructures. However, the girders appear to have a missing post-1910 American Bridge Company plaque.
It is possible that the southern through girder was built later or, that the original span was replaced. However, the southern span appears to be different and may date to approximately 1910.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, despite being abandoned for many years.
The author has ranked the bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview.