The line would connect to an existing empire in Iowa and Minnesota via trackage rights on the CB&N (later Chicago, Burlington & Quincy) and crossing the Mississippi River at Dubuque, on Illinois Central Trackage.
Heading east from Aiken, the line would immediately experiance difficult terrain as it cut across Jo Daviess County, needing an half mile long tunnel to cross under one particularly challanging bluff.
Once the line got past Stockton, and into Stephenson County, it became considerably easier to construct. The line would continue across Stephenson County, and miss Freeport to the south.
Once the line dipped into Ogle County, it entered some of the most rural areas in Illinois, and would stay that way until DeKalb County. After Sycamore, the line had many more towns along it.
The remainder of the way to Chicago included crossing the Fox River at St. Charles, and ending near present day I-290 and Des Plaines Avenue.
The line would use the Soo Line and Baltimore & Ohio to reach the Chicago Union Station.
While the line would seem as a beneficial line, it actually suffered much. Competing lines ran west out of Chicago, including an Illinois Central Line.
However, the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad became a part of the Chicago Great Western Railway in 1894.
CGW developed a knack for operating lines using modern technology, while remaining profitable to stay alive.
When the Chicago & North Western purchased the CGW in 1968, the line had its fate sealed.
The first section abandoned was between the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Crossing in Ingalton and St. Charles was abandoned in 1970, to make way for the DuPage County Airport.
The next section of abandonedment came between the west end of St. Charles and Aiken in 1971, which included the massive Winston Tunnel.
An attempt was made to turn parts of this section into a rail trail, however that soon fell through.
The next section was abandoned between Villa Park and Forest Park in 1975, and the remaining section between Villa Park and Carol Stream was abandoned by 1984.
However, this section became a part of a trail, known as the Great Western Trail. The Great Western Trail stretches from Sycamore to Villa Park.
The Illinois Prairie Trail uses the remaining section from Villa Park to Forest Park.
With only one section remaining of the CGW in Illinois, the C&NW was purchased by the Union Pacific in 1995.
Union Pacific operated the St. Charles Industrial Lead until 2011, when they abandoned it. It is expected to become part of the Kane County trail network.
Today, many former CGW relics can be found, ranging from the Winston Tunnel, to many old stone bridges and operational pieces.
This bridge was a very unique findm,, sitting in a field near Egan, Illinois.
It appears the landowner has preserved the structure, for reasons unknown. However, one can get a good idea of how a stone arch works by visiting this structure.
The celing is exposed, and a clear path to the structure has been created.
The bridge was likely built to cross a cattle pass or possibly, a small stream.
Otherwise, the bridge is a typical type of stone arch, with mortar solidifying the joints.
It is recommended to recieve permission before accessing the bridge. The photo above is an overview.
The bridge is just west of Leaf River Road, but north of Egan Road.