IAIS Hennepin Canal Bridge (Colona)

Through Plate Girder Bridge over Hennepin Canal
Colona, Henry County, Illinois

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Name IAIS Hennepin Canal Bridge (Colona)
Built By Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Iowa Interstate Railroad
Length 70 Feet Total
Width 2 Tracks, 1 In Use
Height Above Ground 12 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Through Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1900
Traffic Count 3 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
RI Bridge Number 1695
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date March 2015
In 1852, the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad began construction of a line heading southwest from Chicago, towards Joliet; a distance of 40 miles. The line crossed through junctions that would eventually become major in Chicago, including Blue Island and Englewood.

In 1853, the line was extended another 119 Miles to Geneseo, about 20 miles from the Mississippi River. This section crossed the Des Plaines River at Joliet and Fox River at Ottawa, and followed the Illinois River.
The remaining section of line was built in 1854, and went up to the Mississippi River.

The first railroad to reach west of the Mississippi was this one, as a swing bridge was built to cross the Mississippi in 1856.
However, the bridge became infamous for an accident in which the bridge collapsed after being struck by a boat. The lawyer who defended the young railroad? Abraham Lincoln, who would eventually become 16th president of the country.

The railroad renamed in 1880 to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway, also known as the Rock Island.

The railroad operated this line heavily, extending it through Iowa towards Nebraska and the pacific. The line was the backbone of the railroad.

However, despite the seemed success of the railroad, it eventually began to fail. By 1980, the railroad fell to bankruptcy and abandoned all their property.

This line was purchased by the Iowa Interstate Railroad west of Ottawa, and CSX Railroad east of Ottawa to Joliet. Metra currently uses the Chicago to Joliet portion, for their Rock Island District.
Today, much of the line has been upgraded from the poor conditions it was at in 1980. It is operated as the CSX New Rock Subdivision east of Ottawa to Joliet.
West of Ottawa to Davenport, it is operated as the 1st Subdivision of the Iowa Interstate Railroad.

Located in the town of Colona, this bridge crosses the Hennepin Canal and the Hennepin Canal Trail.
Built in approximately 1900, the bridge was likely built during a double tracking project, which was constructing through the area at the time. The bridge consists of a single through girder span, set onto concrete substructures.
Girders like these were common to cross small waterways.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, with little visible deterioration.

It appears to have been built about 1905, when the Canal was nearing completion.

The author has ranked this bridge as being
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Double tracking of route
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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