By 1869, construction would restart on the next 142 miles of track in Iowa, connecting Des Moines to the Missouri River. This trackage would be required to transverse some tougher landscapes, including large rolling hills and summits.
The railroad would be completed later that year, creating a continuous network for the Rock Island between Chicago and Council Bluffs.
In addition, trackage rights across the Missouri River Bridge at Omaha allowed for trains to access Nebraska and head to other points west.
In 1880, the railroad became the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway.
The railroad continued to see a growth in traffic, so it expanded the line. Significant portions were rebuilt west of Des Moines, including reduced curves and not as steep hills.
However, the biggest improvements took place in 1953. The Atlantic Cutoff was completed by September of that year.
The Atlantic Cutoff was an important improvement, reducing grades and creating a fast network. The Council Bluffs-Atlantic route shaved 10 miles off the old trip.
Because of this, the old line between Atlantic and Council Bluffs, including sections through Shelby and Avoca were abandoned.
In the end, the cutoff did almost nothing for the Rock Island. Interstate 80 opened only a decade later, closely paralleling the route.
By 1980, the Rock Island completely went bankrupt. The system was abandoned and chopped up.
However, in 1982, Iowa Interstate Railroad stepped in and purchased the Rock Island mainline between Chicago and Omaha.
Today, Iowa Interstate continues to operate the Newton to Council Bluff segment as the 4th Subdivision.
This large four span through truss bridge once crossed the Raccoon River at Booneville.
Originally built in 1900 to replace a similar structure, the bridge featured a quartet of riveted Quadrangular Through Truss spans set onto concrete substructures.
As first built, the bridge had no approach spans. However, this changed after the original west abutment became undermined.
A temporary series of trestle jump spans were added, and were replaced with a more modern I-Beam span in 2014.
These I-Beam spans foreshadowed the eventual replacement of the largest truss bridge on the IAIS (with the exception of the Arsenal Bridge in Davenport).
Overall, the bridge remains in good condition. Unfortunately, Iowa Interstate has designated this bridge (and every truss along their route) as needing replacement. The eventual goal is believed to be to be able to haul wind turbine blades.
While from an operational standpoint, the author understands how the bridges are bottlenecks; the author hopes that IAIS becomes more aware of the history they own, and find a way to sell these trusses to be reused as trails or smaller railroads.
Unfortunately, the bridge was completely demolished in the summer of 2020. Today, all that remains is the new I-Beam bridge, which was constructed on the downstream side.
The author has ranked the bridge as being regionally significant, due to the unique design of the bridge and number of spans.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge could be accessed from a parallel county road.
|Upstream (N. Raccoon River)||Adel Trail Bridge|
|Upstream (S. Raccoon River)||Coon Rapids Rail Bridge|
|Downstream||UP Raccoon River Bridge Hollingsworth Spur|