The railroad became a part of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad. This railroad went bankrupt by 1886, and was aquired by the Wabash Eastern Railway of Illinois.
This railroad became part of the Wabash Railroad, a growing empire through what is now the "Rust Belt" in 1889.
By 1915, the railroad reorganized for the final time into the Wabash Railway, a multi state railroad connecting major industrial towns.
The line was a mainline, and was double tracked in 1903 from Chicago to Western Avenue at Ashburn.
An additional double track was made from Ashburn to Orland Park in 1913.
The railroad used the Chicago & Western Indiana, in which it owned 1/5 to reach Chicago from Ashburn.
The railroad saw a solid freight base, and served such cities as New Lenox, Manhattan and Fairbury.
In 1964, the Wabash was brought into the Norfolk & Western Railway system, along with the Nickel Plate and the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway.
This merger was one of the most complex of the merger era, but provided more direct routes to Chicago and the Mississippi River.
By 1982, the N&W met its fate, merging with the Southern Railway to form the Norfolk Southern Railway. The N&W continues to exist on paper.
In 1991, the Norfolk Southern discontinued operations of the line north of Bement. A portion from Chicago to Manhattan was purchased by Metra, and is used as their Southwest Service.
In addition, a portion from Manhattan to Custer Park, at the Kankakee River became part of the Wauponsee Glacial Trail.
The remainder has been completely abandoned. Today, the portion from Manhattan to Chicago is a significant part of the Metra System, which has maintained it to prime conditions.
Located behind the Walmart in New Lenox, this massive through truss bridge carries the Metra Southwest Service over the Metra Rock Island service.
Built in 1917 to replace an earlier and lighter bridge, this structure features a massive skewed and riveted 6-panel Double Intersection Warren Through Truss, set onto stone abutments. The main span is unique, as it features additional members on the two end panels.
A stone on the abutment gives a date of 1892 for the stone work. This contradicts Wabash bridge records, as they state the bridge was built 1880 and replaced 1917.
However, the author does believe this bridge truly dates from 1917. Built up members and heavy riveted connections are apparent on the spans.
When first constructed, the bridge provided the Wabash Railroad a crossing over the Rock Island railroad.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in very good condition. It is apparent that the bridge has been regularly maintained.
The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the highly unusual design of the truss.
The photo above is an overview.