Ottawa Lift Bridge

Through Truss Lift Bridge over Illinois River
Ottawa, La Salle County, Illinois

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Ottawa Lift Bridge
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor (Lift Span) Waddell & Harrington of Kansas City, Missouri
Contractor (Fixed Spans) King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio
Currently Owned By Illinois Railway
Length 1,010 Feet Total, 176 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Type Pratt Through Truss, Deck Girder and Trestle
Date Built 1898, Lift Span added 1932
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
IR Bridge Number 81.45
In 1869, the Ottawa, Oswego and Fox River Valley Railroad began construction on a new mainline to connect Streator to Montgomery, a distance of 58 Miles. The line would be completed in very early 1871.

In Streator, the line would connect to a number of railroads heading towards Chicago. In Montgomery, it met with a Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Line, which made a connection to its namesake cities.

The OO&FRV became part of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in 1898. The CB&Q was a major powerhouse through Illinois and Iowa.

This line was used as a branch to connect Streator to Chicago. Streator also had two more CB&Q lines, heading east and west.
In Ottawa, this line would interchange with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. It would also cross the Illinois River at Ottawa.

In addition, it crossed the Fox River two times: at Sheridan and at Montgomery.

By 1970, the CB&Q was merged with the Northern Pacific Railroad and Great Northen Railroad to form Burlington Northern, one of the largest railroads in America at the time.

The BN Operated this line, and in 1996 was merged with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to form BNSF.
BNSF trimmed extra branch lines soon after the merger. This line was sold to shortline Illinois Railway in December of 1997.

IR Currently operates this line as their Ottawa Branch, connecting to the BNSF Mendota Subdivision at Montgomery.

This beautiful and historic structure crosses the Illinois River in downtown Ottawa, just downstream of State Street.

When the bridge originally opened in 1898, it consisted of several wooden trestle spans, approaching four identical truss spans.
Each truss was an 8 Panel, Pin Connected Pratt Through Truss with a beam style portal bracing. In addition, a deck girder span and two more trestle spans approach from the north.
The entire bridge sat on Asher Sandstone piers, with the exception of the trestle spans.

However, due to the new navigation rules of the Illinois River, a lift span was required to be constructed.
This lift span was added in 1932 by Waddell and Harrington, and replaced the second truss span. The towers for it were incorporated into the existing historic trusses.
This main span features an 8 panel, pin connected Pratt design similar to the 1898 trusses.

This bridge was also documented by the Historic American Engineering Record, which writes:
"This multi-span, truss railroad bridge was erected in 1898 by the prominent bridge-manufacturing firm of King Bridge Company. A later reconstruction (1932) included a Waddell and Harrington Engineers vertical lift."

Presently, the bridge is oftentimes in raised position. The trusses appear to be in good condition, and the bridge retains a high level of historic integrity.

The photo above is an overview from the south bank. Below, the HAER photos can be viewed.

Illinois River Railroad Bridges

Upstream Seneca Lift Bridge
Downstream La Salle Rail Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series
Historic American Engineering Record Photos

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