Pecatonica Prairie Path Trail Bridge

Quadrangular Lattice Through Truss over Pecatonica River
Near Ridott, Stephenson County, Illinois

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Pecatonica Prairie Path Trail Bridge
Built By Chicago & North Western Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Stephenson County
Length 250 Feet Total, 125 Foot Spans
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Type Quadrangular Through Truss
Date Built 1886
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
CNW Bridge Number 242
In 1836, the Chicago and Galena Union Railway charted a line to connect the growing population hub of Chicago, to Galena; a small town directly across the state.

Because of the panic of 1837, funding rapidly dried up and the railroad was shelved. In 1838, a group of investors revised the idea. The railroad included Chicago mayor William Ogden.

While construction didn't start immediately, a charter was acquired in 1847. With investors skeptical, the line began heading west, without a secure funding.
In 1848, the line would be constructed as far out as Des Plaines, Illinois.
The line continued westward, and opened in Elgin by 1850.

The line continued west and opened to Huntley, Marengo and Belvidere in 1851. By 1852, the railroad reached Rockford, and in 1853; reached Freeport.

In Freeport, the railroad dead ended. The Illinois Central already built from Freeport to Galena the same time frame.

Between 1855 and 1857, the railroad double tracked between West Chicago and Chicago.

In 1864, the Chicago & North Western purchased the company. The line connected to several C&NW branch lines in the area, and continued to dead end at Freeport.

In 1972, the C&NW abandoned the line between Winnebago and Freeport, and the line from Winnebago to Rockford was abandoned in 1981.

The C&NW was purchased by Union Pacific Railroad in 1995. The line from Rockford to Chicago continues to operate as the Belvidere Subdivision.
Metra uses the line from Elgin to Chicago as the Union Pacific West Line; and Amtrak is expected to begin operations to Rockford in 2016.

This historic truss bridge crosses the Pecatonica River just west of Ridott.

The truss features a typical Lassig Bridge & Iron Works, although no record of this builder is anywhere.

The bridge also features stone substructures, which have been heavily reinforced. They may date to the 1850s or 1860s.
These stone abutments are crumbling.

However, it appears the trusses are made of wrought iron, and have zero corrosion. The trail deck is in fair condition, built in 2012.

The photo above is looking from the west bank.

Pecatonica River Railroad Bridges

Upstream MILW Pecatonica River Bridge (Freeport)
Downstream Confluence With Rock River

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