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 bridge is an interesting bridge in downtown Rockford.
The bridge features 7 deck truss spans, with 10 panels and riveted connections. The bridge rests on stone substructures.
The bridge is extremely visable in Rockford, although is in a rougher section of town. The area around it is expected to be developed as a park, as well as an Amtrak Station.
Overall, the bridge is in good condition, but needs some work on the substructures.
The substructures date to the 1853 bridge, as seen with the pads in the substructures. The original bridge was a wood deck arch, and the pads supported the arch.
That bridge was replaced in 1869 by a wooden deck truss, which was replaced by this bridge.
Today, the bridge also sits above the dam on the Rock River. Another railroad bridge sits just downstream.
The photo above is an overview.
Rock River Railroad Bridges
|Upstream||Rockton Rail Bridge|
|Downstream||Rockford Trail Bridge|