Sylvan Island Railroad Bridge

Historic Whipple Through Truss over Sylvan Island Canal
Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois

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Name Sylvan Island Railroad Bridge
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor Detroit Bridge & Iron Company of Detroit
Currently Owned By MidAmerican Energy Company
Length 202 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Whipple Through Truss with Phoenix Columns
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built 1867, Relocated Here 1891
Original Location Mississippi River; Burlington, Iowa
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is Abandoned)
Current Status Abandoned
Significance National Significance
Documentation Date January 2018
This line was a spur to a steel mill on Sylvan Island.
In modern days, Sylvan Island has been cleaned up and nature has reclaimed it.

Located on Sylvan Island, this structure is one of the most historic in the area.
The Quad Cities has three nationally significant bridges, and this is one of them. Consisting of a large Whipple Through Truss span, the bridge features pinned connections and 15 panels.
Originally, this bridge was built in 1867 and relocated here in 1891. The bridge was originally constructed at Burlington, approximately 60 miles downstream.
When relocated, it appears the bridge was rebuilt with new wooden stringers. The structure was placed onto stone structures.
Featuring Phoenix Columns, the bridge was originally constructed by the Detroit Bridge & Iron Company, which eventually became part of the Detroit Bridge & Iron Works.
Overall, this bridge appears to be in remarkably good condition for the age. If it were to ever be reused, it would need a full inspection, and likely new floorbeams. However, if rehabilitated properly, the bridge should be able to safely serve pedestrian traffic without having the historic status affected.

The author has ranked this bridge as being nationally significant, due to the extremely uncommon design and the unique history.
Unfortunately, there was another bridge just west of this structure. This 1901 through truss originally carried road traffic, but was closed in 2013 due to an inspection.
The author seriously questions the necessity of removing the 1901 historic bridge. It was reported as "bouncing" under a live load, something common for a pin connected truss. While the bridge did have some section loss, it certainly could have been rehabilitated.
Since 2013, the bridge was replaced by a typical mail order pedestrian bridge (MOB). The author hopes that the historic Whipple Truss discussed on this page is moved from the current location to a home where it is safe from the scrappers torch and can be preserved successfully.

Mississippi River Railroad Bridges
Upstream (Main Channel) Clinton Rail Bridge
Upstream (Middle Channel) Willow Island Rail Bridge
Upstream (East Channel) UP Sunfish Slough Slough Bridge
Main Channel Government Bridge
Downstream (Sylvan Slough) IAIS Sylvan Slough Bridge


Source Type


Build Date Historic Article
Contractor Historic Article
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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