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.
Located east of downtown Rockford, this small through girder bridge crosses 20th Street.
Built in 1890, the bridge consists of a single through girder span, set onto stone substructures. The substructures were encased in concrete within recent years.
In addition, the bridge was reconstructed with high strength bolts and some new members. The bridge is currently operated as a one lane bridge with traffic lights, which have improved the flow of traffic.
Overall, the remaining girder span is in fair condition. Significant rebuilding of the bridge repaired this bridge to good health.
The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design. Despite this, the bridge is a good example of an older generation girder.
The photo above is an overview.