Volunteers Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Union Pacific Railroad
Wheaton, DuPage County, Illinois

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Volunteers Bridge
Built By Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway
Contractor King Bridge Company of Cleveland
Currently Owned By DuPage County
Length 1,544 Feet Total, 160 Foot Truss Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1902, Rebuilt 2010
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
UP Bridge Number 25.29
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date March 2022
In 1899, the Elgin & Chicago Railway began construction of a new line between Wheaton, Illinois and Elgin, Illiois.
The E&C would never see the completion of the line, and instead would be absorbed into the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railroad.
The railroad officially opened for service in 1903. The track was a third rail type, making it electrified.
During the same time, branches would be completed to Aurora, Batavia and Elgin. In 1909, a fourth branch would be completed to Geneva.
The line would become part of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad (later railway) in 1922.
By 1947, the newly formed Chicago Transit Authority took over the rapid transit system. With the CTA in control, much of the system was in limbo. A majority of it was to be replaced with buses and other mass transit.
In addition, as the suburbs grew west following World War II, new highways would be built reducing the need for railroads.
In 1957, the CA&E suspended all passenger service, and would suspend all freight service in 1959.
The CA&E would be abandoned in 1961. Two years later, the counties of Cook, DuPage and Kane purchased the right of way and began developing the Illinois Prairie Path.
Today, much of the system west of Maywood is part of the Illinois Prairie Path, including all four suburban branches.

View an article regarding the construction of this route.

This large and notable truss bridge crosses the Union Pacific Geneva Subdivision, on the west side of Wheaton.
Originally built in 1902, this large through truss was built to cross the Chicago & North Western mainline. It replaced a temporary wooden trestle.
When first built, the bridge had a large skewed 7-panel pin connected Pratt Through Truss, approached by steel girder spans. The girders were later replaced by a through girder span, set onto steel and concrete substructures.
In 2010, the bridge was extensively rebuilt, and the nearby Bridge Street Bridge was replaced.
Work for this bridge included replacement of the approaches and the raising of the bridge. The Bridge Street Bridge nearby was replaced. Previously, it had been a former railroad truss reused as a road bridge.
Fortunately the 2010 work decided to reuse the truss. Although the modern approaches detract from the significance of this bridge, the truss is still a great example of reusing railroad spans for trail use.
Overall, the truss appears to be in fair to poor condition, with significant amounts of corosion found throughout the structure.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the truss design.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Engineering News Volume 48
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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