Willow Island Rail Bridge

Through Truss Bridge over Backchannel of Mississippi River
East Clinton, Whiteside County, Illinois

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Willow Island Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago & Northwestern Railway
Contractor (Main Span) Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Company of Milwaukee
Contractor (Girder Span) Pennsylvania Steel Company of Pittsburg
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 1,416 Feet Total, 205 Foot Main Span
Width 2 Tracks
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Type Parker Through Truss, Quadrangular Through Truss and Deck Girder
Date Built 1909
Traffic Count 115 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use, Scheduled For Replacement
In 1859, the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska railroad built from Clinton, Iowa on the Mississippi River, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa which is on the Cedar River.

At the same time, the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad charted a line continuing from Cedar Rapids to Council Bluffs, on the Missouri River.

The entire line across Iowa was complete by 1867. It connected to the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad. This was a critical link in the very famous Transcontinental Railroad.

By 1884, the railroads east of the Missouri became part of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad system.

This line was double tracked at the turn of the 20th century. 1899 for Council Bluffs, 1901 in Ames, and 1908 for Clinton.

The city of Ames exists because of this railroad.

Perhaps some famous bridges are the Kate Shelley High Bridge in Boone (15 miles west of Ames), the Cedar River Bridge in Cedar Rapids and the Clinton Swing Bridge. All 3 will have been bypassed by 2015.

The Chicago Northwestern became part of the Union Pacific in 1995, who favors this route, calling it the Overland Route. It sees a max of 120+ trains per day.

This bridge is more commonly known as the Clinton Middle Channel Bridge, but "Willow Island Rail Bridge" sounds better.

The bridge is consisting of 8 spans of Quadrangular Lattice Through Truss, 1 span of Parker Through Truss and a deck girder span on mansonry substructures.

The abutments have slots for a third track, as this was the old bridge.

The best views come from Cattail Island. This is hard to access as you must stop along 30, but it is dangerous.

The bridge is scheduled for demolition around 2018 because of replacement. It is one of the most heavily used bridges across the Mississippi River.

The bridge is in alright condition. The photo above is looking from the east end.

Mississippi River Railroad Bridges

Upstream Sabula Rail Bridge
East Sunfish Slough Bridge
West Clinton Rail Bridge
Downstream Government (Arsenal) Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series, for the Pictures taken by others
Steve Conro's Photos from 2012

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