President Millard Fillmore signed the land grant for the new rail line in 1850, making it the first Land Grant railroad constructed.
The first parts of the line were built south from Freeport. The line from Galena to Freeport was a portion of the original Chicago & Galena Union Railroad.
Construction began in 1851, and the line reached Cairo by early 1856. Upon completion, the road was the longest in the world. It would be named the Illinois Central.
The railroad backbone of Illinois also had many connections. At Centralia, a line branched towards Chicago. At Cairo, the line continued south via steamboat to New Orelans.
The northern section of the line ran from Bloomington/Normal to Galena, and up to the Mississippi River. The final 15 miles in Illinois opened in 1870, as part of the line into Iowa.
The line ran into significant obsticals. Near Galena, the terrain is some of the most rugged in Illinois, meaning the railroad had to use various vallies to build through the area.
At La Salle, the Illinois River is a signficant barrier, and a bridge nearly half a mile long was required.
Freeport also became a major stop as the Illinois Central. In the 1880s, a line would be added to Madison, Wisconsin; as well as to Chicago.
Bloomington, La Salle, Mendota and Dixon also were major stops; crossing various railroads heading into Chicago.
The line had a stable traffic base, and in 1972, the Illinois Central became the Illinois Central Gulf, after a merge with the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio.
Despite the lines significance, the segment from Freeport to Centralia was abandoned in 1985. However, exceptions existed.
The Illinois River Bridge at La Salle, and track as far south as Oglesby were purchased by a gravel mine, Buzzi Unicem; who owns and operates it now.
The remaining portions of the line are owned by Canadian National, although Illinois Central is still an active subsidiary.
The remaining portion from Galena to Freeport is the Freeport Subdivision.
Located east of Scales Mound, this stone arch bridge crosses Carr Road. It was originally built to cross a creek, which runs in a drain tile under the road.
Built in 1853 as an early stone arch in Illinois, this structure features a single stone arch span. The arch was lined in 1920, a repair which has held up.
East of the Mississippi, railroad bridges, particularly stone arches, dating to the 1850s aren't extremely rare, like they are west of the Mississippi River.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. The original stonework is still visible on the structure. Unfortunately, the north face has been covered with pretreated wood.
The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the older age of the structure.
The photo above is an overview.