Sabula Rail Bridge

Through Truss Swing Bridge over Mississippi River
Savanna, Carroll County, Illinois
Sabula, Jackson County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Sabula Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad
Length 1,967 Feet Total, 365 Foot Swing Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Swing Span, Through Truss and Deck girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built 1906
Traffic Count 6 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
MILW Bridge Number Z-496
Significance Regional Significance
Documentation Date April 2018
In 1861, the Northern Illinois Railroad began construction of a line that would run from Savanna, Illinois to Racine, Wisconsin, including a segment from Lannark to Kittredge, in Illinois.

In 1862, the line would be extended again to Savanna, on the Mississippi River.
The line would beconme part of the Western Union Railroad in 1865.

In 1875, the Chicago and Pacific Railroad would begin building west from Halsted Street in Chicago, and reach Byron, Illinois; seated on the Rock River.

By 1880, with the lines becoming heavily profitable the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway took over the lines, although allowing the railroads to operate as subsidiaries.

Also in 1880, the lines would be connected. A new piece of track connected Byron and Kittredge.
In addition, the railroad built a new bridge across the Mississippi River at Sabula, Iowa to connect to the empire in Iowa.

The railroads became fully owned by the Milwaukee Road in 1900, and double track work commenced from Chicago that year, and made it as far as Sabula by late 1905.
The railroad became known as the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific in 1913, as the pacific expansion began to near completion.

The line became one of the most important for the Milwaukee Road, connecting Chicago to Elgin, Byron and Savannah. In addition, the line connected to Council Bluffs in Iowa, making a regional connection.

While much of the line is still intact, a part from Goose Island to Halsted Avenue in Chicago was removed in the 1970s.
Also in Chicago, the line from Ashland Avenue (near the Kennedy Expressway) to a junction with the main line to Saint Paul near Monticello Avenue became a trail in 2015, after abandonedment years later.

The Milwaukee Road disolved in 1985, merging with Soo Line, and eventually Canadian Pacific Railroad.
Canadian Pacific in turn sold the line to I&M Rail Link in 1997, which became the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern in 2002, and Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railway later that year.

The DM&E was purchased by Canadian Pacific in late 2008. The line is known as the Chicago Subdivision, and sees a fair traffic base.

This bridge is another MILW swing bridge across the Mississippi River. This one was used primarily for access to Omaha and Kansas City. The two lines split on the Sabula side.
On the west side of this bridge, a line would head north towards the Twin Cities, a line would head west towards Omaha and a line would head south towards Kansas City.
Heading east from Savanna, a line would head into Chicago. The lines heading west both split north and south of this bridge on the Iowa side.

The bridge is as follows (From west to east)

1-35' I-Beam
1-45', 1-55', 1-50' Deck Plate Girders
1-365' Through Truss pin connected swing span (Truss #1)
1-260' Pin Connected Parker Through Truss (Truss #2)
3-220', 1-215' Pin Connected Pratt Through Trusses (Trusses #3-#6)
Several assorted deck girders

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the bridge

A majority of the bridge was built in 1906. However, it appears that the west approach was added in approximately 1930. The bridge rests on concrete and stone substructures.
The bridge has a similar design in many regards to the La Crescent Rail Bridge
Today, the Swing Bridge here is a very notable feature of the island community of Sabula.

The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the unique swing span design and large river crossing.
The photo above is looking from the Iowa side. The Illinois side is very hard to access.

Mississippi River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Dubuque Rail Bridge
Downstream Clinton Rail Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series, for the Pictures taken by others
Detail Photos


Source Type


Build Date Milwaukee Road Bridge Reports
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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