Rating:
6 votes

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge

Photos 

Historic Landmark

The 1908 C&NW bridge was the longest and heaviest in the world when it opened. The bridge originally carried freight and passenger traffic to the Wells Street Station. When the C&NW moved passenger service to their new passenger depot on the west shore of the river (today it is the Ogilvie Transporation Center) the bridge was used for freight only. The lines went all the way to Navy Pier. Using air rights, the Merchadise Mart was built on the site of the Wells Street Station, over the tracks that served the Merchandise Mart and continued through the enormous building. The last freight customer was the Chicago Sun-Times. The Union Pacfic absorbed the C&NW in 1995. The newspaper moved operations in 2001, leaving the UPRR with no customers east of the river, so the line was abandoned. The bridge remains in place, in the raised position, declared a Chicago Landmark on December 12, 2007.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in May 2010

Enlarge

BH Photo #164986

Map 

Street Views 

Description 

The 1908 C&NW bridge was the longest and heaviest in the world when it opened. The bridge originally carried freight and passenger traffic to the Wells Street Station. When the C&NW moved passenger service to their new passenger depot on the west shore of the river (today known as Ogilvie Transporation Center) the bridge was used for freight only. The lines went all the way to Navy Pier. Using air rights, the Merchandise Mart was built on the site of the Wells Street Station, over the tracks that continued through the enormous building. The last freight customer was the Chicago Sun-Times. The Union Pacfic absorbed the C&NW in 1995. The newspaper moved operations in 2001, leaving the UPRR with no customers east of the river, so the line was abandoned, and the bridge is usually kept in the raised position. The UPRR continues to keep the bridge in "active service" status by lowering it once per year for a "Hy-rail" truck to cross (photo #62 above), and to perform maintenance. It was declared a Chicago Landmark on December 12, 2007.

This bascule bridge is similar to the very first Strauss bascule bridge constructed in Cleveland Ohio in 1905. The bascule bridge structure consists of the three main parts of the fixed tower, a rotating bascule leaf and the concrete counterweight that rotates independently from the span,the axis of the rotation the main trunnion is located halfway up the tower. The main trunnion is located in the truss upper chord, extending through the tower the truss has an inclined rear arm to support the counterweight. Parallel to this the link beam connects the top of the counterweight to the tower, those two elements remain parallel throughout the span's rotation. By a bold parallelogram as this span raises to a full open position, the counterweight passes between the rear arms of the truss a compact arrangement that does not require a tail pit. To prevent the span from opening further than 85 degrees the rear arms of the truss engages a wooden bumper on the tower motive power is provided by a pin at the top of the tower which engages the rack on the operating strut to raise or lower the span. (See diagram in photo #83 above, and also HAER link below)

Facts 

Overview
Warren through truss bridge over North Branch Chicago River on Union Pacific Railroad
Location
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Status
Officially open to traffic; carries 1 UPRR "Hy-rail" truck annually
Future prospects
Has been considered for future use by Chicago Transit Authority.
History
Built 1908; Rail line abandoned ca. 2001; Declared Chicago Landmark 2007
Builders
- Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. of Oak Brook, Illinois
- Strauss Bascule Bridge Co. of Chicago, Illinois
- Toledo-Massillon Bridge Co. of Toledo, Ohio
- William H. Finley
Railroads
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
Design
Single leaf Strauss-type bascule bridge
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 170.0 ft.
Total length: 196.0 ft.
Also called
Kinzie Street Railroad Bridge
North Branch Railroad Bridge
CNW - Wells Street Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.88845, -87.63885   (decimal degrees)
41°53'18" N, 87°38'20" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/446999/4637588 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Chicago Loop
Inventory number
BH 45229 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 22, 2016: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • February 15, 2016: Updated by Roger Deschner: Bridge is officially active, carrying one "Hy-rail" truck annually. Incorporated description from Photo #1 into main description.
  • January 26, 2016: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • November 25, 2015: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • November 20, 2015: Updated by Luke: Reverted name back to CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
  • July 14, 2015: New photos from John Marvig
  • May 20, 2015: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • March 20, 2015: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • February 18, 2015: New Street View added by Luke
  • December 9, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • October 29, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • September 19, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • August 1, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • October 8, 2013: New Street View added by J.P.
  • September 15, 2013: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • March 26, 2012: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added category "Railroad"
  • March 26, 2012: New photo from Steve Conro
  • January 13, 2011: New photos from Eric Hanson
  • May 11, 2010: Added by J.R. Manning

Related Bridges 

Sources 

Comments 

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
Posted February 10, 2016, by Douglas Butler

Now that's amazing It would also be weird of the B&O 464 and 463 was back in operation in Cleveland, I had a dream about the heel trunnion B&O 463 and the Schezer type (B&O 464) back in operation. The dream was real also I dreamed about the CCCStL Strauss heel trunnion few years ago was rebuilt on the same location near the Lorain Carnegie Bridge.

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
Posted February 9, 2016, by Royce and Bobette Haley (roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The UP guys I talked to said they keep it working. They lower and maintain the bridge once a year. They had planned to connect this bridge to the CTA and use it had Chicago been awarded the Olympics.

Royce

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
Posted February 8, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I was able to find one article about the bridge, I guess they lower it once a year to keep it "active..."

http://wgnradio.com/2015/11/20/chicago-river-bridge-that-all...

I like to think I know a lot about Chicago bridges, but I wasn't aware of this... not sure how you know in advance the once-a-year operation is...

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
Posted February 8, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

WHAT?!!! This bridge was DOWN????!!!! Unbelievable! If I had known that I would have made a trip over here JUST to see this HISTORIC moment... this is NOT I repeat NOT a normal operation!!!! And I just visited Chicago in January and the bridge was back in the Up Position with no evidence that anything had ever happened... in fact until seeing the comment here I had no clue it had even moved... or even was capable of moving! So whatever was going on here, I guess I missed it. Here is my photo from January 29th. There was construction activity near the bridge but it appeared to me to be exclusive to the massive building projects ongoing nearby.

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
Posted February 8, 2016, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge was previously listed as abandoned, and left permanently in the raised position. However, Royce and Bobette Haley's photos taken in November 2015 show it in the down position, with construction workers on it. So something is going on here.

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
Posted September 5, 2015, by Mick E Dee (werdelighted2b [at] gmail [dot] com)

I am the last bridge-tender to operate this bridge. The operating panel clearly reads " WELLS ST. "

CNW - Kinzie Street Bridge
Posted June 29, 2014, by Jack Steen (pjm619 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The railroad has always called this bridge the Kinzie Street Bridge, despite the fact it is actually located at Carroll Street.

Kinzie Street C&NW Railway Bridge
Posted October 21, 2011, by Mick E. Dee (mickedee [at] cnwrr [dot] com)

The railroad calls it the "Wells Street Bridge". Named after the Wells St. Terminal.