4 votes

I&M Canal Nettle Creek Aqueduct



Photo taken by Steve Conro in December 2012


BH Photo #244575


Aqueduct carried I&M Canal and I&M Canal Trail over Nettle Creek. Destroyed by flooding April 19th 2013, which segmented both the canal and the canal trail at this point. Easiest access (with legal parking) is at Grundy County Historical Society, which is itself also worth a visit.

Reconstruction of the aqueduct is now planned, with construction to complete in 2023, including rewatering the canal to the west.


Aqueduct over Nettle Creek on I&M Canal
Morris, Grundy County, Illinois
Destroyed by flooding
Built in 1847 Rebuilt a few times. Current looks like CCC work. Destroyed by flood April 19, 2013.
Riveted Steel Trough on open-spandrel concrete arch supports, with faux stonework covering
Deck width: 18.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.35615, -88.43268   (decimal degrees)
41°21'22" N, 88°25'58" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/380158/4579283 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 49830 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 30, 2021: New photos from Roger Deschner
  • May 4, 2014: New photos from Roger Deschner
  • May 20, 2013: New photos from Steve Conro
  • May 6, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Gone
  • December 12, 2012: New photos from Steve Conro
  • October 16, 2011: Added by Steve Conro



I&M Canal Nettle Creek Aqueduct
Posted May 30, 2021, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

I visited the site, just to see what the disaster looked like 8 years later. This was the first time I had been there since 1986. Photos are posted. All debris from the collapsed bridge have been cleared away. The only open trail approach is from the southeast, which ends at a chain link fence through which you can get a good view of the site. It is hard to get there from the west via Gebhard Woods State Park where trails on both sides of the canal are barricaded. It's much easier to park at (and visit!) the Grundy County Historical Society and walk about 200 yards west from there.

From my visit and the photos posted here, it appears that the flood undermined the east abutment, which collapsed, causing the whole bridge structure to collapse. Then, with the aqueduct breached and the controlled spillway rendered meaningless, the unrestricted flow from from east to west continued as a waterfall to undermine what was left of the east abutment. This was finally plugged with a culvert across the canal about 50 yards to the east, which has kept the canal east of there fully watered. However, to the west, the canal is dry, and has filled in with reeds and other vegetation since 2013.

The new development is that replacement of the aqueduct may actually happen, by 2023. This would include reconnecting the trails, and rewatering the canal. They acknowledge that rewatering the canal to the west may take some work to clear out the vegetation which has grown in the canal since it was dewatered in 2013. (Steve Conro's 2013 photos of the dry canal bed are an interesting comparison to the photos I took of the same spot 8 years later, filled in with vegetation.)


I&M Canal Nettle Creek Aqueduct
Posted May 20, 2013, by Steve Conro (sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com)

OMG!! The destruction is almost unbelievable! What an immense loss.

I&M Canal Nettle Creek Aqueduct
Posted May 7, 2013, by Brian J. Patterson (pattersonbj [at] earthlink [dot] net)

This picture was taken 7 May 2013 from a similar position to the Steve Conto picture from 2012. View is facing south by southeast in both pictures. Note that the span itself APPEARS to be intact; it's the failure of the east pier of the aqueduct that brought it down. Also note the water flowing into Nettle Creek from the I&M Canal. This water flow has already eroded the clay lining of the canal for a distance starting about 30 yards east of the aqueduct site. The longer the delay in doing SOMETHING to contain this flow of water, the more difficult it will be to actually place the aqueduct back in service and rewater the canal. Prior to the aqueduct colapse, the water level at this section of the I&M was at the historic in-service level. You could canoe from about 4 miles WEST of the aqueduct all the way to Chanahon and beyond.

I&M Canal Nettle Creek Aqueduct
Posted May 6, 2013, by Brian J. Patterson (pattersonbj [at] earthlink [dot] net)

The I&M/Nettle Creek Aqueduct collapsed early 19 April 2013 due to heavy rains and record-setting flooding in the area. According to published reports, Nettle Creek's level rose to a point where it was roughly equal to the level of the I&M Canal. Between this rise in the level of Nettle Creek and the additional water flowing into the I&M Canal from the unusually heavy rain in the area, the east support wing was undercut and failed. As of 06 May 2013, there are no published reports on plans to reconstruct the aqueduct. However, this aqueduct will have to be reconstructed to preserve this section of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal.