1 vote

I&M Canal Fox River Aqueduct


Looking Northeast, South Side Of Plate Girder Bridge Which Carried The Interurban Line Across The Fox River. Note The Steel-Frame Supports For The Catenary.

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #117969



Originally built in 1838 to carry the I&M Canal over the Fox River wooden trough of aqueduct replaced with steel trough 1922


I&M Canal aqueduct over Fox River
Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois
Open to Foot & Bike Traffic. Aqueduct is dry.
Future prospects
Now part of I&M canal bike trail
Rebuilt in 1903
Riveted Steel Trough/Deck Plate Girder resting on Stone piers
Total length: 464.0 ft.
Deck width: 18.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.35234, -88.82818   (decimal degrees)
41°21'08" N, 88°49'41" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/347065/4579483 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 36912 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 23, 2016: New photos from GS
  • July 14, 2015: New photos from John Marvig
  • July 6, 2015: Updated by Gene Smania: added 1922 date for original trough replacement
  • June 10, 2015: New photos from Gene Smania
  • January 1, 2015: Updated by Luke: Added category "Chicago, Ottawa & Peoria Railway"
  • October 15, 2011: Updated by Steve Conro: Fixed name, Updated history and stats
  • February 27, 2010: Updated by Kim Harvey: additional HAER photos from HAER IL-46
  • March 29, 2009: Updated by Kim Harvey: added GPS coordinates from terraserver and updated status on the bridge
  • November 24, 2008: Updated by Kim Harvey: added category
  • July 23, 2008: Added by Kim Harvey

Related Bridges 



I&M Canal Fox River Aqueduct
Posted June 13, 2015, by Luke

I'm going to retract my previous comment based on an excerpt from "The Electric Interurban Railways in America" by George Hilton and John Due

I&M Canal Fox River Aqueduct
Posted June 9, 2015, by Luke

They didn't, based on period maps that show the interurban crossing the river at Main Street in Ottawa.

1929 Map:


1906 Map:


I&M Canal Fox River Aqueduct
Posted June 9, 2015, by Barry (bllauver [at] toad [dot] net)

How did they manage to use the bridge as an electric rail and as a towpath at the same time?

I&M Canal Fox River Aqueduct
Posted June 9, 2015, by Luke

To correct a comment left in 2009, the stone support are the remains of the Superior Street Bridge:


Ottawa Fox River Bridge
Posted April 9, 2009, by Ron Johnson (mfpd24 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Those are not "Steel-Frame Supports For The Catenary", they are fairly new and have square lights on them. They are not even over the railroad portion of the bridge, they are over the aqueduct. The only thing left of the railroad bridge are the stone piers in the foreground.

Fox River Bridge
Posted December 28, 2008, by Ron Johnson (mfpd24 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

This is actually part of the Illinois & Michigan canal aqueduct over the Fox River. The Illinois Traction System was abandoned in the 1930s, around the same time as the canal itself. The canal towpath and aqueduct are now part of a biking & hiking trail, and also used by snowmobiles. The I&M canal was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and a National Heritage Corridor in 1984. The aqueduct/rail bridge can be found on Champlain St. 2 blocks south of East Norris Dr. (U.S. Rt.6) on the east side of Ottawa. As of Dec.08 there is a large amount of debris piled against the north side, due to flooding in Sept. Directly east of this bridge is the remains of a wood and concrete foot bridge that was partially demolished in the late 1970s. There are also the remnants of several bridges along the route of the I.T.S. in LaSalle County.