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IR - Illinois River Bridge (Ottawa)


West View From South Bank Of The Illinois River.

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #117944

Street View 


The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Bridge is a multi-span railroad bridge built in 1898 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

History of the Bridge 

Written by Wayne DeMunn

Built for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) over the Illinois River at Ottawa in 1898 by the King Bridge Company. In 1932 the center span was reconstructed and retrofitted with a Waddell and Harrington Engineers 'Vertical Lift'.

The C B & Q later became the Burlington Northern Railroad. At some point they sold off this portion of their line and the last known owner as of 2009 was the Illinois Railway Net.

The Black & White photos above were taken by Martin Stupich, HAER photographer, 1988.

The Illinois & Michigan Canal was designated a National Heritage Corridor in 1984. The Historic Engineering Record or HAER was compiled by the National Park Service under the Department of the Interior. The C, B & Q Bridge over the Illinois River at Ottawa, IL was documented between 1985-1988. Gray Fitzsimons was the Historian of record in 1985, who compiled the history and documentation, specifications, etc for this bridge that you can find on this page.

Source: Library of Congress website; American Memory; Item Title: Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, Illinois River Bridge, Ottawa, La Salle, IL.


Through truss bridge over Illinois River on Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad in Ottawa
Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois
Built 1898; Lift span added 1933
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio (Initial Construction)
- McClintic-Marshall Co. of Chicago, Illinois & Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Lift Span Conversion)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Burlington Northern Railroad (BN)
- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CBQ)
- Illinois RailNet (IR)
Multi span through truss Vertical lift bridge. Three of the spans are fixed steel Pratt through trusses with pin connections. The Main Span is a Verticle Lift, Pratt through truss with pin connections. A number of timber approach spans are locted at the north and south ends of the bridge. Asher sandstone piers support each of the truss spans.
Length of largest span: 200.0 ft.
Total length: 800.0 ft.
Also called
CB&Q - Illinois River Bridge (Ottawa)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.34168, -88.84697   (decimal degrees)
41°20'30" N, 88°50'49" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/345468/4578333 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 36831 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 18, 2021: Updated by John Marvig: added builder
  • June 8, 2019: New photo from GS
  • August 17, 2017: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • November 19, 2016: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • July 13, 2015: New photos from John Marvig
  • February 9, 2015: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • February 8, 2015: New photo from Tom Robbins
  • October 24, 2013: New photo from Gene Smania
  • October 12, 2013: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • August 26, 2013: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • February 1, 2012: New photos from Gene Smania
  • November 15, 2011: Updated by Wayne DeMunn: Bridge History, Length of Bridge and Spans, Descriptions, Color Photo's.
  • November 14, 2011: Essay added by Wayne DeMunn
  • March 29, 2009: Updated by Kim Harvey: added GPS coordinates from terraserver
  • July 23, 2008: New photos from Kim Harvey
  • July 8, 2008: Updated by Kim Harvey: added category
  • July 7, 2008: Added by Kim Harvey



IR - Illinois River Bridge (Ottawa)
Posted October 19, 2020, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I've heard rumors that the Illinois Railnet may soon cease operations over this bridge, as cars stored on the line south have been moved out to be scrapped and there are no more customers south of it. Because this bridge is definitely considered to be a navigation hazard, this bridges future is extremely cloudy.

IR - Illinois River Bridge (Ottawa)
Posted June 8, 2019, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Looking closer at this bridge, it appears that the lift span was constructed out of the original 1898 span. This seems to be an unusual modification for this time period.

Ottawa Railroad Bridge
Posted October 24, 2013, by alan j.sklenar (moravianme [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Here is a photo taken on 10/20/13