4 votes

Illinois Prairie Path - Volunteer Bridge


Volunteer Bridge

Looking southeast; note pedestrian bridge as rebuilt in 2010 is not level with original bridge deck.

Photo taken by Frank Hicks in February 2011

BH Photo #194169

Street View 


Built 1907 to carry the Elgin Branch of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin RR over the Chicago & North Western RR. The CA&E RR folded in 1957, and the was bridge converted to pedestrian use ca. 1965. Bridge approaches were rebuilt in 2010. Named Volunteer Bridge by the Illinois Prairie Path. There is some disagreement about its construction date; "Sunset Lines Vol. I" by Larry Plachno lists its construction date as 1909 but the IPP celebrated the bridge's 100th anniversary in 2007.


Pratt through truss bridge over Union Pacific RR (formerly Chicago & North Western RR) on Illinois Prairie Path (formerly Chicago Aurora & Elgin RR)
Wheaton, Du Page County, Illinois
Open to pedestrians
Built 1902 for CA&E RR, railroad abandoned 1959, converted to trail use ca. 1964, approaches rebuilt 2010
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio
- Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway (AE&C)
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad (CA&E)
- Interurban
Pratt through skew truss, approach at north end constructed 2010.
Length of largest span: 160.0 ft.
Total length: 1,544.0 ft.
Also called
CA&E/CNW Overpass
CA&E - Wheaton Bridge
CA&E - Volunteer Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.86524, -88.11659   (decimal degrees)
41°51'55" N, 88°06'60" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/407331/4635417 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 48239 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 13, 2022: New photos from John Marvig
  • December 12, 2021: Updated by John Marvig: added builder
  • August 18, 2015: New photos from John Marvig
  • August 8, 2014: Updated by Luke: Added original approach type, added link to image
  • October 8, 2013: New Street View added by J.P.
  • November 11, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad", "Interurban"
  • August 14, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Railroad"
  • December 15, 2011: Updated by Frank Hicks: Added categories "Rail-to-trail", "Skewed"
  • February 24, 2011: Added by Frank Hicks

Related Bridges 



Illinois Prairie Path - Volunteer Bridge
Posted March 17, 2022, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I visited this bridge in February. Photos 11, 18 and 19 all show some of the severe deterioration on this bridge. Fortunately the recent rehab should keep this bridge around for a bit.

Illinois Prairie Path - Volunteer Bridge
Posted December 12, 2021, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Unless I am missing something, I am not buying that this bridge was built in 1907.



The first article lists a 158'7" skewed through truss at Elgin, although the map on the previous page does not show this railroad crossing the C&NW at Elgin. Perhaps they meant the Elgin branch? Measuring the truss on Google Earth gives a very similar dimension. The second article lists a truss on the Elgin branch over the C&NW (likely this span), but the dimensions are off.

I suspect that this is the bridge the first article mentions, and the previous wooden bridge pictured (http://bridgehunter.com/il/du-page/bh76769/) was possibly a temporary bridge

Illinois Prairie Path - Volunteer Bridge
Posted February 23, 2018, by Joe (joe [at] jrowan [dot] net)

Really nice restoration and re-purpose of this bridge. It is perfect for the path and is completely functional for path users. I used to walk the prairie path all the time to avoid walking down streets and this bridge was the last part when coming into Wheaton. Had it not been there, it would have meant inconvenient detours.

Volunteer Bridge
Posted February 25, 2011, by Daniel Hopkins (chimera [at] clovermail [dot] net)

Thats an awesome rebuild they did! Keeping the original while tacking on a newer addition.