7 votes

CGW - Winston Tunnel


West Portal

Check out the William J. Manon Jr Photo Gallery at pbase.com for more photos


BH Photo #130887



Abandoned tunnel on former Chicago-Great Western Railway
Jo Daviess County, Illinois
Built for the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad in 1888, was the longest rail tunnel in Illinois
- Sheppard, Winston & Co. of St. Paul, Minnesota
- Chicago Great Western Railway (CGW)
Tunnel is located 9 miles west of Elizabeth
Total length: 2,493.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Vertical clearance above deck: 18.5 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.33491, -90.36989   (decimal degrees)
42°20'06" N, 90°22'12" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/716680/4690312 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
840 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 38425 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 2, 2016: Added photo from William Holt
  • November 4, 2012: New photo from Steve Conro
  • April 27, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Chicago Great Western Railway"
  • April 17, 2009: Updated by Curtis Lee: added coordinates
  • December 25, 2008: Updated by Nathan Morton
  • December 24, 2008: Added by Nathan Morton


  • Nathan Morton - morton890 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Curtis Lee - clee47ford [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Flickr - Image
  • Flickr - West Portal
  • Steve Conro - sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com


Winston Tunnel
Posted December 22, 2012, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

This tunnel was proposed to be bypassed in 1951. This proposed line was called the "airline" and it was to bypass the sharp grades. The feature of the proposed line was a proposed 6,165' bridge over the Mississippi near Bellevue, which would have a 650' cantilevered main span, with numerous 245' and 303' deck truss spans. What a bridge this would have been!

Winston Tunnel
Posted August 15, 2012, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

I'd probably go in late December, so snakes wouldn't be out. And 3/4 mile isn't that bad. I've walked a mile and a half down an abandoned rail grade for a railroad bridge before....

Winston Tunnel
Posted August 15, 2012, by John Marvig

Is it a Pretty hair raising walk back there?

Winston Tunnel
Posted August 14, 2012, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

Is it possible to access this bridge still?

Winston Tunnel
Posted April 29, 2012, by Steve Conro (sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com)

There used to be a large bridge just east of Blackjack Rd leading back to the tunnel entrance. I crossed it and hiked back there with a buddy of mine in the early 80's. There's large iron bridge parts on a property along Sandhill Rd right nearby I assume were parts of this bridge.

Winston Tunnel
Posted December 24, 2008, by Nathan Morton (morton890 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The east portal has been sealed in, but the west portal still exists. However it is in a very isolated area and is in bad condition. The tunnel is now owned by the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources and access to the tunnel has been cutoff due to the risk of further collapse.