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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
La Salle Rail Bridge
Illinois River Railroad Crossing
La Salle, IL

La Salle Rail Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A
• Location: River Mile 225.5
• River Elevation: 440 Feet
• Railroad: Buzzi Unicem
• Daily Traffic Count: 1 Trains Per Day (Estimated)
• Bridge Type: Steel Deck Truss, Steel Through Truss Main Span
• Bridge Length: 2,875 Feet (Estimated), 330 Foot Longest Span (Estimated)
• Bridge Width: ??? Feet, 1 Track
• Navigation Channel Width: 260 Feet
• Height Above Water: 65 Feet
• Date Built: 1893 Using 1855 Piers
First railroad bridge was built at this location in 1855 by the Illinois Central Railroad. It was considered to be a major engineering achievement at the time. The bridge spanned over one half mile of wetlands, the Illinois River, and the I&M Canal. In 1893, the bridge structure was rebuilt using deck truss spans sitting on the 1853 piers. When the 9-foot navigation channel was approved, it was found that the low hanging steel on the deck truss spans was too low for tow boats. As a result, the main channel span was replaced by a steel through truss span sitting on a set of new piers. The rail level of the new span was higher than the rest of the bridge, so the rest of the bridge piers were raised. Once the track was again level, small bridge sections were inserted to connect the older deck truss spans to the new through truss span.

The Illinois Central Railroad merged with the Gulf, Mobile, & Ohio Railroad on August 10, 1972, to form the Illinois Gulf Central Railroad. The IGC operated the rail line through La Salle. The IGC later abandoned the rail line that included the La Salle Rail Bridge. The last IGC train to cross this bridge was on December 21, 1985 (according to the Bridgehunter web site). The bridge and a short section of the right-of-way going south was purchased by the Buzzi Unicem company, which owns the concrete factory on the north side of the river. Buzzi Unicem uses the bridge and rail spur to haul in raw materials and haul out finished product.

There are good views of this bridge from both the IL-351 Shippingsport Bridge and the I-39 Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge. It is worth seeking out this bridge since it is one of the oldest operating rail bridges in the Midwest.

La Salle Rail Bridge
La Salle Rail Bridge

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