One of the Railroads that traversed LaSalle, Illinois was the Illinois Central. This was originally chartered as a line to transverse Illinois north to south from Chicago to Cairo. Sadly most of the buildings associated with the IC in LaSalle are no longer standing. An exception is the Illinois Central Bridge that traverses the I and M Canal near the aqueduct over the Little Vermillion River.
The bridge was built in 1855. The original contractor was Albert Story. He had hired workers with a promise to pay them $1.25 per day. Later, he reneged and changed the reimbursement to $1.00 per day. The angered workers demonstrated and some were involved with murder of Mr. Story. Despite these setbacks, the bridge was completed in 1855.
The bridge was quite a spectacular engineering fete for this time period.
There were 17 sandstone support piers. The super structure was made of iron and truss spans encased in wood. The span of the bridge was 2889 feet. The bridge crossed a half mile wetland, the I and M Canal, the Rock Island Railroad, and the Illinois River. The original bridge served the IC railroad for forty years.
The bridge was renovated in 1893. Deck truss spans sat on the original support piers.
In the 1930’s, after the Illinois Waterway Project, it was found that the low hanging steel on the deck truss spans was too low for boats. The main channel span was replaced by a truss span on new support piers. Subsequently, the rest of the support piers were raised. The IC abandoned the rail line that included the bridge. The last train to cross the bridge was December 21, 1985. The bridge was purchased by a concrete factory on the north side of the river.