Hurds Island Rail Bridge (East)

Open Spandrel Concrete Arch Bridge over Fox River
Aurora, Kane County, Illinois

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Hurds Island Rail Bridge (East)
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 225 Feet Total, 65 Foot Spans
Width 3 Tracks
Height Above Ground 40 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Concrete Arch
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1920
Traffic Count 120 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 38.11
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date July 2015 and January 2022
In 1852, the Chicago & Aurora Railroad built a mainline between Mendota, Illinois and Aurora, Illinois.
At Aurora, the line connected to other railroads, which branched in all directions.

At the same time, the Central Military Tract Railroad built a line from Mendota, to Galesburg. This additional line would lay the groundwork of a series of western lines into Iowa and Missouri.

Both railroads became part of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in 1855.

The CB&Q used Aurora as a hub, with other rail lines coming in and out.

This line cut across mostly rural land, going through small towns along the way.
The line was also important, and was double tracked very quickly. By 1868, the line was double tracked between Chicago and Mendota.

The remainder of the line was double tracked in sections, mostly in the 1880s.

The line was critical to the CB&Q. By 1970, the CB&Q was merged into Burlington Northern, along with the Great Northern and Northern Pacific.
BN continued to operate the line until 1996, when they merged with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF Railway.

BNSF currently operates this as their Mendota Subdivision. It sees a steady traffic base, and carries Amtrak.

Located over Hurds Island in Aurora, this bridge is the eastern of the two bridges over the Fox River.
Built in 1919 and 1920, the bridge consists of two spans of open spandrel concrete arch. The bridge features concrete substructures, and decorative designs.
This and the other bridge are both unique examples of bridges intended to be decorative. This bridge was also built to carry three tracks, although only two remain in use.
The decision to build a new alignment that was elevated was important to Aurora, and led to a realignment of about a mile of track.
In addition to being a rare example of a triple tracked arch, this structure is also an open spandrel design. This gives the appearance that the bridge is several smaller arches set onto a larger arch.
With the exception of some minor spalling and architectural damage with the details, the bridge retains a high level of historic integrity. It also appears to be in good condition.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the unique design and large scale size.
The photo above is an overview of the structure.

Fox River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Abandoned Fox River Bridge
West Channel Hurds Island Rail Bridge (W)
Downstream Aurora Trail Bridge


Source Type


Build Date Relocation of tracks
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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