By 1869, construction would restart on the next 142 miles of track in Iowa, connecting Des Moines to the Missouri River. This trackage would be required to transverse some tougher landscapes, including large rolling hills and summits.
The railroad would be completed later that year, creating a continuous network for the Rock Island between Chicago and Council Bluffs.
In addition, trackage rights across the Missouri River Bridge at Omaha allowed for trains to access Nebraska and head to other points west.
In 1880, the railroad became the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway.
The railroad continued to see a growth in traffic, so it expanded the line. Significant portions were rebuilt west of Des Moines, including reduced curves and not as steep hills.
However, the biggest improvements took place in 1953. The Atlantic Cutoff was completed by September of that year.
The Atlantic Cutoff was an important improvement, reducing grades and creating a fast network. The Council Bluffs-Atlantic route shaved 10 miles off the old trip.
Because of this, the old line between Atlantic and Council Bluffs, including sections through Shelby and Avoca were abandoned.
In the end, the cutoff did almost nothing for the Rock Island. Interstate 80 opened only a decade later, closely paralleling the route.
By 1980, the Rock Island completely went bankrupt. The system was abandoned and chopped up.
However, in 1982, Iowa Interstate Railroad stepped in and purchased the Rock Island mainline between Chicago and Omaha.
Today, Iowa Interstate continues to operate the Newton to Council Bluff segment as the 4th Subdivision.
Located just east of Kellogg, this small deck girder bridge crosses Coon Creek near Illinois Avenue.
Built in approximately 1893, the bridge features a twinned deck girder span set onto concrete abutments.
Twinned deck girder spans are rather common on railroads. However, some were originally constructed as such, while others were rebuilt at a later date using scrap material.
It appears that this structure was originally constructed using twinned deck girders. However, a lack of bridge information for the Rock Island will likely prevent ever knowing a true build date. Currently, the 1893 date was provided as an estimate by the ICC Valuation records at the National Archives.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition. The substructures of the bridge have begun to accumulate severe deterioration, while the superstructure has no visible serious deterioration.
The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview.