Jane Addams Trail Bridge

Pratt Through Truss over Pecatonica River
Near Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois

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Name Jane Addams Trail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Madison & Northern Railway
Contractor Union Bridge Company of Buffalo, NY
Currently Owned By Stephenson County
Length 175 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1888
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
IC Bridge Number R-2.9
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date March 2015
In 1886, the Chicago, Madison & Northern began working on building a new branch line, from the three existing mainlines at Freeport; north to Madison, Wisconsin.
The CM&N was also working on building a mainline to Chicago from Freeport at this time.
In Freeport, the line met with two other lines, an Illinois Central line south towards Cairo, Illinois; and another IC line west towards Iowa.
As the line continued north, it had to transverse the increasingly harsher terrain as it got closer to Madison. Because of this, a tunnel was required east of New Glarus, Wisconsin.
The line was completed by 1888, and began branch line operations.
In Madison, the line met with a Chicago & North Western line and a Milwaukee Road line, providing connections to places north.
The line had been operated as an Illinois Central Line since its completion, but the CM&N finally became a part of the Illinois Central in 1903.
IC continued to operate this line as a branch line. The IC became part of the Illinois Central Gulf in 1972, after a merger with the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio.

The ICG abandoned the line in 1985, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation decided the line was of critical importance.
The Wisconsin & Calumet was contracted to operated the line, and continued with moderate success until 1993, when the tracks were embargoed.
Between 1993 and 1999, the line was used for motor car enthusiasts, with hope of returned freight service.
This service would never return, and the tracks were removed in 1999, and the state of Wisconsin and Stephenson County purchased the line.
In Wisconsin, the line is currently the Badger State Trail, which heads directly into Madison. One short stub of the old line remains in Madison.
In Illinois, the Jane Addams Trail uses the line between Freeport and the State Line.

This beautiful truss crosses the Pecatonica River, just west of Freeport.
Built in 1888, this bridge features a single 8-panel, pin connected Pratt Through Truss. Using a standard design for the mid to late 1880s, this truss features a lattice style portal and heavy members. It is set on stone substructures.
During this time, the Illinois Central was building a number of branch lines, meaning a number of similar Union Bridge Company trusses were used. Several are located in Western Iowa, as well as the Belleville Trail Bridge further north on this line.
Overall, this bridge appears to be in good condition. The bridge is one of several similar structures still remaining, each very significant.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the truss design.
The photo above is an overview.

Pecatonica River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Browntown Trail Bridge
Downstream MILW Pecatonica River Bridge (Freeport)


Source Type


Build Date 1973 Illinois Central track profile
Contractor Missing Union Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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