Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Aban/BN/CB&Q Bridge over Mississippi River in Alton, IL

(Bridge Hunter)
Madison County ILGenWeb posted
NOTE:The Alton "Burlington" railroad bridge opened with great fanfare on May 1, 1894. The auto bridge in Alton was constructed in 1928. Shown in the 1912 photo is the railroad bridge, with one of its spans swung open to allow the steamer Alton to travel through. The railroad bridge no longer exists.
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ALTON'S ORIGINAL RAILROAD BRIDGE BUILDER VISITS ALTON 
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 23, 1916
100 years ago
W. S. MacDonald, the resident engineer who constructed the Alton [railroad] bridge which was thrown open to use in 1894, was a visitor in Alton Sunday as the guest of James Duncan and R. H. Levis. Mr. MacDonald has made very few trips back to Alton since he left here after the bridge was finished. He was a young man when he came here to start work on the bridge and it was the biggest job he had tackled up to that time. He was a highly competent man, and afterward he became a well-known bridge builder.
While here, Mr. MacDonald inspected the bridge which he completed 22 years ago last May. He recalled that he drove the first stake for the bridge, and that he had full charge of its construction. He was in charge of it for a while after it was completed. Mr. MacDonald made a trip over Alton and was astonished at how the city had grown. He recalled how the Alton bridge was a part of a big project to belt around East St. Louis, this fact being indicated by its original name, the St. Clair, Madison and St. Louis Belt Railroad Company. The dream has not yet been realized. The panic of 1893 under Cleveland's administration knocked out all hopes of a realization of the project then. The bridge had no feeders to make it prosper, it was soon in financial troubles and later was sold to a syndicate of railroads, and they have no interest in the belting of the city of East St. Louis. The Illinois Terminal now has a similar project on foot, planning to make the Alton bridge a link in the belt system that was long ago planned.
Mr. MacDonald could see that Alton, with her great manufacturing industries, could make a much better financial proposition out of a belt line than could have been done years ago when the bridge was conceived. Mr. MacDonald has been in St. Louis attending the Episcopal convention as a representative of his church in New York City. He is now a retired, wealthy man. He had kindly memories of Alton, and wished to see the city and the bridge that was his first important piece of work. [Comment from above posting]

1941 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
The CB&Q came down the west bank of the Mississippi from Quincy and Burlington, so it used this bridge to access the industry on the east side of the river. There was a lot of heavy industry in Granite City. In fact, by today's standards, there still is a lot of heavy industry. An example is US Steel Granite City Works.

Update:
Mike O'Neal posted
Park downtown Alton the train bridge is gone and a new Alton bridge is in place today the train bridge would open and close on the lock and Dan 26 to let the boats go through. The dam 26 is move down the river about a haft mile.
On the west side of the river, you can still see the abandoned CB&Q embankment and the tree line from the old junction with the west bank branch.

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