I did not realize that Wabash had two crossings of the Illinois River until I researched Richard's post below. The mainline crosses the river downstream from here at Valley City, IL.
The bridge was built in 1858, and the last train passed over the bridge on Jan 28, 1955. [John Weeks] According to Richard Mead's comment below, that was the last steam train because the Wabash leased two Pennsylvania GE 44-ton diesels that were light enough to use the bridge. The bridge was taken out of service on Nov 1, 1959.
|Richard Mead posted|
[The smoke coming out of the smoke stacks is a reminder that particle scrubbers were not added until after the Clean-Air Act in the 1970s.]
|Richard commented on his post|
Richard Fiedler The ancient bridge was made of iron and not steel thus the fragility. The swing span was hit by barges further degrading it. I’ve heard stories that the crews were afraid of it so much that they would tie down the throttle of a mogul and let it creep across unmanned no double heading plus severe weight restrictions on cars.
Richard Mead Classic Trains Magazine was the inspiration for this short article. The spring edition featured a short article about the Keokuk Line, the last bastion of steam on the Wabash Railroad. The Wabash was one of the early railroads to dieselize in the early 1950’s except for the Keokuk branch line which ran northwest from Bluffs, IL, on the Decatur – Kansas City main, to Keokuk, Iowa. The Wabash kept a stable of Mogul 2-6-0 locomotives to service the branch line at the Bluffs yard even though by the 1950s EMD GP-7 and 9 diesels were the favored branch line motive power. According to the Classic Trains article a bridge over the Illinois River at Meredosia, IL kept the 2-6-0 Moguls alive up into early 1955. The bridge was a seven span through truss structure with one swing span which could not carry the weight of the EMD’s. The bridge was built in 1858 and in addition to the railroad it was used by wagons, motor vehicles and foot traffic until the mid 1930s when a highway bridge was built upriver. The bridge kept steam alive on the Keokuk Line, however, beginning in October 1954 there were only two Moguls left operating and they were making just cameo appearances operating only about 6 ½ miles to and over the Meredosie bridge. Wabash had built an engine spur where a diesel was stationed that would take the train on to Keokuk. The 2-6-0’s would stay on the spur and take the train back to Bluffs on the return. In early 1955 Wabash killed the Moguls by leasing two Pennsylvania Railroad GE 44-ton diesels to run between Bluffs and the Meredosia spur where a larger Wabash unit was stationed. The operation lasted until November 1, 1959 when the bridge was taken of service and the 7.6mile Meredosia-Versailles line was abandon. The bridge retirement was not a single event as the U. S. Corps of Engineers wanted both it and the mainline span at Valley City, IL removed as both had narrow openings for the navigation channel and barges would hit the bridge piers. The new Valley City Bridge was one of several big improvement projects started by the Wabash in the mid 1950’s. The first North American “Mogul” type locomotive built was for the Louisiana & Nashville Railroad in 1864. At the time it was the largest locomotive with more than 11,000 built between 1860 and 1910 by ALCO, Baldwin, Porter and other locomotive builders. They were generally used on freight trains but had enough speed to occasionally pull a light passenger train. Most North American railroads used them at one time or another. Today if you travel to Strasburg, PA, you can see and ride behind Strasburg Railroad number 89 originally built for the Canadian National in 1910. From my research there are several others that are operating in both standard gauge 4’ – 8 ½” and narrow gauge 3 foot. From the article Wabash historian Rob Adams stated the Wabash kept at the Bluffs yard five Class F-4 2-6-0 Mogul’s built in 1899 by Richmond Locomotive Works 569, 571, 573, 576 and 587 (their original numbers were in the 700’s) into 1952 for Keokuk branch service. 569 last run was in 1953 and she was scrapped in June 1955. 571 made her last run in August 1952 add was cut up in July 1953. In August 1954 587 made her last run and was cut up in September 1955. Wabash 576 was the last locomotive in service, surviving into early February 1955 and the cutting torch caught with her in June 1955. The 573 made her last run on January 28, 1955, but that summer the Wabash donated her to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis where she reposes today.
|Dennis DeBruler commented on Richard's post|
1941 Aerial Photo from IHLAP