Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kankakee & Seneca near Kankakee, IL

While studying the KB&S/Big Four in Kankakee, I noticed on a satellite image that it now ends with a connection to the IC. But you can see where the track  used to go further west along Cypress Street as the Kankakee & Seneca. (The K&S was jointly owned by the Rock Island and the Big Four, but the Big Four operated it.) The K&S must have then crossed the NS/NYC because the piers of the K&S bridge over the Kankakee River are still present. So I studied a 1939 aerial photo.

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
I was surprised to see that the bridge was already gone in 1938. Some comments concerning Mazon, IL indicate the K&S was abandoned on February 24, 1933. That would explain why it is sometimes hard to find traces of it on current satellite images --- it has been gone a long time.

It is clear from the above photo that the K&S tracks went west across the NYC and then turned south to parallel NYC across the river. I looked at successive aerial photos to the west of this one to find where the K&S quit following the NYC and curved northwards to Seneca. It was a little east of where the NYC turns south.

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Knowing where to look, you can easily see the diagonal land scars of field boundaries, tree lines, and a road.

Zooming out and extrapolating the diagonal line, it heads to Bonfield, which was one of the towns on the K&S. A 1939 aerial photo of Bonfield clearly shows the RoW going along the south side of that town. This proves that the abandoned bridge piers in the Kankakee River were those of the K&S.

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

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