January 28, 2007
Photograph the aging BN lift bridge over the Illinois River at Ottawa IL

The Burlington Northern (as it's listed on my old map - it's perhaps now the Burlington Northern Santa Fe) lift bridge over the Illinois River. Just a bunch of photos. There's a nice building mural tossed in, at the end, for good measure.

Map - Ottawa IL - Railroad bridge circled

From the south bank there is easy access as it's all a park. The north side is a bit more restrictive as the river is lined with houses / private property.

I'm leaving this photo "oversized". You can get a better view of the bridge keeper's house.

Wikipedia has a reasonable page about this type of bridge - click here

Another bridge of this type - one much larger - is at Houghton / Hankock Michigan. It is a four lane wide, double-decked bridge (auto on top, rail below). HUGE in comparision. There's a photo near the top of this page and a couple more at the bottom of this page.

At each end of the suspended span are counterweights. You can pick out the large pulleys at the top of each tower and the cables extending down from each side of the pulleys. When the movable span is in the raised position the counterweights lower and block off the passageway that a train would take - an effective gate for when the span is up.

I think that the electric motor that moves the span is in the white bridge keeper's house. It looks like there are some cables extending out from each lower corner of the house to the top corners of the span (ending near the main supporting pulleys). I'm guessing there's a rotating gear that is moved by the cables and that gear runs on teeth extending up and down the non-movable vertical span. Not much power is needed to move the span as the counterweights do well in balancing the structure.

An annotated photo is below

Click for a larger size

Click for a larger size

Building mural

If you're looking to find it...
the North East corner of Fulton Street & Jackson Street, Ottawa, IL