This bridge was originally built for the Chicago, Lake Shore, and Eastern Railway which later became the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Lakefront Line. Completed in 1908, this bridge is among the oldest surviving Scherzer Rolling Lift bascule bridges. The other two rolling lift bridges that both survived on the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal when this bridge was photo-documented were both slightly younger than this bridge. The bridge has the composition of an early 20th Century Scherzer Rolling Lift bascule bridge including the distinctive counterweight that is carefully shaped to visually blend into both the truss and the roller, which helps give the bridge a clean, simple appearance.
In recent years, a new bascule bridge was built immediately northeast of this bridge. The modern bridge lacks the beauty and heritage of a riveted truss leaf and also lacks attractive built-up beams with lattice and v-lacing. However, the design of the machinery is strikingly similar to the 1908 bridge, from the rolling lift design to the shape of the counterweight. The fact that this modern bridge is over 100 years newer than the historic 1908 bridge, yet employs the same type of movable system as the historic bridge is evidence of how reliable and effective the Scherzer Rolling Lift type of bascule bridge is. The Scherzer Rolling Lift bascule was invented by William Scherzer in 1893.
This bridge is located deep within a privately owned area of heavy industry, alongside several other historic railroad bridges at this location. The only reliable, legal way for the public to visit these bridges on the canal is to take a boat on the canal, or briefly glance them out of the typically dirty windows of the Amtrak trains that cross a nearby bridge.
Thanks to Tom Winkle for providing boat transportation to assist in the photo-documentation of this historic bridge.
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