The Calumet River Vertical Lift Bridges are a set of parallel vertical lift bridges designed by Waddell & Harrington, which later became H&H. They are part of several legacy H&H projects still standing over 100 years after their original construction and are considered by historians to be a significant symbol of Chicago as America’s railroad capital. Constructed between 1912 and 1915, they are a remnant of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago, and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railways and are currently owned by Norfolk Southern and fixed in a partially raised position.

Both structures have a main span length of approximately 210 feet, bridge width 31 feet, and a tower height of 190 feet above water level, and they sit parallel,  each having a 50-degree skew. They are an early example of span-driven vertical lift bridges designed to operated separately or as one unit. Visible from the Chicago Skyway, the bridge was designated as a Chicago Landmark in 2007.

The Calumet River Vertical Lift Bridges profile is part of H&H’s on-going celebration of our heritage as we approach our 135th Anniversary.

Photo credit: Library of Congress; Nathan Holth,