Bolingbrook's Historic Trout Farm Bridge over the DuPage River

Today I'm going to discuss something a little more obscure within the Village of Bolingbrook's history, namely its demolished vehicle bridge over the East Branch of the DuPage River, where today a Trout Farm operated by the village Park District operates. 

As a kid, I always imagined a bridge that would have extended over the river at that spot, and connect to the area across from it, which as of 2015 is exactly what it does today, but the only other bridge near there appeared to only be used for river maintenance, as it was closed to the public. 

But when I'd first gotten the opportunity to view historical aerial imagery of the town, I felt vindicated learning that there was a much earlier bridge across the river. And you can even see scars of it today.

Will County GIS Data 1939 Aerial Image.

It's known as Hidden Lakes today, and it's a perfect description for the area. You wouldn't notice it looking at the general topography of the area, and Illinois as a whole, but there is an 80' descent between the River and nearby Boughton Road to the south. And while the area is quite well developed today, the Lakes exist in a calm, forested area below much of that development. 

This bridge would have carried the former Schmidt Road, which is now known as Trout Farm Road north of Boughton.

Looking north at the bridge footers, all that remains of the bridge, and thru-traffic in this spot. (Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places photo)

Looking south at the bridge footers from the newly built pedestrian bridge to Whalon Lake. (Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places photo)

Sadly, I could only come across one reference for this bridge: on a trivia quiz hosted on an Angelfire site of all places...

"80. What broke the Schmidt Road bridge located at Hidden Lakes?

A Commonwealth Edison truck"

Well there you have it, apparently this bridge ended its history with more of a bang than a whimper.

Interestingly though, the easement for Schmidt Road still exists all the way to Royce Road, although south of Royce, the only business along the former road is an adjacent quarry, who gate the road off from the public. 

Plat Map via Will County Supervisor of Assessments.

Additionally, in 1999, the City of Naperville proposed extending Lisson Road south to eventually connect to Schmidt Road in what likely would have reused the right of way of the old bridge, or create perhaps a new road entirely. I can't fathom how this would have occurred, although this would have been before Whalon Lake would have been created. I guess one could make the same proposal today if you wanted to destroy the entire area with vehicle traffic. 

Contrary to what some "esteemed" railway historians think, my hometown of Bolingbrook, IL absolutely does have some significant history, especially one considers how new the town is, having been incorporated in 1965. 

For example, the area was one of the first places settled in Will or DuPage County, the History of Will County notes, "DuPage [Township] settlements were made much earlier because the first settler was attracted by the beauty of the land between the two branches of the DuPage River, branches which unite just before entering Wheatland Township." Further, its location immediately west of the former AT&SF Chillicothe Subdivision, and Argonne National Laboratory meant it once had a spur line within its limits that served what was once a Johnson & Johnson Plant, as well as the ending of a Material Services spur on the present-day far west end of town. Further still, Welco Corners, now in present-day Bolingbrook was a major junction on a military trail that would eventually become US Highway 66, and the first indoor theme park/mall known as "Old Chicago" was located there as well. 

Not bad for a town "too new to have any history". But I digress.  

Thanks as always for reading! I hope to do more local history blogs on this site!


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