Strawbridge Railroad Tunnel
With the boom in zinc mining in the New Diggings area because of World War I it was deemed necessary to build a railroad spur from the newly constructed Skinner Roaster to the main line of the Chicago & North Western Railroad (CN&W), just over the hill to the west. Built in 1916 the Strawbridge Tunnel connected the New Diggings spur with the main branch of the C&NW track operating between Platteville and Galena along the Coon Branch and Fever River valleys. The tunnel is 650 feet long and opened on the bluff overlooking the Fever River where a bridge was constructed to continue the track to the Skinner Roaster. The Railroad terminated at the roaster and was never continued to the village of New Diggings. At the junction with the spur through the tunnel, the railroad maintained a rail stop and small station consisting of a mounted boxcar. A number of mines were active in this area, including the Strawberry Blonde Mine located on the hill near the tunnel, the Rowley Mine to the south, and the Fox Mine over the hill to the west, not to mention the Champion Mine one of the oldest mines in the district. The section of rail line between Benton and Galena ceased operation in 1938, but it was seriously considered for reopening in the late 1940s, when a rich ore body was discovered in northern Illinois. The end of World War I stopped construction of a U.S. government sulfuric-acid plant at the roaster. With the decline of mining after the war, the nearly new roaster ceased operation in the early 1920ís and shortly thereafter was dismantled and shipped out of the area, The tunnel continued to serve the Champion Mine until it was closed in 1927. The life span of the tunnel was between 1916 to 1927.