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Tracel de Cap-Rouge

Cap-Rouge Viaduct

Tracel de Cap-Rouge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: April 14, 2011

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Canadian National) Over Cap-Rouge
Cap-Rouge (Québec): Capitale-Nationale, Québec: Canada
Structure Type
Metal 6 Panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1908 By Builder/Contractor: Dominion Bridge Company of Montréal, Québec

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
157.5 Feet (48.01 Meters)
Structure Length
3333.3 Feet (1015.99 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s) and 28 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This monumental bridge that carries a railway over the entirety of an expansive river valley (although the river itself is very small) is the centerpiece of the community of Cap-Rouge and was built as part of the same transcontinental railway that required the construction of the nearby Pont de Québec. As a result, Tracel de Cap-Rouge's construction was undertaken at the same time as the first Pont de Québec and the two bridges likely would originally have been completed at around the same time. Tracel de Cap-Rouge was scheduled to have been completed in 1907, however the superstructure was not completed until 1908 due to unforeseen substructure construction challenges. However, since the first Pont de Québec collapsed and the existing was not completed until 1917, Tracel de Cap-Rouge is actually 10 years older than the existing Pont de Québec. When the first Pont de Québec collapsed, delayed completion of Tracel de Cap-Rouge's superstructure until 1908 suddenly did not matter anymore. In fact, rails were not placed on the deck until between 1908 and 1911, and the entire bridge was not totally completed until 1913.

Tracel de Cap-Rouge is a tall bridge, and its height makes it a very imposing landmark. However the combination of this height with the extreme length of the bridge that make it one of the most impressive example of this bridge type to be found. It may have briefly been one of the longest railway bridges in Canada when it was built, however the even taller and much longer Lethbridge Viaduct in Alberta, built around the same time and completed a year after Tracel de Cap-Rouge in 1909 became the largest in Canada with a length of 1623.8 meters (5327 feet). Regardless, Tracel de Cap-Rouge holds its own as one of the most significant steel "trestle" types of railroad bridge in Canada. Another interesting fact is the bridge is very similar in length to nearby Pont de Québec, however Tracel de Cap-Rouge is actually 29 meters (95 feet) longer! However, Tracel de Cap-Rouge lacks the world-record cantilever truss spans of Pont de Québec, and is instead composed of dozens of shorter simple spans.

The construction of Tracel de Cap-Rouge apparently encountered some difficulties. The soil was found to be unstable in some areas and as a result, some of the bents (particularly those directly beside the river) rest upon massive piers that were constructed with the caisson method. Other bents appear to rest on more traditional and simple concrete foundations. The soil problem also appears to have been dealt with by including a longer deck truss span which moved one of the bents further away from the river where caissons were not required. There are two other deck truss spans on the bridge, one spans the river itself, and the third was used where a longer span prevented the need to construct a bent near the eastern end of the bridge where an extremely steep cliff is located.

The steel bents of this bridge have bracing that includes v-lacing on all four sides. This technique is unusual; usually v-lacing or lattice are found on only two sides of a built-up beam. The use of the v-lacing on all four sides gives the bridge a much lighter yet more complex appearance. Interestingly, the second (existing) Pont de Québec also makes use of built-up beams with lacing and lattice on all four sides. This may not be a coincidence;The steel bents of this bridge have bracing that includes v-lacing on all four sides. This technique is unusual; usually v-lacing or lattice are found on only two sides of a built-up beam. The use of the v-lacing on all four sides gives the bridge a much lighter yet more complex appearance. Interestingly, the second (existing) Pont de Québec also makes use of built-up beams with lacing and lattice on all four sides. This may not be a coincidence; Tracel de Cap-Rouge was built by the Dominion Bridge Company, and some of their engineers may have decided to use this detail. Engineers from Dominion Bridge Company later worked on the design of the second Pont de Québec and they may have simply continued this practice in designing that bridge as well.

The unusual name of the bridge "Tracel" is derived from the English word "trestle."

Additional information about the bridge is available here.

It is difficult to find a lot of information and history about this bridge, which was likely overshadowed by the construction of Pont de Québec. The below letter from a labor union of bridge workers involved with Pont de Québec briefly mentions Tracel de Cap-Rouge, described in the letter as the "viaduct at Cape Rogue". The letter touches not only on the relationship between Tracel de Cap-Rouge and the construction of the first Pont de Québec, it also hints at a possible conflict with the union.

A Letter From Local Union No. 87 Mentioning The Bridge. The letter is dated 1907.

New Liverpool, P. Q., Can.

Editor Bridgemen's Magazine:

The work on the south side of the Quebec bridge was started this season, May 2, with B. F. Yenseu, foreman, and about fifty good cardmen, many of which were here last season, including all the officers of No. 87. James Aderholdt and J. H. Bason have charge of the gang taking out the steel false work and rigging the big traveler. Wm. Monroe is pushing the gang on the docks, loading the steel false work and other material on the barges to be sent to the north side. J. Dorsey has charge of the storage yard on this side, unloading the new steel for the suspended span. There are nine gangs of riveters on the job at present, and as all of the steel erected on this side Is ready for the rivets, there will be no danger of their running out of a job this summer. Bro. C. A. Merldeth is riveting boss and you may be sure he gets plenty of good exercise. We have not started to take down the steel traveler, as It will be used to erect a top cord traveler, the steel for which has not arrived as yet. This small traveler will be used to erect one-half of the suspended span from this side.

Work on the north side of the river was started May 7, with E. J. Wickheiser in charge. Wm. Robertson and Joe Glovler pushing. They are erecting the steel and wood false work, which will keep them busy nearly all summer. Horace Clark has charge of the storage yard at Belalr and is unloading the new steel for this side, but It is doubtful if any will be raised this season, as it will take nearly all summer to erect the false work and traveler. The Dominion Bridge Company has the contract for erecting a viaduct at Cape Rogue, on the new railroad between the storage yard at Belair and the north approach to the Quebec bridge. This viaduct must be completed before the steel can be brought to the big bridge. They are at work on the piers and have unloaded some of the steel. We expect to have trouble in getting these people to recognize the union, as we have dealt with them before. We were quite surprised, on returning to New Liverpool this spring and visiting the "Famous Green House," to be shown the evidence of so many successful deer hunts by Brothers Glovler and Johnson, who remained here for the sport a month last winter, after the other members left for the States. Of course we were told that is why they stayed, but we think there were other reasons, judging by the rapid progress some of these pretty French-Canadian girls have made in learning to speak English. But that's all right, boys. We know of some others that can speak French, or are learning to speak it, who may also have relatives In New Liverpool or St. Romwald before the end of the season. I would like to remind all that intend floating this way to bring transfers with them, as it is very inconvenient to send back for them and we dislike to have to sign any one up.

Hoping our next Magazine will bring us good news from the States, I remain.

Fraternally yours,


Source: The Bridgemen's Magazine, Volume 7, No. 6, June 1907. Digitized By Google.


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