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MacDonald Avenue Bridge

12th Avenue Bridge

MacDonald Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): C. Hanchey, CC BY-NC 2.0, flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07/

Bridge Documented: May 17, 2015

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
12th Avenue (MacDonald Avenue) Over Elbow River
Location
Calgary: Calgary, Alberta: Canada
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1911 By Builder/Contractor: Algoma Steel Bridge Company of Winnipeg, Manitoba

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
150 Feet (46 Meters)
Structure Length
150 Feet (46 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge is noted for its age and as an uncommon surviving bridge by Algoma Steel Bridge Company.

Information and Findings From Calgary Historic Resources

Discussion of Bridge

12 Avenue Elbow River Bridge
View of the bridge, 2013
View of the bridge, 2013
Alternate Names: NA
Address: 0 7 ST SE - View map
Year of Construction: 1911
Community: BELTLINE
Resource Type: City Wide Historic Resource
Original Use Type: Transport
Original Use SubType: Bridge
Architectural Style: N/A
Architect: NA
Builder: Algoma Steel Bridge Company
Provincial Master Plan Theme: Transportation
Development Era: 1906 to 1913 (Pre WWI Boom, Age of Optimism)
Legal Description: NA
Other Significant Dates: As well as the year of completion other significant dates are: 1947-1950 - Removal of street railway tracts

Legally Protected/Federally Recognized:
Federal: No
Provincial: No
Registered: No
Municipal: No

Significance Summary:
The 12th Avenue Elbow River Bridge is significant because:
- It represents one of four, historic Parker-Camelback bridges in Calgary - the most frequently used design for bridges built in Calgary from 1905 to 1912. (Design value: City-wide significance )
- it possess symbolic value as an integral component to the historic industrial and residential development of East Calgary, Ogden and other areas east of the Elbow River. (Symbolic value: City-wide significance)
- it was an important component of the street-railway system to East Calgary, Ogden and other areas east of the Elbow River; the street-railway system enabled transportation activity that was integral to Calgary's development; the bridge is one of a small number of infrastructure elements that remain to recall the street-railway system. (Activity value: City-wide significance)
- it is a principle transportation gateway to the Ramsay and Beltline (Victoria Park) communities, made prominent as a landmark for its distinctive steel framework. (Landmark value - City-wide significance)

Statement of Significance
Description:
The 12th Avenue Elbow River Bridge, built in 1911, is a single-span, Parker-Camelback, riveted-steel, through-truss bridge. This 1911 bridge is 150ft long and 26ft wide with 5ft wide steel sidewalks flanking both sides of the superstructure. The bridge's steel superstructure rests on a substructure consisting of two poured-in-place concrete abutments on either side of the Elbow River. The bridge carries 12th Avenue across the Elbow River between the Ramsay and Beltline communities

Heritage Value:
The 12th Avenue Elbow River Bridge, built in 1911, represents one of four historic Parker Camelback bridges in Calgary - the most frequent used design for bridges built in Calgary from 1905 to 1912. A through-truss design is distinguished by its network of triangles which create girders above the deck which are connected by cross bracing. The top cord is curved, thus distinguishing it from the Pratt Truss, which has a straight top cord. It is one of four surviving examples of this type of bridge in Calgary with the other three being the Langevin Bridge (1910) across the Bow, the Inglewood bridge (1908) across the Elbow and the bridge across to St. George's Island from Inglewood (1908). The steel superstructures for such bridges were supplied by eastern Canadian-based bridge companies and were shipped to the site where they would be assembled using rivets. The 12th Avenue Elbow River Bridge superstructure was supplied by the Algoma Steel Company based upon the information supplied by the City of Calgary Engineer.

The 12th Avenue Elbow River Bridge possesses symbolic value as an integral enabler of the historic industrial and residential development of East Calgary, Ogden and other areas east of the Elbow River. This bridge was conceived to provide for the expansion of the street-railway system to the industrial areas of East Calgary, and to encourage and accommodate the residential development of the Ramsay community (originally known as Mills Estate) and elsewhere. Industries which became more accessible due to the street railway included the Burns meat packing plant, which was an important economic driver at the time.

The 12th Avenue Elbow River Bridge enabled transportation activity as part of the street-railway system that was integral to Calgary's development, and is one of a small number of infrastructure elements that remain to recall the street-railway system. The bridge was part of the Mills subdivision line which went into service on October 18, 1911. This line, also known as the Burns Avenue line, soon became part of the Red & Blue line which ran from Burns Avenue in East Calgary to Sunnyside. It thus linked a working class district in northwest Calgary with the industries of East Calgary.

After the Canadian Pacific Railway's massive repair shops at Ogden became operational in March 1913 the street-railway line (including the 12th Avenue Elbow River Bridge) became an important link in carrying hundreds of workers to their job each day at the facility.

The bridge is a principle transportation gateway to the Ramsay and Beltline (Victoria Park) communities, made prominent as a landmark for its distinctive steel framework.

Character Defining Elements:
- 150ft long and 26ft wide steel structure comprise a framework of steel structural elements, in a triangular arrangement, connected at the top with a curved top cord;
- five-foot-wide steel sidewalks on either side of the superstructure with lattice type balustrades;
- the maker's plates at each end of the bridge with 'Algoma Steel Bridge Company';
- two poured-in-place concrete abutments;
- its original placement at the location.

Sources
Occupants (Henderson's Directory Search):
NA

Owners (Historical Title Search):
NA

Additional Sources:
Secondary Sources
Hatcher, Colin. Stampede City Streetcars The Story of the Calgary Municipal Railway. Montreal: Railfare Enterprises, 1975. pp. 27-28 These pages outline the beginning and expansion of the street railway.
Hatcher, Colin Kirk and Tom Schwarzkopf. Calgary's electric transit: an illustrated history of electrified public transportation in Canada's oil capital: streetcars, trolley buses, and light rail vehicles. Montreal: Railfare DC Books, pp. 11. This source gives details on the extension to Ogden.

Primary Sources

Glenbow Archives photographs NA-2399-111 which shows the bridge in use after the removal of the street railway tracks.

City of Calgary Corporate Records

Bylaws
City of Calgary Corporate Records, By-law 1095 dated September 26, 1910 which provided for the raising of $484,000 for the expansion of the street railway including the construction of bridges across the Elbow River at 12 Avenue East and 2nd Street East.
Agreements and plans
Agreement 245 dated March 1911 between the City of Calgary and the Algoma Steel Bridge Company to supply steel superstructure for bridge across the Elbow at 12th Avenue and across the Elbow at 2nd Street East. Includes plan of superstructure and substructure
Agreement 246 dated March 1911 between the City of Calgary and Frank Fehrenback to build substructure for bridge at 12th Avenue across the Elbow and across the Elbow at 2nd Street East. Includes plan of superstructure and substructure

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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