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Brantford Railway Truss Bridge

Brantford Railway Truss Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: December 23, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Rail-Trail) Over Grand River
Brantford: Brant County, Ontario: Canada
Structure Type
Metal 6 Panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Through Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
120.0 Feet (36.6 Meters)
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
2 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge is an impressive railroad bridge that has two through truss spans in the center and one through plate girder at each end. While this arrangement of having the smaller girder approach spans at the end of the bridge and the two larger spans in the center to get across main part of the river was a functional decision on the part of the bridge's designers, it also creates a visually pleasing appearance that is symmetrical and features the largest spans in the center.

Looking closely at the truss spans reveals that this bridge has a story to tell. The two truss spans are not identical. The portal bracing for the western truss span is an elaborate, partially pedimented design that is quite attractive and unusual as well. The eastern truss span in contrast has a more simple a-frame shaped bracing composed of plate that is similar to other railway truss bridges found in Ontario. Another subtle difference between the two span is that the cover plate at the base on the end post for the western span ends in a curved detail, while the cover plate for the eastern span lacks the curved end. A minor detail, but it is further evidence that the two spans are not identical. Usually when one span on a bridge does not match the other bridges it indicates that one or more spans of the bridge were destroyed (perhaps by flood or derailment) and that the destroyed spans were replaced using the standards of the period, which often were different from when the bridge was originally built. As a result, usually the new replacement spans are more massive and heavy-duty than the surviving original spans. However, aside from the minor differences between the two spans noted, this is not the case here. Instead, the two spans are nearly identical. Assuming that the traditional assumption that one of the spans is not original, this suggests that the span was destroyed not long after the bridge was built, thus there are few differences in the design, or the replacement span was built following the original bridge plans closely with only a few changes, which would be somewhat unusual.

There also is an unusual detail shared by both spans. A number of the truss members have rolled angle in them whose outside edge ends in a ribbed detail. These unusual types of angles were called "bulb angles" and were often listed as materials for shipbuilding. It is unclear why shipbuilding steel was used for this bridge's members.

This former railway bridge has been converted for use by pedestrians. The heritage value of the bridge as well as the unique geometric complexity that only a riveted truss bridge can provide make this bridge a centerpiece for the city's trail system.


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