This is a bridge with a unique history. The earliest documented bridge in this area was located a distance downstream, and was a two span wooden pony truss on pontoons. It was replaced a couple years later by a similar structure, except it was on stone substructure. In 1904-1905 an unknown bridge builder erected a two span pin-connected through truss as a replacement bridge for a cost of $6,800. In 1914 however, the conversion of the river into a navigable waterway required a movable span to accommodate boats. As such, a riveted through truss swing bridge was constructed by the Standard Steel Construction Company, which had facilities in Welland and Port Robinson. Piers were begun in 1915, but due to World War I labor problems, construction did not complete until 1922. One of the 1905 pin-connected through truss spans from the old bridge was relocated using boats to serve as an approach span for this new swing span. The Dominion Bridge Company reportedly provided relocation services for $850.
The swing span was hand-turned until 1962 when it was converted to electric motor.
The photo below shows the 1904-1905 truss bridge as originally built. Visit this page for more info.
Thanks to the Sparrow Lake Historical Society and Ryan Mackulin for providing information on the history of this bridge.
This bridge is unique because its two spans of differing design offer a look at two generations of truss bridge, the pin-connected truss and the rivet-connected truss. The age of the pin-connected truss bridge is evidenced by the fact that its roadway is slightly narrower than the swing span.
Both spans enjoy the heritage value of being extremely rare examples of their types in Ontario. Pin-connected truss bridges are very rare in Ontario, as are through truss swing bridges. The historic integrity of the two truss spans is good, with no major alterations to the original materials and design of the trusses. This only adds to their heritage significance. Crossing a waterway that is a National Historic Site of Canada, these bridges contribute to the heritage value of the waterway as well.
Given its significance, this bridge should be given a high preservation priority. Rehabilitation projects should focus on maintaining the original design and materials of the bridge. While it might seem like heritage bridges over a heritage waterway managed by Parks Canada would automatically be preserved, sadly this is often not the case. Parks Canada has unfortunately demolished and replaced many heritage bridges, sometimes replacing them with modern substitutes that are supposed to look like heritage bridges but usually fail to accomplish this task, and in either case result in the destruction of genuine heritage bridges that would be feasible to rehabilitate if the effort was made. It is hoped that this will not be the fate of this bridge.
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