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Madawaska Railway Bridge

Madawaska Railway Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Ian Graham

Bridge Documented: September 21, 2017

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Rail-Trail) Over Madawaska River
Madawaska: Nipissing District, Ontario: Canada
Structure Type
Metal 4 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Pony Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1895 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This is a rare example of a railroad pony truss bridge. It was built for the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway, which reached the community in 1894. The rail line was abandoned on December 18th 1983, and a rail trail established in 1986. This appears to be the only pony truss in this township, and also the only pony truss built by this railway. The bridge previously had timber trestle approaches, which in 2009 were deemed unsafe and resulted in the bridge being closed to traffic. Around 2011, these approaches were replaced by a small causeway on the west side of the bridge and two steel stringer approaches with wood decks.

This bridge was originally constructed on masonry abutments at a lower elevation than it is today. Bark Lake, which is where the Madawaska flows into, is actually an artificial lake for hydroelectric storage. The creation of Bark Lake, which caused the rerouting of Highway 60 in order avoid the flooded area, (known as the Bark Lake Diversion) in 1942 saw the construction of two new highway bridges over the Madawaska and Opeongo River. This diversion resulted in cases where the water level on the river would be higher at time, although the water level in the late fall are brought down in the winter to prevent flooding. It was at this time that the railway bridge also had to be moved onto a new, higher, timber substructure and approach span system to accomodate the higher water levels.

Thanks to Ian Graham for researching the history of this bridge. Historical photos shown below (Source: Aubrey Mattingly Transportation Collection, Ingenium Digital Archives) were determined to show the relocation of the railway bridge during this ca. 1942 period. In the last photo below, the other bridge being built in the background is believed to be a nearby highway bridge.


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