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Paisley Railway Bridge

Paisley Railway Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Luke Gordon

Bridge Documented: March 13, 2011

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Rail-Trail) Over Teeswater River
Paisley: Bruce County, Ontario: Canada
Structure Type
Metal 10 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1926 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
607.0 Feet (185 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View The Original Patent For Phoenix Columns

View A Phoenix Column Diagram From A Phoenix Bridge Company Brochure

Railway service came to Paisley in 1872, and at that time a bridge was provided. Since that time, the bridge was reconstructed many times. However it appears that perhaps the bridge was never completely demolished and replaced, and instead was replaced in a piecemeal fashion over the years. The main concrete piers for the bridge appear to have 1926 cast into them, and since the main deck truss span rests on this it would seem the truss dates to 1926. More piers and spans were replaced in 1947.

The most significant aspect of this bridge is not the bridge seen today, but the remnants of the previous bridge. While snow made it impossible for HistoricBridges.org to document them, this website has a photo that clearly shows the bents from the previous bridge. They are wrought iron Phoenix columns, one of the rarest and most unusual built-up beams in existence. Patented and manufactured by the Phoenix Bridge Company and their associated Phoenix Iron Works, both based in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, these beams are today extremely rare in the United States and nearly unheard of in Canada with perhaps only two or three bridges remaining in the country with Phoenix columns. Phoenix columns are extremely significant from a historical standpoint because they are a record of one of the many propriety beam and column designs that different companies came up with as they experimented with this relatively new building material called wrought iron. The Phoenix columns under this bridge are abandoned under the bridge and forgotten, and the majority of them appear to be buried in dirt. They could be excavated out of the ground and restored and relocated someplace where more people could see and learn about them. They would not be out of place in a museum. Alternatively, they perhaps could somehow be preserved in place in a manner that protects them from deterioration. Interpretive signage should be installed on the site to inform visitors of the significance of the Phoenix Columns.

Perhaps just under a kilometer west of this bridge there is another high level railroad bridge that crosses the smaller Willow Creek. Time and weather did not permit HistoricBridges.org to visit the bridge, but it is a deck plate girder bridge (no truss spans). Its coordinates are 44.30309 -81.28462 and photos can be found on this website.

A historical photo of the Phoenix Column bridge can be seen here and another view is here.

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Phoenix Columns


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