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Canadian Pacific Railway Bridge

Canadian Pacific Railway Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 23, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Canadian Pacific) Over Otonabee River
Peterborough: Peterborough 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
1913 By Builder/Contractor: Hamilton Bridge Company of Hamilton, Ontario
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
125.0 Feet (38.1 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

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This relatively long railroad bridge could be thought of as two bridges due to the causeway in the middle. From west to east, the bridge is configured as follows. First, there is a six panel Pratt through truss. This is followed by two through plate girder spans. These spans are simple spans but because they do not have a curved detail at the ends where the two girder spans meet, it has the appearance of a continuous girder. The other ends do have a curved detail. These spans are followed by an earth causeway. Finally, there is another single six panel Pratt through truss. This span appears to have a more recent coat of grey paint than the other spans.

This bridge, built in 1913, was built on the stone piers of a previous bridge that dated to 1882. The current bridge's girder spans appear to be similar in length to the truss spans. When this bridge was constructed, there was an argument about whether there would be a movable span in the structure to permit the passage of boats. In anticipation of this, a "temporary" bridge was erected where the movable span, anticipated to be a swing bridge, was to have been placed, while the remainder of the bridge was constructed as through truss spans, those existing today. It was anticipated that the swing span would be built a year later. The movable span was never erected however. It is assumed that the plate girder spans were erected shortly after it was realized that the movable span was not to be. Advancing bridge technologies may explain why those spans... perhaps only a few years older than the truss spans, utilize a different structure type. Truss bridges were by this time being used for increasingly long spans only.

 Another interesting feature of this bridge is that on the northern side it had a cantilevered sidewalk. Supported by riveted brackets, this sidewalk was added in 1916, shortly after the bridge was built.

Until recently, this bridge's sidewalk was open to the public, allowing pedestrians an easy and safe way to enjoy this beautiful in-use heritage railway bridge. However, the sidewalk, which was a popular crossing for local residents, was closed in November 2011 due to deterioration. Some sections of the sidewalk deck were later removed. Now, it appears this sidewalk will be completely removed, and a new structurally independent pedestrian bridge will be built, although it will apparently use some of the railway bridge substructure. It is hoped that this new structure will not be visually obstructive to the appearance of the heritage railway bridge.


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