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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 25, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta fAGE 14- LETHBRIDGE'S FAMED HIGH-LEVEL BRIDGE FRAMES TRAIL RIDERS Longest Structure Of Its Kind Towering Trestles Span Oldman River BY JIM WILSON Herald Staff Writer Locally it's called the "high level but to many people from outside of southern Alberta, it's "the Leth after which the city must surely be named. Towering 307 feet above the Oldman River and above Indian Battle Park the Ca- nadian Pacific Railroad bridge is the highest, longest and most fascinating bridge of its type in Hie world. At one mile and 47 feet long, it is also the longest railway trestle, and the city's most- memorable landmark. The bridge was built over several years, completed fi- nally in 1909. Prior to its con- struction trains still crossed river, but on low level wooden bridges that were con- stantly being washed away or simply collapsing. Timbers split under heavy loads and during hot dry peri- ods, cinders from the smoke stacks of the coal-burning en- gines turned the wooden bridges into eollosal fire traps. With the locally-booming coal mining industry as a prod, and the fact that the CPU's rail line was becoming increasingly important as a transportation and freight business, the idea of a high-level bridge spanning the river from one high bluff to another was developed. At first the bridge was planned to include a highway traffic bridge, to be suspended under the rail bridge, but the idea was soon dropped and by November of 1906, full-scale planning was underway. A major reason the bridge did not include a highway crossing was the extra time it would take in design and in- creased difficulty in obtaining financing from the year-old Al- berta government. Under the direction of three railway engineers, F. St. Glair Farren, J. R. C. Macardie and J. E. Schwitzcr, and Superin- tendent Prettie of John Gunn and Sons of Winnipeg, 400 men were working on the bridge by June, Stables and camps were es- tablished at the site, and a well was dug from wliich water was pumped to the top of the hill on the city side for cement mixing. A total of cubic yards of stone, plus sand and cement were used to form the concrete footings for the bridge's 33 steel support towers. The towers, and the immense girders that carry the railway deck, are what awe the sight- seer, as they seem to grow from nowhere in a flat, prairie- like design. The steel in the bridge weighs tons, and 845 CPK flatcars were needed to bring all the pieces from the Canadian Bridge Comp any plant in Walkerville, Ontario, to the construction site. The steel work was designed, cast and constructed with such precision that not one piece is as much as a quarter-inch out of alignment. The horizontal deck girders alternate between lengths of 67 feet, one inch and 100 feet, with the exception of one long span of 169 feet. All are eight feet thick. The legs for the towers came in 50-foot lengths and each weighed more than five tons. How was it done? How did the bridge eventually become suspended clear across the Old- man River valley? Two travelling moving cranes were used to place tile steel, tlie first weighing only pounds and the second almost three times the size. The "small" traveller was used to place the first three sections of the bridge, and it moved along a wooden false- work to place the steel. After the bridge was started, the larger machine was used. It took a month to build it and it cost more than It stood 600 feet high and with its 108-foot boom slicking out ahead of it had a total length of 189 feet. It rolled along the girders, not the rails, so new steel could be fed to it from cars moving along the railway deck below it. The main boom was able to lift SO tons, and to balance the whole machine whan il was fully-extended with this weight, workmen placed 56 Ions of steel rail on the traveller's body. Tte bridge is still in regular service, and while it might be a bit crinkly in a few spots, CPU engineers say it is still perfectly safe. Indian Battle Park, below the bridge, was named to com- memorate the last Indian bat- tles in the Letlibridge dislrict more than 100 years ago. The actual site of most In- dian skirmishes was across the river from the park, but its eastern location is convenient to the city. The park offers a wide range of picnic facilities, trails, lawn and trees. It includes recreation areas such as horseshoes, swings, an archery range and others. A major attraction in Indian Battle Park since 1967 is tho Kinsmen Club's Fort Whoop- Up, the club's Canadian cen- tennial project. The replica of the or- iginal 1869 whisky-traders fort is open to the public throughout the summer. NORTH LETKBRIDGE HOYT'S 324 13th Street North Phone 328-4441 Extends A Warm, Friendly WELCOME To All VISITORS! When in Lethbridge Be sure to see our selection of Fine English Bone China Gifts and Souvenirs OUR DISPLAYS ARE TRULY INSPIRING TO COLLECTORS AND HOSTESSES ALIKE! ROYAL ALBERT FULL LEADED SHELLY CRYSTAL ROYAL ADDERLY JOHNSON BROS. NORTH LETHBRIDGE HOYT'S 324.13th. Street. N. Phone 328-4441 ;