History of Victoria Bridge 1860

The Eighth Wonder of the World

Construction Time-line

 

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The Victoria Tubular Bridge was built from 1853 to 1859 and officiallyopened in 1860 by Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the 18 year old Prince of Wales

“The Eighth Wonder of the World”

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The longest bridge in the word at the time, approx. 3 kms long!
With 24 stone piers, it had more stone than the pyramids.
Special arrow-headed stone piers broke up winter ice.
144 horses and 3,040 men worked on the bridge, per year.
1,540,000 rivets for 9,004 tons of iron plates for tubes are prefabricated in England and sent out on time to by steamboat.
4 locomotive engines, steam travellers and special moving cranes were invented.
6 steamboats carried stone, iron and 2 1/4 cubic feet of timber over water 6.5 meters deep running at 12 km/hr!

Twenty five wrought iron tubular spans rested on twenty four arrow shaped limestone piers, the longest bridge in the world up to that time.

The Grand Trunk Railway was the longest railway in the world at that time.

 

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The first train passed over the single track bridge December 17, 1859

Construction Time-line

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1890’s The single track bridge proved inadequate. The old iron tubes were removed and replaced by steel trusses in the late 1890’s. The Bridge was closed for only one day in 1897 for the new double track system to operate. It was officially renamed the “Victoria Jubilee Bridge” in in 1901 for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

1900’s An electric railway was added to the north side in 1909, and ran until 1955. The southern side was widened for automobiles in 1927. As a result, the Bridge became a 4-lane multi-purpose structure.

1950’s In the 1950’s, the last major evolution of the superstructure occurred. The St. Lawrence River had risen considerably because the Seaway narrowed the channel. However, the stone piers remained the same from the 1850’s but are not nearly so spectacular because of the deeper water. The narrowed River no longer froze because the Seaway and the Champlain Bridge increased the flow.

In 1959, a double approach route, each with its own lift, was added to accommodate the lock of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The Victoria Tubular Bridge shown below, crossed the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, a vital link in the Grand Trunk Railway system (now the Canadian National Railway). It joined Sarnia, Toronto, Kingston, and Montreal to the ice-free port at Portland Maine.

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The steel link from Ontario and Quebec in the 1850’s to a year round port brought an enormous stimulous to manufacturing industries. Factories could now import and export goods all year without regard to the freeze up of the St. Lawrence. Factory chimneys can be seen in the far centre left of the above print.

Yet as the print shows, the river continued to carry goods such as timber to market. Politically, the bridge linked Upper Canada to Lower Canada and helped Confederation in 1867—the Maritime Provinces wanted to join up with the Grand Trunk Railway system. Canada is unusual, in that railways were mentioned in the British North America Act, the name given to the process of political union of all the British colonies from 1867 on wards.

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