Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One of the World's Great Wonders (at one time)

The Victoria Bridge ,once considered as one of the wonders of the world,.....Imagine the great things they thought when this idea to span the mighty StLawence River with a train bridge ,no-less.......  and in it's day it truly was an engineering marvel.

Victoria Bridge



At the time it was built, the Victoria Bridge ranked as one of the most daring structures of its day. Originally designed for rail traffic, it confounded all the skeptics … and there were many of them in 1850 who doubted that a structure this size could be successfully built. However, necessity is the mother of invention: the coming of the railway and Montreal's position as the Canadian trading hub made it imperative to build a railway bridge across the St. Lawrence River. Whatever the cost, this city surrounded by water had to be linked to the vast U.S. market. The Grand Trunk Railway launched a gigantic construction project, and the celebrated engineer Robert Stephenson drew up the plans for a tubular structure made of riveted iron plates.

The Montreal public and business community went wild with excitement. During construction, which started in 1854, the Victoria Bridge was already being called “the eighth wonder of the world!” The festivities began while it was still being built, and before it was even officially inaugurated. In one of the most remarkable of these, a banquet, complete with orchestral accompaniment, was held inside the first completed pier, some twenty metres below water level! The bridge was opened to rail traffic on December 12, 1859, but the celebrations reached their peak when the young, nineteen-year-old Prince of Wales laid the last stone on August 25, 1860. For several days straight, the city was filled with balls and demonstrations of pride about the Victoria Bridge, the longest railway bridge in the world and the first to span the St. Lawrence River.

Image : HM_ARC_003726

Victoria Bridge (drawing)

© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_002395

Victoria Bridge engraving

© Division des archives de l'Université de Montréal, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_002296

Workers at the entrance to Victoria Bridge

© Courtesy of Bell Canada Historical Collection, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_003238

Men posing at the entrance of the Victoria Jubilee Bridge

© Transports Québec © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_003729

Victoria Bridge, workers in construction

© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_004239

Entrance to Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1896
Alfred Walter Roper
12 cm x 10 cm
© McCord Museum, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_004240

Central tube, Victoria bridge, Montréal, QC, 1859
William Notman
26 cm x 21 cm
© McCord Museum, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_004241

Interior, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1858
William Notman
7 cm x 7.3 cm
© McCord Museum, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_004149

The Men who contructed the Victoria bridge
© Rare Books and Special Collections Division, McGill University Library, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_002397

Inauguration of Victoria Bridge and fireworks (drawing)

© Division des archives de l'Université de Montréal, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_002398

Ticket for the inauguration of Victoria Bridge
© Division des archives de l'Université de Montréal, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_003237

Distinguished guests at the inauguration of the Victoria Jubilee Bridge

© Transports Québec © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_003670

Victoria Bridge

© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, © Héritage Montréal

Image : HM_ARC_004133

Photograph of the deck of the Victoria bridge


Les F said...

In the mid-19th century, Montreal's location would have lost some of its importance if it had not had a permanent, year-round rail link with the Eastern Seaboard. The Grand Trunk, a British company formed with the support of the Canadian government to connect the Great Lakes with the Atlantic, would achieve the great feat of building the first bridge, a railway one, over the St. Lawrence River.

The Victoria Bridge, built between 1854 and 1859 and inaugurated by the Prince of Wales in 1860, was the crucial piece in the "longest railway in the world owned by a single company," as the shareholders of the time boasted (the other systems consisted of small, independent railways). No less than three miles long, the bridge included 24 ice-breaking piers, for the designers rightly feared damage from ice, which would in fact delay construction work during the first years. The deck was a long structural metal tube made of prefabricated sections (from England) and designed by Robert Stephenson, son of the builder of the famed Rocket locomotive.

In 1897-1898, the metal tube from 1860 was replaced by metal trusses, common at the time. To minimize traffic disruptions, the trusses were assembled around the tube, while the tube continued to carry train traffic. The tube was then demolished.

The stone piers from 1860, slightly altered in 1897, still testify to the excellent original engineering. The Victoria Bridge is a key historic structure, one still used by the Canadian—and North American—rail systems, and remains a major contributor to Montreal's role as a continental hub.


Les F said...

NFB film on the bridge: about 6 minutes ,about half the time it would take for an IBM to reach us,,lol


john allison said...

That IS amazing for sure. I never gave it any thought whatsoever. It just seemed another bridge. Now we know the rest of the story. Once again Les, Thanks......

pauline garneau said...

All the physical labour that went into building that bridge. Working on hot summer days and out in the open water on cold winter days. Determined to get the job done. Great compilation of pictures documents and history of the bridge. Thanks Les

Les F said...

It seems that NFB film only worked earlier, Anyone else having the same problem ?

pauline garneau said...

pauline garneau said...

I tried to embed another film and it just doesn't open. Will try again later. Pauline

Les F said...

Here's the direct link ,if you want to see that 6minute film re: the Victoria Bridge

I don't know why the 'embed' code doean't work, I wonder why they even offer it ,if they don't allow it to work.........hahahaha HF&RV

Rich Michelle said...

it certainly handles a lot of trafic and they used to make the lanes a twoway during busy hours