Rebuilding of the Prince of Wales bridge in 1926-27

Earlier this year a number of us speculated at how the Prince of Wales bridge was rebuilt to carry heavier locomotives in 1926-27.  The following two extracts from the Ottawa Journal should help explain the process:

6 November 1926:

Extensive alterations being made by the CPR to the Prince of Wales bridge will improve passenger service greatly at that point. On August 1 the work of removing the old steel and replacing it with heavier steel was begun. It is now well under way, but so extensive is the work that it will not be completed before March 1927.

When the work is completed the bridge will be available to heavy traffic and the transfer engine will be withdrawn. Despite the alterations, traffic is kept moving across he bridge with little delay.

The Dominion Bridge Company has the contract.

21 February 1927:

At an expenditure of about $750.000, the new bridge for the Canadian Pacific Railway has been constructed over the Ottawa River in the past eight months, and is now in full service, carrying the heaviest equipment. In that time, the old bridge between Ottawa West and Hull West was taken down span by span, the new and heavier structure replaced it between trains, and in the whole complicated process so exact were the plans and the adjustments that in only four instances were trains delayed. In no case was the delay longer than 20 minutes.

The old Prince of Wales bridge was constructed in 1880. It was adapted to the light equipment of that date, and when modern locomotives were developed the old structure was not sufficiently sturdy to bear their weight with the desired margin of safety. As a result traffic hauled by heavy locomotives running between Union Station and Ottawa West had to be operated by way of Hurdman, a distance of 10 miles rather than by direct route through Hull, over the bridge, which would have saved six miles, and there was a general slowing up of Canadian Pacific traffic in the terminal area.

Work on the new bridge was commenced last July. It uses the piers of the old bridge and follows the same route, but it is of heavier construction throughout and will bear the weightiest equipment. From the Ottawa shore to Lemieux Island, a distance of 900 feet, there are six spans, and from the island to Hull, 1,250 feet, the structure is divided into seven spans. A single line of tracks is provided and there is no accommodation for motor traffic or pedestrians.

For some days heavy locomotives have been using the bridge, which now is complete except for some minor details.

Bytown Railway Society, Branchline, February 2006.

Home   Articles