The Burlington Canal Bridges

scotto

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I have been asked about the many bridges that have spanned the Burlington Canal since it was first cut through the Beach Strip back in 1826.



Some early history from author Bill Manson
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With the completion of the Burlington Canal in 1826, a wooden bridge was constructed to allow the passage of land traffic across the new waterway. However, this bridge sustained heavy storm-damage and was torn down. It was replaced by a swing bridge in 1830. Unfortunately this bridge too came down when struck by a schooner. For decades after the accident, a wooden scow, pulled by heavy chains, was used to transport people, animals, and goods across the canal.


Many descriptions of the early canal suggest that there was a moveable bridge, but it didn't last long and those who wanted passage to other side of the canal had to pay a fee to use the wooden scow and at times it was impractical due to the weather. In the winter many just walked across the frozen canal, a line was strung across for some safety, keep in mind that the canal was not wide as it is today.

Edit; Another good description of the early wooden bridge can be viewed in this thread;
http://hamiltonbeachcommunity.com/forum/threads/from-outlet-to-canal.2229/#post-10881 (The First Ferry Across Burlington Canal; The Swing Bridge And The Old Ship Inn)


The Swing Bridges

With the spread of the railway through out the Hamilton area, a more cost effective route was look at, the trip through the Beach Strip saved considerable time and money, so it was the railway that brought the first heavy moveable structure to the Beach.

From Charles Cooper's Hamilton's Other Railway
____________________________________________
At the canal, the new through-truss swingbridge was swung (by hand) for the first time on January 10, 1877. The 375 foot long riveted, wrought-iron superstructure was constructed for the H&NW by the Hamilton Tool Works at a reported cost of $23,000. The Hamilton Times proudly noted that "the construction of this bridge in Canada has circulated over $12,000 amongst the working population of the country", and added reassuringly that "the bridge will be eventually worked by an engine of 20 horse power which has been manufactured by Mr. Northey of this city". Five days later, the first engine tested the bridge by crossing and re-crossing it at different speeds, and making stops at random. Evidently all went well, and regular service across the bridge began the following month.
A couple pictures of the first railway Swing Bridge.

A T Brown.jpg

A of O, A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 5, courtesy Charles Cooper

HNW swing bridge Burlington AO.jpg

A of O , A T Brown Coll C302 3 0 21 1, courtesy Charles Cooper.



__________________________________________

The original wrought-iron steam-powered railway swingbridge was replaced in 1902-03 by a new bridge with steel truss spans and a raised control cab. The new bridge, to be swung by electric power, was built on the site of the old one. "During the construction of the new steel bridge over the canal at Burlington, passenger and freight traffic between Hamilton and Burlington, via the Beach, has been suspended, the service being operated via Waterdown and Burlington Junction" (The Railway and Shipping World, June 1902). The new bridge was opened for traffic in the summer of 1903. Until 1930, only one of the railway swingbridge's two spans actually crossed the Canal, the other being a balancing span.

In 1896 the Dominion government began work on a highway swingbridge to connect the new road along the west side of the beach strip. This bridge had wooden sidewalks and a narrow lane for vehicles.When the Hamilton-Burlington radial electric railway (the HRER) reached the Canal in 1896, it negotiated the right to use it in exchange for providing the motor and the power to operate it. This swingbridge had a south-side pedestal, and it was asymmetrical because of the need to clear the lighthouse immediately to the east.


This road/radial swingbridge was replaced in 1921-22 by a single leaf bascule bridge, also based on the south (Hamilton) side. During its construction, the radial cars were diverted over the GTR track, and only pedestrian traffic was permitted across (which played havoc with the daily milk and bread deliveries of the day).
In 1930-31, the Canal underwent its final widening to 300 ft, at which time the railway swingbridge was relocated diagonally 52 ft to the southeast, with its pedestal on an artificial island between the channels. At the same time, another bascule leaf was built on the north side of the channel to complement the existing road bascule bridge. (The radial rails remained on the southerly bascule leaf until 1946, when their removal caused a balance problem that required the removal of three and a half tons of ballast concrete.)
On April 28, 1952, the north leaf of the road bascule bridge was damaged beyond repair when the laker W.E. Fitzgerald collided with it. It was never rebuilt, and a temporary bridge was installed to meet the south bascule. In 1962 the railway and the road were accommodated by means of a combination liftbridge, with the track now back on the alignment of the original railway swingbridge. At that time, the 1902-03 railway swingbridge, the 1952 temporary north side road bridge, the 1922 bascule leaf bridge, and the centre island in the channel were demolished.




HNW and radial swing bridges 1900 AO A T Brown Collection.jpg

A of O, A T Brown Collection C302 3 0 21 3, courtesy Charles Cooper.

Radial1.jpg

A of O, A T Brown Collection C302 3 0 21 2, courtesy Charles Cooper.

GTR and radial swing bridges ca 1903 AO A T Brown Coll.jpg

A of O, A T Brown Collection C302 3 0 21 4, courtesy Charles Cooper.

GTR Swing bridge Burlington Beach.jpg

Courtesy Charles Cooper.


I don't recall a credit on this photo, but the photographer is Gary Clifford.


Hamilton Public Library.

Burlington Canal 1952 Spectator.jpg

Courtesy Charles Cooper.

From Public Works Government Services Canada (PWGSC)
The present (lift) bridge first carried two lanes of vehicular traffic across the canal and was opened to traffic in 1962.
The railway was removed in 1982, and the road then widened to a total of four lanes. The bridge is a tower drive type, vertical lift movable bridge.
The lift span is 116 meters long, 19.8 meters wide, weighs 1995.8 tonnes, and has a vertical lift of 33.5 meters. A system of machinery, sheaves and wire ropes originating at the towers is used to move the lift span. There is one 150 hp drive motor in each of the two towers to power the machinery and one 150 hp synchro-tie motor in each tower to synchronize the drive motors at each end of the span. The bridge is an important link between the cities of Hamilton and Burlington and is a vehicular alternate to the Burlington Skyway. It operates for ships from roughly mid-March to the end of December each year and provides shipping access between Hamilton Harbour and Lake Ontario.
The bridge was built between 1958 and 1962 and has been managed, operated and maintained by the department (PWGSC) since 1962.

IMG_4350.JPG
 
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David O'Reilly

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Scott,
"With the completion of the Burlington Canal in 1826, a wooden bridge was constructed to allow the passage of land traffic across the new waterway. However, this bridge sustained heavy storm-damage and was torn down. It was replaced by a swing bridge in 1830. Unfortunately this bridge too came down when struck by a schooner."

The 1827 Burlington Canal plans called for a swing bridge, but this obviously wasn't followed through on.

1827 - Burlington Beach, July 27, 1827.
Work to be done to complete the Burlington Bay Canal,

18 Oak Piles, to put beneath the south abutment of the bridge.... 114 Oak Piles, for abutment of bridge north side; to repair breaches in north pier, in the Lake and the Bay, and to repair head of breakwater.... One swivel bridge, complete.
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1827

1848 - "Citizens of the district, feeling the need of a swing bridge over the Burlington Canal, had submitted a petition to the Dept. of Public Works in Montreal. The request was refused on the grounds that "abutments" would have to be built and these would impede navigation and the flow of the current through the canals causing the deposit of sediments. There must have been a political reason for this, and the Hamilton Spectator pointed its inky finger at
"that eminent engineer, Mr. Killaly."
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1848

Scott,
"For decades after the accident, a wooden scow, pulled by heavy chains, was used to transport people, animals, and goods across the canal."

Scott do you have a date for when the first canal ferry started? This page seems to imply about the 1850's.

""Since the Beach has become a place of public resort, the provision made by the Government for crossing the Burlington Canal by ferry, has become inadequate. The ferry was established over 20 years ago, when travel across the Beach was exceedingly limited and the ferryman's job was almost a sinecure. The Government regulations required the ferry to be at the free command of travellers from sunrise to sunset, but this is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the present day. It is true the ferryman, Mr. Joyce, does not refuse to take travellers over at earlier or later hours than those prescribed, but his labours are too great for one man to perform. It is stated that the average number of teams crossing in the summer is about 50 per day. For this work, Mr. Joyce receives $240.00 a year or 66 cents per day. It is true he has nothing to do during the winter, when the Bay is frozen over, but for five or six months in the year, his labour is enormous, nor can complaint be justly made because when called upon to ferry people after hours, he occasionally accepts a fee for this extra work. There can be no doubt that new regulations are necessary and it seems that the case need only be properly presented to the Government to induce it to comply with the demands of the public for increased facilities."
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1877

Scott,
"At the canal, the new through-truss swingbridge was swung (by hand) for the first time on January 10, 1877. The 375 foot long riveted, wrought-iron superstructure was constructed for the H&NW by the Hamilton Tool Works at a reported cost of $23,000. the bridge will be eventually worked by an engine of 20 horse power which has been manufactured by Mr. Northey of this city""

Scott was the H&NW bridge ever operated by an engine? This Hamilton Harbour page doesn't indicate that it was.

1876 - "A news item on the 21 October stated that the swing bridge over the Burlington Canal would be placed in position in a few days. The bridge was being built by the Hamilton Bridge & Tool Company, which had been established in 1863 on Barton Street at Caroline. The line to Georgetown was to be completed by the 1 December, but this date was not met. The bridge was not completed before the 21 December." http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1876

And this page from the same site on the 1891 train derailment where a freight train plunged into the Burlington Canal, seems to imply that the bridge was being operated by hand.

1891 - "On the afternoon of Sunday, 30 August, a train of 23 cars of coal left Fort Erie for Toronto, in charge of a conductor by the name of Campbell.... They carried on along the Beach, now on the rails of the former Hamilton & North Western, at speed of 15 or 20 miles an hour. Most swing bridges at that time had two warning lights, d1stant and near. but the Burlington Canal bridge had but one. Hall passed, the light at 15 mph, then saw the switch near the Ocean House. ... The bridge was in the process of being closed, since (the crew) were aware that an extra was due. The engine lurched over the bridge abutment and plunged into the canal, with a roar of steam."

I can only assume that the word 'crew' means that the bridge was being manually operated. Otherwise, 'a switch' would have only been needed.

http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1891

note, the Hamilton and North Western RR was purchased by the Grand Trunk RR in 1888.

Scott,
"In 1896 the Dominion government began work on a highway swingbridge to connect the new road along the west side of the beach strip. This bridge had wooden sidewalks and a narrow lane for vehicles. When the Hamilton-Burlington radial electric railway (the HRER) reached the Canal in 1896, it negotiated the right to use it in exchange for providing the motor and the power to operate it."

Here's a bit more information on the road bobtailed swing bridge.

1895 - "On the 28 August, plans of the new bob-tailed swing bridge were exhibited. The cost was estimated to be $40,000. ... Major Gray, of the Dept. of Public Works, visited the Beach on the same day and decided upon the location for the new bridge. It was to be just west of the . ferry landing and Mr. Webb, the contractor, had been instructed to begin work immediately. It was hoped to have the bridge completed before the opening of navigation in 1896. ... Plans for the new swing bridge were received at the Customs House by the 17 September and tenders were to be submitted by the 15 October. The bridge was to have an over-all length of 260 feet with the turntable on the south side of the canal. The counter-weighted end, 100 ft., would extend south to an approach. When opened, the span would come to rest over the south pier, immediately in front of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club house. The structure was to be of steel and would be swung by hand. ... A government dredge and scow were working on the new bridge site and a 20 foot deep (cofferdam) was being built.
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1895

Cofferdam

"is a temporary enclosure built within, or in pairs across, a body of water and constructed to allow the enclosed area to be pumped out, creating a dry work environment for the major work to proceed. Enclosed coffers are commonly used for construction and repair of oil platforms, bridge piers and other support structures built within or over water. These cofferdams are usually welded steel structures, with components consisting of sheet piles, wales, and cross braces. Such structures are typically dismantled after the ultimate work is completed."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cofferdam

Scott do you know if 'cofferdams were also used in the construction of the Hamilton and North Western Railroad's 1877 swing bridge, or the Canadian National railroad's 1930 swing bridge?

1896 - "On Saturday, 3 August, the Dominion Bridge Co. decided to try out the new swing bridge. It was swung, but 14 men were required to carry out this simple operation! The report stated that some adjustments were needed. Obviously. Also, the deck was not complete. It was further mentioned that the bridge would be electrically worked as soon as the Hamilton Radial Railway reached the Canal. Further north along the Beach, Messrs. Goldie & McCullough had built the three furnaces for the boilers in the Railway Power House and had erected the two engines, except for mounting the flywheels. The coal bins were being filled."
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1896#p16.96.49
 

scotto

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Scott,
"For decades after the accident, a wooden scow, pulled by heavy chains, was used to transport people, animals, and goods across the canal."

Scott do you have a date for when the first canal ferry started? This page seems to imply about the 1850's.
Not an exact date at present, but according to the book "The Sand Strip";
A small swing bridge was installed, and was opened on October 2, 1830. The bridge was light and could be swung by one man. However, it had not been in operation long when one of the larger sailing vessels crashed into it. damaging it badly.
After that, a scow was used to ferry vehicles, passengers and farm animals across.


Photo; the Hamilton Public Library.
Scott,
"At the canal, the new through-truss swingbridge was swung (by hand) for the first time on January 10, 1877. The 375 foot long riveted, wrought-iron superstructure was constructed for the H&NW by the Hamilton Tool Works at a reported cost of $23,000. the bridge will be eventually worked by an engine of 20 horse power which has been manufactured by Mr. Northey of this city""

Scott was the H&NW bridge ever operated by an engine? This Hamilton Harbour page doesn't indicate that it was.
The third picture donated by Mr. Cooper shows exhaust coming from the control building located at the middle of the span. Could be a heat source for the tender or engines working.
Scott do you know if cofferdams were also used in the construction of the Hamilton and North Western Railroad's 1877 swing bridge, or the Canadian National railroad's 1930 swing bridge?
I don't see how they could have done the construction without them, I have read that cofferdams were not permitted in the channel due to the constant silting, these would of been built very close or right on the pier locations. Showing that all the swing bridges had half of their structure over dry land, except for the Radial Rail Bridge which was as Mr. Cooper describes, asymmetrical. The Maritime Site uses the description of bobtailed bridge, one side had to be shorter because the lighthouse was in the way.
 

scotto

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scotto

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Just some additional information, back in 2005 all the topsoil was replaced around the north end of the Lift Bridge, work crews unearthed the remains of the railway swing bridge north base.
A couple of pictures


 
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#8
Great work!!! A tremendous review of the history of the bridges and rail connections. A couple of great shots of the old Lakeside Hotel where I used to deliver one copy of the Globe and Mail when I was a kid.
 

scotto

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Great work!!! A tremendous review of the history of the bridges and rail connections. A couple of great shots of the old Lakeside Hotel where I used to deliver one copy of the Globe and Mail when I was a kid.
Thanks Crawfish, but the credit goes to authors of the books of which I plagiarized their work, with permission of course.
Thanks to Bill Manson, Gary Evans and once again to Charles Cooper.
Too bad you didn't have a camera when you were a kid.

______________________________________________________

Two more pictures from 1983 when the railway was removed and the roadway on the Lift Bridge span was widened to four lanes.


N. Hall collection


A couple before pictures, dated September 1982;


Courtesy Mira Neil

Courtesy Mira Neil
 
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David O'Reilly

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Scott
"This road/radial swingbridge was replaced in 1921-22 by a single leaf bascule bridge, also based on the south (Hamilton) side. During its construction, the radial cars were diverted over the GTR track, and only pedestrian traffic was permitted across (which played havoc with the daily milk and bread deliveries of the day)."

The caption for the picture of the construction of the 1921 bascule bridge on Tom Luton's Hamilton Radial Electric Railroad (HRER) page indicates that this wasn't the case, That the lline was cut in two.
on the tracks of the HRER is part of the construction of the new bascule bridge. The HRER has been split in two, with service from Hamilton to the south side of the canal, and from Oakville to the north side of the canal. The large building is the Lakeside hotel, south of the canal."
http://hamiltontransithistory.alotspace.com/HRER.html
 

David O'Reilly

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#12
1899 - "Trouble had been experienced on the swing bridge at the Canal and on the 22 August, it was out of service. The Hamilton Radial Electric Ry. arranged for the steam launch MAPLE LEAF to ferry its passengers across the Canal."
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1899

Scott, do you know if the steam launch MAPLE LIEF docked at the ferry slips formerly used by the canal ferry?

And do you know why in 1921 when the bascule bridge was being constructed, the Department of Public Works didn't use a similar launch to transport passengers across the canal?
 

scotto

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1899 – “Trouble had been experienced on the swing bridge at the Canal and on the 22 August, it was out of service. The Hamilton Radial Electric Ry. arranged for the steam launch MAPLE LEAF to ferry its passengers across the Canal.”
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1899

Scott, do you know if the steam launch MAPLE LIEF docked at the ferry slips formerly used by the canal ferry?

And do you know why in 1921 when the bascule bridge was being constructed, the Department of Public Works didn’t use a similar launch to transport passengers across the canal?
Sorry David;
That would be past my history knowledge.
 

David O'Reilly

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#15
"This road/radial swingbridge was replaced in 1921-22 by a single leaf bascule bridge, also based on the south (Hamilton) side." ... "In 1930-31, the Canal underwent its final widening to 300 ft, at which time the railway swingbridge was relocated diagonally 52 ft to the southeast, with its pedestal on an artificial island between the channels. At the same time, another bascule leaf was built on the north side of the channel to complement the existing road bascule bridge. (The radial rails remained on the southerly bascule leaf until 1946, when their removal caused a balance problem that required the removal of three and a half tons of ballast concrete.)"

The Hamilton Radial Electric Railroad (HRER) seased operating in 1929. Accordingly no rails were laid on the north bascule bridge.

There are four different types of bascule bridges.

• Scherzer rolling lift bascule bridge
• Rall bascule bridge,
• Strauss bascule bridge,
Chicago or fixed-trunnion bascule bridge.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bascule_bridge#Types

I wonder if the news papers of the day(s) would have indicated which types(s) were used.
 

scotto

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The Burlington bascule bridges were the Strauss bascule type, the owner of the present lift bridge (PWGSC) also operate a Strauss Bascule bridge in Kingston, Ont.

Hamilton Public Library

Bascule 9.jpg
 

David O'Reilly

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#17
Scott,
“The Swing Bridges

With the spread of the railway through out the Hamilton area, a more cost effective route was look at, the trip through the Beach Strip saved considerable time and money, so it was the railway that brought the first heavy moveable structure to the Beach.”

Scott, is this information from Charles Cooper’s book, or your own speculation? If the latter, I think it is probably wrong since the Hamilton and North Western Railroad had wanted to build around the harbor.

1876 – “Much discussion took place in the press in 1876 regarding the construction of the Hamilton & North Western Ry., with which was merged, the Hamilton & Lake Erie. The difficulties of obtaining a right-of-way through Hamilton and around the west end of the Bay appeared insurmountable and so the company had decided upon a route across Burlington Beach and then, northward through Georgetown and Beeton to Barrie.”
http://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/Brookes/default.asp?ID=Y1876

and as I quoted from the Hamilton Harbour page in an erlyer post, the cost of building the swingbridge was about $22,000. I’m sure this was considerably more than the cost of building around the harbor.
 

scotto

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The quickest route to Toronto is through the Beach Strip, that is why the QEW was built there. And yes that paragraph was summarized from Mr. Cooper's books.

Scott,
and as I quoted from the Hamilton Harbour page in an erlyer post, the cost of building the swingbridge was about $22,000. I'm sure this was considerably more than the cost of building around the harbor.
There are still many rivers, creeks, inlets, land that is privately owned and other obstacles to contend with when building around the harbor, then there is time lost to the travel around it. A swing bridge would of been cheap in comparison. Mr. Cooper has a good story on the silk trains and route they took.
 

David O'Reilly

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#19
Scott,
“At the canal, the new through-truss swingbridge was swung (by hand) for the first time on January 10, 1877. The 375 foot long riveted, wrought-iron superstructure was constructed for the H&NW by the Hamilton Tool Works at a reported cost of $23,000.”

“The exact origins of the Hamilton Bridge Works (H.B.W.) are not clear. Some references state that the Hamilton Tool Works (H.T.W.; a precursor to H.B.W.) or a similar company was founded in 1863 by William Hendrie (Sr.). Other references claim that H.T.W. was founded in 1872 and that Hendrie was only associated with the company as a president, not as a founder. According to Hamilton, Ontario city directories, no "Hamilton Tool Works" or bridge-making company existed from 1863-1871, and the lot where the company later stood was vacant. William Hendrie was listed as the proprietor of Hendrie & Company, a cartage and railway agent.”
http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/205/301/ic/cdc/industrial/bridgeworks.htm

Scott,
“The original wrought-iron steam-powered railway swingbridge was replaced in 1902-03 by a new bridge with steel truss spans and a raised control cab. The new bridge, to be swung by electric power, was built on the site of the old one. "During the construction of the new steel bridge over the canal at Burlington, passenger and freight traffic between Hamilton and Burlington, via the Beach, has been suspended, the service being operated via Waterdown and Burlington”

By this time the Hamilton and North Western Railroad had been purchased by the Grand Trunk Railroad. The acquisision having taken place in 1888.
http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/205/301/ic/cdc/industrial/hamiltonnw.htm
 

David O'Reilly

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#20
Here is a news paper article from the Hamilton Weekly Times June 8, 1876 on the Hamilton and North Western Railroad’s application to build a swing bridge over the Burlington Canal. Interestingly, it is the H&NW that wanted to build the bridge over the canal, and the city wanted the tracks to go around the harbour. Whereas, the information I quoted from the Hamilton Harbour page in an earlier post, presented things to the contrary.

http://1876inhamilton.blogspot.ca/2012/06/june-8-1876.html
 
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