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  Mintlaw trestle deck 1985 - Pettypiece

Forth Junction Project
Ranking of Significant Western Canada railway bridges (Highest)

 
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28 of Western Canada's
highest railway bridges

 

existing today (both active and abandoned) relative to Alberta railway bridges
and particularly to the Mintlaw viaduct
 major update with additions Apr. 2022

Photo descriptions and credits at bottom of page.
 
Unfortunately, there is no inventory of railway bridges in Canada, making it difficult to accurately determine where the longest or highest active or abandoned bridges are in the country. However, there are some significant bridges in Western Canada of note to compare to those in Alberta. This list is by no means complete so cannot be taken as a comprehensive list of the highest bridges in Western Canada. Many bridges listed in length are not included on this page as height has not yet been established.

Determining bridge height is tricky business as it depends on what you're measuring. At the top end, is it from the top of the rail, the top of the bridge or the roadbed. On the bottom, is it measured from bottom of pier, or, if over a waterway, the average water level or lowest water level, or, if over a ravine, is it to the bottom of the ravine. As a result, records of height of the same bridge can show quite different results. A good example is the original Mountain Creek bridge where records show height somewhere between 136 ft. to 300 ft. or more. So, bridge height ranking indicated in this survey should be seen as relative rather than absolute.

Highest Bridges
Bridges in Alberta highlighted

Lethbridge Viaduct Aug. 2015 - Pettypiece photo1. Lethbridge Viaduct Alberta
- CPR, active, height 96 m (314'), steel trestle
- Built 1908-09 over Oldman River by CPR

- Longest and highest railway bridge in North America (known locally as the High Level Bridge - not to be confused with the High Level Bridge in Edmonton (see below)); longest and highest steel rail trestle in the world; CPR steel trestle 5,331 ft. (1,624 m) long; 314' (95.7 m) high; built 1908-09 over Oldman River on Crowsnest Pass line at cost of $1.3 million using travelling crane built on site; relocated route replaced several wooden trestles including one that was 2,933 ft. (894 m) long, reduced grade and was over 5 miles shorter than original route (built 1898); 33-tower bridge consists of 44-67' spans, 22-99' spans and 1-107' truss span; still in use - approx. 12 trains per day


2. Stoney Creek (Connaught Track) Bridge BC
- CPR, active, height 84 m (275'), steel truss arch bridge 
- Built 1893-94 (strengthened 1929) over Stoney Creek by CPR 
- Length 148 m (486'). Second highest, at 84 m (275') (only Lethbridge Viaduct higher), and most picturesque bridge on CPR located between Revelstoke and Golden on the east slope of the Selkirk Mountains in Glacier National Park near Rogers Pass. Additional truss arches positioned beside the existing 102 m (336') arch strengthened the bridge in 1929. Deck plate girders replaced the original deck lattice girders at the same time in order to handle heavier trains. The bridge replaced the original 1884 timber Howe truss bridge which at the time was the highest timber bridge ever built at approx. 90 m. On a 2.2% grade, the bridge is currently used for mostly lighter eastbound traffic while heavier westbound trains use the newer Stoney Creek (Macdonald Track) bridge built in 1988, 150 m (500') lower in the ravine. Located on the east slope of the Selkirk Mountains on the Mountain subdivision of Revelstoke Division.

3. KVR Trout Creek Trestle near Summerland, BC
- CPR, abandoned 1989, repurposed, height 73 m (240'), steel truss
- Built 1928 by CPR, now operated by Kettle Valley Steam Railway

- Replaced 189 m (619') timber trestle built 1913 by Canadian Pacific on Kettle Valley Railway. Currently 76 m (249') long and 73 (240') high steel truss bridge. Last CPR train 1989. Today the Kettle Valley Steam Railway featuring CPR 2-8-0 Consolidation 3716 shares the bridge with the Trans Canada Trail.

4. Cisco (Siska) CNR Fraser River Bridge south of Lytton, BC
- CNR, active, height 67 m (220'), steel truss and steel arch
- Built 1915 over Fraser River and CPR by CNoR (one of 2 crossings in Lytton area)

- 425' steel truss arch span (partially orange), 6 deck plate girder spans for total of 247 m (812 feet) long, 67 m (220 feet) high over Fraser River south of Lytton; in close proximity to Cisco CPR Bridge; CNR and CPR operate on each side of the river and generally co-operate with directional running. The 2 railways exchange sides at this point.


5. Entwistle Bridge west of Edmonton Alberta
- CNR, active, height 65 m (214'), steel trestle
- Built 1908-10 over Pembina River by GTP

- 5th highest railway bridge in Western Canada; CNR steel trestle 280 m (910 ft.) long; 65 m (214') tall; built 1910 over Pembina River by Grand Trunk Pacific. Bridge was pre-fabricated in Scotland. Located approx. 95 km west of Edmonton on CN main line between Edmonton and Vancouver; ave. 20 trains per day.

6a. Fabyan Viaduct near Wainwright Alberta
- CNR, active, height 59 m (195'), steel trestle

CNR Fabyan Viaduct near Wainwright 2015 - Pettypiece photo- Built 1907-08 over Battle River by GTP
- 3rd longest steel trestle in Canada. 846 m (2,775 ft.) long; 59 m (195') tall; built 1907-08 over Battle River by Grand Trunk Pacific; originally about 130' longer but earth filled on one end to reduce length; 26 steel towers; first train 1909; rest area nearby; scene of derailment in January 2012; still in use by CN as part of east-west main line linking Winnipeg with Edmonton
Beaver River Bridge near Grand Centre
 


6b. Beaver River Bridge near Grand Centre Alberta

- CNR, abandoned 1999, rail trail, height 59 m (195'), timber trestle
- Built 1931, re-built 1950 over Beaver River by CNR
- combination timber trestle, truss and girder 450 m (1,485 ft.) long; 59 m (195 ft.) tall, built around 1950 by Canadian National Railways, abandoned 1999. Now part of the Iron Horse Trail section of the Trans Canada Trail

Wapiti River Bridge near Grande Prairie - Vavrek photo

8. Wapiti River near Grande Prairie Alberta
- CNR, active, height 58 m (190'), steel trestle
- Built 1968-69 over Wapiti River by ARR

- 2nd longest steel trestle in Canada; approx. 853 (2,800 ft.) long steel bridge; 58 m (190 ft.) high; built 1968 by Alberta Resources Railway; opened 1969; taken over by CNR 1994, 1-2 trains per day



9. West Fork Canyon Creek Trestle, near Kelowna, BC
- CPR, abandoned, last train 1973, height 55 m (180'), steel trestle
- Built 1930 over Pooley Creek by CPR to replace 1924 bridge built by KVR

- abandoned curved 221 m (726') long and 55 m (180') high 12-span steel trestle built by Canadian Pacific in 1930 at Pooley Creek to replace wooden trestle on Kettle Valley Railway built in 1914. Last train 1973. Longest and highest of 18 trestles that collectively span over 1,372 m (4,500') in Myra Canyon; used in filming of Pierre Burton's 'National Dream' TV series; purchased by BC government 1990. Twelve of the wooden trestles were destroyed by forest fire in 2003, the same year they were designated as a National Historic Site. The timber bridges were all rebuilt by 2008. One of the original sections of the Trans Canada Trail. Also known as Trestle #6.


 
10. Ardley Bridge north of Delburne Alberta
- CNR, active, height 48 m (158'), steel truss
- Built 1911 over Red Deer River by GTP, re-built 1955 by CNR
CNR Ardley Bridge 2011 - Pettypiece- CNR wood and steel trestle built 1911 by Grand Trunk Pacific over Red Deer River; originally 457 m (1,500 ft.) long; 48 m (158 ft.) tall. With fill at each end, current length closer to 366 m (1,200 ft.). Bridge washed out in mid-1910s and centre portion was replaced with 2 steel towers and 3 steel spans. It washed out again in 1952; rebuilt and reopened in 1955; bridge replaced with 6 steel towers and 3 steel truss spans with wood trestle on each end. Located near Delburne on Three Hills subdivision of the Edmonton-Calgary line, now the only Canadian National Railway link between the two major Alberta cities. 2-4 trains daily.

11. High Level Bridge at Edmonton Alberta
- CPR, abandoned as rail bridge 1989, now vehicles and trolleys only, last train 1989, height 48 m (157'),
steel truss with steel trestle component

- Built 1913 over North Saskatchewan River by CPR as combination road and rail bridge

High Level Bridge Edmonton 1st train 1913 - Alberta Archives- CPR steel truss (with trestle component) bridge 777 m (2,550 ft.) long; 48 m (157 ft.) tall; built 1911-1913 over North Saskatchewan River linking downtown Edmonton with south bank (old Strathcona); total of 28 spans - 3-288' Pratt trusses, 7-96' Pratt trusses, 6-47' long spans with steel trestle towers on south side for 282' of total bridge (about 11% of length), 2-130' Warren trusses, 4 central concrete piers set in river bed; upper level used for trains between 1913 and 1989 as well as trams (streetcars) between 1913 and 1951; lower level used for vehicle and pedestrian traffic that continues today; tram runs periodically during summer on upper level since 1997 by Edmonton Radial Railway Society; Great Divide Waterfall 1980; bridge now owned by Province of Alberta; Municipal Historic Resource

Monarch Trestle 2013 - Chris Doering photo
 

12a. Monarch Trestle Alberta
- CPR, active, height 46 m (150'), steel trestle
- Built 1908-09 over Oldman River by CPR

- over Oldman River, 576 m (1,890 ft.) long; 45.7 m (150 ft.) high; west of Monarch on Crow's Nest line built 1908-09 (same line as Lethbridge Viaduct)



CP bridge Outlook Sask
12b. Outlook Bridge, Saskatchewan
- CPR, abandoned, last train 1987, height 46 m (150') deck truss
- built 1912 over South Saskatchewan River by CPR

- Original bridge built in 1887 and rebuilt in 1912. 914 m (3,004') long, 46 m (150') high over the South Saskatchewan River; steel sections relocated from bridge over St. Lawrence River at Lachine, Quebec; includes 8 main spans of 74 m (242') each, 19 approach spans; became part of the Trans Canada Trail in 2004 and became known as Sky Trail - Canada's longest pedestrian bridge. However, structural issues have closed the bridge until remedied.

14. Lytton CNR Fraser River Bridge, BC
- CNR, active, height 45 m (148'), steel truss
- Built 1914 over Fraser River by CNoR (one of 2 crossings in Lytton area)

- CNR deck truss bridge 265 (869 feet) long and 45 m (148 feet) high over Fraser River on main CNR main line between Edmonton and Vancouver; 4 deck plate girder and 3 deck truss spans; CNR and CPR operate on each side of the river and generally co-operate with directional running


15. Kinsol Trestle, BC

- CNR, abandoned 1980, height 44m (145'), timber trestle
- Built 1920 over Koksilah River by CNR

- also known as the Koksilah River Trestle, it is one of the world's largest all-wooden trestles. Located on Vancouver Island near Shawnigan Lake, 188 m (617 feet) long, 44 m (145 feet) high, last train was in 1979. Rehabilitated in 2011 and is now part of Trans Canada Trail

16. Heart River Bridge at Peace River Alberta
- CNR, active, height 45 m (146'), steel trestle
- Built 1916 over Peace River by CCR

- Former Northern Alberta Railways steel trestle prior to CNR purchase, it was built in 1916 by Central Canada Railway. 180 m (590'), 45 m (146') high. 11 short (45') plate girder spans and 115' deck truss
Clover Bar Bridge CNR near Edmonton - Trevor Solokan photo
17. Clover Bar Rail Bridge at Edmonton Alberta
- CNR, active, height 42 m (138'), truss, trestle and concrete
- Built 1907-08 over North Saskatchewan River by GTP

- Sometimes referred to as the Beverly Bridge before Beverly traffic bridge opened in 1953 over North Saskatchewan River at east Edmonton, 504 m (1,655 ft.) long, 42 m (138 ft.) high; built 1907-08 iron truss with concrete piers and trestle towers by Grand Trunk Pacific

18. Mountain Creek Bridge BC
- CPR, active, height 41.5 m (136'), concrete beam on steel tower
- Built 1978 in Beaver River valley Connaught track by CPR

- 3rd structure at this location between Revelstoke and Golden on the east slope of the Selkirk Mountains in Glacier National Park near Rogers Pass. This bridge is 183 m (600') long, 41.5 m (136') high replacing a similar length steel truss and girder structure built in 1902. Original 1885 bridge was 331 m (1086') long, 50 m (164') high - at the time one of the longest timber trestles in the world. (Some sources suggest that the original bridge was longer (1200') and higher (175'-300') but these dimensions seem unlikely). Mountain sub   

19. Burbank Bridge near Blackfalds Alberta
CNR Blindman River bridge at Burbank 2021 - Pettypiece- CNR, active, ht. 36 m (118'), steel truss
- Built 1910 over Blindman River by CNWR

- originally a wood trestle north of Red Deer built by Canadian Northern Western Railway over Blindman River 1910; replaced by steel truss bridge with wooden trestle ends; two center spans supported by concrete towers; original length unknown; with considerable fill, current length around 190 m (620 ft.), est. height 36 m (118'); still in use by CNR, Brazeau subdivision

20. Uno CNR Bridge, near Russell, Manitoba
- CNR, active, height 35 m (115'), steel trestle
- Built 1929 by CNR over Minnewashtack Creek to replace 1,573' timber bridge built in 1907 by GTP

- near Russell, Manitoba; 467 m (1,533 feet) long over Minnewashtack Creek, 35 m (115 ft). high; original timber bridge built by Grand Trunk Pacific; NNR main line with approx. 24 trains/day

 

21. Anderson Creek/River Bridge near Boston Bar, BC
- CNR, active, height 34
m (112'), steel trestle
- Built 1914 over Anderson Creek in the Fraser Canyon by CNoR, steel trestle

- Canadian National curved steel trestle 279 m (914 ft.) long, 34 m (112 ft.) high in Fraser Canyon 17 deck plate girder spans on 8 steel towers

Rochfort Bridge near Mayerthorpe 2012 - Trevor Sokolan
22a. Rochfort Trestle near Mayerthorpe Alberta
- CNR, active, height 33.5 m (110'), timber trestle
- Built 1914 over Paddle River and Hwy.43 by CNoR

- Longest wood trestle in North America; 736 m (2,414 ft.) long, 33.5 m (110 ft.) tall; built by Canadian Northern Railway; periodic upgrades; two short portions replaced by steel, one over Highway 43 (the Alaska Highway); still in use periodically by CN


22b. Mintlaw Viaduct south of Red Deer Alberta
Mintlaw Viaduct near Red Deer - Pettypiece photo
- CPR, abandoned 1983, last train 1981,
   height 33.5 m (110'), steel trestle
- Built 1911-12 over Red Deer River by ACR

- Longest bridge in Central Alberta; 2nd longest CPR steel trestle of its type in Alberta at 644 m (2,112 ft.) long; 33.5 m (110 ft.) tall;
4th longest steel trestle of any railway in Alberta; 3rd longest CPR bridge in Alberta still standing although only the one in Lethbridge is still active as a rail bridge. Length includes 2 truss spans over river with wood trestle abutments on each end; bridge includes 15-75' spans, 15-45' spans and 2-150' truss spans; built 1911-12 over Red Deer River by Alberta Central Railway/CPR; last train 1981, abandoned 1983; purchased by Red Deer County 2009 for $1 as a heritage site, important landmark and part of possible future recreational trail; former Alberta Central subdivision
more about the Mintlaw Bridge and Alberta Central Railway

24. Prairie Creek (Maskuta) Bridge near Hinton Alberta
- CNR, active, height 30 m (98'), steel trestle
- Built 1911 by GTP over Prairie Creek, abandoned 1916, rehabilitated 1927 by CNR

- Originally built by Grand Trunk Pacific in 1911, the bridge was closed in 1916 during World War I in order to use the steel rail for the war effort, the 245 m (802') long and 30 m (98') high steel trestle was rehabilitated in 1927 after being taken over by Canadian National Railways to become part of the main line to the west coast. During that time, rail traffic was diverted to the parallel Canadian Northern Railway. The steel trestle bridge consists of six 50' long girder sections and 7-70' girder sections; used by Via Rail.

25. Rivers CNR Bridge, Manitoba
- CNR, active, height 27.7 m (91'), built 1909 by GTP
- near Brandon over Minnedosa (Little Saskatchewan) River, 208 m (684 feet) long, 27.7 m (91 feet) high.

26. CPR Bridge Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- CPR, active, height 19.5 m (64'), steel truss
- Built 1908 over South Saskatchewan River by CPR

- Canadian Pacific Railway bridge over South Saskatchewan River on secondary line between Winnipeg and Edmonton; original temporary timber bridge built in 1907 at 1,252 feet long, new 1908 bridge includes 8 steel truss spans of 125 feet on concrete piers and is now listed at 341 m (1,120) feet likely due to some fill at either end; height 19.5 m (64 ft.); bridge includes pedestrian walkway built 1909.

27. North Saskatchewan River Bridge at Rocky Mountain House Alberta
North Saskatchewan River Bridge at Rocky Mountain House 1940 - RD Archives
- CNR, active, height approx. 16 m (52'), steel truss and trestle
- Built 1911-14 over North Saskatchewan River by ACR

- 220 m (720') long, approx 16 m (52') high; combination trestle, truss and girder with concrete piers including 3-75' spans, 3-45' spans and 2-150' truss spans; built 1911 by Alberta Central Railway/CPR; leased to Canadian Northern Western Railway/CNR; opened 1914; still in use by CNR; Brazeau subdivision

28. McCloy Creek Bridge, Meskanaw, Saskatchewan
- CNR, abandoned 1981, last train 1979, height 15 m (49'), timber trestle
- Built 1929 over McCloy Creek by CNR

- Canadian National Railways 406 m (1,333 feet) bridge over McCloy Creek; Saskatchewan's longest wooden trestle; abandoned between 1979 and 1981; 15' m (49 ft.) high; Maskunow is Cree for Trail


Webmaster note: Anyone who has more information on these or other significant railway bridges in Western Canada, I would be interested in hearing from you.
Contact me at info@forthjunction.com


Photo descriptions and credits:
1. CPR Lethbridge Steel Viaduct (Paul Pettypiece 2015);
6a. CNR Fabyan Steel Viaduct near Wainwright (Paul Pettypiece 2015);
6b. CNR Beaver River Bridge near Grand Centre (railtrail) (source unknown);
8. CNR Wapiti River Bridge near Grande Prairie (William Vavrek);
10. CNR Ardley bridge over Red Deer River north of Delburne (Paul Pettypiece 2011);
11. CPR High Level Bridge Edmonton 1st train June 1913 (vehicles & trolley only) (Provincial Archives Alberta);
12a. CPR Monarch Steel Viaduct over Oldman River (Chris Doering 2013);
12b. CPR Outlook Saskatchewan (railtrail) (source unknown);
17. CNR Clover Bar Bridge over North Saskatchewan River near Edmonton (Trevor Solokan);
19a. CNR Rochfort Timber Trestle near Mayerthorpe (Trevor Sokolan 2012);
19b. ACR/CPR Mintlaw steel trestle near Red Deer (abandoned) (Paul Pettypiece 2012)
;
27. CPR/CNR bridge over North Saskatchewan River at Rocky Mountain House 1940 (Red Deer Archives)
 

Bridges, Structures, Heritage
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