has some spectacular historic and functional railway bridges
updated May 2022
Photo descriptions and credits at bottom of page.
Significant Bridges of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway (CPR)
River at Red Deer -
During the winter of 1890-91, a sturdy 3-span timber truss railway bridge was built
the Red Deer River near the Leonard Gaetz homestead (the new Red Deer
townsite negotiated between Gaetz and James Ross).
Some years, it served as a traffic bridge when the traffic bridge
washed out in the spring.
1908, a new steel bridge was under construction consisting of two 150 ft. steel truss spans
to replace the wooden structure. A partially earth-filled modified wood trestle
spanned the flat on the north side of the river. It opened in 1909.
In 1991, the bridge was abandoned after the rail yards were
relocated to the west side of the city. The CPR was planning to
remove the structure but some dedicated citizens arranged to have
the bridge preserved and declared a
historic resource. It later became part of the Waskaoo Park and Trans Canada Trail
Red Deer 45 Street Overpass - The 45th Street overpass was built
in 1965 and demolished in 1992 after the relocation of the downtown
CPR railyards as part of the Taylor Drive corridor project.
Deer 67 Street Underpass - A CPR bridge built in 1968 over 67 Street in
North Red Deer was removed in 1992 after the relocation of the
downtown railyards to a location just a couple of blocks west of
ACR Overpass (see Alberta Central Railway below)
Deer River west of Highway 2 - A new crossing of the Red Deer
River was constructed west of the city in 1990 as part of the
relocation of the railyards from downtown to the northwest sector
that was relatively undeveloped at the time. The relocation also
necessitated tunnels under Highway 2 and road overpasses at 32
Street, 67 Street and Edgar Drive. A few years later, another
overpass was built on Taylor Drive.
Blindman River near Blackfalds - The CPR's crossing of the
Blindman River was much less spectacular than the Canadian Northern
Western Railway's location. The CPR was able to find a relatively
gentle grade in and out of the valley.
Calgary & Edmonton Railway at Red Deer
Alberta Central Railway
(CPR Alberta Central
subdivision - abandoned)
Over Waskasoo Creek and Calgary & Edmonton Railway - In 1911, the Red Deer-based Alberta Central Railway,
with a vision of becoming part of a transcontinental system, built
two bridge structures in Red Deer. One crossed the CPR and Waskasoo
Creek north of present day 32 Street. Shortly after the CPR took
over operations of the ACR, having no interest in extending the
originally planned eastern leg of the railway, the three spans were
removed but the two concrete piers remained until the construction
of Taylor Drive in 1991 when one was demolished.
Piper Creek at Red Deer - To the east, the ACR constructed a wooden trestle across Piper Creek (through the
present day Kin Kanyon). The CPR removed it in 1917.
Deer River at Mintlaw -
1911, farther southwest, the railway started construction of a grand
steel trestle across the Red Deer River, the second longest CPR bridge
of its kind in Alberta (second only to the one in Lethbridge). The bridge, 2,112 ft. long and 110 ft. high, was
completed in the fall of 1912. The steel structure consists of 15-75'
spans with alternating 15-45' spans and 2-150' truss spans across
the river. At each end there are short wood trestle spans and
last train ran in 1981 and was abandoned in 1983. Red Deer County purchased the trestle
in early 2010 from Canadian Pacific Railway for $1 as a
heritage site and important landmark. In the future, the County will
determine if the structure is suitable for recreational use as a
pedestrian bridge and part of a regional trail system.
and Medicine River near Eckville -
wooden trestle 1,280 ft. long; 80 timber spans ave. 15' plus 80'
steel girder built in 1911; located west of Medicine River bridge near Eckville; later
mostly earth-filled; last train ran sometime before 1981, abandoned
1983; little evidence left of bridge; the naming of the bridge was
an oddity in that there is no Horse Guard River but a Horse Guard
Creek further west and the bridge crossed the Medicine River valley.
Saskatchewan River at
Rocky Mountain House
- The Alberta Central/Canadian Pacific built a good-quality 725'
bridge across the North Saskatchewan River in 1911 as well as 2
miles of track on each side of it. The bridge is a combination of
trestle, truss and girder with concrete piers. There are 3-75' steel
trestle spans, 3-45' steel trestle spans and 2-150' truss spans
across the river. Although the Canadian Northern Western Railway
(later Canadian National) actually reached Rocky Mountain House
before the Alberta Central Railway, the ACR had surveyed and started
construction on the bridge before the CNWR arrived. Rather than
build another expensive bridge, the CNWR negotiated running rights
on the ACR/CPR bridge in exchange for Canadian Pacific having
running rights to Nordegg/Brazeau. After the bridge opened in 1914,
the CPR rarely, if ever, exercised those rights. The CPR abandoned
its line to Rocky in 1980 and leased it to CN for a time
and eventually sold it. Although the line to Nordegg was abandoned
in 1955, the CNR still uses the bridge for industrial clients
southwest of Rocky Mountain House.
Alberta Central Railway
Canadian Northern Western Railway (CNR Brazeau
River at Burbank -
In 1911, the Canadian Northern Western Railroad started construction of
a significant wooden trestle across the Blindman River at Burbank (near
Blackfalds north of Red Deer). Although the length of the original structure is
unavailable, it is estimated to have been between 1,500 to 1,800
original bridge was mostly earth filled over time, especially on the
southwest end, and the span over the river valley was replaced by a steel truss
and girder bridge
with wooden trestle ends. The current length of the bridge, still
used by Canadian National on the Brazeau subdivision, is estimated
at 620 to 700 feet.
River at Red Deer -
A bridge was erected across the Red Deer River from North Red Deer
near the mouth of Waskasoo
Creek in 1920.
With the river bridge being washed out in the spring floods a number of
times, the railway abandoned the river crossing in 1941 but continued
service to the city station grounds via a connection to the Canadian
Pacific along the present site of the museum, downtown Safeway store and
Red Deer Lodge.
Ravine at Briggs - One of the few remaining timber bridges
still in use in Central Alberta is located northwest of Red Deer
spanning a ravine close to the Blindman River. It's estimated to be
570 to 590 feet long and is close to a tiny community called Briggs
that no longer exists.
Saskatchewan River at
Rocky Mountain House
(See description above under Alberta Central Railway, which built
West of Rocky Mountain House - The 58-mile line between Rocky
Mountain House and Nordegg was constructed in 1913 and 1914 and
included over 60 structures over streams, creeks and ravines. Three
of the structures were significant timber trestles but there is
little documentation of their sizes. The line was abandoned in 1955
(although not officially for another 30 years) and most of the
bridges were removed except for the larger ones that have
deteriorated over the years. Clearwater County has proposed a
multi-use trail along the line which will necessitate significant
upgrades to the existing structures and new structures where the
original ones were removed.
Canadian Northern Western Railway
Junction (CPR & CNR)
small bridges located north of Red Deer and south of Blackfalds
where the CNR crosses over the CPR as well as Highway 2A. This is
also the location where the two railways interchange rolling stock
and where the CNR spur runs south into the Red Deer River valley.
The spur once ran to the CNR depot near 49 Ave. but now only goes
south to the GATX car repair facility in Riverside Heavy Industrial
Grand Trunk Pacific (CNR)
Duhamel - The
Duhamel wooden trestle bridge was completed in 1910 over the Battle
River 20 km southwest of Camrose. At almost 4,000 ft. long and 120
ft. high, it was the longest and one of the largest wooden bridges
ever built in the world. The bridge was dismantled in 1924 after the
Grand Trunk Pacific become part of
Canadian National Railways and the new railway decided to use the Canadian Northern
crossing of the Battle River further east.
Red Deer River at Ardley - A wooden trestle bridge 1,500 ft. long
and 158' tall was built in 1911 just north of Ardley but it was destroyed by river
flooding a few years later. The river portion of the bridge was immediately replaced by
steel spans with two steel towers.
The bridge washed out again in 1952.
It was replaced by another three steel spans, four steel towers and
a steel trestle at the north end with some earth-fill. The timber
trestle at the south end was retained. The total span was reduced to around 1,200 ft. and reopened in 1955.
It is still used by Canadian National
daily as part of its Calgary-Edmonton main line.
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in Central Alberta
CPR timber bridge at Red Deer 1891-1908 (Red Deer Archives P3909);
CPR steel truss bridge at Red Deer 1908-1990 (Paul Pettypiece 2011);
CPR bridge at Red Deer now used as trail (Paul Pettypiece 2006);
45 St. overpass over CPR downtown Red Deer railyards circa 1980 (Red
Deer Archives S8479 - Marryat);
Dayliner crossing 67 Street overpass Red Deer (Paul Pettypiece
CPR river bridge west of Highway 2 at Red Deer (Paul Pettypiece
CPR bridge over Blindman River near Blackfalds (Paul Pettypiece
ACR piers adjacent to CPR and Waskasoo Creek Red Deer (Paul
aerial view of ACR/CPR Mintlaw steel trestle (Paul Pettypiece 2007);
ACR Horseguard timber bridge 1911 (Glenbow Archives);
CPR/CNR bridge over North Saskatchewan River at Rocky Mountain House
1940 (Red Deer Archives);
original Canadian Northern Western timber bridge Blindman River
Burbank 1911 (Red Deer Archives P7028);
current CNR Blindman River bridge at Burbank (Paul Pettypiece 2011);
CNR Red Deer River bridge at Red Deer after washout circa 1941 (Red
Deer Archives P3407);
CNR timber bridge at Briggs ravine (Paul Pettypiece 2011);
CPR train passes under CNR bridge at North Junction (Paul Pettypiece
CNR train passes over Highway 2A at North Junction (Paul Pettypiece
Duhamel Grand Trunk Pacific timber trestle bridge near Camrose c1910
(Provincial Archives of Alberta BA409);
original GTP Ardley bridge over Red Deer River 1916 (Red Deer
Archives; Provincial Archives of Alberta 82-26-1);
current CNR Ardley bridge over Red Deer River (Paul Pettypiece 2011)