The Fredericton Railway Bridge

Awarded in 2008
The Fredericton Railway Bridge

The history of New Brunswick is inextricably linked with trains, and so is the history of Fredericton, although most tangible reminders of the railway era have disappeared from the capital. Thus the significance of the Fredericton Railway Bridge across the St. John River. Lady Macdonald, wife of the Prime Minister, laid the cornerstone for it in 1887, and it was built over the next year, furnishing a connection between rail lines on both sides of the river. With steel trusses and stone piers, it is a monument to a time when steam trains and rail transport were paramount but river traffic was still important enough to require a swing span in the bridge. In March, 1936, one of the St. John’s mighty floods, this one caused by an ice jam, took some of it out, bringing cross-river rail traffic to a halt. But it was rebuilt in 1938, higher than before, and it continued in service for several decades more. Today, trains like “The Whooper,” which connected the province’s legendary North Shore to the capital, have gone the way of the riverboats, but the bridge has gained a new life-as a feature of Fredericton’s splendid trail system. Every year, thousands use it for exercise and for watching spectacles like sunsets on the river and holiday fireworks displays.