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Friday, May 3, 2013

100th Anniversary coming up in less than a month!!

Welcome to Edmonton in the early 20th Century. These two post cards of pictures of the newly constructed HIGH LEVEL BRIDGE in Edmonton, the capital city of the province of Alberta in Canada.

The High Level Bridge was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). It purchased an already existing railroad (the Calgary and Edmonton Railroad) who had begun the surveying for the bridge. The Calgary and Edmonton Railroad wanted to build a bridge over the North Saskatchewan River to join the cities of Strathcona and Edmonton together. Then the CPR negotiated rights of way, design and content of the bridge - among many other things.

Finally, construction of the bridge began on August 14, 1910. There are 62 land piers and four river piers holding up the bridge. Construction of the piers was completed in 1911. The addition of the steel girders began on the south side of the river and slowly - and safely - the crew made its way to the north side, and in early 1913 the bridge made it to the side of the river where the Legislative Building is.

The bridge was to carry a train in the middle of the top of the bridge and street car lines on the outside of the top of the bridge. The bottom deck was built to carry automobiles.

The bridge is 755 meters long or 2,478 feet and 13 meters wide or 43 feet. It originally carried street cars, steam engines and cars. It rises 64 meters or 210 feet above the North Saskatchewan River.

On June 2, 1913 the first CPR passenger train steamed into Edmonton over the newly completed structure. The first streetcar crossed the bridge on August 11, 1913. By that time, the cities of Strathcona and Edmonton became one city: Edmonton.

The top post card is looking south toward the Old Strathcona area of Edmonton.

The bottom card is looking from the south toward the north and the Legislative Building is prominent in the background. It illustrates how the trolleys and the steam engines shared the top of the bridge and one can see the bottom deck where the automobiles travelled.

The top post card was mailed at 4 PM on September 22, 1916. It was sent to Yorkton, Saskatchewan, which is about 100 kilometers from the border with Manitoba on the Yellowhead Highway. Olga is telling her sister that they are in Edmonton visiting the Falks. She expects to be home (Yorkton) on October 1st which will be a week from the coming Sunday.

This card, like the one in the previous blog post and the other post card in this post, was published by Valentine and Sons. The previous post card mentioned Toronto and Montreal as their headquarters in Canada. This post card adds Winnipeg as a third city in which they have a headquarters. It must not have lasted long, because the company stopped operating in Canada in 1923. The bottom card only mentions Toronto and Winnipeg as the headquarters cities.

The top card is from the Divided Back era and the bottom on is from the White Border era.

Today it carries southbound cars and buses on the bottom of the bridge and a tourist street car on the top. From about 1980 to 2008 there was a sprinkler system on the east side of the bridge that, when turned on, created a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls. It was turned on for special occasions, like its inaugural event: the celebration of the bridge's 75th birthday. Environment Canada suggested that it should not be used again in the early 21st century. The Edmonton City Council recently voted to allow a volunteer group to raise money to light up the bridge instead, using LED lights that can be programmed to "dance" to music.

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