|CN 149 crossing the Salmon River trestle near Grand Falls, NB|
|The Salmon River bridge|
The problem was this. There was already a transcontinental railway - the Canadian Pacific Railway. Some people felt that the CPR needed some competition, so in a bizarre move the government authorized two additional transcontinental railways, the GTP and the Canadian Northern Railway. In the end, both of those failed and eventually became Canadian National Railways.
Back to the NTR. As was noted in the "Report of the National Transcontinental Railway Investigating Committee" in 1914, noone on the 4-person Commission appointed to oversee the NTR's contruction "had any experience or knowledge of railway building or operation" until 1911 when Major R.W. Leonard was added. The NTR was built to very high standards, including a prohibition against grades greater than 0.4% in the east, and the use of steel bridges only. It was estimated that the total cost of the NTR would be $161,300,000 in 1914 dollars. Conservatively, that's about 3 billion dollars in 2006 (source).
|The Salmon River bridge under construction, 1910|
- completed: 1910 (see below)
- length: 3920 feet
- height: 195 feet
- cost: $815,070.87 (including sub- and superstructure)
- steel: 13,991,310 lbs. (just under 7000 tons)
- spans: 51
This is the second longest bridge of its type in Canada. The longest is in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Here is the Salmon River trestle on Google Maps, in the middle of the map.
There are three other trestles in the neighbourhood, none of which are small.
- Little River: 1242 feet
- Caton Brook: 1060 feet
- Graham Brook: 520 feet
I am trying to find out when the Little River trestle was completed. It appears to have been done by the end of 1910. Shirley E. Woods' great book Cinders and Saltwater states that "by the end of 1910 the road was finished and most of the track had been laid. On November 24, 1911, the 231-mile stretch from Moncton to Edmundston was opened for traffic."
Today the Salmon River trestle and its little sisters are on the Napadogan Subdivision of CN's eastern mainline, and sees six mainline freights and one or two locals each day. The photo below shows CN 305 crossing in August 2007.