Saturday, March 10, 2012

Death of a Bridge

The Hiram Creek trestle center
Partial demolition of the Hiram Creek trestle, March 1 2012. Photo by Anonymous.
The old Hiram Creek bridge has come down. This wooden trestle, the highlight of the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad's train ride "back in the day", has been demolished.

The bridge had not seen passenger traffic since 2003, the last year of full operation of the railroad. In 2004 the New Brunswick Railway Museum operated trains up to highway 114 but did not go past the Weldon Creek (steel) bridge due to structural issues with that bridge and with this trestle. So the trestle sat idle for almost 10 years before its final removal.

The railway museum made the decision years ago to terminate the line at Weldon Creek. The majority of the rail line was leased from the province, who took ownership of it following CN's abandonment of the Albert subdivision. The NBRM released the majority of the line several years ago when it was determined that they would never raise enough funds for the repair of the two bridges.

I believe the bridge was becoming a safety issue. Also, you can see that the road was limited to one lane under the bridge.

The trestle was 209 feet long, and the deck was 44 feet above the roadway below. The railroad had a 7 MPH permanent slow order over the bridge and no brakes or throttle were to be applied while on the bridge. I remember the engine would sound very quiet as it coasted over the bridge.

Here's the bridge in happier times. One of the things that made the trestle special was that it was a curved wooden trestle, a relative rarity. Note the "escape platform" in the middle, a refuge for anyone caught on the bridge when a train came along.
Hiram Creek trestle

I took the next two photos on June 29, 2002. There was a dinner train operating, but I don't know why they had both diesels operating. Here's RSC-14 engine 1754 running light over the trestle.
Hiram Creek trestle

Next engine 8245 brings the dinner train back to Hillsborough.
Hiram Creek trestle

Contrast the scene above to this photo (by Art Clowes) from Friday, March 9 showing the cleanup after the trestle removal. It's the same viewpoint.
Hiram Creek trestle

I went over it many times when volunteering at the railway. Here's a video I took of the dinner train back in 2003. You can see engine 1754 drifting over the trestle starting at 1:25.

Farewell, old friend.

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