The Steel Arch Bridge

Niagara Falls, New York – Niagara Falls, Ontario

1897 – Present

Leffert L. Buck again presented a plan for an arch bridge of the type known by engineers as the two hinged spandrel-braced arch. His design was accepted and construction on this new bridge commenced on April 9th 1896.

Again this new bridge would be constructed around the existing structure as to not interrupt railway traffic.

Two halves were built out from the gorge wall in cantilever form, each anchored solidly to prevent it from falling into the gorge below. It was constructed under the old bridge which rested on top of the arch. This was done so that at the completion of the new, but before the removal of the old, there would be two complete bridges built into each other. Once the new bridge was completed the old suspension cables and towers were removed as well as any other parts which were not incorporated into the new bridge. During construction, no train was delayed and the highway floor was closed only two hours per day.

The bridge was completed on August 27th 1897. Extensive tests proved that a steel arch bridge possessed much greater strength than ever anticipated. This bridge continues in use to this day. With only minor changes from the original, it is capable of handling the heaviest of loads. Bridge engineers do not indicate how many years the future life span of this bridge might have.

In 1939, the name of this bridge was changed from the Lower Arch Bridge to the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge. Located just upriver of the Whirlpool Rapids, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge (Lower Arch Bridge) serves both vehicle/pedestrian and rail traffic (Conrail-Via Rail).

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