Canada Southern Railway Kettle Creek Bridge

Where: St. Thomas, ON.

Engineer: George W. Butterfield

Date of construction: 1871 - 1872

Canada Southern Railway Kettle Creek Bridge, St. Thomas, ON.

View of the bridge looking ENE along Fingal Line. (Source: F. M. Bartlett)

Site Location: Lat.: 42°-46’-42” N; Long.: 81°-12’-45” W. (GPS 42.7784467, -81.2124823). Take Highway 401 to Exit 177A, Sunset Drive (Highway 4). Drive south approximately 10 km to a roundabout, take the first exit to stay on Sunset Drive. Continue for approximately 500 m to the bridge at the Fingal Line intersection.

Plaque Location: North face of the bridge pier on to the south west corner of the Sunset Drive/Fingal Line intersection.

Plaque mounted on face of concrete pier. (Source: F. M. Bartlett)

Description: The Kettle Creek Bridge was initially constructed in 1871-72 as a single-track timber trestle, with a length of 416 m (1366 ft.) and a maximum height of 28 m (92 ft.), as part of the Canada Southern Railway from Fort Erie to Amherstburg. It was designed by George W. Butterfield and constructed by Dunn, Holmes and Moore. It was replaced in 1883 by a double-track steel structure, fabricated by the Detroit Bridge and Iron Works, to accommodate heavier trains and increased traffic. The present structure was constructed in 1929 by D.W. Thurston of Detroit, again to accommodate heavier trains.

Kettle Creek Bridge constructed in 1883. (Source: Elgin County Archives).

Historic Significance: The bridge is the most significant of three substantial trestles across Kettle Creek that serviced competing American railways with routes between the State of Michigan and Buffalo, New York, and so to the ports of New York and Boston. The 1883 and 1929 replacement bridges were erected on the same alignment as the original timber trestle – without disrupting trains during either reconstruction.

The bridge has been taken out of service and repurposed as the St. Thomas Elevated Park.

Plaque Detail. The lower City of St. Thomas plaque was installed in 2015 after the bridge had been transferred to the City of St. Thomas to become an elevated park. (Source: F. M. Bartlett)

Plaque Text: National Historic Civil Engineering Site. CANADA SOUTHERN RAILWAY KETTLE CREEK BRIDGE. A tribute to bridge engineer George W. Butterfield, and contractor Dunn, Holmes and Moore for the design and construction of the original single-track timber trestle on this site in 1871-1872, and to the ingenuity of those who followed, constructing higher load capacity steel and concrete structures in 1883 and 1929 without interrupting rail traffic. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. 2000.

Site Historique National de Génie Civil. PONT KETTLE CREEK – CHEMIN DE FER CANADA SUD. En homage á George W. Butterfield, ingéneur, et á Dunn, Holmes et Moore, entrepreneur, pour la conception et construction en ce lieu du tréteau de bois original a voie unique en 1871/1872, et á l’ingéniosité de leurs succeseurs que, en 1883 et en 1929, on érigé, en ce même endroit, des structures de capacité portante plus élevée end acier et en béton sans interrompre la circulation. Societé canadienne de génie civil. 2000.

Links to Further Documentation:

North America Railway Hall of Fame, “Kettle Creek Bridge”

“STEP – St. Thomas Elevated Park”.

Elgin Historical Society, “The Michigan Central Railway Bridge” (video)