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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Erector Set: 1908

Erector Set: 1908

Lethbridge, Alberta, circa 1908. "Erecting Lethbridge Viaduct over the Oldman River." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

High Level Bridge Still Record Holder

Very interesting article on the Lethbridge High Level bridge.

Did they ever have a serious derailment on this bridge?

The sight of that thing being built scares me. The video of the freight entering the bridge scares me. The comment about riding cabooses in the wind, and everything swaying, bears out my feeling.
The comment about checking the schedule before walking on this bridge isn't too helpful. Extra trains can come along at any time, although this line doesn't look too heavily travelled, judging by the weeds growing between the rails on land.

Take a modern day trip over the Bridge in Hi-def

Take a modern day trip over the Bridge with a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train.

Restored Canadian Pacific Railway Steam Engine 2816 An IMAX Movie Star "At Work", Lethbridge, AB High level Bridge

Restored Canadian Pacific Railway Steam Engine 2816 crossing the Lethbridge high level bridge on a cool Canadian morning and she is heading west towards the Canadian Rockies.

CPR 2816 Lethbridge Viaduct in the Summer, Lethbridge, AB

Incredible photography of Canadian Pacific steam engine 2816 at Morants Curve in the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary, Alberta.... Just an extra treat for those that love steam.

Lattice work

The crawler crane is still used for bridge construction and has changed very little since this photo. What has changed is the manufacturing of standard section structural beams.

When this bridge was built the only standard steel shapes were angle and plate all of these lattice work girders were comprised of these two shapes and assembled in the steel shop using enormous gang drills to drill the rivet holes and multiple riveters working on each section.

These girders were then shipped to the job site where they were installed using a few rivets and perhaps a gusset plate at the connection point.I am probably the last generation who still remembers watching a rivet crew in action. The forge man would throw a white hot rivet to the catcher who would then place the rivet in the hole with tongs, the buck man would then hold the rivet in place with the buck bar while the riveter would peen the rivet head in with the pneumatic hammer.

Completed Bridge

Here's a shot of the viaduct completed, shot circa. 1909 from Library and Archives Canada:

As An Elephant Piles Teak


The Technical World Magazine, 1909

Huge Viaduct For Continental Railway

The traveling erecting crane is almost a thing of rational thought and life, combining as it does the functions of the locomotive, self-contained power plant, air compressor, hydraulic riveting machine, crane and a dozen other utilities, but back of it all is the guiding hand of man, which controls each move. Crawling slowly back to the storage yard this monster reaches out its many-fingered hands to pick up one of the slender sections of the pier. Back it goes and as an elephant piles teak wood in the sludgy marshes of Ceylon, so this section is lowered carefully and accurately to its appointed position. Then back again to bring in its great claws one of the plate girders, one hundred feet in length and over a hundred tons in weight, which is slowly advanced across the three hundred foot opening, bridging it to a nicety.

I've walked on that!

I walked on that as a kid, and dropped railroad spikes from up above onto the rocks below - it makes lots of sparks! Never did walk all the way across it though.

Agoraphobics

People afraid of rabbit wool?

Stuck in the Mud.

Well, three days ago, a teenager dove from a lower girder into the river and never surfaced. His body was found the next day.

Years ago, a 39-foot length of railway rail fell from the deck and implanted itself 2/3 into the soil on the downstream side about eight piers out from the east shore. The rail is still there, and we have often visited the bridge to show it to children.

Watch out for cactus, and rattlesnakes in hot weather. Being underneath is quite something when a train passes over. Years ago we would ride over the bridge in cabooses in the wind and everything would sway.

Thank You.

Bridge to Nowhere

We almost built this in Alaska. At least Canada knew to complete this a century ago. Yay Canada!

Lethbridge Viaduct

It's still impressive today!

Why A Duck?

Didn't really know what a viaduct was, looked it up, and learned something. Thanks, Shorpy.

"A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans. The term viaduct is derived from the Latin via for road and ducere to lead something. However, the Ancient Romans did not use that term per se; it is a modern derivation from an analogy with aqueduct. ... Viaducts may span land or water or both."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viaduct

Cornstalks and beanpoles

I couldn’t help thinking of President Lincoln’s comment upon viewing one of the quickly constructed trestles build under the direction of Herman Haupt to replace those destroyed by the Confederates: "That man Haupt has built a bridge four hundred feet long and one hundred feet high, across Potomac Creek, on which loaded trains are passing every hour, and upon my word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but cornstalks and beanpoles."

Best train video ever!

This is magnificent:

Wow, I'm six years old, waving to the engineer, longing to hear the whistle and take a nice long ride:

Excellent long lens and tracking (so to speak) as it draws near. And then he blows the whistle!!!

Oldman River

Now we know where Oscar Hammerstein got his inspiration for that song in "Show Boat."

No peeps on foot

Unbelievable construction quality that early and the structure is still being used today. They did not encourage pedestrians with this bridge for sure. I would have been so tempted to cross that span as a 10 year old if I lived anywhere in the area. Better check out the train schedules first.

Probably looks quite narrow from the top

My gawd. Agoraphobics everywhere cringe or run screaming. What a piece of work, though!

[Acrophobes, too. - Dave]

I could defend "agoraphobics" but yeah, you're right, brain fart.

Talk about a "can-do" attitude back then.

Today you would have enviro-wackos protesting this first railroad tie being laid let alone the usual red tape just to get something this spectacular off the ground.

It just keeps rolling.

The river, that is, at least that's what the song says.

Detroit Publishing Co.

How do you end up deciding which DPC photo you want to tinker with? Merely glancing at the enormous archive at the Library of Congress is a bit overwhelming.

[I scroll through my big ol' folder of 6,000 DPC images! - Dave]

Correction

Elderlyman River. Thank you, Stan Freberg.

100 in 2009

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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