|Scherzer Rolling-lift Railway Bridge
photo by: Ken Watson, 2002
In 1912-1913, a Scherzer rolling-lift railway bridge (a type of bascule bridge) was built by the Dominion Bridge Company of Lachine, Quebec for the Canadian Northern Railway. It was placed 350 feet (107 m) upstream of the detached lock to avoid interference with navigation and reduce the need for the bridge to be lifted. The base of the bridge was 8 feet 6 inches (2.6 m) above the level of the water. The line is no longer in service, the tracks have been removed, and the bridge is now permanently raised.
The design of the bridge allowed it to be operated either manually or with the use of an electric motor. When opened in 1914, the bridge operated with a DC electric motor that would swing the bridge up 90 degrees in one minute. However, Smiths Falls switched to AC power in 1915 and the railway decided to operate the bridge manually. It took over 10 minutes to raise the bridge by 45 degrees, 20 minutes to raise it the full 90 degrees. It continued to operate manually until the bridge was closed in December 1978.
A designated National Heritage Site, the bridge represents the heritage of Smiths Falls, a junction of the Rideau Canal, which caused the town of Smiths Falls to grow and the railway, which allowed it to flourish.
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