|Upper Steel Arch Bridge
The Upper Steel Arch Bridge at Niagara Falls
|Design||Steel Arch Bridge|
|Total length||1,240 ft (378 m)|
|Longest span||840 ft (256 m)|
|Preceded by||Niagara Clifton Bridge|
|Followed by||Rainbow Bridge|
The Upper Steel Arch Bridge, also known as the Honeymoon Bridge or Fallsview Bridge, was located in the heart of Niagara Falls, Ontario, about 500 feet (150 m) south (upriver) of the present-day Rainbow Bridge.
This bridge was constructed in 1897 and opened for traffic in 1898. It was the fourth bridge on the site in fifty years. The Second Falls View Suspension Bridge it replaced was moved downriver to Queenston, where it served traffic between there and Lewiston, New York until 1962.
The span of the bridge was 840 feet (260 m). The bridge decking was wooden, and was designed to support the weight of street cars operating on the Great Gorge Scenic Railway.
Although well designed for its time, the Upper Steel Arch Bridge was prone to sway under certain conditions (heavy winds, bands marching in-step, etc.), not unlike the suspension bridges it replaced. Doubts about the bridge's longevity surfaced as early as 1925. On June 8, when a parade commemorating the installation of new searchlights on Niagara Falls concluded on the bridge, it began to sway wildly with the added weight. Attention was also called to the bridge frequently in the 1930s, when the deteriorating bridge railing allowed some automobiles to crash through them easily.
In January 1938, a severe ice storm hit the Niagara Falls area, flooding the lower river with ice producing an ice jam. The bridge stood on abutments built close to river level, and the ice pressed against them, damaging them until they failed in a grand collapse of the structure on January 27, 1938. The thickness of this ice supported the weight of the wreckage until the final three pieces sank in April 1938.
Plans were already in the works for a successor to the Upper Steel Arch Bridge before its collapse; these plans were quickly implemented, resulting in the construction of the present-day Rainbow Bridge.
- CBC Radio Archives Announcing the collapse of the bridge (1938)