Monday, August 31, 2009

Allains River Railway Bridge

This seems like a good opportunity to add another before and after image to my collection. I was driving into Annapolis Royal along Highway #1 earlier in the day and I realized that I have never posted anything on the old Allain's River railway bridge. This seemed odd to me since I have admired the structure of this bridge for some time. The graceful steel and stone bridge is one of the first visible pieces of heritage infrastructure as you approach Annapolis Royal from the west. It is a gentle reminder of the prosperity which came to Annapolis Royal during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Within living memory this bridge was part of the main line for the Dominion Atlantic Railway. There are still many people who can tell stories of taking the Dayliner into Halifax. To an Annapolitan who lived between 1869 and 1891 this would not have been seen as the main line. At that time, the Windsor and Annapolis Railway found its terminus at the Annapolis Royal waterfront. The section between Annapolis Royal and Digby was known as the "missing link". It was only when bridges such as this one were completed in 1891 that the main line was extended through the Annapolis Valley from Halifax to Yarmouth.

Usually I take some time in these before and after posts to discuss the differences in the images. Just so we know what we are dealing with, the original image was taken by Frederick Harris some time around 1900. This is part of a wonderful archival collection held by the Annapolis Heritage Society. I shot the modern image earlier today (August 31, 2009).

The most obvious difference is the presence of a train on the bridge. Annapolis Royal has not had rail service since the 1980s. Locally, the sound of an engine as it started up to speed up along the tracks is thing of the past. Steam engines like those shown in the archival image are even further in the past. Another notable difference is the construction of the bridge itself. In the modern image you can see that the bridge is resting on stone supports. The remains of the wooden crib-work from the earlier bridge can be seen in the foreground of the modern image.

A common element between these images are the three chimneys of the Fort Anne Officer's Quarters in the background. This 1797 structure is perhaps our community's most iconic building.

All for now,
RGS

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