First Alexandra Bridge pictured in 1868 from the west bank of the Fraser River, with tollhouse on left. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)

First Alexandra Bridge pictured in 1868 from the west bank of the Fraser River, with tollhouse on left. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)

First Alexandra Bridge is long gone, but lives on in pictures

First bridge in operation from 1863 to 1894, when flooding badly damaged the structure

Those who drive the Fraser Canyon highway are familiar with the second and third Alexandra bridges above Spuzzum, as both still exist. It was recently announced that the New Pathways to Gold Society has received a grant of $500,000 for restoration and repair work of the second bridge, which sits just upstream of the current one.

READ MORE: Major grant will help refurbish historic Alexandra Bridge near Spuzzum

The first bridge spanning the river at the site was started on June 16, 1862 and completed on Sept. 1, 1863. Overseeing the building was Commissioner of Public Works Joseph Trutch, who had the licence to collect tolls at the site (the tollhouse was located on the west bank of the Fraser River). The bridge remained in service until it was badly damaged by flooding in 1894, which washed away much of the decking.

By that point it had fallen into disuse following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the mid-1880s, and in 1912 the suspension cables were cut to prevent the bridge’s use by pedestrians, leaving only the piers. It was not until the mid-1920s, and the rise of the automobile, that a new road was constructed through the region, meaning that a replacement bridge was needed.

The new (second) Alexandra Bridge was built, using the abutments from the original bridge. It remained in use until the building of the Trans-Canada Highway and the new (third) bridge, which opened in 1964.



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Fraser River

 

First Alexandra Bridge from west side of the Fraser River showing the floodwaters of 1894. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)

First Alexandra Bridge from west side of the Fraser River showing the floodwaters of 1894. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)

Remains of the first Alexandra Bridge, from the west side of the Fraser River, after the 1894 flood. The picture was taken in 1912. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)

Remains of the first Alexandra Bridge, from the west side of the Fraser River, after the 1894 flood. The picture was taken in 1912. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)

Remains of the first Alexandra Bridge, from the west side of the Fraser River, after the 1894 flood. The picture was taken in 1912. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)

Remains of the first Alexandra Bridge, from the west side of the Fraser River, after the 1894 flood. The picture was taken in 1912. (Photo credit: Quesnel and District Museum and Archives)