Though not quite as famous or majestic as the Lions Gate Bridge, the pair of bridges connecting Vancouver with the North Shore at the second narrowing of the Burrard Inlet are impressive structures in their own right. The original Second Narrows Bridge, built by John Stewart and Northern Construction, included a car deck when it first entered service in 1925. Trains would begin using the span a year later, though a number of accidents with ships below would prompt a major overhaul of the structure.
The Eurana, Norwich City and the Losmar would strike the bridge in 1927, 1928, and 1930, respectively. When the Pacific Gatherer hit the structure in 1930, the centre span was completely dislodged. It became clear that the bascule — the central pivoting section — would need to be replaced. After the provincial government purchased the bridge in 1933, a centre lift section of the deck was installed.
Construction of an adjacent bridge, boasting much larger dimensions and a six-lane configuration, would commence in 1957. But a tragic mishap — the worst industrial accident in Vancouver history — engendered the formal name it possesses today. On June 17, 1958, 18 workers were killed when several spans collapsed, a disaster the Royal Commission inquiry blamed on an engineering miscalculation concerning the falsework. Another person, a diver on a recovery mission, would drown, bringing the total number of fatalities attributed to the collapse to 19.
The steel truss cantilever bridge was officially opened on August 25, 1960 and charged tolls for the first three years of operation. Since the new bridge could accommodate a greater number of vehicles, the 1925 bridge was no longer needed for vehicular use, and was converted exclusively for rail.
The old bridge would eventually be replaced in 1969 by a larger and higher lift bridge, one that still stands today. In 1994, the 1960-built bridge was renamed the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing to honour the victims of the collapse and an additional four workers who died during construction.
Have an idea for a future Throwback Thursday? Let us know by leaving a comment below!