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St Thomas Elevated Park – A unique use for an abandoned railway bridge

August 2021

The City of St. Thomas, Ontario, bills itself as “The Railway City,” and they make the most of that boast. As the home to the Elgin County Railway Museum and the North American Railway Hall of Fame, they proudly celebrate their railway heritage, one that dates back to the 1856, when the first of 26 railways that have travelled through the city, began operating along the then-small town’s rail lines.

By the turn of the 20th century, St. Thomas was an important railway junction in southern Ontario.

While there are still active rail lines in the city, including the tourist Port Stanley Heritage Railway, which comes up to their southern border, St. Thomas isn’t the busy railway city it once was, leaving many abandoned rail lines.

On Track St. Thomas, a private, not for profit community development organization, has taken advantage of one of these abandoned lines, one that used to cross over the Michigan Central Railway’s Kettle Creek Bridge. In the process, they created Canada’s first elevated park.

The Kettle Creek Bridge was built in 1930 for the Michigan Central Railway. The current bridge, the third bridge to carry trains over Kettle Creek, is 30 feet wide, 850 feet long, and towers almost 100 feet above the river valley, which includes Sunset Drive and Talbot Street/Fingal Line.

The St. Thomas Elevated Park officially opened in September 2019, more than two decades after the Michigan Central Railway abandoned the line and removed the double tracks that crossed the bridge. The park features flower beds, trees, benches, public art and a trail for walking, running and biking, and provides a great view of the surrounding area.

While the elevated park is limited to the bridge itself, pedestrians and cyclists can continue along the rail trail at the west end of the park.

On Track St. Thomas is also responsible for the preservation of the nearby Canada Southern Railway Station.

Sources: London Roundhouse | Facebook, High profile for Michigan Central Railroad bridge in St. Thomas | St. Thomas Times-Journal, St.Thomas Elevated Park, CASO Station – St. Thomas Ontario (railwaycitytourism.com), St. Thomas Elevated Park – Michigan Central Railway Bridge – Doors Open Ontario, Trans Canada Trail | On the right track: St. Thomas Elevated Park is open and thriving (tctrail.ca), St. Thomas, Ontario – Wikipedia, The Railway History of St. Thomas (stthomaspubliclibrary.ca), Port Stanley Terminal Rail (pstr.on.ca).

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/st-thomas-elevated-park-a-unique-use-for-an-abandoned-railway-bridge/

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