International Railway Bridge - Table of Contents ......... ......... Waterfront - Table of Contents

International Railway (swing) Bridge
The International Railway Bridge, near
the southerly entrance to the Black Rock Lock,
carries rail lines across the Niagara River between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario




Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski and D.L. MacPherson.

Original owner:

International Bridge Company

Current owner:

CN Rail (Canadian National Railway)

TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information

From Victorian Buffalo, by Cynthia Van Ness

Peace Bridge support
..... Bird Island Pier

Bird Island Pier separates Niagara River from the Black Rock Channel.

Note side of Miss Buffalo II for which the bridge over the Black Rock Channel has swung open

Swung open


Turning mechanism

Turning mechanism

The International Railway Bridge carries rail lines across the Niagara River between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario.

It was built in 1873 for the International Bridge Company by Casimir Stanislaus Gzowski and D.L. MacPherson.

The bridge consists of three sections and is 3,651.5 feet (1,113 m) in length.

It was closed in 1993 for $2 million worth of repairs by CN Rail.

Black Rock Channel

The Black Rock Channel extends from Buffalo Harbor to the Black Rock Lock. The waterway is 3 and 1/2 miles long and its navigation channel is at least 200 feet wide at all points. The lock and channel permit pleasure craft and commercial vessels up to 625 feet long with drafts up to 21 feet.

The passage of commercial vessels is scheduled by radio from the Black Rock Lock.

The channel is crossed by three bridges: the Peace Bridge, the Ferry Street Lift Bridge and the International Railroad Bridge.

  • The Peace Bridge, located 1.3 miles from the south entrance to the channel is a fixed bridge with a clearance of 200 feet above Low Water Datum* (LWD).
  • The Ferry Bridge is located 1.9 miles from the south entrance. It is a lift bridge that has a clearance of 17.3 feet LWD when down. The signal for requesting the opening of this bridge is 1 long, 2 short.
  • The last bridge before the Black Rock Lock is the International Railroad Bridge, 3.1 miles from the south channel entrance. It is a swing bridge which has a clearance of 17 feet LWD when closed. The signal for requesting the opening of this bridge is one long.

- US Army Corps of Engineers

International Railroad Bridge

The International Railroad Bridge, built by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1873 at a cost of $1,500,000, replaced a ferry service which, due to the Niagara River's fierce current and the growing number of cargo vessels and barges crowding the river, had become unsafe. The bridge was a landmark Victorian engineering achievement.

Other prominent engineers had studied the possibility of bridging the Niagara at this point but concluded that the swift currents, winter ice cover, and rapid fluctuations in water level made it impossible. Its builder, Casimir Gzowski, a Polish Canadian, was a founder of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers and the first chairman of the Niagara Parks Commission.

Heavily used for freight, the bridge provided a single passenger car service until November 1934....

- Cynthia Van Ness, Victorian Buffalo: Images From the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

Photos and their arrangement 2007 Chuck LaChiusa
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