Date Published: 1847-1861
EARLY HISTORIC 1847-1853 NIAGARA FALLS & CLIFTON SUSPENSION BRIDGE
This Early Niagara Falls Suspension & Clifton Suspension Bridge Archive / Collection of 16 items enables one to follow the evolution of some events along the NFSB & CSB growth and history during the 1847-53 period and after. Most items are scarce to rare and include the following items:
Two important receipts signed by Engineer John A. Roebling;
1) Signed Roebling’s paper for receiving from W. O. Buchanan the sum of $1,789.04 for bill of wire rope on November 1st 1853, of course for the construction of the NFSB!! (total budget for the construction of the Bridge was $400,000). Roebling was the owner of a Wire Rope Company…
2) Receipt for expenses of man to Buffalo on account of Mr. McKenzie ($1.25), also signed by John A. Roebling
3) Important and very rare document (we can find no other copy) titled “Circular”, dated Toronto 26th April, 1856, pp.3, blue folio paper published by Wm. Hamilton Merritt, President of the Niagara Suspension Bridge Co., , arguing against “An Act to incorporate the Clifton Suspension Bridge Company, i.e. against the construction of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. According to Merritt, in violation of the existing exclusive rights of the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company. That Niagara Clifton Bridge, also known as the Falls View Suspension Bridge was nevertheless constructed and officially opened for traffic on January 2nd 1869. Apparently, the owners of the Niagara Suspension Bridge were afterwards all shareholders in this new bridge;
4) Important and a rare 1859 document, by Mr. Drummond, March 3th 1859, a Private Bill, No. 113 “An Act to incorporate the Clifton Suspension Bridge Company At head of title: No. 113. 2nd Session, 6th Parliament, 22 Victoria, 1859. pp. 3, legal paper. Only original copy found held by the Library of Parliament.
5,6,7&8) Four 1847 share deposits for the Niagara Suspension Bridge; 1 complete blank slip, 1; Three (3) share deposit coupons for:
• Samuel Zimmerman (100 shares), August 17th, 1847. Zimmerman is regarded as the founder of Niagara Falls, he had an estate on Clifton Place encompassing the area from the Niagara River all the way up to the railway tracks (at the time the Erie and Ontario Railways, of which he was a majority owner), was the contractor of the Great Western Railway to Niagara Falls and was an important benefactor of Clifton;
• James Oswald, trustee of other stock holders (4000 shares), August 17th, 1847. James Oswald. American-born James Oswald was one of Niagara's most prominent business men, who along with his brother operated the Stamford Spring Brewery. Oswald also owned the Whirlpool Inn for approximately 30 years (The Whirlpool Inn, once known as Rorbeck's Tavern is also designated as a heritage property, and is in close proximity on Portage Road).; and;
• M. Creigston of Toronto, June 7th 1847 (4 shares).
9,10,11&12)) Four (4) purchase receipts from the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Co.:
• Working man removing things out of shop, payment to Mr. C. Bowen;
• Expenses connected with the Committee; Mr. Miller, Woodruff, Clark and Smith to consult with the S(outh) N(iagara) Board, payment to Woodruff (who was President of the NFSB Co.);
• Fire wood purchase by W. O. Buchanan (Secretary of the NFSB Co.), January 5th;
• Fire wood purchase from Elihah P. Graves, March 2nd.
13) Small photo album. Niagara Falls; views of Niagara Falls, including one of the Railway Suspension Bridge, Jon. Campbell & Son Toronto 1877 Photo Lith by Louis Glaser;
14 & 15) Positive on Glass (and a high definition recent print), 8 x 8 cm, c. 1860, of the Entrance to Niagara Suspension Bridge at the horse / pedestrian level. Grand Trunk Railway poster and regulations visible;
16) Brochure The Falls of Niagara: being a complete guide to all the points of interest around and in the immediate neighbourhood of the great cataract, with views taken from sketches by Washington Friend, esq., and from photographs. T. Nelson and Sons, Edinburg and New York, Toronto James Campbell, 1861, with a sections about the Niagara Suspension Bridge, and a map showing its location.
Some background on Suspension Bridge:
In 1846, charters were signed to form the Niagara Falls International Bridge Company and the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company (NFSB Co.) Charles Ellet Jr. was first hired to construct the Bridge. He built a temporary suspension bridge in 1848 as the first part of his plan. Not long after, he left the project after a financial dispute with the Bridge Companies.
A three-year hiatus followed before the companies hired famous American Engineer John Augustus Roebling (1806-69), to complete the project. Starting in 1851, Roebling became the Design and Construction Engineer of the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge. The German-born U.S. civil Engineer was a pioneer in the design of steel suspension bridges. He later designed his best known bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge.
Roebling used Ellet’s bridge as scaffolding to build the double-decked bridge in Niagara Falls. By 1854 his bridge was nearly complete, and the lower deck was open for pedestrian and carriage travel. On March 18th 1855, a fully laden passenger train drove across the upper deck and officially opened the completed bridge. The successful crossings of this and later trains made Roebling’s Suspension Bridge the first working suspension railway bridge in history. Canada and the United States were finally connected by railroad across the Niagara River!