The Michigan Central Railroad (MCR) Bridge is an icon of St. Thomas, and has been since 1929. It has been recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Site – and it’s no wonder why: the construction of this structure was an incredible engineering feat of its day.
At 855 feet long, with 13 concrete piers which rise 90 feet above the valley floor, the MCR Bridge is a marvel of Southwestern Ontario. At its peak, as many as 47 trains crossed the bridge daily, which contributed greatly to St. Thomas’s status as the Railway Capital of Canada. The railway was vital in the development of the city, which is why the bridge is so important to St. Thomas even today.
Because the Michigan Central Railroad Bridge is so significant, a community organization has taken on the ambitious task of transforming the bridge into Canada’s first elevated park, similar to the Highline in New York.
The vision takes shape in the St. Thomas Elevated Park Project, undertaken by On Track St. Thomas. The purpose of the project is to preserve this asset of our railway heritage for future generations to enjoy, while providing locals with an excitingly unique park for recreation.
On Track envisions the bridge to have flower beds, trees, benches, public art, and a trail for walking, running, and biking. This will be a huge draw for tourism, with a dramatic entrance to the city and a rare attraction, which will contribute to the economic revival of the Railway City. It will also be a perfect venue for a variety of community events.
Imagine the views!
The organization has accomplished lots in its first phase, including purchasing the bridge and lands surrounding it. The plan also involves environmental studies, insurance, initial stabilization, and surveys, which all require substantial funding. Thus, On Track is seeking donations, and in return, they will create bronze plaques on the bridge in gratitude of founders.
Can’t wait for the St. Thomas Elevated Park to open?
We have good news for you in the meantime!
The 2nd Annual Elevated Picnic is happening on Sunday, August 28th from 12:30-2:30. This picnic will allow you to experience an elegant lunch with a breathtaking view of the region, all while enjoying musical entertainment.
All proceeds from the event will go to funding the Elevated Park Project, making it not only an amazing experience but a great cause, too!
The St. Thomas Elevated Park Project is an inspiring display of local dedication to not only the past but the future of our city. We are so excited for the day in which we can take in the beauty of Central Elgin from a park in the sky, a day which is planned to come in Summer 2017.
Check out their website for more information on the project, and get your tickets to the Elevated Picnic before they’re gone.