Few locations in Central Alberta are photographed as frequently as the East Coulee bridge.
It serviced trains and vehicles crossing the Red Deer River and provided access and service to two mines. Both mines were left to rot when the coal-mining industry dried up but the Atlas has been turned into an historical site.
The bridge is made with impressive, strong wooden beams, although they’re rotting away and I fear the bridge’s days are numbered.
According to BridgeCity.ca, the bridge was built in 1936 and destroyed by heavy flooding and ice floes in April 1948. The Canadian Pacific Railway rebuilt it, and it remained in use until the 1970s.
My fellow adventurer, The Big Doer, has done some terrific research into the East Coulee bridge. He has learned there was a sizeable yard, depot and turntable on the north side of the bridge well into the 1970s.
The guard house, which someone staffed to allow vehicular traffic across, remains. Here’s a shot of the bridge from inside the little shack.
The bridge stands today as a reminder to visitors of the area’s former vitality. It attracts many a ghost-towner or photographer looking for the right shot.
On the day I visited in Autumn 2010, my good friend Belinda was in our group of lookie-looers. She grew up in the area and regaled me with stories of how she and her friends would jump off the bridge into the Red Deer River below.
She lost herself in the memories, while I went off to calm my queasy stomach.