Today in Transportation History – 1907: A New Bridge For The North Island of New Zealand

On New Zealand’s North Island, a new vehicular bridge spanning the Waikato River was opened. Victoria Bridge serves as a link between the town of Cambridge and a community that is now known as Leamington. Plans for a bridge at that location had been under development for several years. New Zealand surveyor and engineer James Edward Fulton was the chief engineer for this construction project; American engineer and bridge designer John Alexander Low Waddell served as a consultant.

This truss arch bridge — measuring 463 feet (141 meters) in length and 116 feet (35 meters) in height — was built with 20,000 rivets and more than 330 tons of steel. In addition, the bridge’s concrete pillars were made from Te Kuiti limestone, Cambridge sand, and both local and imported cement.

The debut of Victoria Bridge was greeted with widespread enthusiasm in the region. “Not since the establishment of railway communication with Cambridge has such a far-reaching event taken place, or one that will benefit to a very great extent the inhabitants of the surrounding districts,” asserted the Waikato Independent newspaper on the day of the bridge’s dedication ceremony. “It is indeed gratifying that after years of talk, toil, trials, and tribulation, the bridge is, at last, an accomplished fact, and the structure opened today reflects credit upon all who have in any way been connected with the advancement of the scheme.”

William Lee Plunket, New Zealand’s governor, officially opened Victoria Bridge. He traveled from the capital city of Auckland to Cambridge in a special train for the event. Large crowds were lined up along Cambridge’s main streets as he rode through there in a carriage en route to the new structure.

In 1989, Victoria Bridge was listed in the register of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (the present-day Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga) as a historic landmark.

For more information about Victoria Bridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Bridge,_Cambridge,_New_Zealand.

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