UXBRIDGE: Already known as The Trail Capital of Canada, Uxbridge’s extensive network of trails will add to its inventory this weekend, with the official opening of the recently restored trestle bridge.
A project several years in the making, the restored bridge connects the township to the Trans Canada Trail.
“We’re really proud and think that the trestle bridge will be something that the community will be able to enjoy for many, many years,” said John McCutcheon, chair of the Uxbridge Trails Committee.
The trestle bridge, located just east of Main St. in Uxbridge (next to the water treatment plant), was built in 1872 by the Toronto Nipissing Railway, the narrow-gauge railway headquartered in Uxbridge. It was mainly used to bring wood and grain from the north into Toronto, The Grand Trunk Railway acquired the bridge and rebuilt it in 1894, and it was used for train traffic for many years, until the last train passed over the bridge in 1980. It was used subsequently for foot and bicycle traffic, but fell into disrepair in the early 2000's. It was closed for a number of years, until the Uxbridge Trails Committee decided that it was worth restoring.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, a celebration will be held to officially open the bridge, with festivities getting underway with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. In addition, the first 200 families to visit the township’s tourism trailer at the event will receive a swag bag.
Guests can then take part in a special geocaching event at 1 p.m., as they scour the trails in search of 15 newly added geocache locations. The new locations were specially designed for the event and include prizes such as train tickets, gift certificates, collectible coins and more. Geocache passports will be available throughout the day at the tourism trailer, as well as at Herrema Fields. As well, there will be a special Woodland Picnic in the Park at Herrema Fields at noon with food trucks on hand.
The refurbishment, which was completed over the summer was made possible by grants, as well as donations from the community. The $250,000 restoration project included a new roadbed for foot and bicycle traffic, railings, new abutments at either end, lighting, security cameras and a plan for a unique viewing platform that will allow hikers to see the huge timber structure beneath, with eight large trestles carrying the bridge across a deep valley through which the Uxbridge Brook flows.
At times during the restoration, the project was hampered by vandalism, as it had become commonplace at the site, which was well known as ‘beer bridge’ to local youth. However, now that work is complete, the Trails Committee is extremely happy with the transformation, which they expect to be a point of pride for the community.
“It’s a remarkable structure and it looks absolutely spectacular,” commented Wynn Walters, a member of the Trails Committee.
As part of the project, information plaques at the bridge, as well as the Train Station will detail the rich railway heritage and history in Uxbridge. A new kiosk is also planned for the train station, which will include a map of the entire Uxbridge Trail System. The addition of a viewing platform is expected to be completed soon at the trestle bridge.
“The trestle is a significant community asset, and we want to be able to direct people to it,” added Mr. Walters. “As well, we want to be able to tell the story of Uxbridge as a major railway centre in the early 1900’s.”
For more information on this weekend’s trestle bridge event, including a detailed schedule, please visit www.trailblazerevents.com.