8 votes

CSX - Erie Canal Bridge



Photo taken by James Baughn in July 2009


BH Photo #143543

Street Views 


Baltimore through truss bascule bridge over the Barge Canal (Erie Canal) between Tonawanda and North Tonawanda
North Tonawanda, Erie County, New York, and Niagara County, New York
Open to traffic
Built 1918
- Strauss Bascule Bridge Co. of Chicago, Illinois
- CSX Railroad (CSX)
- Conrail (CR)
- New York Central Railroad (NYC)
- Penn Central Railroad (PC)
Baltimore warren through truss bascule with overhead counterweight
Length of largest span: 127.0 ft.
Total length: 489.9 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.02255, -78.87211   (decimal degrees)
43°01'21" N, 78°52'20" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/673380/4765516 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Tonawanda East
Inventory numbers
NY 4453060 (New York State bridge identification number)
BH 43067 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 4, 2022: New Street View added by Geoff Hubbs
  • January 5, 2022: New photos from Douglas Butler
  • September 14, 2021: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • June 19, 2021: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • April 4, 2021: New photos from Neil Ferguson
  • July 9, 2017: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 30, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Riveted"
  • August 26, 2016: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • July 25, 2016: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • June 13, 2016: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • November 30, 2015: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • January 5, 2015: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • August 13, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • January 16, 2014: Updated by CANALLER: Added Info.
  • July 27, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Railroad"
  • July 27, 2009: New photos from James Baughn


  • James Baughn - webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Douglas Butler
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Dana and Kay Klein
  • Geoff Hubbs


CSX - Erie Canal Bridge
Posted December 14, 2021, by Brian (Wlbblw at aol dot com)

The bridge was opened for test lifts only. The NYC once had an interlocking tower on the North-West side to control it & the interlockings. It's long since been torn down.

CSX - Erie Canal Bridge
Posted September 18, 2017, by William E. Redemske (canalrat26 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I grew up along the canal and wondered if it was ever opened,especially observing the Erie Railroad Warren through-truss bridge upstream by a few hundred yards which was NOT a moveable span,and obviously having the same water level clearance as the NYC (now CSX)bridge.The Erie bridge was removed in the early 1980's after the line was abandoned in 1977 as a result of the creation of Conrail.In the early 1920's the New York Central railroad's main line from Buffalo to Niagara Falls ran alongside,and through,Main St. in the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda,a very busy rail line with much "street-running" (as in streetcar operation),creating substantial hazards for pedestrian and vehicular traffic (the passenger depot in Tonawanda on this original line routing survives today restored as The Historical Society of the Tonawandas,and a cement pier from the original Erie Canal crossing still exists along the Webster Street bridge connecting the Tonawandas).Due to increasing rail traffic,the NYC relocated the mainline that not only consisted of the Erie Canal drawbridge,but several concrete arch spans with an elevated route supported by massive earthworks,in the City of Tonawanda.During the time of the rail relocation project,the State of New York was at the time actively planning to enlarge the Canal to accommodate ocean vessels. (The enlargement plan never became reality,but was revived briefly during the 1960's as "The All-American Canal",obviously a snub to Canada's Welland Canal).With the canal's expansion plan was very active at the time of NYC's relocation project,the railroad decided to make the new span over the Erie Canal a drawbridge suitable for all but the largest ships,as a pro-active measure to prevent the expense of later conversion,or reconstruction,as well as traffic delays and disruptions should the canal expansion ever became reality.

The drawbridge was only opened twice shortly after construction,and the backup gasoline engine (the primary power source was electric motors)was removed and became a casualty of one of many WW II scrap drives.

I last visited the bridge during the early 1990's and took many photos of some of the mechanisms that locked the moveable span (many shafts and gears).I deeply regret that I never visited the control or Bridgetenders house on top of the bridge,fearing arrest from treaspassing,although I believe that it was gutted long before,as it was a favorite hangout for kids and was heavily vandalized.I would love to see,if it ever exists,photos of the bridge when it was opened,as well as a shot of the span at night with all of its light fixtures,railings,etc. intact and functional.

It's now approaching a hundred years since it was built,and opened...span locks and rail joints long removed,hinge joints,bearings,gears,levers and shafts forever frozen from corrosion and non-usage,and no power plant to operate it.The railroad track it carries is solid,no provision to separate at the movable span separation points.This bridge will never open again.

CSX - Erie Canal Bridge
Posted July 9, 2017, by Darlene (dbolsover [at] aol [dot] com)

Has this bridge been open??

Did they operate this bridge when doing the repairs to it??