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Marpole CP Rail Bridge

Red historic tram car traveling on a wooden rail trestle.

A piece of Steveston’s tram history went up in flames last night with a fire that spread to the decommissioned 1902 Marpole CP Rail Bridge on the south side of the Fraser River near the River Rock Casino in Richmond. The thick black smoke caused the adjacent Oak Street Bridge to close while fire crews worked to get the fire under control. It remains to be seen how much of the south end of the historic trestle bridge has survived.

This bridge was built as part of the Lulu Island Line, linking Steveston to Vancouver. The original rail line was built in 1902 by the Canadian Pacific Railway before being leased to the BC Electric Railway Company. The BCER electrified the line in 1905 and began running Interurbans – large powerful trams that went between communities – to connect Steveston and Vancouver with a rapid, regular, and convenient passenger service. The original bridge had trestles at both the north and south side with a swing span in the middle to let boats through.

This fire comes just days short of the 122nd anniversary the official opening of the rail line on July 1, 1902. It has also been almost 10 years since vandals lit a fire that damaged the trestle bridge on July 9, 2014.

Tram Car 1220, now restored and on display at the Steveston Tram, is a surviving Interurban that used the Marpole Rail Bridge regularly throughout its service until the Lulu Island Line closed in 1958.

Here are some links to local media coverage about this tragic fire:

Marpole rail trestle bridge was a key part of Richmond history, Vancouver Sun

Burnt Richmond trestle bridge carried Marpole-Steveston trams until 1950s, Richmond News