From the N.B. Dept of Transportation and the Pincombe Thesis on the Moncton Township
The first record of a ferry service on the Petitcodiac River in this area occurred on November 19, 1841, and when the Westmorland (Albert County was not established until 1845) Court of General Sessions ordered:
"that a Ferry be established across the Petitcodiac River at the Bend. Fare as follows: for every passenger, 1 s. 3 d; for every ox, cow, etc. 3 s; for every horse 4 s."
"that the said ferry extend on the Bend side between Hall's and Fisher's Creeks."
"that Simon Outhouse be Ferryman."
Fisher's Creek drained a pond where Lewis Street and Lester Avenue are now located, flowing westerly long what is now Queen Street and then in a southeasterly direction from what is now Church Street, crossing Main where the City Hall is situated and thence to the River. Simon Outhouse, his wife Lucretia, and their three children lived in the Point Park area, across from the former Naval Station, on land later owned by Thomas Nowlan. The point of land jutting into the actual bend of the River is still known as Outhouse Point. A lighthouse was built on this point in the Nineteenth Century and Omar Wilmot of Lower Coverdale, has informed us in an interview that the white light was changed to red just before the turn of the century, because the electric lights from the streets and buildings in Moncton caused difficulties for the pilots and captains of vessels navigating the river to Moncton. Hazen, Joseph, and Frank Steeves all served as keepers; they also owned the land immediately adjacent to the lighthouse. Captain Jack Powell of Dover believes this lighthouse was in operation until the mid-1950s. The ferry service continued until the first bridge was completed in 1867.
This bridge was constructed by a group of local citizens from both sides of the river, who organized and incorporated themselves as a private company. Honourable Bliss Botsford, later a Judge of the County Court, led the people in this operation. The bridge was built under the supervision of a Moncton merchant, Ezekiel Taylor, a native of Ulster, who was also a contractor of considerable ability. Despite the fact it took over two years to complete the contract, it was to have only two years of service before it was swept away in the hurricane (which is usually called the Saxby Gale) during the night of October 4, 1869. Once again a ferry service was put into operation. This accident has often been confused with the loss of the four O'Brien children in the Saxby Gale. (See reference under Cemeteries).
The second bridge was completed in 1872 under a contract from the Commissioner of Public Works for New Brunswick. The contractor was Amasa E. Killam, who then went on to erect the first bridge across the mouth of Hall's Creek, linking Leger's Corner (Dieppe) and Moncton. He later built the railway's line from Salisbury to Hopewell Corner (Albert of Riverside-Albert). An old photograph shows six spans, each equipped with a single arch Burr truss, and a swing span to allow shipping to pass up and down the river. This latter span was located on the Albert County side. Some of the piers of this old structure are still visible in the 1930s.
The traffic at this period consisted mostly of heavy truck wagons and horse and buggies and was not very excessive. About 1915, the automobile and motor trucks began to make themselves known and were increasing rapidly in numbers; this coupled with the fact that the superstructure of the bridge had reached retiring age made it apparent that a new structure was imperative.
This new structure, destined to be the third bridge, is the one we know today. The old bridge continued in use throughout the construction period and into the summer of 1918.
Surveys and soundings were made and diamond drill borings located ledge rock very deep at the Moncton end and was on a perfect grade toward the Albert County shore and not so deep for the Piers at this end.
For a steel structure to be placed over the river, it was necessary to go to the ledge rock. Open caissons were out of the question and the only safe and practical way was found to be was the Pneumatic Caisson. A causeway was never considered as large earth or stone moving trucks did not exist at this period. Steel piling was not used also at this time.
The caissons were 70" long by 20" wide with an 8" perimeter. Two material locks and one man lock were installed. Compressed air was provided from a power plan installed at the Moncton end, also a medical lock was installed to take care of the "Sand Hogs" or men who developed the "Bends." This lock was used considerably. The Bends are caused by emerging from the pressurized air too quickly.
Tenders were called and a tender was awarded to Reid and Archibald, a Nova Scotia contracting firm.
Floating equipment was out of the question and a heavy cableway was erected with high towers on the Moncton and Albert County shores. All concrete, granite masonry, ballast, in fact everything was carried back and forth for the construction of the Piers.
The Piers were built of granite masonry with concrete hearting, the beds and joints were caulked and pointed with lead wool. The Caissons for the piers were built on the Albert County shore and launched at the flood of the tide. They were held in place by Chinese anchors and positioned both longitudanally and laterally with little tolerance allowed as to their correct position. This was very difficult and a headache for both the Engineer and Contractor as very little time ensued before the turn of the Tide.
The Sand Hogs were of all nationalities and followed this air work, driving tunnels and foundations of all types all over the Continent and were a rugged and tough lot. Their wages were much above the average laborer. They risked their lives while employed. About 30 sand hogs worked in this chamber excavating the material which was carried up the material locks and dumped into the river. Rapid progress was made after everything was in place. Working time under air pressure was about four hours.
Extreme caution had to be used at all times as the air pressure was up t 35 lbs. p.s.i. One pound pressure added in the chamber meant 90 tons of ballast to counteract the same. Hundreds of car wheels from the nearby C.N.R. were used for ballast. The Steel Superstructure was erected by the Cantilever method and consisted of 1 plate girder of 57'.1 through truss span of 355' and four spans of 261'6, 2,360,000 lbs of steel in all of 4.3 cents per lb. at a cost of $22,800. Sidewalk on one side placed a cost of $1,400 - almost unbelievable considering present day costs. The construction of this bridge was indeed a major undertaking considering the tidal conditions and the physical properties of the river proper.
The rapid growth of Riverview Heights caused the Gunningsville Bridge to become totally inadequate to handle the traffic, especially at peak periods. Studies were made by provincial engineers to determine the best type of crossing, without damaging the environment. They recommended a causeway with tidal gate facilities on the Riverview end. Construction began late in 1967 and completed about one year later. The roadway was paved later in 1969 and the gate controls operable before the winter. The creation of Lake Petitcodiac above the causeway was definite asset; however, the story below the site was less than pleasant. Despite the professional opinions of the engineers involved, the river began to silt at an alarming rate and today, less than twenty years later, it has worsened to become an eyesore and a menace to the environment.