The Ship Marine Railway Bridge
The Isthmus of Chignecto, a seventeen mile wide portion of land connecting Nova Scotia to New Brunswick is the site of one of the most ambitious engineering failures in North American history.
In 1875 a Fredericton engineer, Henry G.C. Ketchum, conceived the idea of transporting ships by rail over the Isthmus as opposed to floating them through a canal between the Northumberland Strait and the Bay of Fundy. The name of the project was the Chignecto Marine Transport Railway, locally known as the Ship's Railway. In 1892 the railway was seventy five percent completed when a lack of funds, coupled with government opposition, brought all work on the project to a halt. Ketchum died four years later, in Amherst in 1896, his dream of the Chignecto Marine Transport Railway unrealized.
A high point in the project was the building of a new stone bridge, near the exisiting Tidnish River bridge, which was directed by engineers from Scotland. The keystone for the bridge's arch came ready-cut from Scotland. As told to the writer, by a man who witnessed it, so exact was the design of the bridge, and the workmanship in its construction, that when the keystone was dropped into place no further adjustment was necessary - it fit perfectly. The bridge had been designed to divert the river and allow the natural channel to fill in so it might become part of the railroad bed.