July 15, 1884
The flood destroyed all of Calgary's bridges along with ten to twelve bridges and culverts along the CPR line to the west.The flood on the Elbow was made more dangerous as logs broke their booms.
As the river rose and the logs were carried downstream they acted like battering rams against the bridges. The Bow River also flooded, but as there were no bridges that crossed the river, there was no resulting damage.
Stephen Avenue bridge was being repaired and Mr. Christie thought he would have it ready for traffic in a few days when the floods struck again leaving it a worse wreck than in the first instance. The Calgary Herald July 23, 1884.
Calgary was still an unincorporated settlement when the floods hit. It would not be incorporated until November 7, 1884 with a population of just 506 people.
The CPR Bridge was replaced immediately by a temporary trestle while a new truss iron bridge was built. The highway bridge was replaced by a ferry which operated during the summers of 1884 to 1887, until a new bridge was built at the same location. During the winters of 1884 to 1887 the Elbow River was crossed on the ice.
As in 1883, the flood of 1884 did not damage any homes, institutional or commercial structures but it did destroy all of Calgary's bridges along with ten to twelve bridges and culverts along the CPR line to the west. The flood on the Elbow was made more dangerous as logs broke their booms. Even logs which had been pulled onto the banks were caught by the rising water. As the river rose, the logs were carried downstream acting as battering rams against the bridges. The Bow River also flooded but no damage resulted as no bridges crossed that river.
Possibly because of the experience of the previous year, this flood was only a temporary interruption to life in the city. A ferry was installed almost immediately to cross the river (
as fording the stream is unpleasant (The Calgary Herald, August 6, 1884)). It took three years to provide a permanent replacement bridge. A temporary railway bridge was installed near the damaged one while the company built the new iron replacement.
An editorial-style article in The Calgary Herald on July 23, 1884 stated:
We are afraid that unless our member for the North West Council can induce that body to give a liberal grant toward the rebuilding of this bridge [Elbow River Bridge] the town will be put to a great inconvenience and loss for some time to come. It would take three years for a replacement to be built.
If we had the town council organized and in working order, we might be able to tide over the difficulty by obtaining the loan of money to carry out the work of rebuilding.The Calgary Herald, July 23, 1884
It would be three years before the city was able to fund the building of a new bridge. Money had been promised to Father Lacombe for a bridge on the Elbow at the Catholic Mission and the city did try to get those funds for their bridge, but they were turned down. During the winters, residents were able to cross the Elbow on the ice.
Railway traffic was only temporarily suspended as the CPR was able to erect a temporary bridge to carry rail traffic while they built a new structure.
For this flood, residents had a newspaper to keep them informed. The Calgary Herald, Mining and Ranche Advocate and General Advertiser began publishing on August 31, 1883.