Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

Laying Cable at South Tower

One innovation in the construction of the Lions Gate Bridge was the use of prefabricated strands for the suspension cables. Previously, they had been wound at the site. An American firm supplied the wires, which were twisted into cable strands by a company in Quebec and then wound onto wooden spools for the rail trip to Vancouver. Bridge workers then hoisted the cable strands into place over the tower saddles. The natural grouping of parallel round strands is hexagonal, the result of using a number of strands from the series 1, 7, 19, 37, 61, 91, 127 … The final cable must not be too stiff or difficult to anchor. With cables 1.44 inches (3.65 cm) thick, engineers chose 61 strands for the bridge. Workers tightened the strands with wrenches, “tuning” them to sound at the right frequency.

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In this picture, the workmen are laying the cable strands one by one over a saddle on the south tower.

This scene took place at the very top of the south tower. The individual cable strands would be hoisted up from barges below when workers phoned down.

This photo was taken in May of 1938. All 122 cable strands (61 for each finished cable) were in place in 16 days; long daylight hours permitted three working shifts.

Two of the workers in this picture are Archie McQueen (left) and Rummy Crofts (right).

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