My wife and I have walked the High Line elevated park on visits to New York several times, and quite enjoyed the experience. A group located in St. Thomas, Ontario (about thirty minutes from where we live in London) clearly feel the same way, and they had a big, old elevated railway bridge to work with. That has resulted in the St. Thomas Elevated Park, built on a repurposed rail bridge dating from 1929.
The St. Thomas Elevated Park is built on the deck of the Michigan Central Railway bridge. My family has driven beneath this imposing bridge (its concrete piers stand as high as 109 feet) countless times on our way to the beach at Port Stanley. Recently, we began to notice sculptures appearing on the top of the bridge. It was time to investigate.
The bridge portion of the Elevated Park is 30 feet wide and 850 feet long, and there is a considerable expanse of hiking trail extending beyond that. The view is pretty spectacular from that height, but the really impressive sight is what the volunteers in this small community have achieved. The bridge surface has been covered with a wooden walkway with safety railings. Benches and planters abound, as do large, colorful metal sculptures. It has a seriously urban feel to it. Stepping onto the St. Thomas Elevated Park, it’s easy to forget that you’re in largely rural Southwestern Ontario.
One bonus was that although there were a few people enjoying the views, compared to the High Line, the St. Thomas Elevated Park is relaxingly devoid of crowds.
If you happen to be in the area (once travel is a thing again)—perhaps dropping a student off at London’s Western University or visiting the Lake Erie beaches of Port Stanley—it’s well worth ducking off the road for a few minutes to walk up onto the bridge. It’s a work in progress, and we saw anchors in place for additional structures that are obviously in the pipeline.
To learn more about the St. Thomas Elevated Park (including how to get there), visit the website.