If you have lived in Kamloops for any length of time and have looked west as you have driven across the Overlanders Bridge, you will have realized that there was another bridge in the past to get to North Kamloops.
But did you know that there have been three road bridges across the Thompson River connecting Kamloops with North Kamloops and the areas to the west and north of Kamloops?
The current bridge, named for the Overlanders of 1862, was built in the late '50s/early '60s by Peter Kewitt Construction and put into service in November of 1961. The bridge was an immediate success as it provided two lanes of traffic both north and south – and it went over the rail tracks at the south end.
Below is a photo of the Overlanders Bridge just prior to construction completion, with the "Black Bridge" in use further downstream.
The second bridge, known as the Black Bridge, was built in 1925 and had well outlived its ability to provide a reliable route connecting Kamloops and North Kamloops by 1961. The Black Bridge was notionally a two-lane bridge, but it was too small for two large vehicles to pass, so there were often times when buses or trucks had to give way and reverse off the bridge to let a larger vehicle pass. Add to that, the access onto the south end of the Black Bridge was through an uncontrolled level crossing of the CP railway tracks. The traffic tie-ups in Kamloops could rival those of any large city at times!The Black Bridge sat abandoned for several years, but in the early '70s, the steel structure was removed from the concrete pilings and used for other bridges in Clearwater and Revelstoke.
The first bridge to cross the Thompson was named the "White Bridge" and it was located even further west of the Black Bridge.
In the early spring, when the Thompson River water levels are really low, you can still see the original pilings for the bridge. This bridge was built in about 1890, when there were still paddlewheelers travelling on Kamloops Lake, and as such, the bridge was designed as a swing bridge with a middle section that swung out to allow boats to pass beyond the lake upstream to Kamloops and beyond.
By the time bridge construction was complete, however, the presence of the CP railway had put an end to the paddlewheelers so the swinging portion of the bridge was never used. The White Bridge was built from wood and originally meant to support horse or ox-drawn wagons going out to the B.C. fruitlands and the farms north of Kamloops, and then later to connect the Tranquille TB Sanatorium with the train stations in Kamloops.