More Notes on the Floating Bridge in Clayton

More Notes on the Floating Bridge in Clayton


The Clayton Floating Bridge.

Elaine Playfair Photo album- photo from Middleville historian Laurie Yuill

Originally written for the Lanark Era by Audrey Armstrong

There was once a bridge that floated in Clayton and maybe fragments are still afloat or lodged against a tree trunk or a riverbank somewhere forming a cool hideaway for the ever wary pike. The first crossing was made at ‘The Narrows” where the Clayton and Taylor Lakes meet. In the late 1850s when the people of the Catholic settlement on the north side of the lake were looking for shortcut to their church at Ferguson Falls. At that  time folks were not adverse to walking, and walk they did, since this bridge was not one to accommodate vehicles.

Two large pine trees, so the story goes, some say they were elm, were stripped and flattened and laid on piers and place 20 feet apart over the narrowest part. If bridges could talk this one would have some pretty amazing stories. It was said the local women walked across this bridge with a child on each arm. The waters were sometimes known as Indian River because Joe Baye the beloved native of the area chose to live.

As a child Amanda can remember her father planning fishing trips to the old bridge where he would get a boat from Old Joe Baye. It became apparent by 1877 that a proper bridge to accommodate vehicles was needed. Built by free labour the Floating Bridge came into existence. It was supposedly 999 feet long and said the stringers were laid out and the cross coverings were pinned during the winter months with the men working on the solid ice. In the spring when the ice disappeared the new bridge floated and became popular not only because it was a novelty, but also because of the choice pike that lurked in the waters beneath the bridge.

Eventually the logs became loosened and were known to pile up in front or under a car and shoot water over the vehicles when crossing. When these issues occurred more logs would be added until at one point there were 5 layers of logs constructing that bridge. Not only that it just was not possible sometimes to get your boat from Clayton to Taylor Lake. The floating bridge was finally condemned in 1943 and officially closed.

Rumours persist of stubborn people still crossing that old rotten bridge and getting stuck and having to be rescued by farmers. D. Thompson took his fleet of horses and wagon across it. The colts bolted and the wagon went over the side while men rushed to the bridge to untie and rescue the young colts. In reality that bridge wasn’t a real joy with the jostling of the logs making passengers look like bobble heads crossing it.

Read the rest below…



Elaine Playfair Photo album- photo from Middleville historian Laurie Yuill


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte



The Floating Bridge of Carleton Place — Found!


The Floating Bridges of Lanark County

The Mystery Ruins and the Floating Sidewalk Near the McNeely Bridge

Stories About Deachman’s Bridge?


Why the Appleton Bridge Collapsed…

The Day the Appleton Bridge Collapsed

Lawsuits in Carleton Place — The Collapse of the Appleton Bridge

So Which Island did the River Drivers of Clayton get Marooned On?

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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