The first Michigan Central Railway bridge was built for rail traffic only. Cornelius Vanderbilt owner of the Michigan Central Railway, decided to build a bridge under the Niagara River Bridge Company. This was implemented in order to avoid the high rental prices which the owners of the Lower Arch Bridge were asking for in lieu of using their bridge.

On April 9th 1883, the Niagara River Bridge Company signed a contract with the Central Bridge Works Company of Buffalo New York to build the bridge under the supervision of the chief engineer, Charles C. Schneider. Construction began on April 15th, 1883 to be finished by the deadline of November 1st.

The bridge span was 495 feet (151m), 240 feet above the Niagara River and had a double track that had the capacity to bear the weight of two trains crossing at the same time. On December 1st 1883, the bridge was finally completed totalling $700,000 dollars.

The Cantilever Bridge remained in operation for more than forty years until much heavier modern trains came along requiring the building of the much stronger steel arch bridge. A plaque adorned the American side of this bridge and Read:

Niagara River Bridge Company
Cornelius Vanderbilt, President
James Tillingham, Vice-President

Built By
Central Bridges Works, Buffalo
Geo. S Fields, Manager
C. V. W. Kitridge, Treasurer
Edmond Hayes, Engineer

Length of Bridge 906 feet
Work Commenced April 15th, 1883
Completed December 1st, 1883