THE CITY OF BRIDGES PARKERSBURG WV
Mackey's Antiques & Clock
1249 Gihon Road
Parkersburg WV 26101
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For Early Parkersburg History and Old Pictures
old Parkersburg - Belpre Bridge under construction 1914 , it was opened in 1916 was 2,845 feet long and 30 ft wide. it was demolished march 16th 1980
Parkersburg's first bridge was a covered wooden structure that was erected over Worthington Creek around 1810 on the North-western Pike (Route 50) into town. After standing faithfully for over a century it was torn down after World War I.
Two later bridges were built ,one a railroad bridge over Worthington, and the other an open wooden span over the same creek which brought the Staunton Pike (Route 47) into Parkersburg.
It wasn't until 1858 that a bridge connected the two sections of Parkersburg, creating perhaps the city's first real convenience. It was placed at the foot of Market Street and became the only link to the south side. Most likely, it is this bridge and its predecessors that determined Market to be the main street.
On an early morning in August, 1875, a heavy rain created strong flood like currents in the Little Kanawha and the Market Street Bridge was swept off its abutments, crashing into the water. For a time ferry service had to be resumed.
Three years later that bridge was replaced by another, an iron structure put up by a Pittsburgh firm. It lasted less than a year. After a time, a third bridge, the last, was built into place. Also made of iron it survived less than a decade and was knocked into the Kanawha by a log jam riding the crest of the July, 1888 flood. Under repair at the time, its girders had been weakened and a temporary structure placed under it as support. The jam found it' easy prey and dragged it into the water and down onto Blennerhassett Island.
By this time the city was beginning to have second thoughts about the Market Street location. A dispute arose over where the next bridge should be located. Those owning property on lower Market fought for a replacement on the old abutments (which still stand). Juliana Street merchants and owners argued for a new site at the foot of their street, appealing to the interests of Lubeck residents who used the bridge perhaps more than most. Finally city hall submitted to the latter, and a Canton, Ohio firm was called in to erect a bridge at the foot of Juliana. Completed in 1891 it carried all traffic over the Kanawha until it was condemned 70 years later.
Most successful in Parkersburg were the early railroad bridges. The first, and the oldest still standing, was the Ohio River Bridge, created by an Act of Congress in 1862 and completed in January 1871 after 2 years construction. It measured 4600 feet, from its start at 6 th and Avery, and for a time was the world's longest bridge. B & O bridge, it had nonetheless been partially financed by a wealthy Baltimore family and they demanded a 25 cent tax on all passengers who crossed it. In 1904 the B & O finally bought them out. It also rebuilt the main channel spans with steel and replaced the trusses. The old style with the under trusses looked like the new one upside down. In 1929 it was again strengthened. During both World Wars it was put under guard.
The second railroad bridge was built over the Kanawha by the Ohio River Railroad in 1886. Elevated above Ann Street and servicing an Ann St. terminal station the bridge ran north-south and linked Huntington with Wheeling. In 1907 a Kanawha bridge was built for the trolley lines of the Parkersburg Marietta Inter Urban Co. Called the East Street Bridge it opened in time for the 1908 Fair at Shattuck Park. Primarily a toll bridge, it was purchased in 1937 by the State. In 1909 the Juliana Street bridge was ordered closed to favor toll interests on the East St. Bridge. The city council went immediately under attack and was forced to rescind its order.
Parkersburg's most important bridge was built in 1914. Four prominent citizens, including Harry Camden and J. M. Caldwell, sold their stock in various companies in order to finance a much needed bridge over the Ohio River into Belpre Ohio. the county court offered its cooperation and construction got under way. fifth street was chosen for the site A cable suspension type bridge, it was built by a German Engineer named Laub who was called in from pittsburgh. He reportedly designed it after the Rhine Bridge at Coblenz in his home country. The floor was originally of wooden blocks overlain with rails that were supposed to have run trolleys to Athens, a project that was never completed In 1927 a D. B. Crawford purchased the bridge, then sold it to the state ten years later. In the early fifties the bridge was closed and the old wooden floor was replaced by a modern steel one.
During the heated contest over the Juliana /Market bridge in 1888, one individual formally proposed a location at 5th Street. In 1937 his projection was realized when the Public Works Administration put up the Fifth Street Bridge, and opened it with proper ribbon cutting ceremonies on May 7th. It was paid for by tolls taken from it and the East St. Bridge.
January, 1954 marked another opening of a bridge as the Memorial Bridge, a toll structure, began carrying traffic across the Ohio from the upper end of Garfield Avenue. In 1965 an Interstate 77 bridge was built by state and federal funds over the Little Kanawha. Presently a new Ann Street Bridge is being built that will link Route 2 south and Marrtown with downtown Parkersburg and routes east, west and north.
At this writing in December, 1968 Parkersburg has 8 bridges, qualifying it for the title "City of Bridges" .Three span the Ohio, Five cross the Little Kanawha. Five are automobile bridges (one of which being a toll bridge), two are railroad structures, and one is closed. A ninth is under construction.
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