Toll Bridge Provided Convenience And Beauty For Parkersburg Settlers
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For Early Parkersburg History and Old Pictures
Early Toll Bridge Provided Convenience And Beauty For Settlers
The picturesque old Kanawha bridge, covered and dark, was built in 1847 or 1848, Mrs. Margaret Henderson Bartlett, stated in a history of Parkersburg and vicinity. she wrote in 1903. It was a toll bridge and was a great convenience for the people on the lower side of the river. Later the St. Marys Pike was built, and a railroad talked of. In 1851, a charter was secured for the North Western Railroad,which was not completed and cars running on it until 1857, when it first came to Parkersburg. This was then a branch Of the B. & 0., the main line going to Wheeling. These were busy times. With the building of the road came many of our old respected Irish families and the Roman Catholic Church. The same year the Marietta and Cincinnati railroad was completed to Harmar. This road did not at first come to Belpre, but to the river at what was known as Scott's Landing, ten miles above. From there passengers were brought by boat to the depot, which was the brick building now the B. & O. freight Office at the river.
After some time the M. & C. was built to Belpre and passengers and freight were transferred' by boat. After the bridge was completed in 1872 the short line to Athens was built, making a more direct line to Cincinnati. The railroad facilities and the number and capacity of the steamboats gave new life to the town. Our boundaries had extended as also our trade, many people coming in quest of business and homes. Mr. Shaw says from a population of 1,500 in 1851 we had increased to 2,800 in 1860. At this time we received a city charter and had our first mayor, Mr. Jefferson Gibbens. We had not sprung up like mushrooms, but from this time our growth has been more rapid.
The opening of the oil territory at Burning Springs in 1850, 1860and 1861 and the Civil War following so closely are events of which we will not attempt to speak. As we look back over the century the contrast is great. In 1803 a few log houses at the Point and muddy roads, now we have well paved streets and fine houses. Instead of the canoe, flat boats and pack-mules, we have fine steamboats, steam, and trolly cars. Instead of the pine knot or tallow candles and the great wood fires we have electric lights and natural gas. In place of the hardships and deprivations of pioneer life, we have comforts and luxuries such as we never dreamed of in the most civilized country of that time. Let us remember and respect those brave self sacrificing men and women, through whose efforts we have come to this goodly inheritance. I am indebted to the late Stephen C. Shaw, Dr. Hildreth of Marietta, and A. F. Gibbens and other good friends for many of the dates and facts I have included in the history of Parkersburg prior to 1903.
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