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Wheeling Suspension Bridge WV by Kate Adams
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The National Road: West Virginia
Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Wheeling and the National Road is home to one of the greatest engineering achievements in American History. The nearly 170 year old Wheeling Suspension Bridge is the oldest operating suspension bridge in the world. The bridge was the first to span a main channel of the Ohio River (1). In 1836, a two span covered bridge opened over the back channel of the Ohio in Wheeling. This bridge crossed at the site of an 1893 truss and modern day bridge that carries Route 40 over the back channel to this day! (2)

The story of the bridge was amplified by a bidding and design war between two prominent suspension bridge designers, Charles Ellet, Jr. and John Roebling. The two rivals would compete for the commission until Ellet’s design won out in 1847. The 1,010 foot bridge took two years to complete. It opened on October 20, 1849, although the official grand opening would take place on November 15. The bridge was immediately put into service as a toll bridge.

The Terrific Storm

On May 17, 1854, a violent gale destroyed most of the bridge with much of the span crashing into the Ohio. One account of the collapse read:

“For a few moments we watched it with breathless anxiety, lunging like a ship in the storm; at one time it rose to nearly the heighth of the towers then fell, and twisted and writhed, and was dashed almost bottom upward. At last there seemed to be a determined twist along the entire span, about one half of the flooring being nearly reversed, and down went the immense structure from its dizzy heighth to the stream below, with an appalling crash and roar. Nearly the entire structure struck the water at the same instant dashing up an unbroken column of foam across the river, to the heighth of at least forty feet! " (3)

Many have compared the 1854 collapsed to that of the famed 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

The collapse ended Ellet’s turbulent career as a bridge designer and builder. To repair the span, Roebling, who had since gained national acclaim for his railroad bridge over the Niagara River, was commissioned to rebuild the bridge at a cost of $42,000 (4).

To preserve the structure and keep it usable, the bridge would have major repairs done in 1956, 1982, and 1999. It has received numerous awards and honors including:

  1. National Historic Engineering Landmark; 1969
  2. National Historic Landmark; 1975
  3. National Register of Historic Places; 1980
    credits Gribblenation.com
    Nikon D200 x 18-200 Nikkor lens
    3 shots HDR processed in Photomatix and then enhanced ps

Tags

rural, bridge, suspension, wv, wheeling

Comments

  • NancyC
    NancyCabout 5 years ago

    Stunning Kate. :)

  • Thanks you so much Nancy:))

    – Kate Adams

  • Fern Design
    Fern Designabout 5 years ago

    So beautiful!!! love it..

  • Many thanks I appreciate it very much:))

    – Kate Adams

  • Dave7074
    Dave7074about 5 years ago

    Kate you are just so talented my friend, beautiful like always. Dave

  • Hi Dave!! thanks so much my friend for your great comments:))

    – Kate Adams

  • vadim19
    vadim19about 5 years ago

    Gorgeous, Kate! Such an atmospheric image with the wonderful treatment.

  • Thank you so very much Vadim – always love your comments:))

    – Kate Adams

  • BigD
    BigDabout 5 years ago

    Excellent treatment, Kate

  • Thank you so much “D” – always enjoy the US history:))

    – Kate Adams

  • LjMaxx
    LjMaxxabout 5 years ago

    Kate this is gorgeous. Such a fine job you did on this.. Super!

  • Well thank you very much Lj and for the fave, I am honoured – so glad you liked it – I always enjoy history:))

    – Kate Adams

  • Angel Perry
    Angel Perryabout 5 years ago

    WOW Kate!!! Awesome!

  • Hi Angle nice to see you, thank you so much for the great comments:))

    – Kate Adams

  • LudaNayvelt
    LudaNayveltabout 5 years ago

    WOW, FANTASTIC TREATMENT , KATE!

  • Hi Luda so pleased you like it, did it a couple of weeks ago but was so unsure about it – different for me – thank you so much:))

    – Kate Adams

  • akaurora
    akauroraabout 5 years ago

    A beautiful capture of this historical bridge (and a great write up), well done!! Take Care ~ Rick & Deb ~ :)

  • Hi Guys!! thanks so much for the great comments:))

    – Kate Adams

  • Jonice
    Joniceabout 5 years ago

    Awesome Girl!!!! Jonice

  • Many thanks Jonice – it’s a very interesting old bridge:))

    – Kate Adams

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