Road Trips

Crossing from West Virginia into Ohio on the National Road

Over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, my dog Gracie and I explored the National Road all the way across Ohio. That road is now US 40 in most places. I’m bringing the long trip report over from my old Roads site.

Wheeling, West Virginia, is well known for its suspension bridge that carried the National Road across the Ohio River. It delivers westbound travelers onto Wheeling Island, and from there they must cross the Ohio River’s backchannel to finally enter Ohio at the little town of Bridgeport. That, of course, involves another bridge. This map shows them both:

Imagery © 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

That bridge is a modern slab that utterly lacks romance. But check out the bridge that stands next to it.

Bridgeport Bridge

This is the Bridgeport Bridge, named after the town at its west end. It was built in 1893 of wrought iron with a wooden deck, atop piers that originally carried a bridge built here in 1837. A new deck of steel grate was laid in 1950. Subsequently, time (surely aided by lack of maintenance) was not kind to this bridge, and safety became a serious concern. In 1987, additional trusses were installed to temporarily shore up the crumbling substructure. In 1998, a new bridge was completed alongside, and this old girl was abandoned.

Bridgeport Bridge

My old buddy Jeff was along for this segment of the trip, and he noticed a sign hanging from one of the cross braces. “I want to know what’s on that sign,” he said, and quickly we found ourselves, um, trespassing. Stepping out onto the adjacent walkway (as the bridge’s deck had been removed) we soon had our answer.

Bridgeport Bridge

The walkway railing was in nice shape, despite the branches growing through.

Bridgeport Bridge

I wish the same could be said about the bridge’s substructure.

Bridgeport Bridge

This bridge is a basket case if I’ve ever seen one.

Bridgeport Bridge

Rumors have persisted for years that this bridge would soon be demolished. Shortly after I took this trip, a television station in nearby Steubenville reported that it would come down in July, 2012. They noted that the bridge’s railing and finials, as well as that Ohio State Line sign, will be given to local historical societies. I suppose that’s better than nothing. The bridge was demolished on Sept. 12, 2012. Here’s footage of the demolition from the company hired to do the deed.

Looking west from the bridge, a very short remnant of the old road remains. I gather from old maps that when this was still the road, when you reached Ohio State Route 7 ahead, to stay on US 40 you had to jog left and then right. When the new bridge was built, the jog was eliminated.

Bridgeport Bridge

This wasn’t my first visit to Bridgeport. On my last visit, back in 2009, I entered the intersection of US 40 and Ohio SR 7 not noticing that the light was red. The resulting wreck totaled my car, but fortunately nobody in my car was injured. Even though two years had passed, I found it a little emotionally difficult to return to Bridgeport. So I didn’t linger. I took this one shot of town, eastbound.

Bridgeport, OH

Next: The bridges at Blaine.

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2 thoughts on “Crossing from West Virginia into Ohio on the National Road

  1. Thanks for this. I remember reading this trip report on your old site at some point, but I missed the old through-truss bridge on my only trip through Wheeling as the driver of a car in 2019. Now it makes sense. I may not have been paying attention to your post as best I could have. My loss; I had no idea that this great old bridge existed.

    Today, I saw the comment on Facebook that mentioned that the suspension bridge is no longer drivable. I do remember seeing that and looking it up on the way home from my same trip, but rued that I hadn’t driven it. Glad you got the chance to.

    You’d think that for a town with such regional prominence as Wheeling that there’d be a majestic courthouse somewhere. There was once, built in 1876. But it’s long since given away to the a bland and drab structure built in 1960. I struggled with rain the day I was there, but will have to post about it soon.

    Thanks for this virtual trip!

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