St. Albans / Nitro Bridge, "Richard J. 'Dick' Henderson Memorial Bridge"
The original bridge was built 1934 by the City of St. Albans. Initiated by the St. Albans Businessmen’s Association in 1925, construction was slowed due to the Great Depression. The C&O Underpass was to be constructed at the same time as the bridge and it was built in 1930.
Bridge construction was finally started on Feb. 16, 1934 and less than 9 months later, the grand opening was held on Nov. 12, 1934. The bridge was built for $328,000. Initially a toll bridge, the bridge was turned-over to the State of West Virginia in 1945 and the tolls were removed. A ferry also operated nearby and continued operation until approximately 1945, as it’s tolls were less expensive than the bridge’s. The initial bridge toll was twenty five cents per car and five cents per additional persons. The ferry had been in operation since the early 1900’s and was reported to have been fifteen cents per car, but took much longer to cross the river. West Virginia Governor H. G. Kump gave the dedication address on November 12, 1934. Seven area mayors were also invited.
The structure is unusual for several different reasons. The bridge only used rolled H-section beams for all of its members. H-section rolled beams did not even begin to be used on bridges until around 1920. The beams are more often seen on bridges from around 1940 and beyond, making the bridge look much more modern than it was. A newspaper article from 1928 mentioned that the bridge design would be the same type as the Pt. Pleasant “Silver Bridge” over the Ohio River, where this new type of construction replaces cables with a system of chains. This design was not used.
This bridge was declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. This cantilever truss bridge was built by the McClintic-Marshall Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. The 1934 Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge was the oldest cantilever bridge over the entire Kanawha River. It was closed January 7, 2013 to its deteriorated condition and is being replaced with a new structure.
The St. Albans / Nitro Bridge was officially renamed the "Richard J. 'Dick' Henderson Memorial Bridge" in 1999 by the WV Legislature. Mr. Henderson was a former Carbide employee, and a member of the WV House of Representatives who died at the age of 71 in 1998. While working at Carbide, he was the editor of the “Carbider” newspaper for 41 years and was often referred to as “Mr. Carbide”. A St. Albans resident, he and his wife, Lorraine, raised nine children.
New Historical Sign Erected:
A new Historical marker was erectede in April by the St. Albans Recreaton Dept at the St. Albans Roadside park. Purchased with grant funds the Historical Society received, it depicts the history of the 1934 bridge with two vintage photograph (see below)
A "Bridge Closing Party" was held on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at the St. Albans Roadside Park. Historic Photos were displayed, venders were available to showcase St. Albans businesses and several TV and radio stations were on hand. Several hundred people showed-up to commemorate this historic bridge.