Bridge Souvenir Book printed - Our group and the Nitro Historic Commission produced a 50 page souvenir book showing the past St. Alban/Nitro bridge photos, demolition of the past bridge bridge in 2013 and current construction photos. It has the history and vintage photos of both towns. Available for $5.00. More were recently reprinted and are available at the Curiosity Shop on Main St.
New Bridge Photos acquired - We have recently acquired two photos from the City of St. Albans. One is from the 1934 bridge erection (a 24 x 36 photo on foam board) and the other is from the January 2013 Bridge Implosion, taken by Graham Shrewberry.
Bridge Opening Ceremony:
Members of our group and officers of the Nitro Historical Society helped, in cooperation with the Dept. of Highways and city mayors, the Bridge Day Opening ceremonies on Friday, November 1, 2013. The ribbon was cut at noon by Governor Tomlin and Senator Manchin.
Our groups help to plan and conduct the "Walk the Bridge" the night before which allowed people to walk over the bridge. Refreshments and vendors booths were available and two radio live shows. It is estimated over 2,000 people walked across the bridge on October 31, 2013. We also worked along-side the Nitro Historic Commission to make a Souvenir Bridge Opening Day Booklet with about 50 pages of many photos and city histories.
Some Bridge History
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 Virginiain 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 erected in April by the St. Albans Recreation 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, vender's 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.