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The Hi Carpenter Bridge

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A bill permitting construction of the bridge was passed by Congress in February, 1927. It was not until August that a Commission reported favorably to the head of the department at Washington, but the matter had to follow the regular slow routine of business so that the final approval was delayed until the first of October.

The company, incorporated as the Clarksburg-Columbus Bridge Company, was organized by electing H. A. Carpenter, President and R. C. Griffin, Secretary. Plans of the bridge were drafted by the J. E. Greiner Company of Baltimore, being substantially the same as those of the bridge over the Ohio at Point Pleasant, which was then under construction. The resident engineer was J. W. Richardson of Baltimore, who had spent several years in South America on railroad construction and was engineer of the Point Pleasant Bridge. The contract was let to the General Contracting Company of Pittsburgh, the work of erecting the piers being in charge of Harry Bogan, but the superstructure, or bridge proper, was let to the American Bridge Company, George Compson in charge.

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Immediately, material was ordered from Pittsburgh and shipped by boat, and on Sunday, November 6, the first actual work was done in excavating for the anchorage pier at the foot of George Street, St. Mary’s. All though the winter, the work was carried on although frequently interrupted by high water. The three piers and the two terminals or anchorage piers were completed in the spring of 1928, and then the erection of the steel superstructure was begun.

Instead of using steel cables, eye-bars fifty feet long were used to suspend the bridge, second structure of this kind in America, the first being the Point Pleasant Bridge. The total length of the steel work is 1,771 feet. The is 27 feet wide, and at the highest part in 93 feet above the normal height of the river in the pool, and 40 feet above the 1913 flood. The length of the main span is 700 feet, affording ample space for the navigation of steamboats and large fleets of barges.

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By reason of the enormous tension of the eye-bars and the improved method of construction, this bridge is pronounced probably the strongest that spans the river. Coated with lustrous aluminum paint, when seen at a distance it bears a striking resemblance to the delicate arch of a spider’s web: but its roadway, covered with two and one-half inches of Amesite, feels as solid as if one were walking or riding over a hard surfaced street.

The bridge was completed in time for the opening celebration on October 25, in about two weeks less than a year from the time when work was begun, November 6, 1928 and on that occasion there gathered in St. Mary’s the largest assemblage ever held in Pleasants County.

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There was a procession of the high school bands of New Martinsville, Marietta, and St. Mary’s, with the Citizens Band. Pageants showing the progress in methods of travel both on land and water, addresses by prominent men, their voices carried by microphones to loud speakers on both sides of the river. Twin children of Mr. Carpenter, only twenty-two months old, Mary Helen, and Barbara Ann loosened the bowknot of a ribbon stretched across the bridge, and another daughter Rebecca, broke a bottle and christened the structure, the Short Route Bridge. The celebration closed with a fine display of fireworks at the lower point of the island, which had been cleared of trees for that purpose.

A peculiar feature of the bridge is a ramp leading from the first pier down to Middle Island, thus connecting that valuable tract directly with main land. While almost all the island is above ordinary high water the southern part is rather low,

The people of Newport enjoyed an ox roast and sweet cider on the Ohio side.

The Short Route Bridge was renamed in the 1960’s as the Hi-Carpenter Bridge.