Silver Bridge Anniversary
Looking Back At Tragedy
When the Silver Bridge at Pt. Pleasant collapsed at about 5 o'clock the evening of December 15, 1967, Governor Hulett Smith was pulled out of a meeting of the State Board of Public Works.
Smith: My assistant Paul Crabtree came in and said, "You better get hold of Burl," that's the road commissioner. He said that he just heard that the Pt. Pleasant bridge had just collapsed. And so they got the State Police and we used what communications we had then and, in a little bit, we were all in the cars going down to Pt. Pleasant. And there, I met the governor of Ohio. Everybody was concerned. Then, of course . . . it was just hard to imagine. It was raining, cold, and December, and we go out there and there wasn't any bridge.
The Silver Bridge was built in 1928. It spanned the Ohio River between Pt. Pleasant and Kanauga, Ohio, for nearly 40 years. When it collapsed during rush hour, 46 people died.
A bridge of identical design at St. Marys in Pleasants County was closed immediately out of concern for its safety. Authorities later replaced it.
Following the collapse of the Silver Bridge, it's pieces were recovered and taken to a field south of Pt. Pleasant. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation revealed that an eye bar pin had failed, causing the bridge's tragic drop into the Ohio River. The Silver Bridge disaster resulted in more stringent regulations for bridge construction and inspection.
A new bridge across the Ohio was dedicated at nearby Henderson, two years to the day after the Silver Bridge tragedy.
FOR MORE INFORMATIONPoint Pleasant River Museum
Person Interviewed: Vi Painter and Ruth Fout
Title: Beauty Shop Owner / Point Pleasant River Museum
Location: Mason County, West Virginia
Address: 28 Main Street, Point Pleasant, WV 25550
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