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(Photo by Calvin Shepherd - Use By Permission)
Alderson West Virginia - A History
© Property of Min7th Productions 2012 
The Bridges Of Alderson
No   history   of Alderson   would   be   complete   without   a   history   of   the   bridge.   Since   Mr.   Swope   obviously   crossed   it   many   times   in   his   fact   gathering   trips from   one   side   of   town   to   the   other,   it’s   surprising   he   didn’t   include   it   in   his   history.   Taking   Mr.   Swope’s   suggestion   to   add   my   own   chronicle   to   his,   I include it here, with the help of others, mainly Margaret Hambrick, who wrote most of the piece.
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The History of Alderson, West Virginia From Multiple Sources and Photos - Compiled and Edited by Barry Worrell
Alderson Ferry, prior to 1881. (Photo-Library of Congress, no restrictions implied) Alderson Bridge - Completed in November 1914, Circa 1910, ladies and gentlemen of old Alderson take a weekend outing on the Greenbrier with the iron bridge in the background. 1914 - The year Alderson had three bridges, in one place. Visable, the iron bridge being used as scafolding for new cement bridge (note arches). Wooden foot bridge. The old bridge in bad condition. It was closed to vehicle trafic, and fenced off from the sides. The Repaired and Reconditioned Alderson Memorial Bridge - 2007 Photo taken during 4th of July celebration.
Prior   to   the   construction   of   the   first   metal   bridge   over   the   Greenbrier,   crossing   the   river   was   accomplished   at   Alderson's Ferry,   about   100   yards   upstream   from   the   current   bridge.   Elder   John   Alderson   established   the   Ferry   in   1789   by   legislative grant.   This   Ferry   was   recognized   as   the   official   crossing   and   no   bridge   was   required   when   Indian   Draft   Turnpike   was incorporated   to   connect   to   the   Red   Sulphur   and   Blue   Sulphur   Turnpike   in   1838.   There   were   few   roads   early   on   and   they connected   to   Lewisburg   and   to   the   north.   South   of   Alderson   there   were   no   roads   other   than   those   crossing   at   the   Ferry. (Click on photo for larger view)
The   old   iron   bridge   was   used   by   the   contractors   as   a   platform   to   pour   the   arches   of   the   new   bridge   and   to facilitate    the    movement    of    pedestrians.   A    fund    of    96.05    was    raised    among    the    businessmen    to    build    the footbridge   seen   in   the   foreground.   Vehicular   traffic   used   the   old   ford   near   the   hotel.   Lucky   the   river   was   low   that summer.   Following   Mr.   McEnteer’s   design,   the   stone   piers   of   the   old   iron   bridge   were   used   as   the   piers   of   the concrete   bridge. A   one   foot   thick   concrete   jacket   was   poured   around   the   existing   piers   to   strengthen   them   and   to create   aesthetic   continuity   with   the   rest   of   the   bridge.   The   arches   and   roadway   were   made   of   concrete   forms filled with dirt and gravel. (Click on photo for larger view)
When   completed   in   November   1914,   it   was   the   longest   earth-filled,   reinforced   concrete   arch   bridge   in   West   Virginia, the   third   largest   concrete   arch   bridge   in   the   state,   and   the   pride   of   the   town.   Today,   it   is   the   only   concrete   arch bridge remaining in West Virginia. (Click on photo for larger view)
When   the   bridge   was   replaced   in   1977   by   a   new   bridge   downstream,   which   carries   vehicular   traffic   and   spans   the railroad   tracks   as   well   as   the   river,   the   old   concrete   bridge   was   scheduled   for   destruction.   Numerous   citizens   of Alderson   met   many   times   with   the   officials   of   the   town   government   to   express   their   desire   to   keep   their   beloved   old bridge. (Click on photo for larger view)
An   arrangement   was   made   with   the   West   Virginia   Division   of   Highways   and   the   Town   of   Alderson   took   ownership   of   the   bridge   as   a   service   to   the town’s citizens to continue to provide a pedestrian link between the two sides of town.
Some   of   the   citizens   of   Alderson   who   were   instrumental   in   the   Town   of   Alderson   acquiring   the   bridge   from   the   West   Virginia   Division   of   Highways formed   the Alderson   Bridge   Trust   Fund   whose   purpose   is   to   aid   the   town   with   the   repair,   maintenance,   and   improvement   of   the   bridge. At   the   request of   the   first   chair   of   the Alderson   Bridge   Trust   Fund,   the   bridge   was   designated   as   the Alderson   Memorial   Bridge   in   1977.   The   bridge   and   the Alderson Bridge   Trust   Fund   have   been   honored   several   times,   most   notably   with   the   bridge’s   acceptance   for   placement   on   the   National   Register   of   Historic Places.
When   the   Bridge   approached   its   89th   birthday,   due   to   its   age   and   exposure   to   weather   and   flooding,   it   was   in dire   need   of   repair.   The   Town   of Alderson   with   the   assistance   of   the Alderson   Bridge   Trust   Fund, Alderson   Main Street,   and   any   other   help   that   could   be   recruited,   undertook   a   project   to   replace   the   parapet   walls,   which   were greatly   deteriorated;   repair   and/or   replace   the   brackets   holding   the   sidewalks;   and   make   such   other   repairs   as were   deemed   vital   to   the   bridge’s   continued   existence.   The   project   called   for   the   walls   to   be   replaced   with   walls which   are   identical   in   appearance   but   with   added   support   to   tie   them   to   the   bridge   structure.      Likewise,   the bracket    had    to    be    repaired    or    replaced    and    would    remain    the    same    in    appearance.    The    West    Virginia Department   of   Culture   and   History   was   highly   supportive   of   this   project   to   restore   the   bridge   to   a   safe   state   and its former elegant appearance. (Click on photo for larger view)
The   Alderson   Memorial   Bridge   is   the   very   heart   of   Alderson.   Even   the   official   seal   of   the   town   incorporates   a picture   of   the   bridge.   It   is   the   place   where   young   and   old   alike   cross   the   river   to   the   Post   Office   or   convenience store,   stroll   leisurely   hand   in   hand,   or   walk   for   exercise.   Kids   have   learned   to   fish   standing   at   the   bridge’s parapet   walls.   Many   walk   on   the   bridge   just   to   admire   the   view   up   and   down   the   river.   (Click   on   photo   for   larger view)
During   Alderson’s   Fourth   of   July   celebration,   the   Alderson   Memorial   Bridge   dons   American   flags   to   show   the   town’s   patriotism   and   the   grand   Fourth of   July   parade   still   crosses   the   bridge.   During   Christmas,   special   brightly   colored   lights   make   an   arch   spanning   the   bridge   enticing   passers-by   to brave the cold to take a walk under the lights. It is probably the most photographed object in Alderson and a true landmark. Whatever   the   season,   the   bridge   plays   a   part   from   lazy   summer   afternoons   to   cold   Christmas   parades,   from   the   budding   of   the   trees   in   the   spring   to the bright colors of the fall.
The sides and sidwalks were torn down and replaced. Notice condition of bridge on the oppisite side. New walls replicated to look like old one, are now in place. Repairs have been completed with repaved road and wider sidewalks. Although closed to autos, it is opened for the 4th July parades and any other special events. Replica lamp posts also installed. The bridge is always open to pedestrain traffic and gives a great view up and down the river. Great spot for fishing. The original plaque from the builder was saved and installed. The original plaque for the addition of the sidewalks was save and installed.
The   West   Virginia   Department   of   Transportation   was   also      supportive   with   funding   but   more   was   needed.   The   original   project   was   to   repair   spalled areas   and   replace   a   twenty   foot   section   of   parapet   on   the   bridge.   During   the   bidding   phase   of   this   project   a   letter   was   received   from   WVDOH recommending   complete   replacement   of   the   parapet   walls   and   sidewalks.   This   was   a   sound   recommendation   but   beyond   the   scope   and   budget   of the limited bridge repair project envisioned in the Town’s original plan. The   present   project   was   to   completely   remove   the   existing   parapet   walls   and   sidewalks   of   the   bridge   and   replace   them   with   new   reinforced   concrete using   the   same   details   as   the   original   masonry.   An   important   additional   element   of   the   work   was   to   repair   or   replace   damaged   sidewalk   support brackets   which   cantilever   from   the   arch   spandrels   walls.   Other   miscellaneous   work   such   as   grouting   certain   abutment   and   pier   areas,   lighting removal and re-installation, and paving was needed also. The renovation was done during the year of 2005.(Click on photos for larger view)
Frank   Duff   McEnteer,   who   was   to   become   a   well-known   and   respected   engineer   in   West   Virginia   and   surrounding   areas,   was   president   of   the Concrete   Steel   Bridge   Company   and   designed   the   Alderson   Bridge.   When   construction   of   the   concrete   bridge   began   on   June   21,   1914,   he   was present to see that the job was started right.
Greenbrier   County   Court   records   show   that   the   County   Court   considered   building   a   bridge   across   the   river   in   the July   term   1878.   It   approached   the   Monroe   County   Court   to   bear   one-half   of   the   expense   estimated   at   $14,000. The   two   county   courts   seemingly   did   not   get   along   very   well,   and   it   was   not   until   the   July   term   1881   that agreement   was   reached.   Two   sub-commissioners   of   the   Courts   were   appointed,   Samuel   Price   and   James Withrow,   who   agreed   on   specifications,   engineering   and   letting   of   the   contract.   The   Pittsburgh   Bridge   Company, Pittsburgh,   Pa.,   got   the   contract   to   build   the   bridge   for   $11,900.00.   They   must   have   quickly   built   the   bridge   by 1881, as in that year an abutment was not satisfactory according to the court records.  
(Click   on   photo   for   larger   view)    The   iron   bridge   was   frequently   in   disrepair.      The   minutes   of   the   Town   Council   show   the   Council   was   often   fussing   at the   two   County   Courts   to   do      something   about   it.      On August   8,   1913,   the   Council   authorized   consultation   with   the   County   Courts   about   constructing   a new   bridge   of   concrete.   In   February   1914,      the   Greenbrier   County   Court   ordered   the Town   of Alderson   to   repair   the   old   iron   bridge.     Town   Council   was indignant   and   flatly      refused   saying   the   town   had   not   built   the   old   bridge,   had   no   authority   to   repair   the   bridge,   that   townspeople   had   paid   taxes   to   help build all other  county bridges, and finally the river was not the property of the town, but was State property. In April   1914,   the   County   Courts   of   Greenbrier   and   Monroe   agreed   to   build   a   new   bridge   without   sidewalks.   On   May   5,   1914,   Mayor   McNeer   issued   a proclamation   for   a   bond   issue   election   of   from   $2,000.00   to   $3,000.00   to   be   held   May   26.   the   vote   was   191   for,   2   against,   for   one   sidewalk,   and   186 for,   2,   against,   for   two   sidewalks.   The   Concrete   Steel   Bridge   Co.,   Clarksburg,   W.   Va.,   had   a   contract   to   build   the   bridge   for   $20,600.00.   On   October 30,   1914,   a   contract   was   made   with   the   company   to   build   the   two   sidewalks   for   $2900.00.   So,   the   roadway   belonged   to   the   State   and   the   sidewalks belonged to the town. (The preceding “non-italicize” text section taken from the history of “Roads” on this site)