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Market Street Bridge

   
                  


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Bridge Documented: July 3, 2006, July 31, 2007, and September 26, 2011
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Key Facts
Bridge Name Facility Carried / Feature Intersected Location Structure Type Construction Date and Builder/Engineer
Market Street Bridge
Market Street Over Ohio River Steubenville and East Steubenville: Jefferson County, Ohio and Brooke County, West Virginia Metal Through Truss Stiffening Wire Cable Suspension, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 7 Panel Rivet-Connected Double-Intersection Warren Through Truss, Fixed 1905 By Builder/Contractor: Ohio Steel Erection Company and Engineer/Design: Edwin Kirtland Morse of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Technical Facts
Rehabilitation Date Main Span Length Structure Length Roadway Width Main Spans Approach Spans NBI Number
1981 680 Feet (207.3 Meters) 1794 Feet (546.8 Meters) 20.7 Feet (6.3 Meters) 3 8 4100964

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View A Detailed Narrative Describing The History of This Bridge

This bridge is an old but heavily altered suspension bridge. The bridge was built in 1905 originally to carry light rail traffic. Penn Bridge Company was the fabricator, and Ohio Steel Erection Company was the on-site contractor. In 1922, the top chord of the bridge failed, and David Steinman (later engineer for Mackinac Bridge) designed repairs for the bridge that also increased its load-bearing capacity. The bridge which had apparently been owned by a private entity called the "Steubenville Bridge Company" was bought by the state of West Virginia in 1941, who then made repairs to the towers and replaced the deck. The bridge was also apparently a toll bridge until 1953. It is not known which repair project they date to, but the bridge was altered from its original construction when the entire main section of stiffening truss was replaced with a modern equivalent. The approach truss spans remain original. Original steel on the bridge was fabricated by Jones and Laughlins and Bethlehem.

Perhaps the most devastating alteration to this bridge however is the loss of massive decorative finials that were originally placed on the towers, as well as extremely ornate decorative cresting that was present on the top of the towers and on the portal bracing as well. It is hard to imagine how anyone could authorize the removal of such beautiful adornments from a bridge. It would be nice to see these elements replicated and reinstalled on the bridge as part of a comprehensive preservation project. The elements are detailed at the bottom of this page.

In 2011, the bridge received another rehabilitation and was also repainted in a distinctive two-color paint scheme.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Setting/Context

This bridge was built in 1905 originally to carry light rail traffic. In 1922, the top chord of the bridge failed, and David Steinman designed repairs for the toll bridge that also increased its load-bearing capacity. The bridge which had been owned the Steubenville Bridge Company was bought by the state of West Virginia in 1941, which then made repairs to the towers and replaced the deck. Approach spans cross Ohio roads, and it is the approach spans that are reported to BMS; the main span is reported through WV BMS.

Physical Description

The main span is a suspension span with 1,200' overall length and a 600' center span. The approach spans over SR 7 on the Ohio side are Warren thru trusses.

Integrity

This bridge is in Ohio BMS because approach spans cross an Ohio highway; the main span is reported through WV. There has been no significant change in the bridge's status since the prior evaluation. The eligible recommendation remains appropriate. The BMS No. 4100964 in the ODOT inventory refers to the approach spans on the Ohio side of the bridge over SR 7. They are, however, historically part of the 1905 suspension bridge and are eligible in association. The suspension bridge is owned by WV and carried as eligible in WVDOT's historic bridge inventory as well as ODOT's inventory.

Summary of Significance

The bridge is one of the 10 suspension bridges. The bridge type is used for both pedestrian and vehicular bridges starting with Roebling's 1856-67 Cincinnati bridge. This example is representative of its population and has a moderate level of significance.

Justification

Not Currently Available.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

View PDF Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet

Information and Findings From West Virginia Department of Highways

Overview

The Market Street Bridge was completed in 1905 as a project of the Steubenville Bridge Company, an organization that appears to have been formed solely for the purpose of constructing the bridge. The structure was originally built to carry streetcar and pedestrian traffic over the Ohio River between the town of Steubenville and the towns along the river in West Virginia, including Follansbee and Wellsburg. The suspension bridge provided a solution to crossing the Ohio River and many of this bridge type were built along the Ohio/West Virginia border, including the East Liverpool-Chester Bridge (1897), Newell-East Liverpool Bridge (1905), Belpre-Parkersburg Bridge (1916) and Fort Steuben Bridge (1928), among others. The West Virginia State Road Commission acquired the bridge for $1.3 million from the Steubenville Bridge Company in 1942, and converted it to vehicular use, spending $400,000 and two years on the renovation. Tolls were placed on the bridge with the expectation that the bridge would be paid for in 12 years. Tolls were removed in 1953. The Market Street Bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its role as an important transportation link between Ohio and West Virginia.

The Market Street Bridge is a steel suspension bridge with an overall length of 1794' and a roadway width of approximately 22'. The structure consists of three main spans across the Ohio River that are cable-suspended with a stiffening through Warren truss. The west approach consists of two deck girder spans and a five-span steel through truss which is a quadrangular Warren with verticals. The cables are suspended from two steel towers that rise approximately 210' from cut stone piers . The substructure consists of cut stone piers, concrete stub abutments, and both concrete and steel bents. The structure has a 5'-4" sidewalk on the downstream side that is accessed via steel stairs on the Ohio side. Handrailings are basic fence-like steel elements. Connections are primarily riveted. The bridge has minimal decorative or architectural elements.

The Market Street Bridge was completed in 1905 as a project of the Steubenville Bridge Company, an organization that appears to have been formed solely for the purpose of constructing the bridge. The structure was originally built to carry streetcar and pedestrian traffic over the Ohio River between the town of Steubenville and the towns along the river in West Virginia, including Follansbee and Wellsburg. A newspaper article regarding the bridge opening expressed the hope that the bridge would "stimulate the city in a business way" by bringing customers from across the river. The Ohio Historic Inventory bridge inventory form notes that Steubenville businessman Dohrman Sinclair made a deal with the Follansbee brothers of West Virginia that if Sinclair built the bridge, the Follansbees would build a tin mill directly across the river. Thus, Sinclair's Tri-State Traction Company streetcars would provide transportation for mill workers in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Historical Significance

E.K. Morse was the designer of the Market Street Bridge. Morse worked on the Hawkesbury River railroad bridge in Australia in 1887 and returned to the United States in 1889 to work as a consulting engineer in Pittsburgh. He was employed by Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation, Carnegie Steel Corporation and city and county governments, among others. In 1907, after a series of devastating floods, Morse was asked to head the Pittsburgh Flood Commission, and made it his life's work to improve the city's defenses against flooding. He continued to work on this goal and others until his death in 1942.

The contractor for the bridge was the Ohio Steel Erection Company. Little information was available regarding this company's history and work. The Penn Bridge Company has also been credited as a builder of the bridge. The Penn Bridge Company was established in 1868 by T.B. White in Beaver Falls, PA. The company began constructing wooden bridges, but reorganized and expanded into metal in 1878. The company continued to grow and built bridges throughout the United States, remaining independent of the large conglomerate American Bridge Company. The extent of Penn Bridge Company's involvement with the Market Street Bridge is unknown.

The suspension bridge has precedents in the ancient world, but this design type was not used for large civil projects until the 19th century. Engineering design theories regarding suspension bridges were published in Europe and the United States in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The increasing development of iron and steel manufacturing technology in the early 1900s allowed these theories to be put into practical use. The technology to economically produce metal cables and members fostered the use of the suspension bridge as a way to span great lengths using less material. Charlest Ellet, Jr and John Augustus Roebling studied suspension bridges in Europe and were instrumental in promoting this bridge type in the United States. Ellet designed the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in 1847-1849, which is now recognized as one of the most prominent historic suspension bridges in the country. The suspension bridge provided a solution to crossing the Ohio River and many of this bridge type were built along the Ohio/West Virginia border, including the East Liverpool-Chester Bridge (1897), Newell-East Liverpool Bridge (1905), Belpre-Parkersburg Bridge (1916) and Fort Steuben Bridge (1928), among others.

Although the Market Street Bridge was called "ornamental" in the newspaper upon its opening, the bridge in reality was a utilitarian structure. The bridge was primarily intended to serve streetcar traffic, but automobile and foot traffic was accommodated as well. Various streetcar companies used the bridge over the years, including the Tri-State Traction Company, Wheeling Traction System, West Penn Traction Company and others. By 1922, the bridge was experiencing structural failure due to overloaded freight cars. Renowned structural engineer David B. Steinman, designer of the Mackinac Bridge, visited to inspect and analyze the bridge and to recommend repairs, which were implemented. By the 1940s, streetcar use had declined significantly due to the ubiquity of the automobile. The West Virginia State Road Commission acquired the bridge for $1.3 million from the Steubenville Bridge Company in 1942, and converted it to vehicular use, spending $400,000 and two years on the renovation. Tolls were placed on the bridge with the expectation that the bridge would be paid for in 12 years. Tolls were removed in 1953.

The Market Street Bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its role as an important transportation link between Ohio and West Virginia. In the early 20th century, the width of the Ohio River would have been a major impediment to connection between communities on either bank. Construction of this bridge represented the expansion of communication and markets to new places with ease that could not have been conceived in the era of ferrying. Local newspapers looked forward to the economic development promised by this bridge, and by all accounts, the structure was well-used. The Market Street Bridge also uniquely represents an ever-evolving continuum of transportation history in its original use for streetcars, incidental use by pedestrians and finally, acquiescence to the automobile.

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Photos and Videos: Market Street Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

 
View Photo Gallery Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos, taken March 25, 2010. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos, taken in 2007, with a few post-rehab photos from 2011. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery 2006 Bridge Photo-Documentation
A collection of overview and detail photos, taken on a rainy July 3, 2006. This photo gallery contains a combination of Original / Full Sized photos and Mobile/Smartphone Optimized (Reduced Size) photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer

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