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Martha Bridge

   
                  


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Bridge Documented: March 3, 2007
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Key Facts
Bridge Name Facility Carried / Feature Intersected Location Structure Type Construction Date and Builder/Engineer
X Martha Bridge
Martha Road (Old Alignment) Over Guyandotte River Martha (Rural): Cabell County, West Virginia Metal 10 Panel Pin-Connected Whipple Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 6 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed 1880 By Builder/Contractor: Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio
Technical Facts
Main Span Length Structure Length Roadway Width Main Spans Approach Spans NBI Number
146 Feet (44.5 Meters) 470 Feet (143.3 Meters) 13.5 Feet (4.1 Meters) 2 2 6A081

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

This Bridge No Longer Exists!

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

This historic bridge was demolished in 2008!

Although this bridge has been bypassed by a modern slab and is not in the way of anything, Cabell County demolished this historic bridge, which may be one of West Virginia's most significant historic bridges, and has great significance on a national scale as well.

This bridge has a high level of significance because so many different aspects of the bridge are rare or noteworthy. The bridge is unique in its design of spans. It features two main Whipple spans. Any Whipple span is rare, but multi-span examples are extremely rare. In addition, there is one Pratt through truss at each end of the bridge. This variety of span designs, with the smaller spans at the end and the larger spans at the center creates a visually appealing bridge, that builds up to the larger spans for the central crossing of the River. It is also uncommon, particularly with the pin-connected truss bridges, to find bridges that feature multiple truss types in one bridge. Those that do are usually through truss main span(s) with pony truss approaches. Variations with all-through truss spans are rare. Indeed, this bridge is significant for its length alone, regardless of what types of spans are used to achieve that distance. Further historic significance for this bridge comes in the form of association with a prolific builder, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. The design of both the approach and main spans follows closely some of the company's first patents, dated c.1876, for the pin-connected truss bridges. Any surviving examples of these early bridges are important in documenting the development of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, and the truss bridge in general. Although the plaques have been removed, the decorative ornamentation has been left on the Whipple spans. The bridge sits on stone piers and abutments.

The only downside to the bridge is the poor historic integrity, however it is important to note that much of this could easily be removed and missing parts replicated in a comprehensive restoration project. Entire sections of the bottom chord are either replaced or supplemented with insensitive rods that look nothing like the original eye bars. Many diagonals have additional rods added to them, although the originals remain as well. Original railings do not remain on the bridge. Plate steel was welded onto a couple small areas of the bridge. The floorbeams and hangers may not be original. While these are serious issues, they could be corrected. It is also noteworthy that with the exception of some missing pieces of the bottom chord, all of the original parts of the truss appear to remain. Most of the alterations are simply add-ons.

A church that is located near this bridge had the audacity to publically mention that they feel the historic bridge is an eyesore and should be demolished. Granted, everyone's opinion on what defines beauty is different. However most religions teach tolerance, acceptance, and not being selfish. Given the high level and historic significance of the Martha Bridge, and also that many people would likely find the bridge quaint and attractive, it seems very un-church-like to condemn this bridge.

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Photos and Videos: Martha Bridge

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For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents selected overview and detail photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution. 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.
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A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. 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.
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View Photo Gallery Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. 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.
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