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reyes_paper - Executive Summary The Wheeling Bridge was...

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Executive Summary The Wheeling Bridge was constructed in Wheeling, WV in 1849. The bridge connected the gap over the Ohio River between West Virginia and Ohio. It also connected the eastern and western sections of the national road. The bridge was designed by Charles Ellet and was the longest suspension bridge at the time of construction. Originally the cost of the bridge was estimated to be $120,000 but actually cost about $250,000. 1 The construction was funded by sale of stock and loans by the Wheeling Bridge Company. After construction was complete the Bridge Company entered a costly legal battle with Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh is located approximately 50 miles upstream from Wheeling. Pittsburgh claimed that the Wheeling Bridge obstructed steamboat traffic along the Ohio River thereby affecting the Pittsburgh economy. The legal battle went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In May 1852 the Court decided that the bridge did indeed obstruct steamboat traffic and ordered that the bridge either be rebuilt higher or be torn down altogether. The residents of Wheeling, backed by the legislatures of Virginia and Indiana, decide to go to Congress in order to ask for the bridge to be declared part of a military and postal road. Three months after the court ruling, Congress decides to side with Wheeling and declare the bridge part of a postal and military road. The legal battle subsides until May 1854 when a strong gust of wind destroys the bridge. After the bridge was destroyed, Pittsburgh seized the opportunity to continue the legal battle and returns to the Supreme Court to ask for an injunction preventing the reconstruction of the bridge. Ultimately the Court decided in favor of Wheeling since they claim that Congress has the right to declare postal and military roads.
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The bridge was sold to the city of Wheeling in 1927 for $2.15 million dollars and is currently the oldest U.S. suspension bridge still in operation. 1 History and Issues *(see Appendix 1 for pictures and maps) Since the early 1800’s the Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company considered constructing a bridge across the Ohio River in order to connect West Virginia to Ohio. The Federal Government approved the construction of the National Road in 1806. However, it did not reach Wheeling until 1818. 1 The National Road started in Baltimore and continued westwards through Ohio. At that time the Ohio River was one of the busiest rivers in the world. It offered a water route between Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and continued southward towards the developing areas of the United States. Wheeling was located at a critical location at the intersection of the National Road and the Ohio River. In order to take advantage of Wheeling’s location, the Bridge Company first decided to implement a ferry service across the Ohio River. This ferry was used to improve trade and mail service with the western sections of the United States and ran until the completion of the Wheeling Bridge. At Wheeling the Ohio River creates a back channel behind Wheeling Island. The
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reyes_paper - Executive Summary The Wheeling Bridge was...

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