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Unformatted text preview: The Disasters and Politics of The the Wheeling Bridge the Abraham Reyes 1.011 Day 38 Background Background
• Constructed in 1849 • It was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of construction the • Caused a legal battle between Pittsburgh, PA and Wheeling, WV Wheeling, • First bridge to span the Ohio River • Connected the National Road between West Virginia and Ohio Virginia • Destroyed in 1854 by a storm and reconstructed in 1860 1860 • Oldest vehicular suspension bridge still in operation operation Major Costs of Wheeling Bridge Major
• Total construction costs including rebuilding were about $400,000 about • Bridge impeded some steamboat traffic on the Ohio River River • The Pittsburgh steamboat and rail businesses were negatively affected by the opening of the bridge negatively • The bridge caused an extremely costly legal battle between Pennsylvania and Wheeling that threatened between to bankrupt the Wheeling Bridge Company to • The ferry company which existed before the bridge was built went out of business was Major Benefits of Wheeling Bridge Major
• Boosted the Wheeling economy • Prompted the B&O Railroad to choose Wheeling as its terminus Wheeling • Increased inter-state trade by connecting the eastern and western sections of the National eastern Road Road • Advanced bridge technology by constructing the largest single span suspension bridge in the the world world Financial Analysis Financial
• Total construction cost was approximately $400,000 • Length of construction was 24 months for the first bridge and 12 months for the second and • Funded through sale of stock and loans • Annual revenues from tolls were approximately $50,000 • Wheeling Bridge Company began making profit approximately 20 years after construction approximately • Although the return on investment was approximately 12%, the bridge was not very profitable in the beginning 12%, due to legal costs due • Invention of car greatly increased toll revenue • Bridge was sold to the City of Wheeling in 1927 for $2.15 million dollars million Legal Battle Legal
• Pittsburgh claims that the bridge obstructs navigation on the Ohio River navigation • Pittsburgh goes to the U.S. Supreme Court to seek abatement of the bridge abatement • In May 1852 the Court rules in favor of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh • Wheeling goes to Congress to ask for the bridge be declared part of a postal and military road be • In August 1852 Congress agrees thereby saving the bridge the Wheeling Bridge Diagram Wheeling 62 ft. Highest river rise - 30 ft. Highest boat stack - 60 ft. 92 ft. Natural Disaster Natural
• Mother nature did what Pittsburgh could not • In May 1854 a strong wind storm destroys the bridge – “For a few moments we watched it with breathless anxiety, lunging like a ship in the storm; at one time it rose to nearly lunging the height of the towers then fell, and twisted and writhed, the and was dashed almost bottom upward. At last there and seemed to be a determined twist along the entire span, seemed about one half of the flooring being nearly reversed, and about down went the immense structure from its dizzy height to down the stream below, with an appalling crash and roar.” the -The Wheeling Intelligencer, May 17, 1854 Intelligencer Legal Battle Continues Legal
• When the bridge falls in May 1854, Pittsburgh once again goes to the Supreme Court to ask for once an injunction preventing reconstruction of the an bridge bridge • Since Supreme Court is not in session, Chief Justice grants injunction Justice • Wheeling Bridge Company ignores injunction and continues reconstruction since it is backed and by Congress by • When the Supreme Court is back in session in December 1854 the majority sides with Wheeling December thereby ending the costly legal battle thereby Summary Summary
• The Wheeling Bridge Company was able to successfully capitalize on the great to demand to link the eastern and western demand United States United • Although the project suffered many setbacks, such as the legal battles and setbacks, natural disaster, it eventually became natural profitable and was a major factor in the profitable development of the Wheeling economy development References References
• “Suspension Bridge.” Ohio County Public Library. 10 Ohio April 2003 April <http://wheeling.weirton.lib.wv.us/landmark/bridges/susp <http://wheeling. /bridgdex.htm> • “Wheeling Bridge.” Library of Congress. 15 April 2003 Library <http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi<http://lcweb2.loc. bin/query/r?ammem/hh:@band(suspension+bridge+whee ling)> • Monroe, Elizabeth Brand. The Wheeling Bridge Case. The Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992. Boston: ...
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2011 for the course CIVIL 1.00 taught by Professor Georgekocur during the Spring '05 term at MIT.
- Spring '05