The City's First Bridge


For decades evening rush hours saw traffic in downtown
 Huntington snarled for blocks as motorists lined up
 and waited their turn to cross the old 6th
Street bridge.

File photo | The Herald-Dispatch


When Collis P. Huntington founded the city of Huntington in 1871,
he foresaw the day when his namesake town would need a bridge
 across the Ohio River. He even bought a plot of Ohio land for
the purpose. But the city would be more than 50 years
 old before its first Ohio River bridge was constructed

The bridge was built by a group of a dozen Huntington businessmen
 organized by timber tycoon C.L. Ritter. In April 1925, they chose a
 site just west of the city’s downtown at 6th Street and construction
 began. The span was opened to traffic on May 23, 1926, with
an estimated 10,000 visitors on hand for the dedication
ceremonies when the first cars and trucks
 rolled across the new span.

The bridge was privately owned until 1940, when the builders
 sold it to Cabell County for $2 million. By 1952, deferred
maintenance had caught up with the bridge and the
county was unable to finance the badly needed
 repairs. So the county was happy to turn
 the bridge over to the state.

More and more traffic crossed the bridge each year. For
decades, evening rush hours saw traffic in downtown
Huntington snarled for blocks as motorists lined
up and waited their turn to cross the span.
 Mornings brought a similar traffic jam
on the Ohio side of the river.

In 1968, Huntington got a second Ohio River crossing, at
West 17th Street. And in 1986, after years of controversy
 and delay, the long-awaited East Huntington bridge
was completed and opened. Both of the two
 new bridges were two-lane spans.

Finally, in 1994, the city got a four-lane bridge when the
 Robert C. Byrd Bridge was completed. The following
year a series of carefully placed explosives blasted
 the old 6th Street bridge into history.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on March 19, 2024.


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