Glenville, West Virginia, the county seat of Gilmer County, is located along the Little Kanawha River. It was originally referred to as “the ford” because it was a place where travelers could cross the river. Today, bridges have mostly replaced the largest fords in the area.
The town of Glenville, West Virginia, was founded in 1845 to serve as the county seat of the newly formed Gilmer County, in response to the difficulty faced by settlers in traveling to Charleston or Weston to attend court from Kanawha and Lewis Counties in Virginia. In the same year, Michael Stump conducted the first land survey to assess the town’s infrastructure requirements, recommending the construction of a network of roads and bridges.
In 1884, Stewart, Shirreffs & Company of Richmond, Virginia, entered into a contract with the county to design and construct six wrought iron highway bridges. One of these bridges, constructed in 1885 and located on Court Street, spanned the Little Kanawha River in Glenville. Components for the bridge were sourced from the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. The new crossing comprised a Pratt through truss span and two Pratt pony trusses.
In accordance with the Good Roads Amendment of 1920, the state initiated a program to construct a “Class A” state road from Normanville through Glenville to Lynn. This entailed constructing a new two-lane bridge over the Little Kanawha River along Lewis Street in Glenville, replacing bridges and culverts, and smoothing steep grades and sharp curves in other areas.
The new Lewis Street Bridge was completed in 1929 and featured two 10-foot lanes and a five-foot sidewalk, a significant improvement over the one-lane Court Street Bridge upstream.
The original Court Street Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1963 but remained accessible to pedestrians. Unfortunately, the southernmost pony truss of the Court Street Bridge collapsed in 2010 and was subsequently removed.
In 2022, the West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH) commenced plans to replace the Glenville Truss Bridge, which has exhibited rust, spalling, and collision damage due to its aging structure, resulting in weight restrictions.
The historic Duck Run Cable Suspension Bridge in nearby Trubada carried County Route 30 over the Little Kanawha River. Constructed in 1922, this privately financed structure comprised four reinforced concrete towers that supported two wire rope cables. The suspension bridge was built during the national Good Roads Movement, a concerted effort to improve the quality of America’s roadway network in rural areas after World War I. This movement marked the first nationwide endeavor to construct all-weather roads in these areas.
The suspension bridge was utilized until 1992, at which point it was replaced by a new bridge that was erected upstream.