Market Street Bridge

Market Street Bridge carries WV 2 Spur and Market Street over the Ohio River between Steubenville, Ohio and Brooke County, West Virginia. The wire suspension bridge, fitted with Warren through trusses, was constructed in 1905 by the Ohio Steel Erection Company and the Penn Bridge Company of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. It was rehabilitated in 1981 and 2011.



The origin of the Market Street Bridge came when Steubenville businessman Dohrman Sinclair made a deal with the Follansbee brothers of West Virginia, that if Sinclair built the bridge, the Follansbee’s would construct a tin mill directly across the river. 1 Sinclair’s Tri-State Traction Company streetcars would provide transportation for mill workers in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

The project was part of a scheme to connect East Liverpool with Steubenville, Wellsburg, Wheeling and other cities down the Ohio River by the means of an interurban. 3 In November 1902, the Wellsburg, Steubenville & New Cumberland Street Railway (WS&NC) was incorporated in West Virginia. 5 The WS&NC was proposed to connect with the Northern Ohio Valley Railway 6 under construction between Wheeling and Wellsburg, and follow the river north to Chester, connecting with the East Liverpool & Rock Springs Street Railway.

The route was eventually constructed by the Tri-State Railway Company in 1904, later known as the Steubenville, Wellsburg & Weirton Railway, from Wellsburg north to Steubenville. 6 The line was extended north to Weirton in 1906. In 1917, West Penn Railways took over operations, later operating under lease by the Wheeling Traction Company.

Part of the proposal for the WS&NC included the construction of an interurban bridge over the Ohio River in Steubenville. 3 It would be situated at the foot of the Middle Ferry on Market Street. 5 On the West Virginia side, the interurban would connect to a north-south line stretching from Chester south to Wellsburg and Wheeling. 4 One of the promoters of the bridge, James Newell of the Newell Land Company, was also actively involved in a similar undertaking on a bridge between East Liverpool, Ohio and Chester, West Virginia.


Construction of the new Steubenville bridge began in October 1903. 4 On October 20, a number of dredge boats and other watercraft were sent from Pittsburgh to the bridge site, and on October 26, stone masons were brought in to construct the approaches. It was expected that the new Steubenville bridge would be open by December 1904.

Sinclair hired E.K. Morse to design a bridge over the Ohio River between Steubenville and West Virginia, where streetcar routes, operated by the Tri-State Traction Company, Wheeling Traction System and the West Penn Traction Company, would connect to various communities along the river. 1 The contractors selected for the crossing was the Ohio Steel Erection Company and the Penn Bridge Company.

On March 3, 1904 at 2 a.m., the steamboat Virginia struck the submerged pier of the new bridge. 2 The boat was backing out into the river from the wharf when the starboard side struck the pier, leaving a ten foot hole in the hull. The boat began to sink in deep water. Owing to the boat’s short distance from the shore, the Virginia was brought in. About 60 passengers who were on board scrambled on the shoreline who were later picked up by the steamboat Kanawha.

The new bridge was completed in 1905 by the Steubenville Bridge Company. 1 It was originally built to carry streetcar and pedestrian traffic over the Ohio River between Steubenville and various cities in West Virginia.

The new crossing consisted of a 1,794 main wire suspension bridge with a stiffening Warren through truss, two deck girder spans, and a five-span Warren through truss. 1

By 1922, the Market Street Bridge was experiencing structural failure due to overloaded freight cars. 1 Specifically, the top chord of the bridge failed. Engineer David B. Steinman, designer of the Mackinac Bridge, visited the crossing and recommended repairs, which were implemented.

Major repairs to the Market Street Bridge were conducted from 1940 to 1942 at a cost of $400,000. 7 On January 1, 1942, the state of West Virginia purchased the Market Street Bridge from the Steubenville Bridge Company for $1.3 million. 1 7 The deal included the state’s sale of 3% bonds to a syndicate headed by Stranahan and Harris of Cincinnati. 7 The bonds were to be redeemed by tolls. The state estimated that the tolls would be repaid in 12 years.

Tolls were removed in 1953. 1