Historically, the crossing westward from Wheeling, West Virginia required climbing Blaine Hill in Belmont County, Ohio. When the National Road – now U.S. Route 40, was proposed, a route was needed to climb the hill, as well as a bridge to span Wheeling Creek. The contract to Blaine Hill “S” Bridge was let in 1825 to James Lloyd and Robert Wilson of Hagerstown, Maryland, which also required the construction of one mile of roadway at each end of the bridge.(2) The bridge was constructed in 1826 as part of the National Road project, the first federally funded highway in the United States.(1) It was the last of “S” three-arch sandstone bridges built on the National Road. The span was built with a length of 345 feet, the longest crossing on the road in the state, and a 6.3% grade.
In 1915, the “S” Bridge was rebuilt.(2) The crossing was replaced with the Blaine Hill Viaduct in 1933 after traffic began to congest at the narrow bridge.(3)
In 1994, the historic bridge was closed to to all traffic, and was threatened with demolition due to its poor condition.(1) It was granted a repieve in 1999 when the Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Project was founded.
In 2000, the Ohio Department of Transportation began work on reconstruction of the Blaine Hill “S” Bridge, beginning with the building of the western end of the span which was collapsing.(1) Other sections of the bridge suffered from neglect, including the loss of mortar and stone displacement. In addition, some of the original stone walls had shifted due to floods that had occurred along Wheeling Creek over the years. The brick deck was also in very poor condition.
“Our Bridge was a vital link in United States transportation history, an essential connection to this country’s entire history. It is our responsibility, our obligation to preserve this treasured artifact, which tells the story of the American Adventure.”
-Sue Douglass, Chief Officer of the Ohio Department of Transportation, January 4, 2003 meeting of the Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Project (1)
In 2003, the Blaine Hill “S” Bridge was designated as Ohio’s Official Bicentennial Bridge to commemorate the state’s 200 years of statehood.(1) Today, the Blaine Hill “S” Bridge is the oldest crossing remaining on the National Road at 178 years of age.(1)
- Blaine Hill S Bridge at HistoricBridges.org
- Davis, Gary. “Ohio’s Historic Blaine Hill Bridge.” Highway History, Back in Time. Federal Highway Administration, 7 Apr. 2011. Web. 28 Aug. 2011. Article.
- “Blaine Hill S Bridge.” HistoricBridges.org. N.p., June 2010. Web. 28 Aug. 2011. Article.
- “Marker #11-7 Blaine Hill ‘S’ Bridge / Blaine Hill Viaduct.” Remarkable Ohio. Ohio Historical Society, 11 Jan. 2009. Web. 28 Aug. 2011. Article.