Newell Toll Bridge is a private wire suspension bridge over the Ohio River between Newell, West Virginia, and East Liverpool, Ohio. It was the first suspension bridge built entirely of steel as opposed to wrought iron.
The Newell Toll Bridge’s inception was linked to the development of the Homer Laughlin China Company. Homer Laughlin China was established by Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin as the Ohio Valley Pottery Works in East Liverpool in 1871. 1 In 1897, the Laughlins sold control of the company to W. E. Wells, Louis I. Aaron, and his sons, Marcus and Charles.
Wells and the Aarons raised significant capital and began expanding the company and built two new works (Nos. 2 and 3) in East Liverpool between 1897 and 1903. 1 Finding no suitable sites on the Ohio side of the river, they chose to expand in West Virginia. On November 7, 1902, an agreement was reached by the Aaron’s, Wells, Edwin Knowles, John N. Taylor, George W. Clarke, and Joseph G. Lee in the organization of the North American Manufacturing Company in Hancock County, West Virginia. 2 The company’s purpose was to build and establish the company town of Newell for Ohio Valley Pottery.
In 1903, Ohio Valley Pottery applied to the War Department for a permit to build a bridge over the Ohio River between East Liverpool and Newell which was soon granted. 1 2 The permit was modified in 1904 when the alignment of the bridge was shifted 75 feet north due to difficulty in acquiring a clear title on the Ohio approach.
The proposed crossing, a wire suspension with riveted double-intersection Warren stiffening trusses, was designed by consulting engineer Edwin Kirtland Morse of Pittsburgh. 1 Superstructure construction contracts were awarded to the American Bridge Company of Pittsburgh and substructure construction contracts were given to C.M. Driver of Pittsburgh in May 1904. Work on the crossing began on June 2 and was completed at the cost of $250,000 on July 4, 1905. 2
The Newell Bridge & Railway Company was chartered on July 10 under the laws of West Virginia to operate the Newell Toll Bridge and the Newell Streetcar line that connected East Liverpool and Newell. 2 The organization was controlled by the North American Manufacturing Company and later by Homer Laughlin China.
Marcus Aaron and W. E. Wells were the first to cross the new bridge followed by a thousand residents of both East Liverpool and Newell. 2 The first interurban operated over the span on July 14.
The new bridge remained heavily used as between 1906 and 1929, Homer Laughlin China’s Newell Works was expanded five times, eventually leading to all production being consolidated at Newell. 1 The company abandoned its interurban in 1938.
The Newell Toll Bridge’s wood deck was replaced in 1923 with a new wood deck, which was replaced in 1954 with a steel grid deck at the cost of $213,090. 2
- State: Ohio, West Virginia
- Route: Private
- Type: Wire Suspension, Warren Through Truss
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 1,590 feet
- Main Span Length: 742 feet
- Deck Width: 20.7 feet
- Height: 150 feet
- Above Vertical Clearance: 13.5 feet
- Holth, Nathan. “Newell Bridge.” HistoricBridges.org, 12 Jul. 2009, article.
- Nossaman, Darlene. “The Historic Newell Bridge.” HLCCA, vol. 16, no. 2, 2013, pp. 16-17.