The Point-Pleasant Kanauga Railroad Bridge carries the Kanawha River Railroad across the Ohio River between Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Kanauga, Ohio. The main span consists of a metal-pinned Pennsylvania Through Truss span, with Parker truss span and deck span approaches.
After years of false starts and a number of railroads that were never constructed, the Ohio Central Railroad constructed a line from a connection with the Columbus, Hocking Valley & Toledo Railroad (CHV&T) at Hobson, Ohio across the Ohio River to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and onward to Charleston. 5 6 The line went into receivership in 1883 and was sold to the Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad (T&OC) in Ohio and the Kanawha & Ohio Railroad (K&O) in 1885, although the K&O went into receivership in 1889 and was rechartered as the Kanawha & Michigan Railroad. 6
In 1910, the C&O gained control of the K&M hoping to get access to the Great Lakes terminals, but anti-trust laws forced the C&O to give up the K&M to the T&OC in 1914. 1 5 The T&OC (and the K&M) was leased to the New York Central Railroad (NYC) in 1922; the K&M was officially merged into the T&OC in 1938. In 1952, the T&OC was merged into the NYC. The NYC merged into the Pennsylvania Railroad in February 1968, forming Penn Central Railroad (PC), which lasted until April 1976 when it was rolled into Conrail’s West Virginia Secondary.
In 1999, Conrail was split between Norfolk Southern Railroad (NS) and CSX, with the former K&M trackage between Buckeye Yard in Columbus, Ohio to Charleston, West Virginia becoming NS’s West Virginia Secondary. 5 A lack of originating traffic on the West Virginia Secondary led NS to mothball the line in the 2010s until it was leased to the Kanawha River Railroad, an entity of Watco, in 2016.
Ohio River Bridge
Central to the K&M was the completion of a bridge over the Ohio River. In February 1882, the Ohio Central announced that the crossing would be constructed by the J.S. Caseman & Company. 1 2 It was proposed that the Ohio River bridge be constructed with six to seven river piers, each extending at least 100 feet above the low water mark and topped with a ten-foot square cap, wide enough to accommodate two tracks with only one being constructed initially to save costs. 1 2
Construction of the bridge was begun by 1885 and was completed in about a year by a second company of the same name after it was reorganized. During its construction, not a life was lost, the only bridge built on the Ohio River up to that point that had such an accomplishment. 1 2 The new bridge featured a total length of 3,925 feet and was considered one of the longest bridges of its type in the nation.
The bridge was utilized by the Central Ohio Railroad just briefly as the railroad was foreclosed on October 15. 1 2 Three railroads were formed from the remains of Central Ohio on June 25, 1886: the Ohio & Kanawha Railroad in Ohio, the Kanawha & Ohio Railroad in West Virginia, and the Point Pleasant Bridge Company. Although they were listed as three separate companies, they functioned as one through line. The Board of Directors that were involved with the Ohio Central also operated the three new companies. Important to the companies was the control of the bridge, as they were able to control freight from West Virginia bound for the Columbus, Hocking Valley & Toledo Railroad (CHV&T) (later the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad) in Ohio and freight bound for the Ohio River Railroad (later the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad) in West Virginia. It was not until 1905 that the New York Central and the C&O controlled the Hocking Valley and the T&OC as a joint venture until 1910.
In 1889, the three separate railroad companies merged to form the Kanawha & Michigan Railroad (K&M), operating a line from Point Pleasant south to Hawks Nest. 1 2 One of the first projects that the K&M considered was an upgrade of the Ohio River bridge. The project included the raising of the span to accommodate taller steamboats along the river, the replacement of the superstructure, the addition of approach viaducts, and relocation of K&M trackage, was completed in 1919.
After the Silver Bridge collapsed between Point Pleasant and Kanauga in December 1967, the K&M hosted commuter passenger service. Fares were 50¢ one way to Gallipolis and 35¢ to Kanauga with five scheduled departure times. The service continued until the Silver Memorial Bridge opened in December 1969.
- State: Ohio, West Virginia
- Route: Kanawha River Railroad
- Type: Parker Through Truss, Pennsylvania Through Truss
- Status: Active - Railroad
- Total Length: 3,925 feet
- Main Span Length: 420 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Mills, Donald L., Jr. “Kanawha & Michigan Bridge and Its Infamous Female Investor.” Kanawha & Michigan Railroad. Huntington: Publishers Place, 2010. pp. 46-53.
- “The Bridge: Some Notes about the coming Structure and Other Matters.” Journal [Gallipolis] 28 Feb.1882.
- “About the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway.” Hocking Valley Scenic Railway 2008. 21 Nov. 2008.
- Miller, Edward and Chris Burchett. “History of the Hocking Valley Railway Co.” The Hocking Valley Railway, 27 Oct. 2008.
- Bess, Doug. “Nitro, WV.” WVRails.net, 2 Jan. 2011.
- Dixon, Thomas W., editor. “New York Central (Kanawha and Michigan).” West Virginia Railroads, TTC Publishing, Forest, VA, 2009, p. 109.