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Thurmond Bridge

The Thurmond Bridge carries a railroad and a one-lane roadway over the New River in Thurmond, West Virginia.


The Thurmond Bridge was constructed by Thomas McKell in 1887-89 to provide railroad access along Dunloup Creek at Thurmond and to the Greenbrier & New River Railroad. 2 4 The crossing included a single railroad track and an overhanging wagon road and pedestrian walkway. 4

To complete the linkage of his property to the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O), McKell entered into an agreement with the railroad to construct an 8½-mile branch up Loop Creek. 4 It included turning over his maps and surveys of the area for use by railroad engineers, granting the railroad right-of-way through his holdings, and constructing a coal plant capable of processing 1,000 tons of coal daily for the railroad. Construction of the C&O Dunloop Branch proceeded quickly and on November 7, 1893, the first carload of coal traveled from Collins Colliery Company at Glen Jean down Loop Creek and to Thurmond across the new Thurmond Bridge. 4

In 1900, the Fayette County government acquired the rights to the wagon and pedestrian crossing of the bridge at the cost of $8,884. 4 Until that time, the county had rented the bridge at the cost of $500 per year from the Thurmond Bridge Company.

In March 1913, the dilapidated passenger and wagon section of the bridge collapsed, sending pedestrians, horses, and wagons into the frigid waters of the New River. 4 Col. R.H. Dickinson was brought in to inspect the crossing and noted that it was beyond repair. The timbers supporting the pedestrian and wagon bridge were rotted and unsupported; the railroad bridge was unaffected and in good condition.

The county had no funds to construct a new Thurmond Bridge and began attempts at repairing the existing crossing. 4 In 1913, as workers were on the bridge, two 70-ton steel railroad cars derailed which caused extensive damage to the superstructure. 3 4 As the railroad was flush with cash and needed to expedite work to rebuild the vital span, it decided to rebuild the railroad bridge and construct a new wagon and pedestrian crossing which would be sold to the county in a rental-purchase agreement. The county would pay the railroad $1,200 a year with an option to buy the bridge outright for $12,000, with rent to apply to the purchase price. After 25 years, the bridge would automatically become the property of the county.

Traffic began to flow across the rebuilt Thurmond Bridge in October 1915 although work continued on until early 1916. 4 The crossing was rehabilitated in 1951 and again in 2017. 1


Information

  • State: West Virginia
  • Route: CSX, RJ Corman, Thurmond Road
  • Type: Warren Through Truss
  • Status: Active - Automobile + Railroad
  • Total Length: 826 feet
  • Main Span Length: 226 feet
  • Spans:
  • Deck Width: 11 feet

Sources

  1. Federal Highway Administration; West Virginia Department of Transportation, 2016, Finding of No Significant Impact: Thurmond Bridge Rehabilitation.
  2. United States. Dept. of the Interior. Thurmond Historic District. Comp. R. Eugene Harper. Washington: National Park Service, Sept. 1983. West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
  3. Bragg, Melody. “Entirely New Bridge.” Thurmond and Ghost Towns of the New River Gorge. Glen Jean, GEM Publications, 1995. pp. 84.
  4. Bragg, Melody. “The Thumond Bridge.” Window to the Past. Glen Jean, GEM Publications, 1990. pp. 37-38.

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