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Martha Bridge

Martha Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: March 3, 2007

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Martha Road (Old Alignment) Over Guyandotte River
Martha (Rural): Cabell County, West Virginia: United States
Structure Type
Metal 10 Panel Pin-Connected Whipple Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 6 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1880 By Builder/Contractor: Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
146 Feet (44.5 Meters)
Structure Length
470 Feet (143.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
13.5 Feet (4.11 Meters)
2 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This historic bridge was demolished in 2008!

Although this bridge has been bypassed by a modern slab and is not in the way of anything, Cabell County demolished this historic bridge, which may be one of West Virginia's most significant historic bridges, and has great significance on a national scale as well.

This bridge has a high level of significance because so many different aspects of the bridge are rare or noteworthy. The bridge is unique in its design of spans. It features two main Whipple spans. Any Whipple span is rare, but multi-span examples are extremely rare. In addition, there is one Pratt through truss at each end of the bridge. This variety of span designs, with the smaller spans at the end and the larger spans at the center creates a visually appealing bridge, that builds up to the larger spans for the central crossing of the River. It is also uncommon, particularly with the pin-connected truss bridges, to find bridges that feature multiple truss types in one bridge. Those that do are usually through truss main span(s) with pony truss approaches. Variations with all-through truss spans are rare. Indeed, this bridge is significant for its length alone, regardless of what types of spans are used to achieve that distance. Further historic significance for this bridge comes in the form of association with a prolific builder, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. The design of both the approach and main spans follows closely some of the company's first patents, dated c.1876, for the pin-connected truss bridges. Any surviving examples of these early bridges are important in documenting the development of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, and the truss bridge in general. Although the plaques have been removed, the decorative ornamentation has been left on the Whipple spans. The bridge sits on stone piers and abutments.

The only downside to the bridge is the poor historic integrity, however it is important to note that much of this could easily be removed and missing parts replicated in a comprehensive restoration project. Entire sections of the bottom chord are either replaced or supplemented with insensitive rods that look nothing like the original eye bars. Many diagonals have additional rods added to them, although the originals remain as well. Original railings do not remain on the bridge. Plate steel was welded onto a couple small areas of the bridge. The floorbeams and hangers may not be original. While these are serious issues, they could be corrected. It is also noteworthy that with the exception of some missing pieces of the bottom chord, all of the original parts of the truss appear to remain. Most of the alterations are simply add-ons.

A church that is located near this bridge had the audacity to publically mention that they feel the historic bridge is an eyesore and should be demolished. Granted, everyone's opinion on what defines beauty is different. However most religions teach tolerance, acceptance, and not being selfish. Given the high level and historic significance of the Martha Bridge, and also that many people would likely find the bridge quaint and attractive, it seems very un-church-like to condemn this bridge.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Martha Bridge

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Original / Full Size Photos
For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents selected overview and detail photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
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Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer


Maps and Links: Martha Bridge

This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.

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