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Old 03-23-2009, 06:11 PM   #212
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Location: Morgantown, WVa
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Duck Run Cable Suspension Bridge - Gilmer Co

(I had to type this all out - not copy and paste - since it's on a PDF scan, so you all had better read this!! )

Excerpts from US Dept of the Interior , National Park Services, Application for National Register of Historic Places. Applied for in Nov 1996, approved June 1997.

The Duck Run Cable Suspension Bridge is located in a rural area known as Trubada, appx 3 miles east of Glenville, WV. The bridge spans the Little Kanawha River between WV Routes 30 and 5. Although overgrown with brush, the site retains much of its historical appearance. A concrete bridge completed in 1992 is located some 500 feet upstream from the suspension bridge. With the opening of the new bridge, the suspension bridge was taken out of service and is now undergoing rehabilitation as a historic and recreational site.

The Duck Run Cable Suspension Bridge consists of a main span of 209 feet 9 inches and two half-spans of 76 feet 6 inches and 65 feet 4 inches, respectively. The overall length of the bridge is 351 feet 7 inches. The two wire rope cables are supported by 4 reinforced concrete towers, 2 on each bank of the river and are anchored in 4 concrete anchorages. The concrete towers taper to the top with a flat coping. Although the bridge can be considered an example of the vernacular construction, the wire rope and all of the fittings were manufactured at that time by leading companies such as Roebling and Bethlehem Steel Corporation and were readily available from wire rope dealers. Wire rope was developed for a wide variety of industrial uses as a replacement for traditional organic hemp rope.

The timber bridge deck consists of 4-inch by 8-inch wooden planks laid flat and supported by pairs of 3-inch by 12-inch wood floor beams, 14 feet 1 inch long. These pairs of beams are in turn supported by vertical wire rope suspenders. The curb width is 10 feet 9 inches while the overall deck width is 11 feet 6 inches. WV Division of Highways records reveal the deck was replaced in 1958. Originally the bridge had no railing but a simple wooden 2-rail system was added over time.

The Duck Run Cable Suspension Bridge is significant under Criteria C for Engineering. The bridge was completed in 1922 and served the local community until 1992, when it was taken out of service following the completion of a new bridge across the Little Kanawha River in the nearby vicinity. The construction of the suspension bridge coincides with the National Good Roads Movement which attempted to improve the quality of America’s roads following WWI. This was the first nationwide attempt in America to provide paved all-weather roads in rural areas. The resulting network of roads also involved the construction of bridges. In the case of this bridge, it was to eliminate the river ford crossing for motor cars. Its construction made a significant contribution to the road network in Gilmer County.

About 1918, James w. Keith, who lived on Duck Run Road, purchased a motor car. He was not happy with the ford over the Little Kanawha River and began soliciting the county for a bridge to be built.

At that time, counties were responsible for their roads and Gilmer County did not have the money for such an undertaking. So, Keith drew support from M.B. Summers and other neighbors in the area. They began raising money through yard sales, cake walks, raffles, etc. A deed dated Feb 4th, 1921, gives permission from the landowner, E.W. Floyd and family, for a right of way to build the “Summers Suspension Bridge.”

Local boys joined Fred Lewis, County Road Engineer, as volunteer workers in the actual construction. Money raised in Duck Run and Bear Run communities helped pay for the materials. The bridge was completed in 1922.

Even though the construction of the bridge employed volunteer labor, this was not a typical Appalachian swinging bridge built without the benefit of engineering design but rather relied on the work of William M. Moss and Fred Lewis, Gilmer County engineers. The suspension bridge type offered the cheapest possible bridge to carry cars and provide a clear span of more than 200 feet over the river. By using readily available wire rope and associated fittings, a bridge with high quality components for the main structural element could provide a safe and yet very economical structure. While the main cables, suspenders, and associated clamps and other fittings were produced by leading steel companies, the wood deck was obtained locally, while the concrete, according to local informants, was made on site using Little Kanawha sand and gravel to produce the concrete. Little else is recorded on the actual construction. The resulting concrete lacked the quality control needed for long term durability. In order to ensure the capacity of the towers to support the cables, the corners of each tower were later reinforced with external steel angles and horizontal binders. They remain as a prominent feature of the bridge, In contrast, the anchorages appear to be in much better condition.

The bridge has deteriorated over the years, particularly since its abandonment in 1992. Nevertheless, deterioration has caused no significant change to the bridge’s historic integrity. Work is now underway to restore the bridge to its original condition for interpretation as an historic site. It will be used as a pedestrian bridge in a planned recreational area.

Historical Marker located on Rt 5 about 3 miles east of Glenville near Truebada. (Current spelling)

View of bridge and marker from across the highway.

Better view of the bridge. It is closed to all traffic - motorized and foot.

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