WITH THE burning of Atlanta just before Sherman’s March to the Sea, Rhett Butler in the movie version of “Gone With The Wind” told Scarlett O’Hara: ” Take a good look, my dear. It’s an historic moment you can tell your grandchildren about – how you watched the Old South fall one night.”
The destruction of the Bridgeport Bridge isn’t as momentous as the burning of Atlanta, but both are examples of how it is much easier to destroy something – be it a bridge, building or a reputation – than it is to build it up.
In just a few minutes, the bridge which has been a landmark since 1893 was down with the tall bridge approaches laying askew to the ground and parts of the span in the water. The once-proud finials though rusted no longer gave the bridge an ornamental touch as they pointed skyward.
THE BRIDGEPORT Bridge once carried horse-drawn conveyances and other vehicles including streetcars across the back channel of the Ohio River.
Like a “sister span,” the historic S-bridge in Blaine, the bridge was part of the National Road.
It wasn’t until the mid-1920s that the highway became known as U.S. 40.
Changes have been made in the Bridgeport Bridge over the years so it would be suitable to carry traffic. For example, when the floor beams became structurally unsound, a new, self-supporting, load-bearing deck structure was installed inside the trusses of the bridge in 1987.
That was a temporary measure of carrying traffic until a new vehicular bridge could be built, and that didn’t occur until the mid-1990s.
Crowds gathered at the bridge site Monday with some remembering how they once traveled across the old span, which served the area for so many years.
MONDAY’s demolition was the second area bridge to be removed in recent years. The railroad bridge, which was completed in 1892 at Martins Ferry,was blasted to bits Aug. 17, 1993. Next on the schedule to be eliminated is the Bellaire Toll Bridge.
The Bridgeport Bridge is gone, but it will remain in many residents’ memories.