The story of a forgotten America.

Court Street Bridge

The Court Street Bridge formerly carried Court Street over the Little Kanawha River in Glenville, West Virginia.







In 1845, the town of Glenville was established as the county seat for the newly formed Gilmer County on land owned by William H. Ball, laid out by S. L. Hays. 3 The formation of Gilmer County was in response to the difficulty that settlers encountered in traveling to Charleston or Weston to attend court from Kanawha and Lewis Counties in Virginia. The first land survey to assess the town’s infrastructure requirements was conducted by Michael Stump in the same year, which recommended the construction of a network of roads and bridges.

On December 1, 1884, J. R. Stewart, Ruben Shirreffs, and George H. Goffs, who were partners in Stewart, Shirreffs & Company based in Richmond, Virginia, signed a contract with the Gilmer County to design and construct six wrought iron highway bridges at a total cost of $13,132. 3 The county was responsible for conducting substructure work in accordance with the plans prepared by Stewart, Shirreffs & Company, while all construction had to be completed by July 1, 1885.

One of the bridges constructed by Stewart, Shirreffs & Company in 1885 was located on Court Street, spanning the Little Kanawha River in Glenville. Bridge components for the bridge were sourced from the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. 1 3 The bridge comprised a main Pratt through truss span of 240 feet, a pony truss span of 43 feet, and another pony truss span of 47 feet. 3 Additionally, in the same year, the company built bridges at Cedar Creek, Cove Creek, Fink Creek, Leading Creek, and Sand Fork.

The State Road Commission (SRC) was established by the West Virginia Legislature in 1917. 4 Its initial mandate was to locate, construct, and maintain primary roads categorized as “Class A” roads, covering a distance of over 4,000 miles, that would receive state aid, while all other roads were designated as “Class B” roads. The Good Roads Amendment of 1920 provided for a network of state roads and highways that connected the state’s county seats with important roads of adjacent states. The completion of the state road system designation was achieved in 1922.

Under the purview of the Good Roads Amendment, the state initiated a program to construct a “Class A” state road from Normanville through Glenville to Lynn. 2 This involved the construction of a new two-lane bridge over the Little Kanawha River along Lewis Street in Glenville, the replacement of bridges and culverts, and the smoothing of steep grades and sharp curves in other areas.

Court Street Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1963, but remained accessible to pedestrians. 3 In 1998, the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In February 2010, the southernmost pony truss of the bridge collapsed due to flood damage. 5 The West Virginia Preservation Alliance led volunteers in its removal.


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Sources

  1. Bridge plaques.
  2. Inspection of highway plans from the West Virginia Department of Highways.
  3. Valente, Kim A. “Glenville Truss Bridge.” National Register of Historic Places, Jan. 1998.
  4. Cramer, Dave. “A Brief History of West Virginia’s State Route System.” Millennium Highways.
  5. Steelhammer, Rick. “Volunteers work to save iron bridge.” Charleston Gazette, 13 May 2010.

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