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Wheeling Suspension Bridge: A Historic Landmark in West Virginia

If you want a unique and memorable destination in West Virginia, consider visiting the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. This bridge is not only a remarkable feat of engineering but also a witness to the history and culture of the region. On this web page, you will learn more about the bridge, its origins, its attractions, and its tips for visitors.

Image of Wheeling Suspension Bridge

The History of Wheeling Suspension Bridge

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was built between 1846 and 1849 by Charles Ellet Jr., who also worked on the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge. It was the first bridge to span the Ohio River, and the largest suspension bridge in the world at the time. It connected the eastern and western sections of the National Road, an important trade and migration route. 

The bridge was destroyed by a tornado in 1854, but rebuilt in 1856 with some modifications. In the early 1870s, Washington Roebling, who later designed the Brooklyn Bridge, added auxiliary stay cables to strengthen the bridge. The bridge underwent several renovations and repairs over the years, but it still retains its original towers, cables, and suspenders.

Image of Old Paint of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge

The bridge played a significant role in the American Civil War, as it was a strategic link between Virginia and Ohio. It was also involved in a legal dispute over its obstruction of steamboat traffic, which led to a landmark Supreme Court decision that affirmed the federal government’s authority over interstate commerce. 

The bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975, and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1976. It is also part of the Wheeling Island Historic District. 

The Culture around Wheeling Suspension Bridge

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge is more than just a structure; it is also a symbol of the identity and pride of Wheeling and West Virginia. The bridge has inspired many artists, writers, and musicians over the years. For example, it is featured in paintings by Edward Hopper and John Steuart Curry, poems by James Wright and Maggie Anderson, and songs by Billy Edd Wheeler and Hazel Dickens. 

The bridge is also celebrated in various events and festivals throughout the year. One of the most popular is the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, which takes place every July on Wheeling Island. The festival includes a fireworks display over the bridge, as well as live music, food, crafts, and games. Another event is the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, which offers riders a scenic route along the Ohio River and across the bridge.

What can you find in Wheeling Suspension Bridge?

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge is not only a historic landmark, but also a scenic attraction that offers stunning views of the Ohio River and the city skyline. The bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists, so you can enjoy a leisurely walk or ride across it. You can also take photos or selfies with the bridge as a backdrop, or watch the sunset or sunrise from its vantage point.

Besides the bridge itself, you can also explore its surroundings and discover other points of interest on both sides of the river. On the downtown side, you can visit the Capitol Theatre, which is a restored vaudeville house that hosts concerts, shows, and movies. You can also check out the Artisan Center, which showcases local arts and crafts, or the Centre Market, which offers a variety of shops and restaurants.  

On the island side, you can visit the Wheeling Island Casino and Racetrack, which features slot machines, table games, live entertainment, and greyhound racing. You can also enjoy some outdoor recreation at the Heritage Port Park or Garden Park Pool. Or you can simply relax at one of the many parks or playgrounds on the island.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the Wheeling Suspension Bridge that you may not know:

  • The bridge has 12 iron cables that support its flooring. Each cable consists of 550 wires that are twisted together by hand.
  • The cables rest on cast iron rollers that adapt to cable movements caused by changes in temperature or transitory loads.
  • The bridge has a span of 1,010 feet from tower to tower. The east tower is 153.5 feet above low water level; while the west tower is 132.75 feet above low water level.
  • The bridge has a weight limit of 2 tons, and a vehicle separation requirement of 50 feet. It also has a speed limit of 15 miles per hour.
  • The bridge was featured in the 2010 movie Unstoppable, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

Advice for Visitors

If you are planning to visit the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, here are some tips to make your trip more enjoyable and safe:

When is it open?

The bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, it may be closed temporarily due to weather conditions, maintenance, or special events. You can check the bridge status online or by calling the West Virginia Department of Transportation. 

What to wear?

The bridge is exposed to the elements, so you should dress appropriately for the season and the weather. You should also wear comfortable shoes and clothing that allow you to walk or cycle easily. You may want to bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, or an umbrella depending on the sun or rain.

Is it family-friendly?

The bridge is a great place to visit with your family, as it offers a fun and educational experience for all ages. However, you should be aware that the bridge is high above the river, and it may sway slightly in the wind. You should also keep an eye on your children and pets, and make sure they do not climb on the railings or run on the bridge.

When is it best to visit?

The bridge is beautiful at any time of the day or night, but some of the best times to visit are during sunrise or sunset, when you can see the sky and the water change colors. You can also visit during special occasions, such as holidays or festivals, when the bridge may be decorated with lights or flags.

A Trip Through West Virginia Landmarks to Castle Floor Coatings

Via I-64 W and I-64 W/I-77 N

The Greenbrier

101 W Main St, White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986, United States

  1. Get on I-64 W from US-60 W/Midland Trail E
    1. Head southeast toward Greenbrier Dr/Springhouse Ln
    2. Continue onto Greenbrier Dr/Springhouse Ln
    3. Continue to follow Springhouse Ln
    4. Turn right onto US-60 W/Midland Trail E
    5. Turn left onto Harts Run Rd
  2. Turn right to merge onto I-64 W toward Beckley
    1. Merge onto I-64 W
    2. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N toward Charleston
    3. Take exit 79 toward Sharon/Cabin Creek Rd
  3. Turn left onto Access/Sharon Hollow Rd/Sharon Hollow Rd Access
    1. Turn left at the 2nd cross street onto Cabin Creek Rd
    2. Destination will be on the right

Eksdale, West Virginia, C&O Coal Tower

220 Back St, Eskdale, WV 25075, United States

  1. Head north on Cabin Creek Rd
  2. Turn right onto Access/Sharon Hollow Rd/Sharon Hollow Rd Access
  3. Turn left onto the 64 W/77 N ramp
  4. Merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N
  5. Take exit 97 for US-60 W/Kanawha Blvd toward Midland Trl
  6. Continue onto US-60 W/Kanawha Blvd E
  7. Destination will be on the right

West Virginia State Capitol

1900 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25305, United States

  1. Follow I-79 N and US-19 S to Birch River. Take the WV-82 exit from US-19 S
    1. Head west on US-60 W toward WV-114 N
    2. Turn right onto US-60 W/WV-114 N/Greenbrier St
    3. Continue to follow WV-114 N/Greenbrier St
    4. Turn left to merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N toward I-79
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to take the I-77 N exit toward I-79/Parkersburg
    6. Continue onto I-77 N
    7. Keep right at the fork to continue on I-79 N, follow signs for Clarksburg
    8. Take exit 57 toward Beckley
    9. Merge onto US-19 S
  2. Take the WV-82 exit toward Birch River/Cowen
    1. Turn left onto WV-82 E/Birch River Rd
    2. Continue straight onto Howard Farm
    3. Continue onto Old Birch River Rd
    4. Turn right onto 1st St W/Erbacon Rd
    5. Continue to follow Erbacon Rd
    6. Turn left onto WV-20 N/Webster Rd
    7. Continue to follow WV-20 N
    8. Turn right onto Co Rte 15/4
    9. Turn right onto WV-15 E/Point Mountain Rd
    10. Continue to follow WV-15 E
  3. Turn right onto US-219 S/Seneca Trail
    1. Turn left onto WV-66 E
    2. Turn left to stay on WV-66 E

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

12363 Cass Rd, Cass, WV 24927, United States

  1. Head southwest on WV-66 W toward Deer Creek Rd
  2. Turn right onto US-219 N/Seneca Trail
    1. Turn left onto US-219 N/US-250 N/Seneca Trail
    2. Continue straight onto WV-92 N
    3. Slight left onto US-250 N/US-33 W/US-48
    4. Turn right onto US-250 N
  3. Turn right onto WV-92 N/Morgantown Pke
  4. Continue to follow WV-92 N
  5. Turn left onto US-50 W
  6. Turn right onto WV-92 N
    1. Turn left onto Gladesville Rd
    2. Turn right to stay on Gladesville Rd
  7. Turn right onto US-119 N/Grafton Rd
    1. Turn left onto the ramp to I-79/Fairmont
    2. Merge onto I-68 W
    3. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-79 N toward Washington
    4. Keep left to stay on I-79 N
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-70 W/I-79 N toward Washington
    6. Continue to follow I-70 W
    7. Keep right at the fork to stay on I-70 W
    8. Keep left to stay on I-70 W
    9. Take exit 225 for OH-7 toward Bridgeport
    10. Turn left onto Marion St
    11. Turn left to merge onto I-70 E toward Wheeling

Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Wheeling, WV 26003, United States

  1. Head east on I-70 E
  2. Take exit 1A for US-40 E/WV-2 N/Main St toward Downtown
  3. Merge onto US-40 E/WV-2 S/Main St
  4. Continue to follow WV-2 S/Main St
  5. Turn left onto 16th St/Greater Wheeling Trail
  6. Continue to follow 16th St
  7. Turn left onto Market St
  8. Destination will be on the right

West Virginia Independence Hall

1528 Market St, Wheeling, WV 26003, United States

  1. Get on I-70 E
    1. Head north on Market St toward 15th Pl
    2. Keep left to continue on Lane 38
    3. Merge onto I-70 E via the ramp to Washington
  2. Merge onto I-70 E
    1. Take the exit onto PA-43 S
    2. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto US-119 S toward PA-43 S/Morgantown
    3. Keep left to continue on US-119 S/US-40 E
    4. Use the left 2 lanes to take the US-40 E exit toward Hopwood
  3. Get on I-68 E/US-40 E in Garrett County
    1. Continue onto US-40 E
    2. Turn right to stay on US-40 E
    3. Use the right lane to merge onto I-68 E/US-40 E via the ramp to US-219 N/Cumberland
  4. Merge onto I-68 E/US-40 E
    1. Continue onto Exit 82C (signs for I-70 W/US-522 N/Breezewood)
    2. Use the right lane to keep right at the fork and continue on Exit 82B
  5. Keep right to continue on Exit 82A, follow signs for US-522 S/Hancock/Winchester, and merge onto US-522 S
    1. Merge onto US-522 S
    2. Turn right onto Fairfax St
    3. Fairfax St turns left and becomes Cornelius Ave
    4. Destination will be on the left

Museum of the Berkeley Springs

2 Fairfax St, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411, United States

  1. Take Fairfax St to S Washington St
    1. Head northeast on Cornelius Ave toward Fairfax St
    2. Cornelius Ave turns right and becomes Fairfax St
  2. Turn right onto S Washington St
  3. Get on I-81 S in Berkeley County
    1. Turn left onto WV-9 E/Martinsburg Rd
    2. Continue to follow WV-9 E
    3. Use the right lane to take the ramp to Winchester
  4. Merge onto I-81 S
    1. Take exit 12 for WV-45 E toward WV-9 E/Winchester Ave/Charles Town
    2. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto WV-45 E
    3. Continue onto WV-9 E
    4. Use the right lane to take the US-340 N/WV-51 W ramp to Charles Town/Harpers Ferry
    5. Turn left onto US-340 N/William L Wilson Fwy
  5. Drive to Shenandoah St
    1. Turn left onto Shenandoah St
    2. Continue straight to stay on Shenandoah St
    3. Destination will be on the right

John Brown’s Fort

814 Shenandoah St, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, United States

  1. Head southwest on Shenandoah St toward Potomac St
  2. Turn left onto US-340 E/William L Wilson Fwy
  3. Continue to follow US-340 E
    1. Take exit 10 for interstate 70 E toward I-270/Baltimore/Washington
    2. Merge onto I-70 E
    3. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 53 to merge onto I-270 S toward Washington
    4. Take exit 31B for MD-85 S toward Buckeystown
  4. Continue onto MD-85 S/Buckeystown Pike
    1. Pass by McDonald’s (on the right in 0.4 mi)
    2. Turn right onto Executive Way
    3. Turn right onto Macon St
    4. Turn left onto Proclamation Pl
    5. Destination will be on the right

Castle Floor Coatings – Garage Coatings & Concrete driveway sealers

7180 Proclamation Pl, Frederick, MD 21703, United States