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Christian Kielbasa
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Posts: 1197

« Reply #75 on: June 06, 2009, 12:26:16 am »

All Possible Help Pushed By Governor
By John G. Morgan, Staff Writer

    The news of the Ohio River disaster reached Gov. Hulett C. Smith about 5:30 p.m. Friday while he was attending a meeting of a 14-county citizens groups seeking reforms in the State Road Commission.

    Deeply concerned Paul Crabtree. Smith's executive assistant and a resident of Point Pleasant, interrupted the meeting to tell the Governor about the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

    One of Smith's first comments was: "We have got to find a way to get the cars out of the river." He said he and his staff would seek all possible help from state police, civil defense units, the National Guard, the Coast Guard and the Corps of Engineers.

    State Road Commissioner Burl A. Sawyers said he had "no theory at the moment" on what may have caused the bridge to collapse. He added that one of the most important things now facing the SRC is to "start planning for replacement" of the bridge.

    "I don't know the extent of the damage, but it is a very serious emergency," said Sawyers. "We will have to make an analysis."

    Smith quickly went into conference with Sawyers and other top SRC staff officials who were at the citizens meeting. Later, Smith, Sawyers and some of the officials went to Point Pleasant.

    The Silver Bridge was built as a two-lane toll facility by the General Corp. and American Bridge Co. in 1928. The gleaming structure was hailed as an excellent engineering achievement. Residents of West Virginia and Ohio were proud to drive over it.

    The additional statistics about the bridge were released by the SRC:

    It was an I-bar suspension type brid[g]e, measuring 1,750 feet in total length. The state bought it from the bridge company on Dec. 26, 1941. The structure was made a toll-free facility on Dec. 18, 1951.

    - 30 -
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