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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #75 on: June 06, 2009, 12:22:16 am »

The Collapse of the Silver Bridge

    From the West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly
    VOLUME XV, NO. 4 October, 2001
    by Chris LeRose

        On December 15,1967 at approximately 5 p.m., the U.S. Highway 35 bridge connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Kanauga, Ohio suddenly collapsed into the Ohio River. At the time of failure, thirty- seven vehicles were crossing the bridge span, and thirty-one of those automobiles fell with the bridge. Forty-six individuals perished with the buckling of the bridge and nine were seriously injured.(1) Along with the numerous fatalities and injuries, a major transportation route connecting West Virginia and Ohio was destroyed, disrupting the lives of many and striking fear across the nation.
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #76 on: June 06, 2009, 12:22:31 am »

The General Corporation and the American Bridge Company constructed the Highway Bridge in 1928. It was designed as a two-lane eye-bar suspension type bridge, measuring 2,235 feet in total length, including the approaches. The bridge was designed under the specifications set forth by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The design criteria the society required was an H-15 load demand.(2) The load demand is the weight restrictions and guidelines that the designing engineers must factor into their design considerations.

The bridge was dubbed the 'Silver Bridge' because it was the country's first aluminum painted bridge. It was designed with a twenty-two foot roadway and one five-foot sidewalk. Some unique engineering techniques were featured on the Silver Bridge such as 'High Tension' eye-bar chains, a unique anchorage system, and 'Rocker" towers. The Silver Bridge was the first eye-bar suspension bridge of its type to be constructed in the United States. The bridge's eye-bars were linked together in pairs like a chain. A huge pin passed through the eye and linked each piece to the next. Each chain link consisted of a pair of 2" x 12" bars and was connected by an 11" pin. The length of each chain varied depending upon its location on the bridge.(3)

Some questions were raised when this design idea was brought forward. What if the two eye-bars did not share the 4 « million pound load of the bridge equally? Would the eye- bars fail under the overloaded stress? The designers thought they had an answer. (4)

The answer come in the type of material used for the eye-bars. The American Bridge Company developed a new heat-treated carbon steel to use on the construction of the Silver Bridge. This new steel would allow the individual members of the bridge to handle more stress. Along with the two eye-bars sharing the load, the steel could easily handle the 4 « million pound load. The newly treated chain steel eye-bars had an ultimate strength of 105,000 pounds per square inch (psi) with an elastic limit of 75,000 psi along with a maximum working stress of 50,000 psi. The eye-bars embedded into the unique anchorage were also heat treated for an ultimate strength of 75,000 psi, an elastic limit of 50,000 psi and a maximum unit stress of 30 psi.(5)

Because of the unique design of the structure, the anchorage design needed to be innovative. Bedrock was only found at a considerable depth, making the ordinary gravity type anchorage impractical. An unusual anchorage was designed consisting of a reinforced concrete trough 200 feet long and 34 feet wide filled with soil and reinforced concrete. The huge trough was supported on 405 sixteen inch octagonal reinforced concrete piles in which the cable pull is resisted by the weight of the anchorage and by sharing the halves of the piles.(6)
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #77 on: June 06, 2009, 12:23:46 am »

Another unique design technique used on the Silver Bridge was the 'Rocker' towers. The innovative towers, which had a height of 130 feet, 10 1/4 inches, allowed the bridge to move due to shifting loads and changes in the chain lengths due to temperature variations. This was done by placing a curved fitting next to a flat one at the bottom of the piers. The rocker was then fitted with dowel rods to keep the structure from shifting horizontally. With this type of connection, the piers were not fixed to the bases.(7)

Upon completion of construction, the bridge was opened as a toll facility and operated by the West Virginia-Ohio Bridge Corporation. On December 26,1941, the state of West Virginia bought the structure from the bridge company for $1,040,000. The purchase price included a $70,000 contract for bridge repairs and engineering services.(Cool

On December 3l, 1951 the structure became a toll free facility. The bridge underwent a thorough inspection just prior to the transition from toll to non-toll facility. On December 21, 1951, Bridge Engineer L. L. Jemison, suggested the following to H. K. Griffith, West Virginia State Maintenance Engineer: 1. Repairing the bridge seat of the upstream side of the Ohio Abutment. 2. Cutting Ventilator openings in all of the four anchor chambers and making frames for same. 3. Encasing the anchor bars inside of the anchor chambers with concrete. 4. Restoring the disintegrated concrete of the piers, anchorages and retaining walls. 5. Waterproofing the roadway of the anchorages and the approaches and surfacing same with asphaltic concrete. 6. Cleaning and painting steel work where necessary. 7. Revising the Ohio approach to provide better returns. 8. Extending the sidewalk along the Ohio approach. 9. Removing the Toll House. 10.Revising the lighting control system. 11.Miscellaneous steelwork: Repair Railing, Clean out holes at bottom of tower verticals, Furnishing and installing gutters under expansion devices, Making and installing bird screens, 12. Restoring concrete around anchor bars removed for inspection.(9)

Upon receiving Mr. Jemison's letter of intent for the proposed bridge corrections, the necessary improvements were made. In addition to the 1951 inspection and corrections, the bridge was inspected periodically. These frequent inspections occurred on July 28, 1955, November 15,1961, and April 8 and 9, 1965. Suggestions were made to the WV Bridge engineers for improvements, but not every detail was considered because of a lack of funding. Although some corrections were not made, each inspection did say that the bridge was structurally safe. Even with the number of inspections given to the structure, the reason for its collapse could not have been foreseen and/or corrected. The technology of the day could not foresee the tragedy that awaited the Silver Bridge.(10)

For thirty-nine years the Silver Bridge stood, allowing passage across the Ohio River. With the previous inspections, no one conceived that the structure might fall and collapse into the riverbed. On that fateful December 15, 1967 evening, tragedy struck. Within seconds, the Silver Bridge had collapsed killing and injuring many individuals.
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #78 on: June 06, 2009, 12:24:01 am »

Many people were out buying Christmas trees, enjoying the holiday season, unaware of the disaster, until they heard the sound. Some individuals said, 'the sound of the collapse was like that of a shotgun." For those who saw the bridge collapse, they said, "it looked like the bridge fell like a card deck."(11) Whatever the case, when the structure fell, horror captivated the area and lives were changed forever.

Many heroic eyewitnesses tried to help the victims who fell in the water. Rescue crews were on the disaster scene within minutes and were able to save some of the people from drowning in the Ohio River. Witnesses indicated that many of the vehicles were floating downstream while passengers would beat on their windows trying to escape. One eyewitness described seeing a truck driver standing on the top of his truck cob yelling for help as his vehicle slowly floated downstream in the cold water. William Needham, a truck driver f rom Kernersville, North Carolina, barely escaped death. He was in the cab of his truck driving across the bridge, when the collapse occurred. He managed to survive, but his partner in the truck cab never escaped the water of the Ohio River. His partner was asleep in the rear cab and had strapped himself in for safety. When the bridge collapsed, he had no chance of escaping. Needham claims that the truck sank to the bottom and that he narrowly escaped. He broke the window to the cab, grabbed a box to help himself surface, and barely made it to the top of the water before he ran out of breath.(12)

Another survivor, Howard Boggs, of Gailipolis, Ohio, lost his small family in the fall. His wife, Marjorie, and seventeen-month-old daughter were in their vehicle when the bridge collapsed. He claims that Marjorie noticed that the bridge was 'quivering' as they became stalled on the bridge in the heavy rush hour traffic. She then asked, "What will we do if this thing breaks?" The next thing Boggs remembers was scrambling for his life by breaking out his car window. Sadly, his wife and child perished in the accident. He could not aid them in their attempt to be freed from the sinking car.(13)

After the collapse, many residents questioned why the bridge would suddenly fall into the river below. Three of the reasons that were commonly heard were:

        1. A supposed 'Sonic Boom' prior to the collapse.
        2. The 'Curse' of Chief Cornstalk.
        3. Structural failure of a bridge member.

The collapsed bridge needed to be thoroughly inspected before the cause could be determined. Without concrete reason for the bridge's failure, every suggested reason was researched until proven incorrect.(14)
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #79 on: June 06, 2009, 12:24:16 am »

Many people in the West Virginia and Ohio area claim to have heard a 'Sonic Boom' around the same time, or just moments before the bridge fell. Investigators checked with the nearby military installations, and there were no aircraft capable of producing a Sonic boom in the area at the time the bridge dismembered. The theory was proven false after the researcher's investigation showed that surrounding buildings were not damaged. If a sonic boom had occurred in a residential community, the overpressure would have caused extensive damage to homes and other structures in the Point Pleasant area.(15)

Older residents claimed that the cause of the bridge collapse was "The Curse of Cornstalk." In 1774, the Battle of Point Pleasant took place between approximately 1,000 white men and 1,000 Indians. The commander of the Indian war party was Chief Cornstalk, a well-respected and intelligent Indian leader. During the battle, Cornstalk could see that defeat was imminent for his forces. He therefore let his troops make a crucial decision, either to fight to the death or surrender. The Indian warriors chose to surrender. With the surrender, Chief Cornstalk signed the Treaty of Camp Charlotte.(16) Chief Cornstalk and his son were later captured and murdered along with his son at Fort Randolph. Legend states that in his dying words Chief Cornstalk, still upset over his troops defeat, placed a curse of death and destruction upon the entire Point Pleasant area.(17) Could this be the reason for the collapse of the Silver Bridge? After thorough investigations of the bridges' collapsed structure, 'The Curse of Cornstalk' was ruled out as a contributing factor to the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

After extensive studies of the broken structure members, the cause of failure was determined. The answer was the unique eye-bar design made from the newly innovated heat treated-carbon steel. The old saying, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link," turned out to be a fact in the failure of the Silver Bridge.(18) The heat-treated carbon steel eye-bar broke, placing undue stress on the other members of the bridge. The remaining steel frame buckled and fell due to the newly concentrated stresses.

The cause of failure was attributed to a cleavage fracture in the lower limb of eye-bar 330 at joint C13N of the north eye-bar suspension chain in the Ohio side span." The fracture was caused from a minute crack formed during the casting of the steel eye-bar. Over the years, stress corrosion and corrosion fatigue allowed the crack to grow, causing the failure of the entire structure. At the time of construction, the steel used was not known for subduing to corrosion fatigue and stress corrosion. Inspection prior to construction would not have been able to notice the miniature crack. Over the life span of the bridge, the only way to detect the fracture would have been to disassemble the eye-bar. The technology used for inspection at the time was not capable of detecting such cracks. (19)
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #80 on: June 06, 2009, 12:24:39 am »

Stress corrosion cracking is the formation of brittle cracks in a normally sound material through the simultaneous action of a tensile stress and a corrosive environment.(20) Combined with corrosion fatigue, which occurs as a result of the combined action of a cyclic stress and a corrosive environment, disaster was inevitable for the Silver Bridge. The two contributing factors, over the years continued to weaken the eye-bar and unfortunately the entire structure.

Another major factor that helped corrosion fatigue and stress corrosion in bringing down the bridge was the weight of new cars and trucks. When the bridge was designed, the design vehicle used was the model-T Ford, which had an approximate weight of less than 1,500 pounds. In 1967, the average family car weighed 4,000 pounds or more.(21) In 1928, West Virginia law prohibited the operation of any vehicle whose gross weight, including its load, was more than 20,000 pounds. In 1967, the weight limit almost tripled to 60,800 pounds gross, and up to 70,000 with special permits.(22) Civil engineers must use a projected life span for nearly all projects, but no one could see that 40 years after the construction of the Silver Bridge that traffic loads would more than triple.

Although the collapse of the Silver Bridge was a major disaster in the West Virginia and Ohio areas, it also frightened the entire nation. The St. Mary's bridge, located upstream and similar in design to the Silver Bridge, was shut down for inspection after the collapse.(23) President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a nation-wide probe to determine the safety of the nation's bridges. In 1967 there were 1,800 bridges in the United States which were 40 years old including 1,100 highway bridges designed for Model-T traffic. Many federal officials feared that other structures, built around the some time to handle Model-T traffic, could face the same fate as the Silver Bridge.(24)

Even though the collapse of the Silver Bridge was a disaster, there were positive aspects to the failure. Bridge inspections are now more routine and in-depth because of the Silver Bridge. Engineers are now more knowledgeable about corrosion fatigue and stress corrosion, which allows better quality structures to be designed and built. With today's technology, as well as better design techniques and materials, there is hope that a Silver Bridge disaster will never again take place.
Foot Notes

    1. National Transportation Safety Board, A Highway Accident Report, collapse of U. S. 35 Highway Bridge, (Washington: GPO, 1971).
    2. Wilson Ballard, "An Eye-bar Suspension span for the Ohio River," Engineering News-Record, June, 1929; 997-1001.
    3. Ballard, 997-998.
    4. Carl Shermer, "Eye-Bar Bridges and the Silver Bridge Disaster," Engineer, Jan- Feb 1968, 20.
    5. Ballard, 999.
    6. Alden Armangnaz, "Our Worst Bridge Disaster: Why Did it Happen?" Popular Science Magazine, March 1968, 104.
    7. Shermer, 21.
    8. Shermer, 21.
    9. Letter of L. L. Jemison to H. K. Griffith, 21 December 1951, WV Department of Transportation, State Archives, Charleston.
    10. National Transportation Safety Board, Highway Accident Report
    11. "Bridge Fell Like a Card Deck," Charleston Daily Mail, 17 Dec 1967.
    12. "Truck Driver Survives Tragedy," Charleston Daily Mail, 16, Dec 1967.
    13. Ibid.
    14. NTSB Highway Accident Report
    15. Ibid.
    16. Otis K. Rice and Stephen W. Brown, West Virginia, A History, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1993.
    17. "The Curse of Cornstalk?" Charleston Daily Mail, 17 Dec 1967.
    18. Shermer, 20.
    19. NTSB High Way Accident Report
    20. Corrosion source, "Stress Corrosion Cracking," Compuserve 7 Oct 2000,
    21. "Model-T Bridges Common," Charleston Gazette, 20 Dec 1967.
    22. "Model-T Bridges Inviting Tragedy," Charleston Gazette, 19 Dec 1967.
    23. "All Possible Help Pushed by Governor," Charleston Gazette, 16 Dec 1967.
    24. "Model-T Bridges Inviting Tragedy," Charleston Gazette, 19 Dec 1967.
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #81 on: June 06, 2009, 12:25:09 am »

The Pattern Of Traffic On The Silver Bridge

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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #82 on: June 06, 2009, 12:25:36 am »

Silver Bridge Disaster In The Press

    In The Charleston Gazette
    December 16, 1967

    Pt. Pleasant Span Collapses, 70 Vehicles Plunge Into River
    5 Bodies Recovered, Giant Toll Feared

    By George Steele, Staff Writer

        POINT PLEASANT - The collapse of a towering suspension bridge over the Ohio River here Friday plunged an estimated 60 to 70 vehicles into the cold waters and sent an untold number of persons to their deaths.

        Hours later only five bodies had been recovered but astounded officials were certain the death toll would soar.

        Only five of the scores of motorists who were atop the 1,750-foot span when it crashed into the murky waters during rush hour traffic at 4:55 p.m. were able to extricate themselves from submerged vehicles and make their way to safety.

        On the Ohio side, about 250 feet of the loaded bridge crashed onto land. Four persons on this part of the bridge were killed, and eight injured were pulled out of the tangled steel.

        A flotilla of riverboats with high powered search lights were recruited into the rescue operations, along with small craft and a Civil Defense army duck.

        Most of the rescue operations, in fact, were taking place at Kanauga, Ohio. A barge with a crane tried once to pull a car from the clutches of the river near the Ohio bank, but it came up with only a front bumper and suspension assembly.

        Early rescue activity centered on the Ohio side because the vehicles smashed by the bridge wreckage there were more accessible than those obviously strewn along the bottom of the river.

        One tractor - trailer that plunged into the water apparently was empty because onlookers watched it slowly float down river.

        Most of the bridge's superstructure was hidden beneath the water. In midstream only the concrete piers remained as stark evidence of the total collapse of the structure.

        Witnesses said the bridge bent sharply to the north, spilling its contents into the river, then groaning, went down in slow-motion on top of the sinking vehicles, apparently crushing many of them against the river bottom.

        Ambulances and rescue units from towns and communities on both sides of the river sped to the scene. They came from as far away as Charleston.

        A man who said he was on the bridge's approach ramp when it collapsed, said traffic was moving slowly and the two-lane span seemed to be packed with cars.

        He said it was always full at that time of the evening. There was some talk among spectators similar to: "I wonder if Sam was on the bridge."

        Mason County Civil Defense Director John A. Wilson said it will probably be days before authorities learn how many persons perished in the startling accident.

        He said his wife was only two blocks from the structure and saw it fall. She was in her car waiting for traffic to move so she could cross into Ohio.

        Amateur photographers flocked to the scene, some waiting helplessly in the dark for some miracle to happen so they wouldn't need a flash.

        Firemen were shuttled back and forth across the river to confer during the early part of the evening.
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #83 on: June 06, 2009, 12:26:03 am »

At about 7:30 p.m., Gallia, Ohio, County Prosecutor John Epling crossed to West Virginia to begin organizing a cooperative recovery operation between the two states.

Later in the evening, Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes and West Virginia Gov. Smith arrived at the disaster scene. At about 10:30 p.m., officials agreed to stop operations until daylight.

Some officials at the scene expressed the fear the death toll would near 200 and become one of the greatest river disasters in history.

As one official pointed out most of the cars obviously had more than one passenger.

The official, who refused to be quoted, feared that it would be weeks before all the bodies could be recovered since the swift current would carry many far downstream. Lowell R. Bridwell, the federal highway commissioner, immediately announced from Washington that he was sending a team of investigators to the area today.

Both West Virginia Gov. Smith and Ohio Gov. Rhodes expressed shock at the extent of the catastrophe.

After a joint inspection trip, Gov. Smith issued the following statement to the press: "Gov. Rhodes and I have just completed a meeting at state police headquarters in Point Pleasant coordinating the efforts of the agencies of both states to alleviate the suffering and to commence the recovery operations at the Silver Bridge. "It was a terrible tragedy, and of course at this time our prayers and hopes go out to those who have suffered under this tragedy, particularly at Christmas time. "We have directed our road commissioners to commence an investigation to determine the cause. We have alerted all of the necessary agencies of state government who are on the scene tonight already taking charge of their respective duties under our emergency operations."

Meanwhile newspaper offices and radio stations were flooded with calls from anxious persons seeking news of overdue relatives and members of their families.

Here is the list of known dead:

George McManus, a trucker from South Point, Ohio; Cecil Counts and Melvin Cantrell, both of Gallipolis Ferry; Leo Blackman, a trucker from Richmond, Va.; and an identified woman.

Injured are:

1. Howard Boggs, 24, Bidwell, Ohio; Pleasant Valley Hospital, Point Pleasant, cuts and bruises.
2. Paul Scott, Middleport, Ohio; Pleasant Valley Hospital, not critical.
3. William Edmondson, 38, King, N. C.; Pleasant Valley Hospital, broken arm and cuts.
4. William Frank Wamsley, 28, Point Pleasant; Pleasant Valley Hospital, not critical.
5. William Needham Jr., 27, Ashboro, N. C.; Pleasant Valley Hospital, back fracture, not critical.
6. Samuel F. Ellis, 29, Winston-Salem, N. C.; Holzer Hospital, Gallipolis, Ohio, multiple face and head cuts; satisfactory condition.
7. Frank Nunn, 27, Greenville, N. C.; Holzer Hospital, back fracture, satisfactory condition.
8. Mrs. Margaret Cantrell, 35, Gallipolis Ferry, wife of the dead Melvin Cantrell; Holzer Hospital, shock.
9. John Fishel, Petersburg, Va.; Holzer Hospital, leg and foot burns.

- 30 -
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #84 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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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #85 on: June 06, 2009, 12:26:34 am »

'Now I Know What It's Like to Drown'
Truck Driver Survives Tragedy

By Sandra Grant, Staff Writer

    POINT PLEASANT - "Now I know what it's like to drown. I expected to die," said Bill Needham, a 27-year-old truck driver from Kernersville, N. C.

    Needham was one of the survivors of the tragic plunge of the "Silver Bridge" into the Ohio River Friday at Point Pleasant carrying untold numbers of hapless motorists to their deaths.

    A patient in Pleasant Valley Hospital here with a broken back, Needham thinks his truck driving partner is dead.

    "He was in the sleeping berth in the rear of the cab," Needham said from his hospital bed, "and I think he had strapped himself in. He had no chance. The cab went all the way to the bottom."

    Needham said he was still pinned inside the cab when it went under water and ''was running out of breath when I noticed a little crack in the window and finally forced it down - I managed to grab a box and hang on."

    Howard Boggs, 24, of Gallipolis, Ohio, also a patient in the same hospital with cuts and bruises, fears he lost his wife, Marjorie and 17-month- old daughter in the plunge.

    Boggs said he and his small family were returning to their home after visiting relatives in West Virginia when they became stalled in traffic on the bridge.

    "My wife noticed the bridge was quivering," he related tearfully, "and asked what would we do if this thing broke. Then, suddenly it broke and we went down."

    Boggs said he and his wife had just finished buying Christmas presents for the little girl.

    Bill Edmondson, a 38-year-old Hennis Freight Lines driver from King, N. C., said he apparently also lost his partner to the water.

    "The thing went down so fast I don't know how I got out of the cab," recalled Edmondson who was admitted to the same hospital with a broken right arm and head cuts.

    "I was starting down the Ohio side of the bridge when it suddenly started falling sideways. I didn't hear any noise or anything.

    "When I got in the water I got hold of a seat and that was all that kept me up until they pulled me out."

    Edmondson, who figures he was in the water at "least 10 minutes before he was pulled into a motorboat, said he looked into his rear mirror as he inched across the span and saw the bridge "loaded bumper to bumper with traffic as far back as I could see."

    After he surfaced, Edmondson said, he could see only one other person swimming in the water.

    Other survivors at this small, overworked hospital were either too dazed to recall what happened or under heavy sedation.

    One man, Frank Wamsley of Point Pleasant, just shook his head when approached for comment.

    Another of the injured, who was pulled from the water by a passing tow boat was Paul Scott of Ohio. He likewise had no comment.

    - 30 -
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Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #86 on: June 06, 2009, 12:26:55 am »

'I Looked Up...the Bridge Disappeared,' Teachers Says

    Point Pleasant (AP) - "I looked up and it was gone. There was nothing, nothing at all. The whole bridge had disappeared into the river."

    High school teacher Todd Mayes of Point Pleasant was about to turn onto the ramp at the Ohio end of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River, just seconds after it collapsed.

    "Traffic was bumper-to-bumper," the 25-year-old Mayes said in a telephone interview from his Point Pleasant home. "I don't know how many cars were on it, but traffic stretched all the way across the bridge."

    Mayes said he is normally on the bridge by 5 p.m. He teaches a class in Ohio to children who are unable to attend school because of disabilities and the class ends at 16 minutes to 5.

    "My class isn't more than five minutes from the bridge. But I stopped at a garage near the bridge ramp today to get a can of touchup paint for the car. I could have been on that bridge.

    "The superstructure of the bridge must have all those cars and trucks pinned underneath it," he said. "The only thing floating was a trailer truck, floating down river. And I guess there was a truck driver in the cab.

    "You know, the land juts out under the bridge on the Ohio side and lots of cars and trucks and steel and cement were down there. It was hard to see people, but I could hear them yelling and moaning.

    "I tried to help two people brought up. One guy's head was badly cut and the other guy was cut on the head and body.

    "There's nothing left," said Mayes, who has been teaching at Kyger Creek High School for one year. "The only thing you can see is the pier on the Ohio side and the pier over on the West Virginia side.

    Mrs. Nancy Mayes, Todd's mother, said "I get the shivers when I think of it. Todd always gets home just after 5 o'clock. He could have been on it today.

    - 30
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« Reply #87 on: June 06, 2009, 12:27:15 am »

Bridge Fell Like Card Deck; Fantastic, Witnesses Relate
By HOLGER JENSEN, Associated Press Writer

    GALLIPOLIS, Ohio (AP) - It was a slow night for selling Christmas trees. H. L. Whobrey had a good location - at the corner of highways 7 and 35, catching all the bridge traffic from Point Pleasant, W.Va. - but it was cold, and most of the steady stream of commuters passed him by.

    He made his first sale, and was just loading a tree in the trunk of a woman's car when he hear the noise.

    "It sounded like one of those ordinary fender benders on the bridge," he said. "We have them all the time."

    Dick Kuhn was filling a customer's car with gasoline at the corner service station when he heard what "sounded like a shotgun," he said. "I thought some nut was shooting ducks under the bridge."

    Lee Long was taking a coffee break at the Gallipolis Fire Department when the alarm came in.

    The tragedy of a bridge collapsing brought these three men together. They were among the first witnesses - and the shock of it still glazed their eyes hours later.

    "I saw it, but I don't believe it," said Whobrey. "The bridge just keeled over, starting slowly on the Ohio side then following like a deck of cards to the West Virginia side.

    "It was fantastic. There was a big flash and a puff of smoke when the last of the bridge caved in. I guess the power line snapped.

    "I saw three to four people swimming around in the water screaming. I couldn't do anything. I just stood there and watched. Then I saw a city ice and fuel boat come and pick them up.

    "There was a lot of junk floating around. I saw this car float past. It looked like there were people inside beating their hands on the windows."

    Whobrey said he saw the last driver who got off the bridge before it collapsed.

    "He parked in my Christmas tree lot. He looked like a ghost. He just sat there - then he was sick right in the car."

    Kuhn ran to the riverbank behind his service station and, saw a truck floating past.

    "There was a guy hanging onto the roof yelling his head off. I think they got him off."

    Long, a fire department veteran, was one of the first rescuers at the scene.

    "It was one hell of a mess," he said. "People were crawling out of the cars in all that bridge wreckage (where part of the bridge fell on land) screaming and moaning. There were people in the water. We couldn't see very much, but we could sure hear it.

    "There was a tractor-trailer rig hanging on the riverbank, partly in the water. The driver was hanging from the open door of the cab, dead.

    "Then we heard this banging from the back. We yelled and it was the driver's partner who'd been sleeping in the back.

    "We worked two hours to cut him out of there. He was yelling at us all the time to get him out of there. I guess he thought that the trailer was going to slip into the water.

    "But when we got him out, he was okay. Standing there naked except for his shorts. Man, was he shivering.

    "Then he saw his partner, and he just broke up."
« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 12:33:35 am by Christian Kielbasa » Report Spam   Logged
Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #88 on: June 06, 2009, 12:28:00 am »

        25 Years Later - Bridge Collapse Still Haunts W. Va. Town

        Sunday Gazette-Mail
        By Terry Wallace, December 13, 1992

            POINT PLEASANT (AP) - Bill McCormick cannot forget the wrenching sound of twisting steel and the heart-stopping sight across the Ohio River when the Silver Bridge fell down 25 years ago.

            McCormick, Odell Hysell and others were working on a cold fuel dock on Dec. 15, 1967, not far from the two-lane suspension bridge connecting Ohio and West Virginia, about 35 miles northwest of Charleston.

            The men dashed for their boats, gunned their diesel engines and sped toward the wash of sinking cars, tractor-trailers and collapsed metal. The river was a body-numbing 43 degrees.

            "When we went out, we saw two men hanging on to their truck and debris. I tried to pull in one and Odell tried to pull in another," McCormick said. "It was very cold. In fact, the last fellow we pulled in, a [tow boat] captain for the Ohio River Co., said that if we hadn't gotten there when we did, he couldn't have held on."

            The collapse of the U.S. 35 bridge between Point Pleasant and Kanauga, Ohio, killed 46 motorists.

            It was also a turning point in the way American engineers think of bridges, according to Lisle Williams of Pittsburgh, a bridge designer and chairman of next year's International Bridge Conference.

            "The Silver Bridge was one of about 550,000 bridges across the country that basically received no attention once they were constructed," he said. "Once they were put up, people kind of thought they'd be there forever."

            After years of corrosion and neglect, a crucial joint in the 39-year-old bridge's suspension system snapped and the normal vibrations of heavy rush-hour traffic shook it apart. Dozens of cars and trucks followed the structure into the river.

            "You need a catastrophic failure prior to gaining everybody's attention," Williams said.

            Some fear it could happen again.

            "There have been some changes, but I wouldn't say that it was particularly any better now," said Henry Jasny, attorney for the Ralph Nader-affiliated Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in Washington, D.C.

            "I'd say that the odds of such a collapse today are equal," Jasny said.

            Since the Silver Bridge disaster, new federal standards require bridge inspections every two years. But, Jasny said, the quality of inspections varies from state to state.

            For example, he said, a 100-foot section of the Interstate 95 bridge over the Mianus River in Connecticut collapsed in June 1983, killing three people. Investigators blamed the collapse on corrosion.

            A survey of state engineers in the November's Better Roads magazine showed that 34 percent, or 206,904 bridges of the nation's approximately 600,750 bridges are substandard.

            The survey showed 55 percent of bridges are substandard in West Virginia and Massachusetts, the worst states, with 3,556 bridges and 2,788 bridges substandard, respectively.

            Mississippi and Maine, each with 51 percent, and Hawaii, 50 percent, also had more than half of their bridges rated substandard, according to the survey.

            But the survey showed the best state is Arizona, with 7 percent, or 417 bridges, substandard.

            States with less than 20 percent of substandard bridges are Idaho, 10 percent; Nevada, 11 percent; Wyoming and Utah, each with 12 percent; Connecticut, 15 percent; and California, 19 percent, according to the survey.

            Thomas Zimmie, a professor of civil engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., said bridge inspections have improved in the past five years.

            "They've really gotten their act together," he said. "You've got companies here that do nothing but bridge inspections."

            Zimmie helped investigate the April 1987 collapse of the Schoharie Creek Bridge on the New York State Thruway near Albany. Ten people died when, Zimmie said, a flood undermined the bridge supports, a phenomenon called "scour."

            Zimmie agreed hazards can go unnoticed and unsuspected until disaster strikes.

            "There's always going to be something that pops up," he said. "Who could have predicted 'scour'?"

            The 1,750-foot Silver Bridge, opened in 1928 and named for the color of its aluminum-based paint, was different from familiar suspension bridges like the Golden Gate in San Francisco and the Brooklyn and Verrazano-Narrows in New York.

            Instead of relying upon massive spun cables for support, the Silver Bridge's roadway hung from carbon-steel chains, which, in turn, were supported by two towers and were anchored on either shore.

            Officials said about 6,600 vehicles used the bridge daily. It had no load limit.

            According to a National Transportation Safety Board report, a joint in the chain supporting the roadway snapped just outside the bridge's Ohio-side tower.

            Traffic vibrations and the weight of the deck and the 37 vehicles on it, including two gravel trucks and five tractor-trailer rigs, pulled down on the Ohio-side chains and toppled the Ohio tower, according to the report.

            The collapse then toppled the West Virginia tower and pulled the rest of the bridge into the river, according to the report.

            Only the bridge's West Virginia approach and four piers remained standing.

            The board found that the Silver Bridge had not been thoroughly inspected for 16 years. Since then, it said, the chains were inspected only from the bridge deck by road workers using binoculars.

            "Evidence of severe corrosion was found in many portions of the bridge structure," the report said. "Periodic complete inspections would have furnished much more detailed information to the state concerning the condition of all vital parts of the bridge."

            Paul Wedge, an official with the Boilermakers' union and former president of the Mason County school board, died with his wife in the disaster.

            Son Jimmy Joe Wedge, later Point Pleasant's mayor, was coaching the Point Pleasant High School basketball team and was expecting his parents at the game.

            "The longer the game went on, the harder it got to focus on it, I guarantee you that," he said.

            John A. Wilson, then Mason County's Civil Defense director, ordered all roads into Point Pleasant blocked to keep out spectators. Wilson, now 77, recalled his move outraged at least one merchant who complained of the effect on his Christmas sales.

            The Ohio River was reopened to barge traffic 36 hours after the collapse, but bodies continued to be recovered as late as the end of January 1968.

            Wilson's voice still trembles when he recalls a man who escaped his car but his wife and child did not. He remembered a brother of a dead man who came to remove gifts from the wreckage of a car to assure the surviving family some sort of Christmas.

            "Every time I pass that site, I think about it," Wilson said.

            President Johnson declared an emergency the day of the collapse. Four days later. Sen. Jennings Randolph, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Public Works Committee, announced hearings that led to the first federal bridge inspection requirements.

            The Ohio River bridge at St. Marys, W.Va., which was of similar design and vintage to the Silver Bridge, was closed immediately, never to reopen.

            The Silver Bridge made the intersection of Main and Sixth streets one of the busiest in Point Pleasant. Today, it is so quiet that cars park in the middle of Sixth Street.

            Exactly two years after the collapse, a new Ohio River bridge was opened between Mason County, W.Va., and Gallia County, Ohio The 1,800-foot, four-lane Silver Memorial Bridge was built just south of Point Pleasant of a rigid cantilever-truss design.

            Point Pleasant had a thriving downtown and was home to 5,800 residents. Today, bypassed, Point Pleasant's downtown is still trying to recover from the loss of traffic, and the town's population is down to about 5,000.

            "It's not just the personal impact, but the overall impact on the community, the county and our immediate area. Our economy has never recovered," Wilson said.

            A simple monument stands where the West Virginia approach to the bridge used to be. Set in a concrete semicircle, red bricks are inscribed with the names of the 46 people who died on the bridge.

- 30 -
« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 12:34:13 am by Christian Kielbasa » Report Spam   Logged
Christian Kielbasa
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« Reply #89 on: June 06, 2009, 12:29:06 am »

     An Introduction
What is a Mothman?

    Is he an exterminator?  Someone who jumps out of planes?  An entomologist?

    A Mothman is a supernatural creature, of unknown existence, unknown capability, and unknown motive.

    The Mothman is the name given to a creature reported in the Charleston and Point Pleasant areas of West Virginia between November 12, 1966, and December 1967. Most observers describe the Mothman as a winged man-sized creature with large reflective red eyes and large moth-like wings. The creature was sometimes reported as having no head, with its eyes set into its chest. A number of hypotheses have been presented to explain eyewitness accounts, ranging from misidentification and coincidence, to paranormal phenomena and conspiracy theories.

    The Mothman phenomenon is sometimes associated with a mystery man named "Indrid Cold," although the relationship between the two varies from story to story, as well as in the big-budget movie "The Mothman Prophecies".

        The character of the scholar in the movie,  Alexander Leek, tells John Klein:

        "Mothman. That's what the Ukranians called him. Rough translation, of course. There were sightings in Chernobyl the year the nuclear plant went down. Galveston, just before the hurricane."
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