(11/02/2018)
Most will under appreciate the modern bridge at the lower end of Arnoldsburg on U.S. 33-119 across the West Fork, adjacent the community building and fire station.

The old bridge met its demise suddenly, as this news account from 1962 recalls.

Photo courtesy of Patty Michell

By Bob Weaver (1962)

Two Spencer men, both intoxicated passengers, claimed to have knocked the Arnoldsburg bridge from its moorings last Thursday, causing it to collapse in the West Fork of the Little Kanawha.

The driver of the vehicle, Hugh Simmons, was not drinking, according to Calhoun County State Police.

Greyhound buses, Calhoun school buses, tractor trailers and several hundred passenger cars crossed the 54-year-old bridge on U.S. 33-119 earlier in the day.

Police cast doubt on the men's claims of knocking down the bridge, but both were arrested and held in the Grantsville jail for twenty days. No one was injured when the bridge collapsed. Paul Fleming, Arnoldsburg drilling contractor, heard the bridge go down and went to the scene. "It went down rather quietly," said Fleming, who lives nearby.

"I chained the car to keep it from going on down," he said, climbing down to assist the victims. Fleming then used his CB radio to call Gifford Weaver at Hur who called the Sinnett Funeral Home in Spencer to alert emergency services. A strange angle, The State Road Commission advertised for bids to replace the structure earlier in the morning. A new bridge had been proposed for some time.

Meanwhile, the tremendous volume of traffic has been detoured through Beech and Jesse's Run Road, but larger vehicles are required to return to Clay and travel to Spencer via State Route 36.

Fleming claimed the intoxicated men bragged aloud about knocking down the bridge, but he said the front end of the car received minimal damage. "It was just ready to go, I think," he said.

Editor's Note: The collapsed bridge story from '62 was prompted by a news story today saying 41% of West Virginia bridges are "functionally obsolete and structurally deficient" by the Division of Highways, most of them on two-lane roads. There are 2,639 that might end up like the old Arnoldsburg bridge.


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