Pre-Civil War Bridge

“Our home is just 30 minutes away from Wheeling, West Virginia!” The words left my mouth with a heaping amount of enthusiasm, my son did not budge from his catatonic state in front of the TV. My daughter asked, “What’s in Wheeling, WV?” and Jac had a pretty strong suspicion that there would not be a lot of gold at the end of this rainbow. To sweeten the deal, I offered in a stop at Cabela’s which is a gigantic fishing/hunting/outdoors superstore (“it features an aquarium”). The troops stood idle before me, no one was remotely interested in joining me (with the exception of my black dog, Toby).

I was left with no choice, to pull out the obnoxious, “I am the Dad and we have to go” card. After a collective groan from my family and a rapid tail wagging from the dog, we piled into my Jeep and headed on 70 West to Wheeling, WV.

We first stopped at the Cabela’s and spent a good hour and a half putzing around and looking at all kinds of equipment we don’t need, examples include:

  • Motion Activated Camera that snaps pictures of unsuspecting animals (or people who walk by it), they ranged from $200 to $600
  • Sleeping Bag rated for sub zero temperatures ($200)
  • All kinds of waterproof boots ($150 to $250)
  • Salt Licks which we just an amazing large hunk of salt, like a basketball ($14)
  • Gun Safes which are magnificent giant safes, which look like a cool thing to have in a house ($600 to $1,200)

They had a giant mountain covered with taxidermy animals and a stream with big trout swimming through it. There was even a stuffed elephant! The kids were starting to get hungry so we needed to move on, I decided to move us along into downtown Wheeling. This is what Wheeling looked like many years ago:

Now, just imagine that all those cars and people disappeared. Imagine that no one invested in any upkeep of those buildings, then you would have a great idea of what Wheeling looks like today. I would say the pattern of storefronts now goes like this, bar, bar, vacancy, adult bookstore, bar, CVS, Quiznos, vacancy, and then the pattern repeats. I doubt their board of tourism plans to hire me anytime soon.

As we drove through downtown, I looked out my passenger side window and saw this:

This bridge looked old and creepy, but enormous too. Against the protests of my family, we decided to venture across it. The bridge crosses the Ohio River, which is a very wide river, in fact, this bridge happens to be over a 1,000 feet long, almost a quarter mile. It was built before the Civil War and was only really updated once in the 1850’s since it was built.

The road is now a road, it is some sort of grate and my jeep slid left and right on it. I was terrified and very anxious to get off it.

As we rode back on a parallel bridge, we were shocked at how flimsy the whole thing appeared. My heart was racing for a bit afterwards. Wheeling has the heart to be a nice place, but it isn’t right now. If you’re ever near Wheeling, WV and want to scare yourself, drive across that bridge.

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