Friday, December 2, 2011

119 years ago today (updated)

According to Norfolk Southern Corp., on this day in 1892, the first railroad bridge over the Ohio River at Kenova, W.Va., was completed.

The bridge is on a main line that connects the port of Norfolk and the coalfields of southern West Virginia with points north, including Chicago. Since completion of the Heartland Corridor project a year ago,  a lot of double-stacked container trains have been moving over this bridge each day.

The Kenova bridge is at about Mile 316.

One more thing: A world record setting train crossed this bride on Nov. 15, 1967. A 500-car coal train pulled by five locomotives left Williamson, W.Va., and crossed this bridge on its way to Portsmouth, Ohio. It was said the last car on the train started moving several minutes after the front of the train did. Whether that record still stands, I don't know.

UPDATE: Being more curious about the word "first" in the NS announcement, I checked one of my old reference books. It says the present bridge, the one in the picture above, opened in 1913. Where the "first" bridge was, I don't know. It may have been about a half mile above the existing bridge, and horizontal clearance in the channel may have been wider, but I need to check that out some more with better reference materials than what I have on the book shelf next to my computer.

I checked the two closest railroad bridges. The Sciotoville bridge, about 33 miles downstream, was finished in 1917. That's a big bridge that has an interesting history of its own. The Point Pleasant brige, about 51 miles upstream, opened in 1907.

I got to wondering once how the tax people and the corporate people assess the value of such a bridge. And I wondered how difficult it would be for a private entity such as a railroad to build such a bridge today, given the regulatory and legal climate.