My G. G. Grandfather built this bridge with his brother Parmaly. I cannot believe how much wrongful information you have published in this article on the internet. First, it was built in 1855, not 1880. My guess is you use 1880 as a basis to call it a wheeler truss bridge. The date of the patent for the wheeler truss is 1880. It is our belief that Mr. (I forgot his name at this moment - I'm in Shanghai China at this moment showing some Chinese friends the bridge photos) happened upon this bridge during his travels, copied the design and applied for a patent - 25 years after the bridge was built. Two weeks ago there was a wedding on the bridge. I arrived too late to intervene as I showed up to water my horses. I knew there was trouble when I saw the cars parked along the road 1/4 mile away from the bridge. They had 200 people on the bridge - about 10,000 pounds more weight that the Ky dept of transportation engineers calculated for functional weight of 28,000 lbs. I restrict the Diners to 125 for our dinner on the bridge function. You can text me now at 6069236066, or call that number after 13Sept when I'm home.
I hope it is still as beautiful as the photos, Tygarts creek is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Hope Gen X can appreciate and take care of what they have been left in trust of. I would love to retire in such a place. All you need is a grocery store, gas station and a Pizza Shop, Job and or Inheirentance. First next stop would be heaven. Haven't been there since 1976. May need to take a road trip.
Only 7 bridges using Wheeler's unique design are known to have been built. The 6 Ohio spans have been gone for many decades while this 1 Kentucky example remains.
Isaac's 1870 letters patent - http://tiny.cc/ne3lu
It is quite possible that the Bennett's built and earlier span here in 1855-6, perhaps an open wooden span that only lasted 15 years or so. This would explain much of the dissension with the dates.
It seems to me the meaning of building the bridge is by taking on the payment, not making a blue print or the manual labor, of the job. I agree that they are way off on spelling of his name. I'm not sure about the question of the year on the Historical sign. Though, I have his residence at Tygart Creek before that date.
I am glad it's still standing, regardless of whether Mr. Wheeler built it or not, as William Parmolee Bennett is my Great-Great Grandfather. It is exciting to know that our family made their mark on history and that it is still being used today.
I don't know where the information for the historical marker came from, but it is way off. This bridge is the last remaining Wheeler Truss from only a handful that were built. Mr. Wheeler was from Scioto County, Ohio and patented the truss around 1870. Other sources that I have seen give the construction date as 1872, and Wheeler himself may have been the builder.