21 votes

Wheeling Suspension Bridge



Oblique View From Wheeling Island

This antebellum bridge was, at one time, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere and today, may be the oldest suspension bridge, still in use, in the Western Hemisphere.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in October 2007


Street Views 


Suspension bridge over Ohio River on WV 251 in Wheeling
Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia
Open to traffic
Built 1849; collapsed May 17, 1854; temporary bridge reopened July 26, 1854; permanent bridge reopened July 1860; improvements made 1871-72, 1886, 1922, 1930, 1956 and other years
- Charles Ellet (original 1849 construction, 1854 temporary reconstruction)
- Joseph Lawson (superintendent, 1865-1923)
- Washington A. Roebling (design of 1871-72 improvements)
- William Hildenbrand (1871-72, 1886 improvements)
- William McComas (1854 temporary reconstruction, 1859-60 improvements)
Wire suspension
Length of largest span: 949.2 ft.
Total length: 1,307.2 ft.
Deck width: 20.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 22.7 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 26, 1970
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.07019, -80.72714   (decimal degrees)
40°04'13" N, 80°43'38" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/523267/4435583 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 70000662 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 35334 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 10/2015)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Functionally obsolete
Sufficiency rating: 16.0 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2012)

Update Log 

  • July 31, 2016: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • July 25, 2016: New photo from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • May 19, 2016: New photo from Art Suckewer
  • October 17, 2014: New photos from Patrick S. O'Donnell
  • July 10, 2014: New photos from Andrew Raker
  • October 1, 2013: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • October 7, 2010: New photos from Jason Smith
  • August 15, 2010: New Street View added by James Baughn
  • January 27, 2010: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated builder info
  • July 4, 2009: Posted HAER photos
  • March 19, 2009: Updated by Curtis Lee
  • October 8, 2008: New photo from Rick Mattioni
  • February 24, 2008: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • January 29, 2008: New photos from J.R. Manning


  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Rick Mattioni
  • Curtis Lee - clee47ford [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • HAER WV-2 - Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Spanning East channel of Ohio River at U.S. Route , Wheeling, Ohio County, WV
  • National Register nomination
  • Wikipedia
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Bridgemapper.com - by Todd Wilson and Lauren Winkler
  • Bridgemapper.com - by Todd Wilson and Lauren Winkler
  • Michael Miller - michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Andrew Raker
  • Patrick S. O'Donnell - 1 [dot] 991km [at] comcast [dot] net
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com


Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted July 25, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Its nice they are trying to raise awareness of both the history and the often ignored weight limit. My first visit to the bridge was memorable, some local saw me taking pictures and asked me what was so special about it. Funny how people can be so ignorant.

Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted July 25, 2016, by Royce and Bobette Haley (roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Police were handing these out as we drove over the bridge in mid May/2016

Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted May 21, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Great news, driver education and enforcement of weight limits!!:


Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted March 24, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted October 30, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Closed due to accident then fixed and reopened in two days:


Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted February 23, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted January 16, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted April 2, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Apparently it will stay closed for another two years:


Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted March 4, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

This bridge has been closed to traffic due to a cable snapping at the top of one of the towers. See link:


Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted December 7, 2010, by jason (ccmarsh15 [at] aol [dot] com)

The fixture on the tower may in fact be related to a gate as it was a toll bridge when first opened.

Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted April 20, 2010, by Don Sayenga (Dsayenga [at] gmail [dot] com)

The designer of the original 1849 bridge was Charles Ellet Jr. who was the prime contractor for building it. The 1854 repairs to the bridge also were done by Ellet. Although several other engineers subsequently modified the bridge (notably William McComas and William Hildenbrand) the current appearance of the bridge is essentially the work of Joseph Lawson in 1872.

John A. Roebling was not in any way connected with the design and construction of the bridge at Wheeling.

The best reference for information about this bridge is: "The Wheeling Suspension Bridge - A Pictorial Heritage" by E.L. Kemp and B.R. Fluty,

Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Charleston WV 1999

ISBN 1-57510-066-S

Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted October 1, 2009, by David Fickey (dlf85oak [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Spent 2 nights next to the bridge. It is very beutiful at night. Here is my favorite pictures I took from my motel balcony. Anyone who loves bridges should go see this one!

Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted August 18, 2009, by snoop (snoopdorkydork71 [at] gmail [dot] com)

What an awe inspiring bridge! I hope to get to see it in person some day.

Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted October 11, 2008, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

David, I was standing when I took that photo. I'm 5'10" tall and was looking up. I haven't been able to find any evidence that the bridge was gated at one time, but I also can't prove that it wasn't.

Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Posted October 8, 2008, by David Smothers (davidsmothers [at] msn [dot] com)

As to the unknown fixture on the pier.... It's hard to see from the angle of the picture how high it is above the deck.... if it's not too high, I ahve a strong suspicion that it is a hitching post. Let's remember when the bridge was built, there would have been only horses....this is my best guess.