The following text is an excerpt from comments I submitted to the National Park Service regarding the nomination which proposes to list this bridge in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Winfield Toll Bridge appears to be an example of a significant and increasingly rare bridge type. Generally reserved for long-span river crossings, riveted cantilever truss bridges like the Winfield Toll Bridge are among the largest and most iconic of bridges in the United States. Due to construction costs, the number of bridges that cross a large river is generally smaller than the number of bridges that cross small rivers. Since cantilever bridges are typically crossings for large rivers, the total number of existing cantilever truss bridges is relatively small. To make matters worse, Riveted cantilever truss bridges have in recent years faced an alarming rate of demolition. Constructed in 1955, the Winfield Toll Bridge is a later example of a riveted cantilever truss bridge. Bridges of this type were first built in the late 19th Century and became increasingly popular in the first few decades of the 20th Century. Nearly all of the 19th Century examples were replaced years ago, and today it is the bridges from the 1920s through the 1940s that are being replaced at a rapid rate today nationwide.
Earlier significant riveted cantilever truss bridges in and along West Virginia’s borders have been or are to be replaced in the immediate future. These include:
• Kanawha River on Center Street in St. Albans, Built 1934, Demolition/Replacement Planned
• Pomeroy-Mason Bridge, Ohio River, Built 1928, Demolished/Replaced 2007
• Bellaire Bridge, Benwood, WV, Built 1926, Demolition/Replacement Planned
The loss of these bridges leaves the Winfield Toll Bridge as one of the oldest of the very small number of surviving highway cantilever truss bridges in West Virginia. Because of the loss of the aforementioned earlier examples, the 1955 Winfield Toll Bridge has, in my opinion, gained historic and technological significance as a representative example of a complex and noteworthy bridge type. Like most cantilever truss bridges, the Winfield Toll Bridge’s size and complex truss configuration make the bridge an example of a significant engineering achievement. It also makes use of historical construction and fabrication techniques, particularly the use of rivets to compose built-up beams. The bridge appears to retain good historic integrity with no major alterations apparent. It is my opinion that this bridge should be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.