Kanawha & Michigan Railroad And The Silver Bridge

Almost everyone has seen this photo:

It's the K & M Depot at the end of Broad St where I grew up,  and later known as the New York Central


And you might have even seen these photos:



The NYC station , built 1897 and demolished in 1975,  had a very interesting history itself. The Ohio Central had built eastward  along the north bank of the Kanawha River to reach Charleston in the 1800’s but it went into receivership in 1883 and was  sold to the Kanawha & Ohio in 1885. In 1889 the K&O went into receivership and was rechartered as the Kanawha & Michigan. The K&M then extended east of Charleston to Gauley Bridge by buying the Charleston & Gauley Bridge Railroad.  The K&M was an independent operation, but was controlled by the Toledo & Ohio, later the Hocking Valley. The C&O acquired a controlling interest in the Hocking Valley , however in 1914 the US District Court forced the C&O to sell the K&M under terms of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.  Control passed back to the Toledo & Ohio Central which was leased by New York Central in 1922.

But I'll bet you've never seen this photo:

K & M Depot

Thiis rare photo has never been published before.  Taken  on the backside of the old K&M Depot around 1905,  it's a beautiful example of time standing still so that we can see how life was "back in the day".  I played in the building as a child and never once thought it might disappear.

We're going outside of Charleston for this one,  all the way to Point Pleasant.  This is the K & M Railroad Bridge over the Ohio River circa 1893.  The small Engine was standard for it's day.  Notice how narrow the bridge structure is.  That would soon be removed and a wider, heavier structure would take it's place.  That bridge is the bridge you see today in Point Pleasant,  and it stands just upriver from where the old Silver Bridge once stood.  The bridge piers you see in this photo now support the current bridge. That little Engine most likely parked itself many times on Broad Street back in it's day.

And here is a shot of the town of Point Pleasant with the bridge in the background:


The bridge today:




 Only  shown here due to the proximity to the railroad bridge

The Silver Bridge is listed here because at one time it stood just downriver from the K & M Railroad Bridge. 


Silver Bridge

On December 15,1967 at approximately 5 p.m., the U.S. Highway 35 bridge, otherwise known as The Silver Bridge connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Kanauga Ohio suddenly collapsed into the Ohio River.

At the time of failure, thirty- seven vehicles were crossing the bridge span, and thirty-one of those automobiles fell with the bridge. Forty- six individuals perished with the buckling of the bridge and nine were seriously injured. Along with the numerous fatalities and injuries, a major transportation route connecting West Virginia and Ohio was destroyed, disrupting the lives of many and striking fear across the nation.  

The bridge was dubbed the 'Silver Bridge' because it was the country's first aluminum painted bridge. It was designed with a twenty-two foot roadway and one five-foot sidewalk. Some unique engineering techniques were featured on the Silver Bridge such as 'High Tension' eye-bar chains, a unique anchorage system, and 'Rocker" towers. The Silver Bridge was the first eye-bar suspension bridge of its type to be constructed in the United States. 


Silver Bridge


A scale model of the original Silver Bridge can be seen at the Point Pleasant River Museum. An archive of literature about the bridge is kept there for public inspection. On the lower ground floor, the museum displays an eyebar assembly from the original bridge.


In 1892, the Kanawha and Michigan Railroad (K&M), originally chartered in April of 1890, completed its rail line between Point Pleasant, WV (Mason County) and Charleston, WV (Kanawha County). A year later, in 1893, the K&M completed it's extension of the its rail line to Gauley Bridge, in Fayette County , which provided a transportation link between West Virginia and the Great Lakes region.

The completion of a bridge in 1893 by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) across the New River, at Gauley, provided the K&M a link with the C&O, at K&M Junction, near Gauley Bridge, WV.

In 1910 C&O interests bought control of the Kanawha & Michigan, planning to use the K&M to connect the C&O with the Great Lakes area, but anti-trust laws soon forced the C&O to abandon its K&M interests.

In 1922, the K&M leased its line to the New York Central System (NYC), eventually became a part of the NYC. The NYC expanded the old K&M line with the addition of a branch line to Middle Creek, in Clay County, and another branch line to Swiss, in Nicholas County.

Surviving K&M Structures

The former K&M combination (freight and passenger) station at Gauley Bridge was moved to a new location, and now serves as city hall for the town of Gauley Bridge, WV.

The former K&M freight station in Charleston, WV is now the location of the Capitol Market .

K&M's predecessor line: Kanawha and Ohio Railroad, reorganized as Kanawha & Michigan in 1893.

K&M was controlled by The Toledo and Ohio Central Railway Company, between 1903 and 1910.

K&M was merged with Toledo & Ohio Central in 1938, and Toledo & Ohio Central was merged with NYC in 1952.

4th photo down courtesy of Carlos Morris