Spanning the Ohio River between downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, and Wheeling Island, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge was the world’s largest suspension bridge when built in 1849. It was the first bridge to span the Ohio River, and allowed the National Road, now highway US-40, to continue westward from Washington, D.C., to Saint Louis, Mo. The bridge was designed by civil engineer Charles Ellet, Jr. A significant wind in May 1854 overturned its deck and broke many of its cable anchorages. In July, Charles Elliot and Captain William K. McComas reconstructed a 14-foot wide temporary bridge. In 1859, McComas, now an engineer and bridge superintendent, rebuilt the bridge at a cost of less than $40,000 and added guy wires to control wind effects. In 1871, the bridge was further strengthened under the direction of Washington Roebling and Wilheim Hildenbrand. The deck was rebuilt and the roadway widened in 1956. The bridge still accomodates pedestrians and motor vehicle traffic, though a 4,000 pound-per-vehicle limit is in effect, and metering lights have been installed to limit the number of vehicles on the deck.
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