The bridge was originally constructed for streetcars and pedestrian traffic. However, early automobiles also used the wooden deck. The first to cross was foot traffic for 2 cents toll. Additional road work was necessary involving laying of streetcar tracks to Follansbee. The old wagon road along the river bank frequently became impassable due to rock slides, rain and high water. Two weeks following the work to improve the road, the bridge opened to streetcars and other vehicles, mostly horses and wagons. Below the bridge, a Pennsylvania railroad stop existed for travelers who wanted to get off and walk over the bridge to Steubenville. Steps were available for walking from the railroad tracks below to the bridge. The Market Street Bridge replaced the middle ferry, located near the train stop. The ferry provided earlier transportation for travelers and horse drawn wagons across the river. The West Virginia side of the river became known as East Steubenville, an important demarcation point that also included a streetcar stop before crossing the river to Steubenville. The road to Follansbee from the bridge was identified in early newspapers as Sinclair or Steubenville Boulevard. (See 1904 East Steubenville on Timeline)
Market Street Bridge was owned by a private entity called the Steubenville Bridge Company until 1941 when it was bought by the state of West Virginia. Streetcar tracks were removed in 1942 and the bridge was converted to full motor vehicle use. Tolls were removed in 1953. The historic bridge represents an important evolution in transportation. It reduced the need for ferryboats while spanning the age of horse drawn wagons, streetcars, and today’s auto traffic.
Looking at Market Street Bridge from Steubenville. Courtesy of James Piccarillo.
- “Historic Bridges by County: Brooke County, WV” (On-line) http://www.historicbridges.org/b_a_county.php?county=Brooke%20County,%20West%20Virgini
- For full history of this bridge go to: http://www.historicbridges.org/ohio/market/history.pdf