June 17, 1961: Brinkley Bridge Dedicated Near Wayne

Jun 17, 2019

On June 17, 1961, the Brinkley Bridge was dedicated near the town of Wayne. The previous year, it had entered West Virginia political lore. While covering the Democratic presidential primary between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, NBC-TV newsman David Brinkley was reporting on poverty in the Mountain State and the poor condition of West Virginia’s roads and bridges. He visited a Wayne County bridge, built in 1907, that local residents had complained about for years. He held his microphone down to the bridge’s creaky wooden floorboards, allowing the entire nation to hear the deck popping and groaning under the weight of passing vehicles.

Embarrassed by the story, state officials closed the bridge immediately. After installing a new wooden deck and painting the bridge silver, officials opened the renovated span to much fanfare. By this time, residents had started calling it the Brinkley Bridge, and the fabled newsman returned for the dedication.

In 1970, the bridge, which had again fallen into disrepair, collapsed under the weight of a truck. The following year, it was replaced with a new span, and the Brinkley Bridge was no more.