WHEELING, W.Va. — West Virginia loves bridges. The state even celebrates Bridge Day on October 16 every year. What you may not know is that the oldest bridge in the state is located right here in Wheeling.
According to e-WV, the West Virginia Encyclopedia, the Elm Grove Stone Arch Bridge is the oldest bridge in the entire state of West Virginia. Also known as Monument Place Bridge, it carries U.S. Route 40 over Little Wheeling Creek in Wheeling and was built by Moses Shepherd in 1817.
The Stone Arch Bridge is made of limestone, is 208 feet long, and features three arches. Upgrades were done in 1931, replacing the parapets with sidewalks and concrete balustraded guardrails.
To further strengthen the structure of the bridge, it was sprayed with gunite, a material made of concrete, sand, and water.
When National Road was being built in the early 1800s, Moses and Lydia Shepherd used their influence in the community to help dictate where the road was to be built. e-WV states that Lydia wanted the road to pass in front of their home, which was a mansion and hosted some of the era’s most famous political figures.
In order to make this happen, the route was changed from the north side of Little Wheeling Creek to the south and then back again, requiring two bridges to be built. Moses received the contract to have them built, one in Triadelphia, which was demolished in 1934, and the other being Stone Arch in Elm Grove near their home.
The Stone Arch Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
The bridge still allows heavy vehicle traffic, but e-WV says that the Department of Highways is considering restricting it to pedestrian traffic.