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Brinkley Bridge


A Wayne County bridge entered West Virginia political lore during the 1960 presidential primary between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. While covering the hotly contested campaign, NBC-TV newsman David Brinkley filmed a report at the old one-lane bridge across Twelvepole Creek on what was then U.S. 52 (now U.S. 152) just outside Wayne. Brinkley held his microphone down to the bridge’s creaky wooden floorboards, and viewers nationwide heard them pop and groan as vehicles rumbled across. Built in 1907, the dilapidated bridge long had been the subject of complaint by those who had to use it.

Stung by Brinkley’s report, state officials immediately ordered the bridge closed for repair. Soon it was reopened with a new floor and a fresh coat of silver paint. People in Wayne County had started calling it the ‘‘Brinkley Bridge.’’ Why not make it official? some unknown soul suggested. So Brinkley was contacted and agreed to come back for ceremonies on June 17, 1961, at which time the bridge was named for him.

By 1970, the old bridge was again in bad shape and on September 22 of that year, it collapsed under the weight of an overloaded truck. The following year, a new replacement bridge was opened without the famous newsman’s name. The Brinkley Bridge was no more.

Written by James E. Casto