Central Bridge

Central Bridge


From Pieces of the Past, Volume 1, pages 232 by Jim Reis and reprinted here with his permission.


The brainchild of Captain John A Williamson, the Central dates to the spring of 1890.  Williamson and Co. R W Nelson traveled to New York to seek financial backing for a new Newport to Cincinnati bridge.  Their trip proved successful.

They were welcomed home as heroes at a rally held that April to generate local support.  To the disbelief of some, Williamson promised to have the bridge completed and in use within two years.  He was a man of his word.  The last sections spanning the river were installed in July 1891 and the first wagon crossed the next month.

The grand opening was set for August 29, 1891.  Officials from Newport, Bellevue, Dayton and Cincinnati participated in the ceremonies.  To assure the bridge's strength, the bridge company had several large, four-horse wagons loaded with steel and sand.  The wagons were driven across the bridge, which opened to the public the next day.

A Kentucky Journal story carried a drawing of the new bridge across the top of the paper and a headline saying "The Buckeye and Corncracker Again Shake Hands"  He wrote that August 29 was a holiday in Newport.  He described Williamson as a barefoot, fatherless boy in 1833, who had grown up to first become a river pilot, then a river businessman and then a prominent backer of the Newport streetcar system.

By 1991, the state had decided from inspection reports that the bridge was so deteriorated that it couldn't support the weight of buses and tractor trailers.  Only cars and pickup trucks could safely cross the two-lane bridge.    The Central Bridge connected Pete Rose Way at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati to Third and York streets in Newport.  It had the standard cantilever truss bridges and despite this distinction, no attempt was made to save the bridge by preservationists, and it was blown up in three stages in late 1992.

It was replaced with the Taylor-Southgate Bridge in 1995.

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