Several hundred residents stood in St. Albans Roadside Park Friday amid the snow and rain to watch one end of the Dick Henderson Bridge fall into the Kanawha River.
An announcer led a countdown, two women selected from the community threw a mock switch, and the explosion echoed off the valley walls as one section of the steel girders crashed into the water below.
“When I pulled that lever there, I just stood there in amazement that it happened,” said Q.D. Woods of St. Albans. The 89-year-old has lived in St. Albans for the past 83 years and is very familiar with the span.
“I was in the group that were the first ones to walk across that bridge,” said Woods. “I’ll be 90 in June. I’m sticking around to be in the group that walks across the new one.”
Woods said she remembers the day the span was dedicated, when her brother pulled her to the dedication ceremony in a little red wagon. She also recalled riding the ferry across the river before the bridge was constructed.
Also throwing the switch was Lorraine Henderson, widow of Dick Henderson, the former state lawmaker for whom the bridge was named.
“It was very exciting,” said Henderson when asked about being a part of the event. She added her late husband would have been thrilled too. “He’d be so excited, because he was on many projects in this area.”
Most in the crowd said the bridge closing last fall had been a nuisance, but one they’ll live with the promise of a new bridge scheduled to be completed by November.
The demolition wasn’t supposed to be this exciting. Originally the crews planned to remove the bridge piece-by-piece. The plan worked for the center of the span, but the ends proved to be too heavy to lift and created the need for an explosion.
More excitement lies ahead on the other bank. The DOH plans to demolish the Nitro side of the bridge in similar fashion next Friday morning.