The Dick Henderson Bridge in Nitro has been standing for three generations, it seemed fitting that members of the oldest and youngest helped write the span’s final chapter in Nitro Friday morning.
Ninety-two year old WWII veteran Thomas “Frosty” Walls and 9-year old Jessica Taylor pushed the plunger to set off the explosion which sent the Nitro side of the bridge into the water of the Kanawha River below.
“I bet I’ve crossed that bridge a thousand times,” said Walls as a crowd gathered for the big event.
Although he’d never worked in demolition, the veteran of the Army Air Corps added he had some experience in the area of infrastructure destruction.
“My outfit was a bomb group. We bombed Berlin until it was rubble and then we sent back and bombed the rubble,” he said.
Jessica is a student at Nitro Elementary School. She was selected in a drawing byh the Nitro City Council to join Frosty on the detonator.
“We heard it on the news the night before and we let her be surprised at school when the mayor came down to give her the certificate,” said her mother Jennifer Taylor. “She came home and she was ecstatic, ‘I GET TO BLOW UP THE BRIDGE!'”
Jessica’s big brother Andrew was obviously jealous of his sister’s winnings.
“He’s actually being very gracious about it,” laughed their mom. “He’s being a little helper explaining when to press it down on the ten count.”
The crowd counted down from ten to the blast which finished off the old bridge.
Crews will immediately begin collecting the scrap and beginning the process of erecting the new span. The three lane bridge which will reconnect St. Albans and Nitro is due to be finished in November.