Who owns the Swinging Bridge?

Having just read the recent article in The Inter-Mountain, once again I would like to comment on the current situation of the old historic swinging bridge. I am a previous citizen of Elkins and carry a deep appreciation of its history. I have fond memories of growing up in the Baxter and Chestnut Street neighborhood. I still pay taxes and own property in the city.

I have praise for Mr. Warner and the Crider/Collet families who have stepped forward to bring the bridge issue into the light.

The old bridge might be worth saving and restoring to a point, even if it is no longer used and a new bridge were to be placed beside it. It remains of historical value. It is only a short distance from the railyard and can easily be seen from the tourist train as it crosses the steel bridge. It is obvious that signs upon entering Elkins state, “Welcome to Historic Elkins.”

Who owns the bridge? My question would have been, “Who maintained it for all of those decades?” The city, of course. Does this make the city the legal owner by the old laws of homesteading rights? “We don’t know who owns it.” I would ask, “Who owns the other bridges?” Built and funded by state and federal grants, etc., and were they given over to the city for ownership and future maintenance? It was said that the records for the old bridge were missing. How do the records of a bridge come up missing?

In my opinion, the first priority is to your citizens. Would any of the council, the county government or any citizen of the city enjoy being ignored and cast aside for years? It was clear that over the summer, probably by state or federal mandate, the city sidewalks were refurbished to accommodate the disabled. Ooops! Not the sidewalks of Baxter and Chestnut streets? Their sidewalks are clearly not up to standard. Could the city be in violation of any state or federal mandate?

Elkins now has an external affairs specialist. I do have respect for the gentleman who now holds this position. But, having worked in Washington, D.C., for 31 years, I would say that this is a politically correct way of making a “spin doctor” look acceptable to the public. An insulating mouth piece, a mechanism for those above him. “Plausible deniability,” another dodge. “We don’t know who owns the bridge.” This is a small town and community. Why doesn’t the city council, the mayor and the county commission speak for themselves? Political correctness has now found its way to Elkins.

Come on, county and city leaders, this situation has an easy out. Take care of your good, decent, law-abiding, taxpaying neighbors. As it should always be, make all of you citizens your first priority. Build a new bridge, fix their sidewalks and give the old bridge the historical recognition it deserves.

Joe Shipp



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