Crossing the River --------Waterville Bridge Celebration Week
The old wagon bridge, built in 1888, collapsed under a heavy milk truck on July 24, 1941 and the people of Waterville rejoiced. They had petitioned the State of Ohio for years to replace the aging and inadequate structure. The state had condemned the bridge but failed to replace it. Now finally something had to be done. We are not sure who suggested a temporary fix but O.D.O.T. was now willing to help. The abandoned Ohio Electric Interurban Bridge was available and at that time in good condition. The State willingly decked over the old bridge for auto traffic and built approaches at each end to connect to existing roads. This was “the fix” until a new highway bridge could be built. Unfortunately, on December 7, 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. There would be no steel for a new bridge until the war was over.
The temporary bridge finally opened to traffic in November 1941. The Waterville merchants were so happy to regain their Wood County customers they declared a week-long celebration. This was announced in the November 7, 1941 edition of the Standard newspaper in a special insert. Photographic images of several pages are included with this article. The merchants offered special sales or bargain rates for services (Note the Marathon station’s offer of complete fall changeover for $4.98)They also sponsored a free dance on Saturday November 15th at Witte’s Hall. This all shows how important a river crossing was to the economic well-being of the Village of Waterville. The “temporary” bridge served this community through the war and until the new bridge finally opened in 1947