James River Bridge
Connecting Newport News and Carrollton, VA

 

When it opened on November 17, 1928, at approximately five miles long, the James River Bridge
connecting Newport News and Carrollton was the longest bridge in the world over water.
 
THEN:
Looking West towards Carrollton 1937 Postcard - "James River Bridge Hotel --- Modern Cabins
South End of James River Bridge on U. S. Route 17, Carrollton, VA"
About 1939 - Unusual View

"Newport News - James River Bridge, of the James River Bridge System in Virginia"

Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 08/22/03
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Bob Buchan ('61) of VA - 05/25/04
Thanks, Bob!
Courtesy of Bob Buchan ('61) of VA - 09/01/05
Thanks, Bob!
 
Postcard Dated 08/02/45 Looking East towards
Newport News
  If you look carefully, you can see Red's Pier and the Ferguson Park Apartments on the shore.
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 10/27/03
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 10/06/03
Thanks, Dave!
 

THEN:

These images are courtesy of The Library of Virginia. THE Bridge - as I remember it. Circa 1948. The Fish Shack (later known as River Drive Beach), was just to the right of this image - at the end of 73rd Street.
Discovered and shared by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 10/26/03.  
 Thanks so much, Dave!
Courtesy of Bill Lee (WHS - '54) of NC - 08/08/06
WOWZERONI-RINI, Bill!  This is a spectacular image!  Thanks so much!
 
 
NOW:
While on the subject of bridge photos, how about this interesting shot of the James River Bridge?
Wednesday, August 6, 1997, 1:30 PM
- Steve Silsby (Ferguson HS - '72) of NC - 03/27/06
WOWZERS!!! Not exactly your everyday sighting, is it, Steve? Thanks so much!
 
THEN and NOT NOW:
Today, I spoke with the owner as I stood right where this image was taken.
I just couldn't determine if what I was looking at was the same place or not.
She came out asking what I was doing; I explained, and then she told me that
this structure was standing when they bought the property, but they had razed it
and built new. The new structure was oriented in precisely the same direction ...
almost as if they had reused the original foundation.
I didn't think to ask that while I was there.

So, no "NOW" image for this one.
1937 Postcard - "James River Bridge Hotel --- Modern Cabins
South End of James River Bridge on U. S. Route 17, Carrollton, VA"
 - Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 08/08/04
 Awww - but thank you again, Dave.  At least it solved that mystery for us!
NOW:
Here is the old JRB ... at least what remains of it. It is a fishing pier and a seafood restaurant. Here is the new one .... sorry it is dark ... afternoon sun was killing it. If you can't lighten it up, I will shoot another one later.
 - Tom Norris (HHS - '73) of VA - 12/29/04
Thanks, Tom!
Thank you so much for a wonderful year of newsletters and keeping up with the most outstanding people on earth. 
How blessed we were to have grown up here in Typhoon
Land.  It is still pretty wonderful around here. 
Jerry and I live by the James River Bridge, so we really enjoyed the Winter Wonderland last Sunday and Monday. 
Now it is Springtime in Newport News.  The 60+ degree weather has been nice, too. 
I sat out in the fresh air and watched the boats and ships going up and down the river. 
The traffic stopped on the bridge at night looks like a string of Christmas lights. 
The river is so calm today that it looks like a mirror. 
I hope that this calmness is a sign of PEACE for all of us in 2005. 
We also had breathtaking sunsets this past week.
- Judy Phillips Allen ('66) of VA - 01/01/05
Thanks, Judy!
The James River Bridge brought back a lovely memory for me. 
In 1959 we were returning to Newport News after living in Idaho for 2-1/2 years. 
It was the middle of January and we had come the southern route because of the bad weather. 
We were in the same 1952 Plymouth 2 door we had driven out there in. 
As we came to the JR Bridge, the lights from the shipyard were lit up like the 4th of July. 
The smell of salt water was there as we slowly drove across the bridge. 
Of all the places we've been and all the many wonderful things we've seen,
none was as bright as the lights of the shipyard letting us know we had made it home. 
- Linda Lane Lane ('64) of VA - 01/04/05
What a lovely memory!  Thanks, Linda!

NOW:
Here is a sunset from the front (deck)...Leeward Marina and the James River Bridge.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
 - Judy Phillips Allen ('66) of VA - 02/09/11
 Thank you, Judy!

WAY BACK THEN:
This was sent to me by my cousin, Lucy Bedsaul Merritt. Thought it was really neat so I wanted to share it.

Look at all the sand on the road from the beach. 

The Toll Plaza should be somewhere in the parking lot of the Crab Shack Restaurant now.  I remember when Mercury Boulevard used to be Military Highway (Norfolk named theirs after Hampton already had one). It was renamed in honor of the Mercury Space Program (and I suspect the confusion with having two Military Highways in the area) when I was about 9 or 10 years old. 

There used to be circles there where Jefferson Avenue and Warwick Boulevard crossed. I think it was a left over design from not having traffic signals. There was one at the King Street and LaSalle Avenue crossings, too. 

Dang, I'm feeling old.....

 
 - Ruth Ann Reece Horace ('67) of FL - 08/17/14
 Thank you, Ruthie!

From http://www.dailypress.com/features/history/our-story/dp-james-river-bridge-ranked-as-worlds-longest-20131118-post.html:

When it opened on Nov. 17, 1928, the James River Bridge ranked as the world's longest

By Mark St. John Erickson, merickson@dailypress.com | 757-247-4783

NOVEMBER 17, 2017, 9:36 AM

 

 

When it opened on Nov. 17, 1928, the James River Bridge ranked as the world's longest. This 1948 photo shows the original James River Bridge on its 20th anniversary. (FILE / Daily Press)
   

Eighty-nine years ago this week, the world's longest bridge opened on the lower James River.

Measuring nearly 5 miles in length, the first fixed link across Hampton Roads not only tied the Peninsula to the rest of the region but also connected it to an important national north-south route known as the Atlantic Coast or Ocean Highway.

Some 30,000 people turned out to witness its formal dedication on Nov. 17, which included a 2-mile-long "monster parade," a pyrotechnic recreation of the Civil War battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac and an electrical connection with the White House office of President Calvin Coolidge, who pressed the button that activated the bridge's gigantic lift span and lowered it into position over the 2-lane highway.

"The entire project, including the bridges over the Nansemond River and Chuckatuck Creek, cost about 7 millions," wrote the editorial page of the Daily Press, describing a project that was genuinely regional in character.

"And in our opinion (it) will do more to unite the people of the various Tidewater communities than any other undertaking of the past decade."

Much of the credit for the privately funded bridge went to prominent Newport News businessman and city mayor Philip W. Hiden, whose daughter -- taking a role as the state of Virginia --cut the ribbon opening the span with an immense pair of scissors.

Standing by her side in blue frocks and golden hats was an escort of 23 "fair maidens," each one representing a Hampton Roads city, town or county.

Another key investor was Daily Press Editor W. Scott Copeland, who joined with Hiden to convince the nationally known Boston investment firm of Paine Webber to arrange bond financing for the innovative bridge.

In addition to the record-breaking 4.8-mile span, the crossing boasted a world-leading 300-foot-long lift-span that could rise 147 feet above the James. The one-way toll for driving across this pioneering engineering feat was $1.20."

The historic waters of the James River in Virginia have been conquered by the hands of modern constructive genius inspired by the necessities of 20th-century automobile transportation," wrote Daily Press reporter Heywood Bell in a front-page story emblazoned with numerous deck headlines, including "New Epoch in the History of Virginia."

When the parade started, a "rude cart, drawn by a stolid ox" led a lengthy collection of period vehicles that underscored the bridge's importance as an unprecedented connection with the future.

It was accompanied by a line of marching military units measuring more than a mile in length, while a long series of nearly 100 lavish historical floats entertained the crowd with such prize-winning entries as the "Capture of Blackbeard," which was acted out enthusiastically by the members of the Women's Club of Hampton.

Nine airplanes and two blimps from Langley Field added to the martial pageantry of the affair, as did the presence of the USS Marblehead and numerous other Navy vessels.

Still, less than a year after the James River Bridge opened, the stock market crashed and the bonds issued to pay for the span lost most of their value.

The state of Virginia took it over during World War II and made it part of the commonwealth's highway system.

Despite its initial financial failure, the bridge quickly changed the traditional pattern of life on both sides of the river, encouraging thousands of commuters to look for new jobs and places to live.

Passenger ferries and cargo vessels were soon made obsolete by cars and trucks.

By the mid-1970s, traffic had grown so much that the span had to be replaced by a still larger though not higher 4-lane bridge costing $75 million.

All that remained of the original crossing was a fishing pier on the Newport News side of the river, but that, too eventually was replaced with a new structure.

-- Mark St. John Erickson

 - Bill Roady ('60) of VA - 11/18/17
 WOWZERONI! Thank you, Bill!


Bridge Over Troubled Water
 

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all...all...
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooh)
I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind


(This page was created on 08/22/03.)


"Bridge Over Troubled Water" midi courtesy of http://www.anitasplace.com/music/gs-bridg.mid
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/27/03
Thanks, Dave!

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" lyrics courtesy of http://members.aol.com/webmisstrish/botwlyrics.html
also at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/28/03
Thanks again, Dave!

Back to Our Old Stomping Grounds

Return to NNHS Class of 1965