The hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers and business commuters filled the streets in downtown Point Pleasant. The weather was chilly and snow flurries were on the way. Along Sixth Street, lines of vehicles were stopped at the traffic light to cross the Silver Bridge leading into Kanauga, Ohio.
Around 5 p.m., the rush-hour traffic was backed up on the bridge built just 39 years earlier. The new eye-bar suspension design had, up until this point, maintained the strain put on it. But on Dec. 15, 1967, the bridge fell. Into the icy and dark Ohio River below, the Silver Bridge took with it 46 victims.
A total of nine people were injured. However, the bodies of two people lost on that tragic day were never recovered.
In the days, weeks and months following, citizens from across the region and nation rallied around the local community to mourn those lost in the disaster. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the tragedy a national disaster.
It was later determined by the National Transportation Safety Board that the collapse was caused by a cleavage fracture in the lower limb of eye-bar 330 at joint C13N of the north eye-bar suspension chain on the Ohio side of bridge.
A minor flaw may have led to the accident, but a major movement by Congress soon followed in 1968. The inspection and maintenance of all bridges in the United States (some 1 million) is now required by federal law.
Today, as we remember those affected by the collapse of the Silver Bridge, we reflect with families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and loved ones, share in their grief and remember those who were lost. Although they are gone, they are truly not forgotten.