Editor’s Note: This is the 444th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
In 1907, a bridge was built across Twelve Pole Creek on the northern edge of the town of Wayne. At first people called the simple steel truss bridge The New County Bridge, but because it connected Wayne with a farm owned by Robert Scott Sansom, it became known as the Sansom Bridge.
In 1960, television newsman David Brinkley would make the little bridge famous.
Visiting Wayne County during the 1960 presidential campaign, Brinkley did an NBC news report from the old bridge across Twelve Pole Creek. Brinkley held the microphone down so viewers could hear the bridge’s floorboards pop and groan as vehicles rumbled across it.
Stung by Brinkley’s report, the state did a rush repair job on the rickety bridge and then invited Brinkley to attend its reopening.
People in Wayne County had started calling the old Twelve Pole bridge the “Brinkley Bridge.” Then some unknown soul suggested that maybe the name should be made official. So Brinkley was contacted and agreed to come back for the bridge’s reopening on June 17, 1961.
To his surprise, Brinkley found the bridge was being named for him. He made brief remarks and then cut the obligatory ribbon, allowing a motorcade — and a crowd of curious spectators — to cross the span.
But that’s not the end of the story.
By 1970, the old bridge was again in bad shape and on Sept. 22 of that year, it collapsed under the weight of an overloaded truck. The following year, a new replacement bridge was opened, but minus the famous newsman’s name. The Brinkley Bridge was no more.
After the famed newsman’s death in 2003, the bridge sign with his name on it reportedly was found in his family garage.
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