Ices Ferry Bridge finally has its history back

MORGANTOWN — Ices Ferry Bridge, a historical landmark and a vital part of the history in Cheat Lake got its history back.

Two years ago, the historical marker for the bridge was  destroyed due to an automobile accident.  This Ices Ferry marker had been on display for many years and gave visitors to the area a brief history of the bridge.

The damaged marker actually ended up in a garage of a local resident, where it sat for months before the local West Virginia Division of Highways picked the marker up and sent it to the DOH facility.  It sat in the DOH facility for years, until that same resident thought it was important to do something.

Nine months ago, Cheat Lake residents reached out to Pokey Weiss, of the Cheat Lake Rotary.  They knew the Cheat Lake Rotary Club did  community projects and  hoped the organization could help  get the sign restored.

Since July 2017, Weiss has worked with Matthew McGrew, coordinator of Highway Historical Marker Program, and with the state Division of Culture and History in Charleston to have the marker replaced.

McGrew and Weiss believed that having a new marker built was  important to the local community and the Ices Ferry Bridge history.   That history is unique.  The first bridge was built to cross Cheat River in 1900, but an ice flow took it out in 1918.  The bridge that came to be known as the Ices Ferry Bridge was built in 1922 by the Independent Bridge Co., of Pittsburgh. It spanned the lake along Monongalia County  857.

Due to years of deterioration, the original bridge was dismantled and imploded in 2012, as   a more modern version with wider lanes and lighting was constructed.

The new bridge was named the Col. Garry Bowers Bridge.   Bowers was the first president and one of the founders of the Rotary Club of Cheat Lake in 1979.

On April 2, the state Division of Highways installed a brand-new marker at the end of the bridge; this will now give all visitors the chance to learn more about the bridge history as the first, and for many years, the only way to cross Cheat Lake.