On this day in auto history - December 15th

Tue 15th Dec 2020

It was on this day in 1967 that America suffered one of its biggest ever loss of lives during peacetime when 46 people plunged to their deaths after the Silver Bridge collapsed over the Ohio River.

Built in 1928, the eyebar chain suspension bridge - which connected the states of Ohio and West Virginia - collapsed in the midst of full rush-hour traffic when a 55-foot long section of steel suddenly fractured.

Eyewitness described the horrific scenes of cars tumbling into the water below as being ‘like a line of dominoes falling’.

In the aftermath, a visibly shocked President Lyndon Johnson assembled a special Task Force to conduct one of the most detailed investigations in US history which quickly identified major design faults with the structure.

Following the investigation, it became standard practice for all public bridges containing a 20-foot-plus span to be examined every two years, with bigger structures examined more frequently. These guidelines are still in use today.

Two years later a replacement bridge was completed about a mile downstream from the original and was named the Silver Memorial Bridge with no toll imposed at either end.