a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Care to get married on this old span?

A Party to mark the 100th birthday of the Donora-Webster Bridge

WEBSTER, Pa. - This grainy scan of photograph of the Donora-Webster Bridge under construction in 1908 comes to us today from a reader in Aurora, NY. It’s posted because it’s a rare photo and a timely one because a celebration is being planned to mark the 100th birthday of this span in southwestern Pennsylvania in two weeks.

There will be politicians, speeches, live music, food and souvenirs – just like there were when the bridge opened Dec. 5, 1908. So far, what is missing from the Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008, party is a wedding.

Harriet S. Binley of Webster married John Charles Witherspoon on the span when it opened. She was a daughter of a family with old money in the small farming and light manufacturing town that had become overshadowed by its neighbor, Donora, and its then-new, prosperous steel mill. Witherspoon was a newcomer who was dispatched to Webster by Pittsburgh Coal Co. to oversee its developing coal mines.

The wedding attracted a stupendous crowd. The nuptials were delayed, though, because another main attraction at the accompanying parade, the Monongahela Ku Klux Klan, had missed the train to Donora. That tidbit was proudly noted in the local newspaper.

Webster folks hosted that banquet, but they didn’t prepare anywhere near enough food for the guests, many of whom went away from the ox roast gnawing on bones. Another large crowd turned out in the 1980s to witness two weddings on the bridge when it opened again after undergoing renovations. Once again, there wasn’t enough food.

It’s not too late for a couple to volunteer to exchange their wedding vows on this aging bridge for the upcoming party. The day’s events begin at 3 p.m. and will feature a performance by the popular Pittsburgh band, Donora. Drop me an e-mail to get in touch with the appropriate party planners to arrange a quick wedding on this bridge. It might be wise to pack a lunch before you turn out for this excitement.

1 comment:

Alison said...

I'd do it, but we just got married in August. And as far as I know, getting married in Kentucky means we are married in every state of the union.