The iron span that helped link Chesapeake Bay with the Ohio River drew the attention of military leaders on both sides. In June 1861, acting on orders by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a cavalry troop led by Col. Angus McDonald was sent on the first of several unsuccessful missions to destroy the bridge.
The following month, Robert E. Lee wrote that "the rupture of the railroad at Cheat River would be worth to us an army," since the B&O line between Wheeling and Baltimore had already proven invaluable for moving the men and material needed to defend Washington, D.C.
The iron viaduct was targeted again during the spring of 1863, as part of the Confederates' daring, 700-mile-long Jones-Imboden Raid, which damaged West Virginia train tracks, bridges and oil derricks from Moorefield to the Ohio River.
An illustration of the viaduct as it was being traversed by a B&O train carrying members of the 16th Ohio Volunteer Militia to Rowlesburg and points east, was featured in the Aug. 3, 1861, issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.
"I don't think the Tray Run bridge was ever damaged during the war," Kemp said. "It was replaced after the war to accommodate heavier locomotive weights. The original stonework can still be seen."
The original trestle, with its viewing platforms and latticework of iron beams, was replaced first in 1887, and again in 1907.
A historical marker placed along W.Va. 72 about one mile north of Rowlesburg carries a brief account of the Tray Run Viaduct, and its nearby cousin, the Buckeye Run Viaduct.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.