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Guyandotte, east of the Guyandotte River from Huntington, was formerly an independent town, having been established in 1810 when it became the Cabell County seat of justice. It was also the western terminus of Virginia's James River and Kanawha Turnpike, which reached the Ohio River in the early 1830s. By 1835 Joseph Martin noted that Guyandotte contained “about 40 dwelling houses” and that it was “the most important point of steamboat embarkation, as well as debarkation, in western Virginia, with the exception of Wheeling.” Following a Confederate raid, Union volunteers retaliated in November 1861 by burning most of the town. After the war Guyandotte entertained hopes that Collis P. Huntington would select it as the western terminus of his C&O Railway, but he elected to establish a new town west of the Guyandotte River. When Huntington's corporate boundaries were extended eastward across the river in 1911, Guyandotte's existence as a separate municipality ceased.

When Guyandotte was selected as the site for a new bridge over the Ohio River in 1971, residents and others feared that it would result in wholesale demolition of the area. Interest in preservation was galvanized, and subsequently a historic district feasibility study, with an inventory of historic structures, was prepared. Today, Guyandotte exists as a modest residential area, hemmed in by floodwalls to its north and west, hills to the southeast, and the giant Inco Alloys plant to the south. The six streets (three running north-south, three east-west) of the original twenty-acre gridiron town plat are narrower than their later counterparts in Huntington proper and contribute to the neighborhood's small-town scale and ambience. The East End Bridge ( HU47) did not, as had been feared, result in the demolition of any significant structures. In fact, with its strikingly innovative design and handsome silhouette, it has become one of the area's best-loved landmarks.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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