‘On behalf of all veterans’

Hickory Street Bridge now named Veterans Memorial Bridge

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The U.S. Navy flag is carried to its post Saturday during the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Warren.

Over the years, the bridge that connects the South Side of Warren with the rest of the city has gone through many changes.

On Saturday — Armed Forces Day, the name of the bridge became the latest change.

The Veterans Memorial Bridge carries Hickory Street across the Allegheny River.

About 200 people attend a dedication ceremony Saturday morning. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic from 10 a.m. until afternoon.

City of Warren Mayor Maurice Cashman presented a history of the bridge.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The color guard fires a 21-gun salute Saturday during the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Warren.

“Back in the early 1800s, the Borough of Warren was offered a gift of land on the South Side,” Cashman said. “They refused because they knew if they accepted, they would have to build a bridge.”

Borough officials repeatedly refused similar offers.

When the offer was finally accepted, a bridge project at the foot of what is now Hazel Street was begun in 1839, Cashman said. That bridge collapsed before it was finished.

On the second try, a bridge was opened on Dec. 24, 1841.

That bridge lasted 13 years before collapsing spectacularly in pieces, Cashman said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren County Veterans Affairs Director and President of the Veterans Council Ed Burris speaks as the flags of the armed forces fly over the Allegheny River Saturday during the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Warren.

A new bridge at a new location was erected in November of 1871. A 471-foot long, 30-foot wide suspension bridge that extended from what is now the stage area at Soldiers and Sailors Park was initially built by private investment and was a toll bridge.

“The bridge served Warren for 47 years,” he said.

The first bridge at the current location was finished on Aug. 16, 1918, and lasted until it was closed on March 28, 2003, Cashman said.

Construction of the new bridge, until Saturday known as Hickory Street Bridge, began May 10, 2004, and was completed on Aug. 1, 2005.

State Sen. Scott Hutchinson described the dedication as a “worthy monument to the men and women who have served this country.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The U.S. Air Force flag takes it place Saturday during the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Warren.

He said he hopes those who cross the bridge “will be reminded of the tremendous blessings which our veterans have secured and will continue to secure.”

“How fitting that the City of Warren chose Armed Forces Day to rename this beautiful bridge, memorializing the memory and honoring our veterans,” State Rep. Kathy Rapp said. “Thank you to our veterans and their families and our active duty servicemen and -women.”

“We gather today to dedicate this bridge and to give tribute of reverence and respect,” Warren County Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said. “Veterans bought your freedoms, liberty, and ultimately, this nation.”

The hymn of each branch of the armed forces was played by the Youngsville High School band as each flag was brought forward and placed.

“On behalf of all veterans, I would like to thank the City of Warren for this everlasting tribute,” Burris said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The crowd watches as the POW/MIA flag is brought to its standard Saturday during the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Warren.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry A sign proclaims the new name of the bridge over the Allegheny River at Hickory Street in Warren as a crowd gathers for a dedication event Saturday.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Veterans hold the flags of their branches of service as State Sen. Scott Hutchinson speaks Saturday during the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Warren.

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