News bulletin from Katy Lloyd at King William on May 15, 2007

Eltham Bridge Dedication Rescheduled

The dedication of the new Eltham Bridge has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 24 at 6 p.m.  The event will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony with area dignitaries. 

Sen. Ryan McDougle, 4th Senatorial District, will be keynote speaker.  Special guest will be Mrs. Virginia Vranian.  Mrs. Vranian lives in West Point and grew up in Eltham.  She cut the ribbon dedicating the old Bruce Bridge, the original bridge crossing the Pamunkey River, in 1926 when she was 8-years-old.  After 81 years, Mrs. Vranian will once again cut the ribbon, this time with three of her great grandchildren. 

After the dedication ceremony, the bridge will remain open to sightseers until 7:30 p.m. 

T-shirts from the event are available for $10.  They can be purchased during the dedication ceremony or at King William County Public Information office, New Kent Parks & Recreation office, Citizens & Farmer�s Main Street and 14th Street locations or the Tidewater Review office. 

The T-shirt sales benefit the West Point Vol. Fire & Rescue and New Kent Parks & Recreation and Emergency Services.

The bridge will open to traffic on Friday, May 25.

The dedication ceremony was originally scheduled for April 7 but due to the snow, it was postponed.

For more information, call (804) 769-4985 or email



The following article was sent out as a newsletter on April 7, 2007
. Several have reported that they did not receive it, so here it is again with the photos from that snowy day.
To view photos as a slide show, enlarge thumbnails, see information, and send as a postcard:
Click on "Art Gallery", West Point Bridges", select album

By Mary Montague Sikes


When Robert Slavey was a little boy, his father John Slavey would take him up into the bridge tender�s houses on both the Lord Delaware Bridge and the Eltham Bridge. Together they would work the controls to open the draws that allowed large boats and barges to pass through.


On April 7, braving temperatures in the low 30s, snow and wind, Slavey was one of the hardy West Point area residents who took the walk up to the top of the new Eltham Bridge. He was paying homage to a place that meant so much to his father who served as bridge tender on both bridges for 23 years. Because of the unusual April snowfall, the ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremonies scheduled for the top of the bridge were postponed until later in the spring.


�It was real funny,� Slavey remembers. �I would be looking down the river at the boat, then turn and see down the road.�


Slavey recalls another time when his father was off duty, and the bridge would not come back together after it was opened. His father got his 40-foot ladder, drove to the bridge, put the ladder over the span and walked across it to make the necessary repairs.


He also remembers another time when a truck hit the bridge house with his father in it and knocked it sideways. His father�s shoulder was broken in the accident, and he was out of work for a while.


When things were slow on the Lord Delaware Bridge, his father would move to the Eltham Bridge to work. Shifts were: 2:30 to 10:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


John Slavey who for many years spent his off-hours painting throughout the town of West Point did not live to see the Eltham Bridge open. He died on January 31 at the age of 90.


Rita Ames was among the scattered groups of sightseers who journeyed to the top of the bridge. Pleased with the latest of three Eltham bridges, Ames recalls the first bridge. She remembers driving the high school driver education car over the narrow wooden structure that was replaced in 1957. She always dreaded meeting one of the big log trucks coming from the other direction as she crossed over.


As he walked down from the top, Dr. Mark Neale gazed from the Eltham Bridge across the brick sidewalks that lead to the new Lord Delaware Bridge. Dr. Neale noted that at first he had supported the construction of a flyover that would have directed traffic away from town. Now he says West Point is very fortunate to have had the opportunity for a facelift along the 14th Street corridor. He�s glad motorists will get the chance to see the town with its new look.


Not long ago Dr. Jane Massey Redd, Superintendent of West Point Public Schools, was going through some of her mother�s things and found an old photograph of a great uncle on her father�s side and an aunt on her mother�s side taken on the old Gresham Bridge that spanned the Mattaponi River. That picture inspired her to walk up the Eltham Bridge with her husband, George to get a photograph taken of the two of them on the new bridge. She plans to display their photograph along with the old one of her relatives.


Although the actual ribbon-cutting was postponed, Virginia Vranian found a long red velvet ribbon left over from Christmas and took it to the bridge. There she and her great-grandchildren, Henry Harrison Woodly, 5, Virginia Hopper, 6, and Laura Taylor Hopper, 8 cut their ribbon.


The 5K race went on as scheduled with as many as 70 racers participating. Bridge T-shirts bearing the date, April 7, 2007 were given to the race participants and sold to others by volunteers from C & F Bank. Karen Richardson, Mary Ann Seward, Tameka Pittman, Terry Milby and Laverne Longest all braved the extreme conditions to sell shirts.


�We work with Katy Lloyd (King William County Public Information Officer),� Richardson explained. �When she needs something, we get it for her.�


Richardson and several of the others also volunteered at the July 29, 2006 opening event at the Lord Delaware Bridge. That day was quite a contrast in weather from the April snowstorm.

Laverne Longest, Terry Milby, Tameka Pittman, Karen Richardson and Mary Ann Seward are bundled up for the snowy weather as they sell Eltham Bridge T-Shirts.


The Roane children play in the snow near the entrance to the new Eltham Bridge.


Robert Slavey and his father-in-law, "Skip" Van de Vaarst were among a scattering of people who weathered the unusual April cold and snowy weather to walk to the top of the new Eltham Bridge. Slavey's father, John Slavey was a bridge tender on the old bridge for 23 years.


Rita Ames


The old Eltham Bridge, rusty and worn out, will be demolished once the new bridge opens to traffic later in the spring. The bridge tender's house where John Slavey once worked is visible at the top of the bridge.


Emily and Tad Darden


Laura Taylor Hopper (left), Henry Harrison Woodly, (center), and Virginia Hopper (right), great-grandchildren stand with Virginia Vranian with the new Eltham Bridge seen in the background.


Mark Neale


Jane and George Redd, were among a scattering of people who weathered the unusual April cold and snowy weather to walk to the top of the new Eltham Bridge.





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