Mystically Apocalyptic: A Trip into Wheeling, WV

Please excuse my absence on the blog. I’ve been working extra hard on KickStarter rewards and comic strips.

However, I wanted to share a little story with you.

You see, Christian (my collaborator on Validation) stopped by Wheeling on her way across the country. We got lunch at Later Alligator, a little local crepe restaurant in downtown, and if you haven’t been there, you REALLY need to go. Their crepes are delicious and have punny little names (like the Crepes of Wrath, Pesto Change-o, or the Crepe Escape. I had the Alligator Rock, and it’s delectable). They also have dessert crepes, like the S’mores Crepe. It’s as awesome as it sounds.

Anyway, after lunch, Christian and I saw some more sites, including a little bridge that will make an appearance in Charlie & Clow: The Case of the Wendigo.

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It goes by two names: The Bridge of Suicide Hill, or the 13 Million Dollar Mistake.

The story, as it was told to me, was that this was originally built near the medical center to act as a connecting road to a place on the other side of the hill. However, when engineers took a look at the inclines, they deemed it too steep to be considered safe.

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The bridge itself seems fine, but it connects to a street at an incline so steep that hauling trucks are not allowed on it. So the engineers closed the bridge when construction was finished, and it hasn’t been torn down since.

The funny part is, when you cross the bridge, on the other side of it, there is no road.

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The only thing on the other side is…woods. Lots and lots of woods.

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So… I drew it.

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I needed to get better at backgrounds anyway. Plus, not only is this good reference-building for Charlie & Clow, but it’s also building up references for Traveler’s Road – a story that travels on Interstate 70 and cuts through Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Wheeling is a surprising little city. Like, everybody brags about the urban decay present in Detroit – and sure, it has some – but there’s something about the urban decay in Wheeling, WV that’s so…mystically apocalyptic.

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There’s trees growing in abandoned stairwells, ghostly train tunnels left to rot for over 50 years, and of course, the aforementioned Bridge of Suicide Hill.

A lot of people local to the place want to get out as quickly as possible, and I can understand why – the city’s booming period was during the Industrial Revolution and when steel production was at its height. Sure, there’s a glut of oil and natural gas companies coming in to try and bring wealth into the region, but the process is slow, destructive, and unsustainable.

I get the feeling that over the next 100 years, this city will grow more and more to look like the Bridge or the abandoned stairwells. It’s about halfway there already.

Until then, I’m going to mine the crap out of these photo references and this apocalyptic city for its artistic inspiration.

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

7 Replies to “Mystically Apocalyptic: A Trip into Wheeling, WV”

  1. The city isn’t a wasteland or apocalyptic. Wheeling West Virginia people take pride of the outdoors and grass life that grows. I lived there all my life. I currently moved to Pittsburgh for college but I will be moving back home when I’m done. Wheeling is a great place to live it’s quiet and peaceful. You don’t just a book from its cover there’s so many joys you could learn from wheeling. So many life values and lessons could be taught to you. Wheeling is a beautiful place.

    1. I can’t help but feel like you didn’t read this blog post in its entirety and just commented on it after seeing the title. Because Wheeling DOES have some interesting things going for it (like Later Alligator, the little restaurant downtown that I tell everyone they need to go to at least once).

      But like any place in the U.S., it’s not perfect.

  2. Lol, being a native, I can belatedly warn you that many people in Wheeling take offense rather easily when it comes to the town. A few revel in the eerie vibe that permeates the place, but most are rather prim, and either think a little of that goes a long way, or that it’s okay for them to notice it but outsiders are just making fun of them. This attitude is common in the area, but extra pronounced in this town, for some reason. It’s part of it. But then they wonder why investors don’t come to the town’s rescue more. Too bad, because it’s a distinctive place going to wrack & ruin. By the way, if you haven’t noticed yet, the ‘weelunk’ blog/site now has an article on the road above the bridge. It was known as Suicide Rd, and the photos show how fast things can disappear around here. Across the bridge — that was a paved road 30 years ago!

    1. Yeah, now that I’ve been in the area for about two years now, I noticed that REALLY unusually persnickety pride in the city. Like, I get that it has history and that the history was that it was a booming town in the Midwest a couple of decades ago, but I agree, it is a distinctive town. While I see that now there are SOME outside folks coming in to build new buildings, especially in downtown, I’m not going to place any bets yet. That would be one hell of an underdog story if Wheeling started to boom again though.

      But Weelunk did a post about Suicide Road? I didn’t know that! I’ll have to check it out. Suicide Road is one of my favorite features of this place.

      1. Beg pardon, it was Suicide Hill, I always remember it as Suicide Road. Lol. And I’m sure you’re a delightful addition to the area. Welcome aboard! Oh, I could tell you some tales!

  3. There was a road there once but it’s so overgrown after 30 years of being closed. The main reason was the road kept slipping away on the steep hillside it goes along, so they gave up on fixing it. It shows just how much infrastructure just decays without human intervanrion.

    Btw I’m from wheeling too, it is indeed a great city if youre into urbex and other stuff like this.

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