VULCAN, W.Va. (WBOY) — In July 1975, the bridge that ran across the Tug River connecting Kentucky to the small town of Vulcan, WV collapsed, cutting off the town’s most crucial—and only—official route to the rest of the country. The following events would make national headlines.

The bridge that once went across the gap was small and not built for automobiles in its time. According to the New York Times, despite great care being taken by the people of Vulcan, the bridge eventually collapsed and was carried down the Tug River overnight.

With this major connection being defunct, anyone who wanted in or out of Vulcan by car had to take a small gravel road that ran beside busy train tracks from Edgarton upstream. Delivery trucks and travelers were naturally too scared to make this perilous route making Vulcan, as described by a citizen, “at the tail-end of nothing.”

So what to do? According to an article from CBS Evening News via the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, citizens of the small town had to technically trespass on the railroad’s private property in order to move in and out of town. The West Virginia Department of Highways said that Vulcan had too little of a population and that the cost of the project was too great given the budget.

In 1977, after a two-year-long lack of governmental support, John Robinette—Vulcan’s acting mayor—petitioned the governments of the Soviet Union and East Germany for assistance in getting their bridge up and running once more through foreign aid programs. According to CBS News, Robinette also considered petitioning the government of Israel.

According to an archived article from the Associated Press in The Ocala Star-Banner, after receiving word that this small town was seeking aid from a global rival, New York-based Russian journalist Iona Andronov set out for Vulcan on Dec. 17, 1977 to investigate and speak with Robinette. After a discussion, Robinette described Andronov as “sincere,” and said that “the Russians said they would keep an eye on the bridge and see if it were built. If not, they would.”

An hour after Andronov’s arrival in Vulcan, word spread to several other reporters who had traveled to Vulcan that the state had officially announced that it would construct the bridge. Robinette responded to the announcement, saying: “Our government was afraid the Russians were going to build the bridge. They were embarrassed into it, and nothing will convince me otherwise.”

Today, the town is reconnected to Kentucky via the single-lane concrete Vulcan Bridge. According to Google Maps satellite data, the once-narrow gravel road adjacent to the train tracks—now known as Tug River Road—appears to now be wider than described in 1975 and available for public use. Despite this, it still runs adjacent to an active Norfolk Southern rail line.