RAILROADS HAVE played a major role in the history of Bellaire. So much so, a new group has been established to preserve and promote the rail's heritage.
Taking it a step further, the new group - the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society - is staging a celebration to help achieve that goal. The society is planning an educational forum on Aug. 18 at the Bellaire Public Library, which will include other activities to take place outside the library and under the arches of the bridge itself.
The event has gained much momentum since being unveiled last month. It is on track to be one of the highlights of the summer season in Eastern Ohio.
Bellaire’s Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society is planning an educational forum on Saturday,?Aug. 18 at the Bellaire Public Library. The day will feature numerous activities including a street railroad train, the B &?O?Railroad Historical Society’s “Company Store,” crafts, and other special exhibits.
The Great Stone Viaduct, featuring 43 stone arches, is Bellaire's most recognizable landmark that helped to shape not only the Ohio Valley, but also the whole of the county. Using this structure to identify the society, the board of trustees is working to preserve that landmark and to let others know about the rich transportation history that railroads once brought to the area.
Dan Frizzi Jr. is the chairman of the Board of Trustees for the viaduct organization. He has been passionate in his efforts to promote the event.
"The response is going well to our educational part of the lecture. We have been given a spot in the B & O Historical Society Magazine ... "The Sentinel"....in this quarter's edition," Frizzi noted. "We are hoping that many members of the B & O Historical Society are in attendance for this event.
"We have also been given great financial support from The Belmont County Tourism Council, Belmont Savings Bank, Bauknecht-Altmeyer Funeral Homes, Muxie Distributing, Hughes Xerographics, Flanagan's Sports Bar, MOS of Bellaire, Paul Jay Associates, Siebieda Architects, Frizzi Law Offices, and Vivid Graphix," he continued. "Also we have received tremendous cooperation from village of Bellaire officials and the staff of the Bellaire Public Library."
The day will feature a myriad of activities.
Among the highlights will be a street railroad train for rides along Bellaire's streets for children of all ages. Another unique feature will be the "Company Store" being brought in by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society. The Baltimore-based store will set up shop in the library for sales to the general public.
Other attractions will include: crafters setting up shop under the arches of the Great Stone Viaduct between Union and Guernsey streets, as well as exhibits in the library, including a special exhibit commemorating the railroad photographs of Bellaire, taken by famed railroad photographer J. J. Young Jr. The exhibit is titled "J.J. Young, Jr.: In His Own Words."
All persons pre-registering for the event will receive a free box lunch at noon between the morning and afternoon lecture presentations. Persons who register the day of the event will pay an admission fee of $10 per person, with children under 12 paying $5. No box lunch will be provided unless you have pre-registered.
The Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society is a non-profit and non-partisan corporation and consists of two classes of membership Governing Members and Participating Members. Governing Members are elected from the Participating Members by the Society's Board of Trustees. Participating Members pay annual dues and enjoy the rights and privileges of the Society.
John P. Hankey, former B & O Railroad Museum curator, will deliver the keynote address, and in the afternoon session will discuss the westward movement of the B & O Railroad to Wheeling. Hankey has been involved in many preservation projects throughout the United States to preserve the nation's railroad history.
Also on hand will be Roger Pickenpaugh, author and historian, to discuss the use of railroads during the Civil War, and the important river crossings at Bellaire, and rail transportation during that conflict. Attorney Dan Frizzi Jr., who is also an author and historian on local railroad history, will speak about the construction of the Great Stone Viaduct and present photographs of the bridge throughout its history.
Greg Levy of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad will conclude with a presentation about the current rail operations, and the future operations of the W & LE railroad.
For more information on the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Society, call 740-676-2743 or email GSVSociety@aol.com.
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