Society, bank partner for 150 year celebration
BELLAIRE — The Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society is partnering with Belmont Savings Bank to restore and improve the viaduct as it marks a century and a half.
“We’re very appreciative of them because they’re helping fund some of our restoration work that we’ll be covering here,” Ed Mowrer, chairman of the society, said of the bank.
Several years ago the society purchased property around the railroad bridge arches with the goal of developing a park and recreational site. The society is working with agencies such as the Ohio Department of Transportation, Belmont County Tourism Council, Belomar Regional Council — and now Belmont Savings Bank — to bring those dreams to fruition.
“Next year you’ll see construction. We’ll be putting a walking path on top of these arches with an observation platform,” he said. “There will also be a bike trail.”
A plaza will be constructed under the arches.
Construction of the bike trail, observation platform and plaza should be ongoing next year.
“This’ll be an anchor for the southern part of Bellaire for future festivals, for recreation, for all the citizens of Belmont County to enjoy,” Mowrer said. “We couldn’t do that without all the people that have supplied us with funds, and our principal supplier is of course Belmont Savings Bank.”
A turnaround on the trail will be named in the bank’s honor.
“This historical landmark is such a treasure to not only the Bellaire community but the entire Belmont County as well. The work these ladies and gentlemen have done to revive, preserve and clean the viaduct is truly remarkable,” Todd Cover, president and CEO of the bank, said. “It is truly our pleasure to contribute.”
Dan Frizzi, also a member of the society, said this year the viaduct will mark it’s 150th anniversary.
“It began right after the Civil War in 1868 when the first stone of the pier to carry the bridge across the Ohio River was laid,” he said, noting it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We decided about nine years ago that the Great Stone Viaduct society should be formed to help preserve this national historic place, so that others could view it,” he said, adding the sandstone bridge boasts 43 arches from Union Street to Rose Hill. Each has 37 ring stones, representing the 37 unified states after the Civil War.
“The bridge has great symbolism from a historical standpoint,” he said and commended the bank for its contribution to the community.
A celebration will be held June 25-27 at the viaduct site. It will include a car show, banquet and live auction of items including railroad memorabilia on June 25. On June 26, there will be crafts, food vendors and other activities, including performances by Turn It Out dance studio and members of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. June 27 will feature a flea market and other events at a children’s activity center.
The society continues to look for food vendors and crafters to participate.
For more information, call 740-963-3500, Ext. 3, or visit greatstoneviaduct.org. The society is a 501 c 3 nonprofit corporation.