Every mile tells a story

Annual Rubberneck Tour slated for April 27

Photo Provided A statue of Betty Zane stands at the entrance to Walnut Grove Cemetery in Martins Ferry, where she is buried. It is a stop on the Rubberneck Tour.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Your passport to adventure awaits at the Belmont County Tourism Council.

This year’s Heritage Trail Rubberneck Tour will allow area residents and visitors alike to explore the eastern half of the county, with seven stops situated mainly in communities along the Ohio River. The annual, self-guided trip to various significant and historical sites provides an opportunity for people from all walks of life to learn more about Belmont County’s heritage while also enjoying the beautiful scenery of the region.

But this free, family-friendly event offers more than just chances for sight-seeing. Many stops will feature activities for young and old to enjoy, while others will provide venues for vendors and food trucks.

The tour takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

With the theme “Every Mile Tells a Story,” this year’s tour will include stops in Blaine, Bellaire and Martins Ferry. Although each stop is numbered on the tour map, those destinations can be visited in any order:

Stop 1: The Blaine Hill “S” Bridge is Ohio’s official Bicentennial Bridge. It is the Buckeye State’s oldest bridge, built in 1828, and is the longest “S” bridge on the six-state Historic National Road. Old-fashioned games will be played at this site under the guidance of the Great Western Schoolhouse schoolmarm. The Ohio National Road Association will also be on hand with information about Belmont County’s scenic byways. And, if you’re hungry, the Rusty Bull Taco food truck will be on site.

Stop 2: Walnut Grove Cemetery dates to the 1790s and is the burial place of members of the famous Zane and Martin families who pioneered settlement of the state. These include Betty Zane, the heroine of Ft. Henry in what is present day Wheeling. Here visitors will experience living history with historical interpreters.

Stop 3: The Sedgwick House Museum was built as a private residence in the 1870s and became a local history museum in 1970. Its collection features antique furniture, quilts and clothing that belonged to the Zane and Martin families, memorabilia from Martins Ferry City Schools and artifacts from local businesses and industries. Tours of the museum will be available along with activities by the Belmont County District Library. The Turn Around Quick Bites food truck and The Jakery will have food and beverages on site.

Stop 4: The Imperial Glass Museum preserves the past of one of the largest glassmakers in the nation. Tours of the museum will be offered so visitors can see the more than 3,000 pieces of glass in the collection that were created between 1904 and 1984. Glass artist Dan Sullivan will be demonstrating the creation of glass jewelry. And just down the street, the Sons of Italy lodge will be selling homemade sausage sandwiches with representatives of the Belmont County Eagles Special Olympics Bocce Team on hand to discuss their sport.

Stop 6: Union Square Park in Bellaire features five historical markers telling the community’s story. The Ohio Valley Farmers Market will have vendors at the park, while historical interpreters will offer some living history. Food trucks will include Ideal Provisions and Kirke’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Stop 6: The Great Stone Viaduct stands in Bellaire as a lasting reminder of the rich transportation history of the region. Its 150-year-old arches once carried trains across the valley in which Bellaire is situated between Rose Hill and the Ohio River. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, the viaduct has been rehabilitated and features and walking trail, viewing platform and more. Members of the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society will be on hand with information, and the Bellaire Public Library will lead activities. The RC Flyers will also be on site flying their radio-controlled contraptions.

Stop 7: The Willow Grove Mine Memorial honors the memory of 72 men who lost their lives in a tragic explosion on March 16, 1940. The Friends of Willow Grove and United Mine Workers of America will be present to help visitors learn more.

The tourism council is offering a tour passport for the second year. Participants can pick up their passport in advance at the council office inside the Ohio Valley Mall or at any location on the tour. You can also download a passport at visitbelmontcounty.com.

Those who complete their passport by checking in at every stop and receiving a stamp can turn their passport in at the conclusion of their trip for a chance to win one of five gift baskets.


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