Great Stone Viaduct Projects Moving Forward
Although the Pandemic has slowed the activity of area businesses, schools, and public buildings, the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society has been moving forward with plans for the Viaduct Project in Bellaire. The Board of Trustees of the Society has recently signed a consulting and engineering contract with MS Consultants of Columbus, Ohio, to move forward with design and engineering needed to construct the walking trail and plaza at the Viaduct. This site was acquired by the Society in 2018, from CSX Transportation. The Project Manager for MS Consultants is Jonathan Hren, who along with his team, toured the Viaduct site on Wednesday April 28. In cooperation with the Belmont County Port Authority, the Society was awarded $2 million dollars in TAP funding to be able to construct the walking trail/bicycle path from 26th Street to an observation platform on the Viaduct at Guernsey Street. Meeting via teleconference, the Society board approved this contract with MS Consultants on April 6, 2020. Plans for the site include the walking trail and bicycle path to begin at 26th Street near the present site of ICR, and the ball fields of the Bellaire Youth Sports. The trail will provide access over the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line along a quarter mile approach to the Viaduct at Hamilton Street, where the trail will continue atop the historic stone arch bridge that has stood in Bellaire since its completion in 1871.
Work will be completed this summer by Angelina Stone and Marble, restoration specialists with historic buildings and structures, which was commenced last fall. Angelina will be continue its work of cleaning and tuckpointing the remainder of the bridge, and resetting stones, where work ended last fall. The resetting of stones lifted by the intrusion of tree roots from a large sycamore tree at the abutment near Hamilton Street, will be remedied by La Roche Tree Service. This company will be taking down this large tree as a service to the project and the Society. Both organizations are Ringstone Members of the fundraising project under taken by the Society to raise funds for work being completed. Hull & Associates of St. Clairsville, another important Ringstone Member, along with Stegman and Schellhase, have provided much preliminary work to the GSV Society moving the plans for this project forward.
The Society was able to move forward with much of this preliminary work through the fundraising from local businesses, civic leaders, and families. The Society continues its fundraising efforts, and anyone wishing to become a Sustaining Member of the organization can do so by going to the Society website at www.greatstoneviaduct.org. Commemorative Keystone and Ringstone Membership information and forms are available on this site for anyone wishing to remember a loved one, family or business. A variety of themes exist for each arch, and there are 37 Ringstones which will symbolically represent each of these donors on a commemorative plaque to be installed in the finished plaza under the viaduct.
The Society is hopeful that work will be commenced in 2021, which is the 150th Anniversary of the building of this magnificent structure through the heart of the downtown community. Construction of the Viaduct commenced on Union Street in 1870, where on the keystone of the 2nd of the 43 arches appears the date 1870. The entire stone arch bridge was completed less than 18 months later at Hamilton Street, and opened to railroad traffic in June of 1871. The Society hopes to celebrate this historic date in 2021 to commemorate this bridge, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Plans are being made for that celebration, as the project for the plaza, trail, and overlook proceed as anticipated throughout the 150th Anniversary Year.
The Society has produced coins commemorating this important date in the history of the bridge. Silver coins produced sold out within months of making them available, and so Goldine Coins were struck in the same likeness of the silver coins. Approximately 138 coins, of the original 500, remain available for purchase at the cost of $10 per coin. Any person interested in coins may come to Frizzi Law Offices for making a purchase. Each coin is encased in a plastic jacket to protect its beautiful finish. Each coin contains the image of the most beautiful portion of the bridge which was acquired by the Society from CSX, and bears the date of construction as well as Anniversary date. The obverse side of the coins contain the image of the last locomotive to pass over these same arches in 1996, and created from an actual photograph.
The popular Great Stone Viaduct Lecture Series, in conjunction with the Bellaire Public Library, and now in its 8th year, was interrupted by the Covid-19 virus. The Society will be finishing three presentations by live streaming on Wednesday May 13, 20 and 27 three of the lectures presented in prior years. Plans are being made to take those lectures that were cancelled this year for presentation next year. Check the website for more information on these lectures.
The fall rail trip that is scheduled for Sunday, October 25, 2020 is still a go, with about 20 seats remaining. The GSV Society has leased an entire dome railcar for this trip which will proceed from Charleston West Virginia roundtrip to Hinton West Virginia. The rail car is a former Northern Pacific dome passenger car and will be exclusively reserved for GSV Members, the public, and guests. Remaining tickets can be purchased by going to the website for more information. Anyone seeking information can email to firstname.lastname@example.org or Telephone (740) 963-3500 Ext 1.