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  • Writer's pictureCathryn Stanley

Bridging the Past, Present and Future - GSV's 150th Anniversary

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Few structures in Belmont County are as iconic as the Great Stone Viaduct. For 150 years the towering stone arches have greeted visitors to Bellaire and continue to be a lasting reminder of the area’s importance in transportation, industry, and innovation.

On June 21, 1871 the first train traveled over a new stone arch bridge connecting Bellaire, Ohio and Benwood, West Virginia. Today we know that bridge as The Great Stone Viaduct. On June 25, 26 and 27, 150 years after opening, The Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society will celebrate this magnificent structure and it's importance to Bellaire and Belmont County. This three-day celebration will be held on the grounds surrounding the Great Stone Viaduct. The event kicks off on Friday, June 25, with a classic car show in the parking lot of the Bellaire Community Health Center at 3000 Guernsey St. from 4pm to 6pm. Call 740-359-2301 for more info about the car show.

Also on Friday, there will be a steak dinner banquet under a tent directly next to the Great Stone Viaduct. Social hour begins at 5:30pm, with the dinner being served at 6:30pm. Banquet remarks and the state of the society address will begin at 6:30 pm. There will be light appetizers and drawings, raffles and door prizes throughout the evening. After dinner, auctioneer David Jones will auction off several historical and unique items to the high bidder. Tickets for the banquet are $30 per person and can be purchased from any GSV board member or by calling 740-963-3500, Ext. 3. Saturday, June 26, the events begin at noon with opening remarks by local dignitaries. Throughout the day enjoy traditional crafts, food vendors, raffles, artists’ auction, kids corner, bridge tours, local performers and an evening concert by members of The Wheeling Symphony. Saturday also features special historical presentations at the Bellaire Public Library on Saturday from 9am to 3:45pm. Advanced registration is required. Speakers and topic will include: Bill Logan - "O, R & W Photographic Memories"; Daniel Frizzi - "Stone Arch Railroad Bridges of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad"; and Dave Adair - "Cleveland, Lorain and Wheeling Iron". Sunday, June 27 the events once again begin at noon with a flea market featuring antiques and collectables, crafters, and food vendors. There will also be bridge tours. The closing ceremonies begin at 4pm.

A construction project for a plaza, walking trail, and overlook will proceed throughout this 150th anniversary year. The Society acquired the Great Stone Viaduct site in 2018 from CSX Transportation. In cooperation with the Belmont County Port Authority, the Society was awarded $2 million in TAP funding to construct the walking trail/bicycle path from 26th Street to an observation platform on the Viaduct at Guernsey Street. 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.

You can get at preview of the 150th Celebration and an update on the future plans for this historic structure on June 12 at 1:30 during the Belmont County Heritage Museum’s Second Saturday Speaker Series. The second event will feature members of the Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society who will give a preview of the 150th Anniversary Celebration. Dan Frizzi will also give a presentation about the history of this iconic structure. Ed Mowrer will discuss the society's development plans for the viaduct. There will also be a display of photography in front of the museum by the Ohio Valley Photography Club, Daniel Caron, and Joe Lovell. Admission to this event is free. Donations to the museum will be accepted. The presentations will be broadcast via Facebook Live.

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