POINT PLEASANT — As work begins on the Silver Bridge memorial mural on the flood wall at 6th Street, there are questions about the three trees at the bridge memorial in the same area – “leaving” some with a small mystery.
The mystery surrounding the trees, which are now large and full, is discovering whether or not they were planted in memory of the bridge victims or simply came along later as a landscaping addition. The trees were a topic of conversation at the recent meeting of Point Pleasant City Council.
Mayor Brian Billings asked council if anyone knew the origins of the trees or their history. No one at council knew the answer and Billings asked those gathered to get the word out to help solve the mystery to determine how to deal, or not deal, with the trees which may obscure the mural directly behind them. The idea is to be respectful with what happens, or doesn’t happen, next. Right now, the city doesn’t have all the information to make a decision concerning the trees.
A primer coat has been added to the flood wall where the mural will rest on the section of flood wall where the bridge entered Point Pleasant at 6th Street. Its commission was announced at the observance for the 50th anniversary of the bridge collapse in December 2017 with the idea originating from the West Virginia Department of Highways.
WVDOH officials contacted Jesse Corlis from Braxton County about coming up with the design, while officials with the City of Point Pleasant and Mason County Commission approached the public and collected donations of $8,000 needed to bring the mural to life this spring.
Corlis’ design consists of a 1928 Ford and 1967 GMC pickup passing each other in opposite lanes on the bridge. The 1928 vehicle was chosen to represent the year the bridge was dedicated and the 1967 truck chosen to represent the year it collapsed. In essence, it represents when the structure began and ended, but in a subtle way.
Corlis attended the observance in December and was introduced during the portion of the program dealing with the mural.
When talking to the Register following the observance, Corlis explained, his favorite part of the mural was the opportunity to create it, both on paper and this year, on the flood wall.
“It’s right here in the heart of the community, it’s basically a blank billboard that I’m going to be standing at for weeks,” he said. “I’ll put my heart and soul into it for a community that has their heartstrings tied to it.”
There’s also been talk of adding some sort of 3D effect to the mural, by possibly placing simulated bridge lights on top of the flood wall.
Though Corlis said he didn’t grow up in Point Pleasant, he was still not too far away in Braxton County.
“I didn’t grow up with it, it wasn’t my bridge so I want to give it the utmost respect that I can,” he said back in December. “I just want to respect the heritage of it, get the details about it correct, and just make sure this town likes it and it’s something they can be proud of.”
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.