POINT PLEASANT — The newest mural in the city, painted on the flood wall at 6th street, was recently dedicated on the 51st anniversary of the Silver Bridge collapse.
As a portion of the fourth annual Silver Bridge Memorial Ceremony, Mayor Brian Billings led the dedication of the Silver Bridge Memorial Mural.
“Thank you all for being here this evening as we remember, as Tracy (Doolittle) mentioned, the 46 souls that we lost some 51 years ago, souls that we’ll always remember, we hope that young people who are standing here who have questions that moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and grandparents will tell them the tragic story that happened in our community…” said Billings. “We’ll never forget what took place, the tears that fell, and there was hope and a little laughter in between…but we’ll never forget it, we don’t understand it, but we’ll never forget it those from here and those from various states that surround this great Mountain State of ours called West Virginia, our county of Mason, and this county seat of Point Pleasant, where we stand is where this bridge once stood.”
Following those words, Billings focused the guests attention to the Silver Bridge Memorial Mural behind him and introduced artist of the mural Jesse Corlis, of Charleston, to the crowd and invited him to say a few a words.
“This mural was really something special, I felt incredibly honored to have this opportunity to make a memorial of lives lost, to the bridge itself and what it meant to the community,” said Corlis. “It was a connection, it was a lifeline. Everyone seemed to have a memory of it or some connection to it, so I came into it excited and knowing I had a responsibility to honor this, had a responsibility to the community and to the families, and as I was working on it, I just wanted to say how touched I was by the community and how people would come by just to say hi, to watch a little bit, but also to share their stories, their memories, and the connections they had.”
Billings thanked all who helped by giving significant monetary donations to bring this new piece of historic artwork to the city including the City of Point Pleasant, Mason County Commission, Stantec Consulting Surfaces Incorporated, David Tarr of Holdings LLC, American Society of Civil Engineers, and West Virginia American Society of Civil Engineers. He also recognized former residents of the city who sent in smaller monetary donations for this project as all donations towards this project were appreciated.
Billings introduced the members of the mural committee including himself, Commission President Tracy Doolittle, and Point Pleasant River Museum Director Jack Fowler. Members of the mural committee as well as several others have been working on this project since the 50th Silver Bridge Anniversary.
“There’s been so many events that have happened on this street (6th Street) to first street…we have a lot of history right here on Main Street, but this one, it his us so hard, it effected so many lives…it’s part of our history we have to remember…” said Fowler.
The mural had lights shining on it for the evening to emphasize Corlis’ artwork and the rock work was complete, ensuring its protection. The commemorative plaque for the mural was also unveiled.
Following the ceremony, guests walked back to admire this new historic feature of the city, some touching its surface, soaking in all of the memories it already holds.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.