POINT PLEASANT — A new mural will appear downtown this year depicting the Silver Bridge.
The mural will be painted 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 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. Mayor Brain Billings and Commissioner Tracy Doolittle were on the committee both to help with the observance and raise the mural funds.
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 recent observance and was introduced during the portion of the program dealing with the mural.
“Of course, I’d heard about it (Silver Bridge), but didn’t know all the details and all the community events surrounding it…what I thought I’d gotten to know, I come here (to the observance) and experience this and realize, I barely breached the surface. This (the ceremony and community support) is awesome,” he said.
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. Corlis said he hasn’t received confirmation yet on what the parameters will be but the plan is to do some sort of extension of the mural.
“Lights will be ideal,” he said. “Something to break he plane and a little marker helps it to break out of the concrete mold.”
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. “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.