Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Project  
 

 

Marker Notes Blaine Bridge's Place in History 

By JOSELYN KING

  Ohio's "Bicentennial Bridge" is now on the map and marked forever in history.

   The Ohio Historical Society on Wednesday unveiled the official marker honoring the 1828 Blaine Bridge - the same span once traveled by pioneers as they headed west. As the marker states, the bridge previously was marked for demolition before being saved in 1999.

  "We are now bookmarked in history, and we don't want to become a footnote," said Sue Douglass of the Blaine Bridge Community Preservation Project. "We don't want the wording on the marker to be changed to, 'There once was a bridge at this site....'"

  "We've found our place in history, and we don't want to lose it." 

  Glenn Harper of the Ohio Historical Society remembered standing at the bridge in 1999 and "seeing a large gap in its western portion." He told the crowd gathered at the bridge that it "hardly seemed possible" that so much progress had happened to the structure since that time.

  "But the bridge still needs $1.2 million in repairs," Harper said. "And the area around it still needs to be developed at a cost of much more.

  "We need the dedication of individuals and businesses to dedicate time and money to the project."

  The Blaine Bridge is considered one of the most historically and architecturally significant structures in the state. The structure is 345-feet long and constructed of sandstone. It is an "S-shaped" bridge that spans three arches.

   Plans call for the structure and the area surrounding it to be renovated as a park and tourist area, and there are no plans for the bridge to be once again accessible to vehicle traffic.  The cost to do all necessary work at the site has been estimated at $1.6 million.

  Nichola Moretti of the Ohio Bicentennial Committee told the crowd that when planning this year's bicentennial events in Belmont County there were two people she always looked to - Douglass and Belmont County Tourism Director Eugene "Doc" Householder.

  Belmont County commissioners Ryan E. "Rick" Olexo and Mark Thomas presented Douglass with a proclamation proclaiming July 9, 2003 "Blaine Bridge Day" in Belmont County.

  Ohio Rep. Charles Wilson, D-St. Clairsville, also commended Douglass' efforts to save and commemorate the Blaine Bridge.

  "It was a diamond never polished or shined until (Douglass) took up the cause," he said.

  Householder said he and his tourism council now are anxiously awaiting the completion of the bridge renovation and its redevelopment as a park area.

  "We're just standing by and waiting," he said. "You finish it, and we'll bring the people."

  The unveiling of the historical marker was done by three generations of the Kitzmiller family, who have lived on the property neighboring the bridge for 38 years.

  Oliver Kitzmiller said he was not overly concerned about the area becoming a tourist destination.

  "We've put up with it (people and traffic) before," he said.

 

 

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