Mural is a permanent memorial to Silver Bridge tragedy of 1967
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) —
On Saturday the Town of Point Pleasant pauses to remember a devastating tragedy. On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge fell into the Ohio River, killing 46 people. A flood wall mural is now a permanent memorial to commemorate the tragedy.
"It would be great to make a first person point of view of what was once there," said Jesse Corlis, the artist who painted the mural, showing what was once where the Silver Bridge crossed the Ohio River. On December 15, 1967 the bridge collapsed into the Ohio River, killing 46 people and impacting many for for years to come. Having painted dozens of murals, Corlis says he knew the magnitude of this job.
"I took it as an honor. It wasn't this opportunity to do something I love and it wasn't for me. It was for the city, the families and the region," said Corlis.
Starting June 1st, Corlis worked 200 hours throughout the summer painting the mural on the flood wall. He finished September 11th.
"I kind of wanted to celebrate the life of the bridge itself and what it meant to the community. I wanted to capture a somber aspect to it but also a warm feeling," said Corlis.
The painting is full of symbolism. The 1928 vehicle represents the year the bridge opened and the 1967 vehicle represents the year the bridge fell. 46 geese flying over the Ohio River represent the 46 lives lost.
"History is what it is. You have to preserve it, and this is part of this town's history," said Jack Fowler, Executive Director of the Point Pleasant River Museum.
He says the mural is a memorial to that tragic day, but he realizes it may also be a grim reminder as well.
"The time will come when there are no survivors or no relatives here, and this will still be here to remind this community and this area what happened here," said Fowler.
Even if you didn't know the history of the bridge, I hope that it triggers some emotion," said Corlis
The mural will be officially dedicated in a ceremony Saturday, December 15th, the 51st anniversary of the tragedy at 5:30 at the mural location.