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Silver Bridge Wreckage

This Week in West Virginia History: Dec. 11-17

Charleston WV – The following events happened on these dates in West Virginia history. To read more, go to e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia at www.wvencyclopedia.org.

Dec. 11, 1905: ‘Pare’’ Lorentz, known as “FDR’s filmmaker,” was born in Clarksburg. In 1933, Lorentz created The Roosevelt Year: 1933, a pictorial review of FDR’s first year in the White House.

Dec. 12, 1931: Attorney George Daugherty, better known as the comic singer and songwriter “The Earl of Elkview,” was born upstairs over a Mannington silent movie house.

Dec. 12, 1942: Internationally known jazz pianist and recording artist Bob Thompson was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York. He studied music at West Virginia State College (now University) and is the house pianist on the Mountain Stage radio program.

Dec. 13, 1861: The Battle of Allegheny Mountain, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War’s first year, took place in Pocahontas County. 

Dec. 13, 1926: Wheeling radio station WWVA-AM began broadcasting. The 50-watt station operated from the basement of John Stroebel’s house for most of its first year. Stroebel was a physics teacher and wireless pioneer.

Dec. 14, 1857: Coal operator Justus Collins was born. He owned coal mines at Glen Jean and Whipple, and the octagonal Whipple company store survives today as a local landmark.

Dec. 15, 1967: The Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant collapsed, killing 46 people. The Silver Bridge was built by the American Bridge Company of Pittsburgh and opened to traffic on May 19, 1928. The accident led to the passage of legislation for a national bridge inspection and safety program.

Dec. 15, 1972: An explosion at a Weirton Steel coke plant on Browns Island killed 19 men and injured 10 others. It was the worst industrial accident in Weirton’s history.

Dec. 16, 1893: Alexander Martin died at the age of 71 in Greencastle, Indiana. Martin was the first president of the Agricultural College of West Virginia, which was renamed West Virginia University at his recommendation in 1868.

Dec. 17, 1957: The J. L. Stifel & Sons calico plant at Wheeling closed. For most of its history Stifel & Sons produced indigo-dyed prints and drills for clothing manufacturers. At its peak, the plant produced 3.5 million yards of cloth per month.

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council.  For more information, contact the West Virginia Humanities Council, 1310 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25301; (304) 346-8500; or visit e-WV at www.wvencyclopedia.org.

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