Philippi Covered Bridge Centennial

Clarksburg Exponent
August 29, 1952

Cedric Foster, Rep. Harley Staggers deliver addresses As Bridge Centennial Opens

More Than One Thousand Persons Register First Day; Larger Crowds Expected

PHILIPPI, Aug. 28. - More than a thousand persons registered today at the Covered Bridge Centennial, which is expected to draw a larger crowd Friday and Saturday as more events get underway. Churches served both noon and evening meals to take care of the overflow crowd from restaurants.

A concert by the Philippi High School band under the direction of Hunter Ellis preceded the official opening of the Centennial at 2:45 this afternoon at the enlarged bandstand on the court house square where benches had been put up for the convenience of those attending the program. Dr. Richard E. Shearer, president of Alderson-Broaddus college, extended the welcome and presented Dr. Floyd T. Holden, President of the Barbour County Historical Society, which is sponsoring the three-day celebration. Dr. Holden spoke briefly.

Mayor O. J. Woodford, a retired teacher in the Barbour County schools, addressed Centennial visitors and welcomed them to the celebration before presenting to Dr. Holden a large key made from the timber of the covered bridge.

The Centennial was declared officially opened by Dr. Holden as he accepted the key.

Dr. Shearer introduced Harley O. Staggers of Keyser, Congressman from the Second Congressional District, and one of the major speakers of the day. The Congressman commended Dr. Elmer E. Myers, general chairman of the Centennial and resident of the community for the careful planning of the Centennial observance. He also lauded the mountain people for their loyalty to the state and nation and said that the county historical society should be highly praised for bringing to the attention of the state and nation the building of the covered bridge one hundred years ago.

Congressman Staggers reviewed the progress made in transportation from hand-hewn canoes to air flight faster than sound. He said that while progress had been made in all fields it was necessary to go back in history to pay tribute to the early builders and to the Almighty who gave the vision and power for the accomplishments through the years as anything people do depends upon God. He remarked that he wondered if the lives of those present could stand the test of time as the covered bridge had stood the ravages of the years.

Congressman Staggers urged participation in com[m]unity activity and said that if we do that the world will take care of itself. Christian people who marry and rear families of Christian children probably have fulfilled their highest destiny. The W. Va. lawmaker called attention to communism which he asserted is creeping into one of the things closest to all Americans, our religious life. His statement that he is proud to live in a nation where people are free to worship as they please brought the only ovation during his address. He told the audience that if the nation falls, it will be from within rather than from without and referred to Abraham Lincoln who said that if the nation is divided, it will fall. Congressman Staggers said that those things of historical value must be saved and closed his address with the poem, "Myself," which he always uses to conclude an address in W. Va.

Cedric Foster of Boston, Mass., news analyst and newspaperman, was also introduced by Dr. Shearer and received a warm welcome from the audience. The international speaker told Barbour countians and their guests that he had a warm spot in his heart for covered bridges because they reminded him of the twin covered bridge over the Sandusky River near Middlesex in his native state of Vermont.

Foster delivered a stirring appeal for education relative to the present world condition and said that in all of his traveling during the past few years that he had found that the secret of victory over the Axis powers could be summed up on one word "unity". He told of seeing hundreds of thousands of children marching and clapping their hands over their heads for hours at a time in Germany as they followed the indoctrination of Russia which could be summed up as a "dying hatred of you here in Philippi and all you cherish."

The speaker said he had seen similar evidences of hatred in many places, including communist China, and that the American people were the most independent in the world but can not appreciate it until they see it denied so many in other countries. While he hoped his listeners agreed with him, he said that they did not have to because they lived in a God-given country where disagreement is possible. He described the utter devotion to a cause and the willingness to die as evidenced by communists and their followers in many places throughout the world and warned that Americans must not for one moment underestimate the fanatical movement of communists throughout the world, with Russia trying to establish would communism and dictatorship.

The only means of combating the evil, said Foster, is to first educate ourselves and he said that he was speaking particularly to young people and upon whom will rest the responsibility to hand on to future generation that which the present generation has tried to pass on to them. He urged that they learn what is going on in the world today, to make a determined study as to why people do things as they do and not to depend entirely upon their teachers for the information. There is a reason for all movement and Foster said youth must find out the motives and recognize that before they can be effective. Foster challenged them to believe him and said if they did not now, they day will come when they do.

The news commentator said there are many things worth support - not living in a land where you cannot open your mouth, cannot worship God as you wish, where every day's actions are regulated, and where the state is good. He asked if it were not possible somewhere to find a wellspring, or touch the cord, that motivated those who built the bridge and to rise in determination and crystalize in our hearts those motives. He said that we have everything in the country that no other nation possesses, clothes, food, shelter, automobiles, and modern conveniences, everything a beneficient [sic] God ever gave a free people, but warned that we may have to fight again to perpetuate it and hand it on to coming generations. Foster said he loved W. Va., has visited the state many times and knew it well, that he loved it just as he loved the U. S. and that he did not want to see it destroyed. In thanking the speaker, Dr. Shearer said that those who heard Foster "would not take his words lightly."

The first presentation of the centennial pageant "The Monarch of the Tygart" was held Thursday night in the new amphitheater on the campus of Alderson-Broaddus College and depicted the building and 100 year history of the bridge. Dr. Patrick W. Gainer of W. Va. University presented a program of Barbour County folk music Thursday evening in the Philippi High school auditorium. Both the pageant and the folk music program will be repeated Friday and Saturday evening.

The Philippi High School band will give another concert at 2 p.m. Friday at the bandstand. Adonis Hunt of Belington will preside during the afternoon program. At 3 p. m. Col. R. B. White of Baltimore, Md., will deliver an address. He is president of the B. and O. Railroad Co. and will be introduced by a former resident of Philippi, Harry H. Byrer, Martinsburg attorney. At 3:45 p. m. Cedric Foster will again deliver an address. The covered bridge is closed from 5 to 6 p. m. daily to vehicular traffic and visitors may want to inspect the construction.

Leo Lipwian of Arlington, Mass., president of the Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges in America will be the principal speaker at a luncheon meetings [sic] as 12:30 p. m. Friday in the college dining hall.