Philippi Covered Bridge Centennial

Clarksburg Exponent
August 30, 1952

Three-Day Bridge Centennial To Conclude Today in Philippi

PHILIPPI, Aug. 29 - A much larger number of people turned out today for the second day activities during the Covered Bridge Centennial which will end following the centennial pageant and a folk music program Saturday night. The chartered buses made several trips, including transportation of visitors to the oldest and largest apple tree in the world, the Compass Coal company, Pruntytown, Grafton and Beverly where guides pointed out historic places of interest. The tours will continue again Saturday.

The Philippi high school band, under the direction of Hunter Ellis, presented a concert at 2 o'clock on the bandstand on the court house square and Adonis Hunt, of Belington, presided during the afternoon program. Hunt spoke briefly before introducing a former prosecuting attorney of Barbour county, Harry H. Byrer, of Martinsburg. Byrer, member of the legal staff of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad company, said he had a keen recollection of the first train that arrived in Philippi, January 31, 1884, and the ceremonies of that day when the noon meal was served through the windows of the circuit and county clerks' offices to those in town for the event. He also spoke of attending the fiftieth anniversary of the first land battle of the Civil War and expressed pleasure over attending the most important of all observances, the centennial of the building of the covered bridge.

At the time the bridge was built here in 1852, Byrer said the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was insignificant with less than 500 mileage. A century later, he reported, mileage totals more than 6,500 in eleven states and the railroad firm employes 60,000 people. He commented on the development of the railroad and said that there had been greaeer [sic] accomplishments in the same length of time than under the guidance of Col. Roy Barton White, president, who was selected by the national government to direct the railroads when they were taken over by the government during the emergency.

"No country, state, county or city is ever stronger or better than its transportation," Colonel White declared in one of the principal addresses of the second day's activities.

Colonel White pointed to the part that the Baltimore and Ohio and other railroads have placed in [line unreadable] sources of West Virginia.

"What the B & O has done here in the last decade," he said "is a prime illustration of the importance for the economic development of the country. The vast resources of mine and field have little or no value without transporotion [sic]. Good, dependable, economical transportation makes it possible to develop them and move them to the market. There is no more of anything available for our use than can be profitably transported to market."

Colonel White pointed out that a total investment of $26,000,000 has been poured into the development of the great Gauley coal field in the Richwood area by the railroad and coal companies and power producers. Another $5,000,000 improvement has been required for the development of the Elk Creek field, over Overfield, W. Va., he said.

"The people of Philippi and Barbour County are to be congratulated upon having preserved this bridge as part of their heritage," he said.

Noting the important role that bridges have played in the advance of civilization, Colonel White pointed out that there are on the B & O system 5,679 railroad bridges, the construction and maintenance of which requires tremendous outlays of money.

Excepting the pipelines, he declared, the railroads are the only form of transpor[t]ation which pays all of its costs. "Carriers of the inland waterways, of the highways and of the airlines are heavily subsidized by the taxpayers," he said. "The railroads are one of the nation's largest taxpayers and few people regard it fair for them to pay taxes which are spent in part for the development and maintenance of facilities to be used by their competitors . . . .

"The railroads only ask to be given equality of opportunity. They do not want subsidies. They want all forms of transportation to support themselves. If this is done, the railroads will continue to serve this country and its people as they are now doing - with the cheapest and most efficient mass transportation on earth."

Hunt expressed appreciation to both Mr. Byrer and Col. White before introducing Cedric Foster, internationally known news commentator, who addressed the Centennial visitors for a second time. Foster heaped praise upon those responsible for the pageant "The Monarch of the Tygart" which he witnessed Thursday night and saw unfolded in brilliant display history of the last 100 years.

The speaker again lauded West Virginia and said that he had been in every state and the scenic beauty and relaxation of West Virginia is second to none, that the people are gracious, kind and hospitable, not like those he has seen in many other countries. His remarks drew loud applause.

The scene of Cedric Foster's address was much the same as that used during his Thursday appearance, and he was heard by several hundred more people. He impressed upon his audience that it was not a dream by a reality that there are people pledged to destroy the nation and there is definite evidence of Communist aggression, repeating their aim to overthrow all democratic governments. He said he could not tell why there is Communism in the world but that he knows it is a fanatical creed.

In commenting upon aid from the U. S. government to European nations, Foster avowed that any man who says such aid should not have been extended to Europe is either a raving maniac or just does not know what he is talking about. He asserted that without such aid this nation would now be a totalitarian state.

"What is security?" he asked, saying that West Virginians think they are secure but when jet planes can cover would distances so quickly, there is no safety except through faith in God and the strength of a good right arm. He said that it is time Americans realized the full impact as it has been proven in every war. He quoted from Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech that "gentlemen talk of peace but there is no peace" and that we face the same problems in the world today.

Foster made a stirring appeal for spiritual unity, not meaning that everyone belong to the same church denomination but that they stand united in Christianity. He reminded his listeners that several years ago he said the time would come when Christian leaders would be liquidated and that has happened in many foreign countries. He told the Centennial visitors that Communists are not interested in what church free peoples belong to, only that they are men and women of God. Every Communist is an athiest [sic], said Foster, so they have no principals to follow.

He again told those within hearing over the loud speaker system that this nation can be destroyed from within as no power on earth can destroy it from without. He spoke frankly in telling the people that they do the work of the Soviets when they unwittingly set Protestants against Catholics.

In closing his fine address, Foster said that people of God must stand together against the Godless creed pledged to destroy free nations. The chips are down, said the world traveler, as they never were in world war I and II - it is a war for control of mind and insiduous [sic] things for which we [line unreadable]

Hunt thanks the speaker and introduced several decendents [sic] of Lemuel Chenoweth, builder of the bridge. Also introduced and speaking briefly were Mrs. Ludie Johnson, of Philippi, a passenger in the first train into Philippi in 1884; Dr. Patrick W. Gainer, of the W. Va. University faculty and who is giving a program of Barbour folk music each evening at 8:15 p.m. in the Philippi auditorium; and Armand N. Spitz, president of the Spitz Laboratories, Inc., of Philadelphia, Pa., and inventor of the Spitz Planetarium which he is demonstrating daily at Alderson-Broaddus College to show the sky as it appeared over Philippi at the time the covered bridge was completed a century ago.

A number of tours are planned for Saturday morning. Prof. G. Wayne Smith of Morgantown, regional vice-president of the W. Va. Historical Society, will preside at a luncheon meeting of societies in the Second Congressional district at 12:30 p.m. in the dining room of Alderson- Broaddus College. W. Merle Watkins, of Grafton, judge of the 19th Judicial Circuit, will preside at the afternoon program at 3 p.m. at the bandstand on the courthouse square. Gen. James A. Anderson of Richmond, a Commissioner of Highways for the state of Virginia will be a featured speaker. He will be introduced by Dr. R. P. Davis, dean of the College of Engineering at W. Va. University.

The final address of the Centennial will be delivered by Dr. Charles H. Ambler, professor emeritus, W. Va. University. The bridge will again be closed from five to six p.m. so visitors may walk through and inspect the construction. The Centennial will close following the folk music program at the high school and the final presentation of the Centennial pageant at 8:15 pm. at the college amphitheater.