Moundsville Daily Echo
February 7, 1941
Moundsville's farewell to trolley cars last night, was a sentimental success.
It was also a tremendous social success. Almost two hundred people, men and women took the final ride and joined in the party at the carbarn.
It was very fitting that on that last car, were three people who rode the first car into Moundsville half-a-century ago.
Altho it has been a long time, yet the three men who rode the first and last cars, are all still active. Clarence Burch is superintendent and does a man's work every day at the city incinerator; James A. Sigafoose walks a great deal and conducts business; and Jess Marple is as active a transportation superintendent as anyone ever heard of.
And in the narrows, J. D. Marple, conductor of the first car who collected the first fare over the Narrows, collected the last fare from A. G. Bonar, and took over the controller once again briefly.
It fell to the lot of Edward Schnell and W. W. Dunlap to be regular motormen of the last cars. And the first bus (not county the 4-a-day that have been running five years), was driven by W. F. Eberling of Martins Ferry.
If a street car has a soul - if it is capable of any feeling at all - it could not help but feel that the farewell accorded the electric system by the people of Moundsville in the small hours this morning was a fitting climax - a stirring curtain scene - for a lengthy career of unusual service to the community.
It was a hilarious crowd that jammed two street cars and a score or more automobiles to make the "graveyard run." With whistle tooting, gong clanging, redfire flaring on all sides and the strains of "Auld Lang Syne" drowning out the groaning of the wheels, the two cars left the city with a trail of atomobiles behind like some glowing comet moving for the last time across the sky on its way to eternity. The last bona fide fare on the expiring line was probably paid by a bewildered-looking miner who, lunch pail in hand, plowed his way through the densely-packed aisles as the last car ended its southern run and prepared for the return trip.
It was A. G. Bonar, however, who was accorded the attention for dropping the final coin in the box. As photographers bulbs flashed, Bonar posed with his hand in the farebox and Jess Marple at the controls. Bonar managed to squeeeze out by a nose Delf Norona Sr., circuit court reporter, who slipped a nickel in the box just before the last fare ceremony took place.
The ride preceding the gala celebration at the car barn was a swift one, without a stop between Moundsville and a point near the southern end of the narrows. It was there that Marple took over the controls to, as he put it, "take the car over the narrows" in spite of outcries from passengers who would have preferred him to say "through the narrows" rather than "over."
There was a short stop in the narrows when Marple took over, while photographers took advantage of the opportunity to take more pictures. A good deal of good natured horseplay occurred within the car all the way along, with various groups singing different songs at the same time adding immeasurably to the confusion.
Fumes from the blazing fireworks filled the car to add to clouds of tobacco smoke that gave a general hazy tinge to the atmosphere.
Startled faces appeared at several darkened windows as the cars roared past, presenting a doubt[l]ess amazing spectacle.
The route was patrolled at the request of officials, against the possibility of some unbalanced person getting the idea of a spectacular wreck to climax it.
And constant vigilance was maintained overnight, and this morning workmen started to take down trolley wire, because of danger of theft. Immediately after the Steubenville line was abandoned, someone stole an entire miles of the [t]rolley wire, while still charge at 500 vo[l]ts. The company is not going to let that happen again.
And so it was that the trolley was resigned to the limbo of outmoded things. The warmth of the sendoff will long be remembered by those who took part, but only the tracks and trolley wire remained today as visible reminders of the era of the street car in Moundsville - and even they may soon be gone.
Gathered to bid farewell to the street car so long a familiar part of the daily scene in Moundsville, some 200 persons last night found that no goodbye could be said without paying stirring tribute to one whose life has been inextricably tied up with the operation of the street car line for over 40 years.
And so it was that the party that roared hilarously through the night on the last car ended by joining in a ringing tribute to Jess D. Marple, division uperintendent of the Co-Operative Traction company and outstanding citizen of Marshall county.
President H. B. McCune of the Transit company opened the program, observed that the Kiwanis club has reversed the custom of "saying nasty things about a man, and then buying him flowers when he dies", presented a bouquet of roses to Mrs. Marple "as a token from fellow-employees", and introduced President Roy Craig of Kiwanis, who introduced A. G. Boar as master of ceremonies. Harry Jones led singing, Rev. E. M. Flanigan asked an invocation.
Mr. Bonar conducted an informal program of tributes and reminiscences, and general good-feeling.
Mr. Marple was called upon, and said: "Brother Giff and the rest of my dear friends: Nobody knows how I appreciate it. I didn't have any idea the Kiwanians were going to put on anything like this.
"I had charge of the first car over the Moundsville Narrows. That was in August of 1896. We were ready to open in July and then came that awful cloudburst that washed our track out. It took the abutments out of the B. & O. bridge at Little Grave creek.
"Mr. Howard Hazlett of Wheeling, deceased, paid the first fare. Mr. Echols of Moundsville, deceased, paid the second fare. His son still lives in Moundsville.
"We got the first car into Moundsville in October. We had two or three passengers. Everett Koontz has a ticket in his pocket now that I sold him about that time. It shows he paid 25c to ride between Moundsville and Moundsville and Benwood. James Sigafoose got on the car at Tomlinson's and paid his fare."
(Note - Clarence Burch says he got on at Seventh street and rode down to Twelfth street).
"My object has been to make friends, and when I go to Moundsville or Glendale, I feel at home. I have been a member of your Kiwanis club 18 or 19 years, and been president. I feel tonight that I'm just as young as when I ran the first car. I've had my picture taken 400 times ..."
Dr. Robert A. Ashworth congratulated Mr. Marple, and spoke of his fine attributes, "big in heart and in soul", especially as a citizen. He cited his generosity in contributing to causes, and presented him with a past president's button.
Mr. Bonar mentioned Mr. Marple's endeavors in getting the Spurr memorial gate.
John Carrigan presented Mrs. Marple a bouquet from the club, "in appreciation of letting Jess come down with us Tuesday evenings."
Mayor W. W. Wilson of Moundsville told of association with Marple. "He has been my boss in times past...good to his employees...I congratulate officials of the Cooperative Transit...I hope citizens will be unselfish so we can extend this service to the most people in the city of Moundsville."
W. L. Mengert said that "Mr. Marple stands in the most iminent relation to the Moundsville press," citing how his company brings down carbon copies from Wheeling for the newspaper.
J. L. Maxwell for the county court, said, "I believe in throwing roses at people while they're still here."
W. F. Burgess brought his felicitations and comments about progress.
Vice-President R. T. Carnes of the company, said, "This man has been my advisor in public transportation for 20 years, and he has never steered me wrong once. Next to my dad, he rates." He told how excited Mr. Marple had been all that day, and then challenged his business acumen by asking how come Mr. Koontz still has that ticket: "I hope that you and I will continue to give the people of Moundsville the service they deserve."
The group sang Mr. Marple's favorite song - and it was most fitting - "When You and I Were Young, Maggie." A fiddle was discovered hidden back of the platform, and Senator Burgess played it.
The the group was treated to refreshments by the company, and then to a ride back home in the new busses, getting home about 3 to 3:30 a. m.