New Walking Trail Atop The Great Stone Viaduct
Set to Open this Fall in Bellaire, Ohio
Few structures in Belmont County are as iconic as the Great Stone Viaduct!
For over 150 years, the towering stone arches have greeted visitors to Bellaire. They are a lasting reminder of the area’s importance in transportation, industry, and innovation. On June 21, 1871, the first train traveled over the 43-stone arch bridge connecting Bellaire, Ohio, and Benwood, West Virginia. It was part of the country’s longest railroad system. Parts of it are still in use today.
Reminiscent of a Roman aqueduct, each arch consists of 37 ring stones, representing the 37 states of the union at the time of the viaduct’s construction in 1870. Around 1900, the steel portion, made famous in the Denzel Washington movie, Unstoppable, was added to carry southbound traffic. These bridges intersect at 31st Street in Bellaire.
In 1996, owner CSX Railroad abandoned a 20-arch portion of the stone viaduct structure but retained the balance, which is still in use today. Twenty-two of the arches and the surrounding six acres in Bellaire are owned by The Great Stone Viaduct Historical Education Society, which acquired the site from CSX Transportation. Clean-up of the property and restoration of the stone began in 2016.
Soon, that portion will be opened to the public as a new plaza, walking trail, and overlook. In cooperation with the Belmont County Port Authority, the Society was awarded $2 million in Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding to construct the walking trail/bicycle path from 26th Street to an observation platform and turnaround on the Viaduct at Guernsey Street. The trail will provide access over the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line along a quarter-mile approach to the Viaduct at Hamilton Street, where the trail will continue atop the historic stone arch bridge. The stonework was done by a local company, Angelina Stone and Marble. Additional plans include the development of a four-acre park on the northern end of the society’s property from the viaduct to 26th street.
Plan your day trip or overnight stay in Bellaire and friendly, beautiful Belmont County.