10 am: 62°FSunny

12 pm: 68°FSunny

2 pm: 72°FSunny

4 pm: 74°FSunny

More Weather

Tri-State history through the decades

Jan. 15, 2009 @ 10:08 AM

It has taken The Herald-Dispatch 100 years to document the history of the Tri-State (that’s 36,525 days of newspapers).

What follows below is a brief look at some of the Tri-State’s history through the decades.

The first edition of The Herald-Dispatch is published in Huntington on Jan. 17, 1909.

1910s

The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1910 was 92,228,496 and 31,161, respectively.

In 1911, the small community known as Guyandotte became part of Huntington.

During her maiden voyage, the RMS Titanic, an Olympic-class passenger liner, sank on April 14, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean. At the time, she was the largest passenger steamship in the world. More than 1,500 people died, making it one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

On Sept. 11, 1913, Ritter Park officially opened in Huntington. The park was named after C.L. Ritter, who donated 20 acres to help in the creation of the city park.

World War I is fought in Europe from 1914-1918.

On Jan. 25, 1915, Alexander Graham Bell sent the first transcontinental telephone call, at 15 Day St. in New York City, and it was received by Thomas Watson at 333 Grant Ave. in San Francisco.

In 1917, a successful fund-raising campaign enabled King’s Daughters’ Hospital (now King’s Daughters Medical Center) to settle into a building on Lexington Avenue. The hospital was formed in 1899 and had moved four times. Although the original building is gone, the current building remains at this location.

The armistice treaty between the Allies and Germany was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, and marked the end of WWI on the Western Front.

1920s


The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1920 was 106,021,537 and 50,177, respectively.

During the fall of 1920, Canada-based International Nickel Co. (INCO, now Special Metals) bought the old 76-acre Everett farm that lay along a sharp bend in the Guyandotte River south of Guyandotte. A $3.5 million refinery and rolling mill for the production of metal products from nickel and nickel-based alloys was built.

The Ironton-Russell Bridge opened in 1922, the first highway bridge over the Ohio River between Wheeling and Cincinnati.

On Nov. 6, 1924, the Sisters of the Pallottine Missionary Society opened a small, 35-bed hospital called St. Mary’s Hospital. Early on, the missionaries did everything from nursing the sick and injured to cooking, washing and cleaning. They even grew their own fruits and vegetables.

In 1926, the 6th Street Bridge opened, which would finally allow easy automobile passage from Huntington to Chesapeake, Ohio. The bridge, which was later demolished, rebuilt and renamed the Robert C. Byrd Bridge, was Huntington’s first bridge across the Ohio River.

Huntington also saw the opening of the second largest theater in the United States on May 7, 1928, when the Keith-Albee Theatre was opened on 4th Avenue. The theater was constructed by the renowned architect Thomas W. Lamb. The theater was named the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in 2006.

Also in May 1928 was the Silver Bridge dedication ceremony near Point Pleasant. The celebration was conducted on the Ohio side of the span, where there was more room. Loudspeakers carried the program to the West Virginia side of the river, where another crowd gathered in downtown Point Pleasant.

The market crash of late October 1929 ushered in the Great Depression, a 12-year period marked with unemployment, bank closings, factory shutdowns and farm and home mortgage foreclosures. By 1932, unemployment had risen to 25 percent, leaving almost 15 million Americans out of work.

1930s


The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1930 was 122,775,046 and 75,572, respectively.

On May 20, 1932, Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

On Jan. 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was sworn in as chancellor of Germany.

After defeating Herbert Hoover, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched the New Deal on March 9, 1933, to last during his first 100 days in office. He includes dozens of federal jobs programs to get people back to work.

In 1934, the Ohio Legislature approved a bill authorizing the federal government to acquire land for the Wayne National Forest.

American towns were devastated in 1937 with some of the worst flooding in U.S. history. After heavy rains pounded the Tri-State for most of December 1936 and January 1937, the Ohio River crested in Huntington at 69.45 feet on Jan. 27. Flood stage is 50 feet. When the water subsided five days later, more than $17 million in damages had occurred and five people had died. More than 25,000 people were affected by the flood locally with more than 11,000 asking for Red Cross assistance.

In 1937, the Gallipolis Locks and Dam, now known as the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam, was finished.

In 1937, when Marshall College (now University) celebrated its 100th anniversary, the late Curtis Baxter, a professor of English, conceived the idea of a series of cultural events to mark the event. The first of these was an appearance by Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the famed explorer. The year also saw presentations by Eleanor Roosevelt and actress and author Cornelia Otis Skinner. The programs were a great success, and everyone agreed they should continue. Thus was born the Marshall Artists Series, which today continues to bring cultural attractions to Huntington.

After Germany annexed Austria in 1938 and began to occupy Czechoslovakia in March of 1939, Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. World War II started on Sept. 3, 1939, when England and France declared war on Germany.

1940s

The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1940 was 132,164,569 and 78,836, respectively.

As fighting continued overseas, the United States remained nearly unaffected by the war in Europe until the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii. More than 2,400 American military personnel were killed and another 1,200 were wounded in the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks from the air.

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared before Congress asking for a declaration of war against Japan. During the speech, Roosevelt called the previous day “...a date which will live in infamy.”

Following the 1937 Flood, Huntington began working on a floodwall to protect the city from the future rising tides of the Ohio River. The floodwall, earthen levee and pump stations were built by the Corps of Engineers during the five years that followed the 1937 flood. The project was completed in 1943.

Military forces from Canada, Free French Forces, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in the Invasion of Normandy initial landings on June 6, 1944. The massive invasion was the establishment of Allied forces in Normandy, France, during Operation Overlord in World War II.

FDR died April 12, 1945. Less than a month later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide, shooting himself on April 30, 1945.

Victory in Europe Day was declared on May 7 and May 8, 1945, when the WWII Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Though fighting stopped on the European front, the Japanese did not surrender until Aug. 14, 1945, less than 10 days after the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. By the end of 1945, the bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki.

Flying in the experimental X-1 airplane at Mach 1, West Virginia native Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on Oct. 14, 1947, at an altitude of 45,000 feet. Yeager was later promoted to the rank of major general in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

WSAZ became the area’s first television station in 1949.

1950s

The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1950 was 150,520,798 and 86,353, respectively.

On Nov. 26, 1952, a ward building at Huntington State Hospital, now Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital, caught fire, killing 17 people.

The opening of Tri-State Airport, located on a hilltop off Interstate 64 west of Huntington, returned regularly scheduled air service to the Huntington area in 1952 after a seven-year lapse (in 1945, American Airlines had stopped serving the Chesapeake, Ohio, airport, now called the Lawrence County Airpark.). The airport was dedicated Nov. 2, 1952, with its first official landing made at 11 a.m. by Piedmont Airlines, followed by an Eastern Airlines flight at 11:30 a.m.

The doors of the Huntington Galleries, now the Huntington Museum of Art, opened to the public Nov. 9, 1952.

A cease-fire, established on July 27, 1953, ended the Korean War. The front line was around the proximity of the 38th parallel, and so a demilitarized zone was established around it, defended by North Korean troops on one side and by South Korean, American and United Nations troops on the other.

Ground was broken for Cabell Huntington Hospital on Oct. 19, 1953, and the hospital saw its first patients Jan. 7, 1956. At the time of its opening, the hospital had 89 beds and 169 employees.

The May 17, 1954, the decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. It overturned earlier rulings by declaring that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities.

In 1954, a small group of Franciscan Sisters of the Poor worked to make the dream of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital a reality. OLBH opened its doors with 92 patient beds and 40 bassinets.

In 1957, construction of West Virginia’s interstate highways started with Interstate 64 in Cabell County. The state’s share of the interstate system was completed in 1988, and the cost totaled nearly $3 billion.

Explorer 1 became America’s first satellite on Jan. 31, 1958. Following the Soviet success with Sputnik and the failure in December 1957 of the first American attempt to launch a satellite, the U.S. Army launched a scientific satellite using a rocket that had been developed to test guided missile components.

1960s

The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1960 was 179,323,175 and 83,627, respectively.

While on the campaign trail for the presidency, John F. Kennedy campaigned by train in Huntington and visits Jim’s Spaghetti House on 5th Avenue on May 6, 1960.

Sit-ins at the White Pantry, a downtown Huntington coffee shop that refused to serve African-Americans during the early 1960s, included students seated at tables and refusing to order anything.

In 1961, the state legislature designated Marshall College a university and renamed it Marshall University. On March 2, 1961, Gov. William Wallace Barron signed the legislation at the university.

After four years of construction, the Greenup Locks and Dam pool was raised to full height on June 4, 1962. Located on the Ohio River, about five miles below Greenup, Ky., the facilities serves the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers.

More than 44 young women came to Huntington to compete in the 12th annual Miss USA Beauty Pageant in September 1962. After the success of the first pageant, the Miss USA Pageant was held again in Huntington in August 1963 and August 1964.

After gathering information on flooding along Twelvepole Creek in Wayne County for nearly 30 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was authorized to build two flood-control dams in 1962. The two projects created two of the area’s most popular recreation areas more than a decade later — East Lynn and Beech Fork lakes.

During a political trip to Dallas, Texas, JFK was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. He was shot twice in the neck and head. Lee Harvey Oswald, the principal suspect, was arrested later that day. Oswald, who denied shooting anyone, was killed by Jack Ruby on Nov. 24, 1963, before he could be indicted or tried.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which passed on July 2, 1964, was a landmark piece of legislation that outlawed racial segregation in schools, public places and employment. Conceived to help African Americans, the bill was amended to also protect women.

In 1967, the West 17th Street Bridge was built, connecting West Huntington with Lawrence County, Ohio.

On Dec. 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge, which connected Point Pleasant, W.Va., and Gallipolis, Ohio, collapsed while filled with rush hour traffic. The collapse killed 46 people. Investigation of the wreckage pinpointed the failure of a single eye-bar in a suspension chain as the cause of the collapse. The small defect was only 0.1 inch deep.

While standing on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., the Rev. Martin Luther King was shot and killed April 4, 1968. Two months after King’s death, escaped convict James Earl Ray was captured and eventually pleaded guilty to the assassination, receiving a 99-year prison term.

On June 5, 1968, New York Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated in a ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after addressing his supporters. Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, opened fire with a .22 caliber revolver and shot Kennedy in the head at close range. Kennedy was pronounced dead June 6, 1968.

On July 20, 1969, Commander Neil Alden Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. of the Apollo 11 mission were the first humans ever to walk on the moon. Launched on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the moon and the third human voyage to the moon.

In 1969, the Mid-American Conference suspended Marshall from the conference indefinitely, and the NCAA placed it on one year’s probation after 144 alleged football recruiting violations were revealed.

1970s

The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1970 was 203,302,031 and 74,315, respectively.

On Nov. 14, 1970, Southern Airways Flight 932 crashed on approach to Tri-State Airport, killing all 75 people aboard. The passengers were Thundering Herd football team members, coaches and fans who had flown to Kinston, N.C., for a game against the East Carolina University Pirates.

Amtrak, a government-owned corporation, began May 1, 1971. It was created by Congress in 1970 to take over the passenger rail services previously required to be operated by private freight railroad companies in the United States. Those companies reported they had operated the services without profit for a decade or more.

On June 20, 1971, a fire at the Chemetron Corp. plant (now owned by BASF Corp.) killed a Huntington firefighter.

Jack Lengyel was named the new head coach to lead the “Young Thundering Herd,” made up of mostly freshman, into the 1971 season. While performing poorly throughout the season, the team achieved a 15-13 emotional victory against Xavier University in the home opener on Sept. 25, 1971.

On Feb. 26, 1972, a Logan County coal waste dam failed, unleashing 132 million gallons of water on the 5,000 hapless residents below. The Buffalo Creek Disaster killed 125 people, injured 1,000 and caused millions of dollars in damage. The landscapes of Saunders and Pardee were wiped clean. Eighty percent of the folks in the hollow became homeless in a matter of minutes.

On Oct. 26 1972, President Richard Nixon visited Paul G. Blazer High School in Ashland while campaigning for his second term.

On Jan. 15, 1973, Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action against North Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords on “Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” were signed Jan. 27, 1973, officially ending direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. A cease-fire was declared across North and South Vietnam.

As a result of the uncovering of the Watergate scandals while serving as president, Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974. The Watergate scandals included the president’s involvement or cover-up in a number of acts, including campaign fraud, political espionage and sabotage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits and illegal wiretapping.

Heritage Village opened on Sept. 2, 1977, after the community and local governments joined forces with the Cabell-Wayne Historical Society and the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society to establish a downtown shopping-dining-entertainment complex anchored by several historic structures.

It took 20 years to get it built, but on Sept. 14, 1977, the Huntington Civic Center (now the Big Sandy Superstore Arena) was opened to the public. The first show was Heart. Rock ‘n’ roll king Elvis Presley was booked for three shows Sept. 20-22, 1977, but he died on Aug. 16, 1977, before that could happen.

In 1978, Harris Riverfront Park was dedicated in hopes of helping area residents get reacquainted with the Ohio River. It has undergone a few expansions since its opening.

In 1978, the Tolsia (Tug-Ohio-Levisa-Sandy-Improvement Association) Highway replaced a winding, curving U.S. 52 from Crum to Kenova with a straighter, more modern two-lane road. It made travel from Williamson to Huntington much easier, and it opened the area along the Big Sandy River for more coal docks and thus more coal truck traffic.

In 1979, Ruth Sullivan incorporated the Autism Services Center for consulting, training, advocacy and research. As of 2008, the center employed more than 400 and served about 300 clients. The center is internationally known for the services it provides.

1980s


The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1980 was 226,545,805 and 63,684, respectively.

In 1980, the city of Ironton went through severe financial problems, falling behind in payments, a violation of Ohio law.

Jan. 20, 1981, marked the end to the Iran hostage crisis. In the diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States, 52 U.S. diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. It began Nov. 4, 1979, when a group of Islamist students took over the American embassy in support of the Iranian revolution. One of the hostages was Proctorville, Ohio, native Phillip R. Ward.

In 1981, the Huntington Mall was opened in Barboursville with JCPenney, Lazarus, Stone & Thomas and Sears as its anchor stores. The mall has since expanded to feature more than 100 retailers.

  On March 30, 1981, Republican President Ronald Reagan, along with his press secretary James Brady and two others, were shot by John Hinckley Jr. Reagan was treated at George Washington University Hospital and was released two weeks later. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained under institutional psychiatric care.

The lives of commuters in West Virginia and Ohio were made easier on Aug. 9, 1985, when the East Huntington Bridge — also called the East End Bridge, Frank Gatski Memorial Bridge or the 31st Street Bridge — was opened. The 900-foot cable-stayed bridge crosses the Ohio River from Huntington to Proctorville, Ohio. The $38 million bridge was designed by Arvid Grant and Associates of Olympia, Wash.

The Council of Social Agencies, organized in 1920, became the United Way. In March 1986, the United Way of Cabell-Wayne and the Lawrence County United Way merged to become the United Way of the River Cities Inc.

NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds after the launch of its 10th mission, STS-51-L, on Jan. 28, 1986, when an O-ring seal on its right solid rocket booster failed. The malfunction resulted in the death of all seven crew members. The accident led to a two-and-a-half-year grounding of the shuttle fleet, with missions resuming in 1988 with the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery.

1990s

The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 1990 was 248,709,873 and 54,844, respectively.

Former West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore pleaded guilty of five felony charges on April 13, 1990. The charges included tax evasion, mail fraud, extortion and obstruction of justice. Moore served three years in a federal prison and was released in 1993.

On Sept. 7, 1991, Marshall’s new Joan C. Edwards Stadium was unveiled before a crowd of 33,116. The opening game was against New Hampshire, and Marshall won, 24-23.

The Joan C. Edwards Center for Fine and Performing Arts was completed in September 1992, providing theaters and classrooms for drama students.

The conviction of Glen Dale Woodall, found guilty in 1987 of raping two women abducted from the Huntington Mall parking lot and sentenced to two life terms with no chance of parole, was overturned in 1992. An expert in blood, hair and body fluid analysis, Fred Zain, originally had testified that evidence matched Woodall’s. DNA testing later showed Woodall’s genetic makeup didn’t match the rapist’s.

The Thundering Herd won Division I-AA national football championships in 1992 and 1996 before moving to Division I-A in 1997.

About 600 people lost their jobs when Owens-Illinois glass bottle factory closed the old plant because of increased competition and decreased demand for glass. Production stopped in late 1993, but workers were on the site shipping accumulated inventory until mid-1994.

Cabell Midland High School was established in the fall of 1994 as a result of the consolidation of Milton High School and Barboursville High School.

The Robert C. Byrd Bridge was opened Nov. 6, 1994. It replaced an old, narrow two-lane structure. The 720-foot continuous truss automobile bridge crosses the Ohio River between Huntington and Chesapeake, Ohio.

Nine people from Ohio and West Virginia were killed and 11 others were injured in the Scottown, Ohio, fireworks fire on July 3, 1996. Todd Hall, a 26-year-old brain-injured Proctorville, Ohio, man, was charged with starting the fire with a lighted cigarette. The charges were dropped after he was found incompetent to stand trial and committed to a state mental hospital in September 1996.

In 1996, Toyota announced it would build a $400 million factory in Buffalo, W.Va. The first phase opened in 1998, and it has expanded several times since.

On Aug. 25, 1996, President Bill Clinton kicked off his whistlestop campaign in Huntington to a roaring crowd of 20,000 before chugging off to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

In 1996, the new Huntington High School was established through the consolidation of the old Huntington and Huntington East High schools.

A local Huntington couple made worldwide headlines Oct. 30, 1997, when they were arrested on murder charges in the Caribbean. Jerome “Jolly” Joseph, a water-taxi driver in St. Vincent, was found shot to death on Oct. 9, 1996. The charges against James and Penny Fletcher of Huntington were dropped on Aug. 8, 1997, due to a lack of evidence.

Marshall football coach Bobby Pruett guided his team to a perfect 15-0 season in 1996 to capture a NCAA I-AA championship. Pruett also received national coach of the year recognition.

In 1999, Ashland Oil’s corporate offices moved from Ashland, Ky., to Covington, Ky., a killing blow in a trend that saw many corporate offices leave in a spate of mergers and consolidations in the 1990s. The company had been headquartered in or near Ashland since 1924.

2000s

The population in the U.S. and Huntington in 2000 was 281,421,906 and 51,475, respectively.

Known as one of the most horrific incidents in American history, Sept. 11, 2001, marks the day of a series of coordinated suicide attacks by the al-Qaeda terrorist network. On that morning, Islamist terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners. The hijackers crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and a third airliner into the Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pa., after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C.

The Tri-State lost one of its own in the attacks. Dr. Paul Ambrose, who was raised in Huntington, was a promising young doctor. He was on the flight that crashed into the Pentagon. He was 32.

Excluding the 19 hijackers, 2,998 people died in the attacks. Another 24 are missing and presumed dead.

In 2003, West Virginia native Pvt. Jessica Lynch was rescued from captivity in Iraq

On Nov. 19, 2004, Pullman Square opened in Huntington. Original stores and restaurants included Marquee Cinemas, Empire Books and News, Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery. All of those stores are still in operation. Perhaps as early as 1968, city officials in Huntington imagined a downtown revitalization through urban renewal. Pullman’s location was known as “the Superblock.” It had sat mostly empty for nearly 30 years.

In November 2004, demolition of Marshall’s Fairfield Stadium began to make way for the Marshall University Clinical Education and Outreach Center. The stadium was the home field of Marshall’s football team between 1927 and 1990, prior to the opening of Joan C. Edwards Stadium on 3rd Avenue. The stadium, which held 18,000, was built in 1927.

On May 22, 2005, police were called to the 1400 block of Charleston Avenue, where they found three local high school students and a recent high school graduate had been shot after attending the Huntington High School prom. The victims were identified as Dante Ward, a 2003 graduate of Huntington High School; Michael Dillon, 17, a Huntington High School junior; Megan Poston, 17, a Cabell Midland High School junior; and Eddrick Clark, a South Point (Ohio) High School senior. No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.

The Emmons Jr. apartment building fire started about 11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, 2007. Nine people, including three Marshall University students, died in the blaze. The buildings were demolished.

The nation’s financial crisis sent stock prices on a nosedive Sept. 15, 2008. The crisis has been blamed on high oil prices, high food prices and a substantial credit crisis leading to the drastic bankruptcy of large and well established investment banks as well as commercial banks in many nations around the world. Locally, there have been several layoffs and retailers closing their doors — including Value City, Linens n Things, B. Moss, Steve & Barry’s and Goody’s.

On Nov. 4, 2008, the state of Ohio helped elect Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States. West Virginia and Kentucky chose his competitor, Arizona Sen. John McCain. The electoral vote tally was 365 for Obama, 173 for McCain.

()