And because this past Saturday was the 40th anniversary of the disaster, an area amateur radio group decided to tell the world the significance of the historic event once again.
The Point Pleasant River Museum allowed the lines of communication to be open worldwide from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. A group of registered amateur radio volunteers set up a special event broadcast, which enabled people from all parts of the world to tune in.
They discussed the tragedy of the Silver Bridge collapse and reported facts about the disaster and bridge itself. The communicators also encouraged people to call in and discuss their memories or feelings about the collapse.
Steve Little, an amateur radio volunteer from Gallipolis, Ohio, was the primary organizer of the event. He described the day as not only a way to remember the bridge disaster and those who lost their lives, but also a way for the registered amateur radio crew to practice, since they typically broadcast during emergency situations.
“We are making contacts using the special event call of W8B, and doing this only today. We are communicating about the bridge falling, describing the disaster and telling stories about the bridge,” Little said. “People can come in and share stories about the bridge.”
According to Little, shortly after the special event broadcast started, calls were received from Michigan, New York, Alabama, Mississippi, Chicago, Florida and even as far as Quebec, Canada. Little said that when people called in, they were encouraged to give a donation to the river museum and would be mailed a postcard of the Silver Bridge in return.
“People involved in amateur radio like to collect those things, and I chose to do a postcard of the Silver Bridge,” Little added.
He said he decided to do the special event broadcast because he wanted to let those who might not have knowledge of the Silver Bridge collapse be informed about the historic and tragic disaster.
“I wanted to let other people know about (the Silver Bridge collapse), especially after what happened when the bridge in Minnesota collapsed earlier this year,” Little remarked.
River museum staff said a lot of people, especially those associated with the Silver Bridge disaster, visited the museum Saturday. State Trooper Rudy O’Dell, who was on hand the evening the bridge fell, was one of the many people involved in the disaster that stopped by the museum.
Jack Fowler, river museum director, said having the special event broadcast was good because it served as another opportunity for people to know about Point Pleasant.
“We are true history. We never want people to forget the history of the Silver Bridge and how important it is to the families and community. We will never forget, and we will continue to reach out to the community,” Fowler added.