In Search Of Circus Elephants

Have you seen elephants?

Specifically, did you ever see the circus elephants tromping across the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in the old days when the circus performances were held at Wheeling Island Stadium? More specifically, do you have photographs documenting that sight?

The design committee for the sculpture park planned for downtown Wheeling is looking for old photographs that show circus elephants being herded across the bridge. Committee member Susan Hogan said the vintage photos will be copied and the original prints will be returned to their owners.

She said the committee members also hope that area residents will share their memories of seeing the traveling circus elephants in town. Anyone who has photos or memories to share is asked to call the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. office at 304-232-3087.

The design committee is interested in seeing images of the circus elephants because one of the pachyderms will be a focal point for the new sculpture garden. Hogan said the committee has hired metal artist Jeff Forster of Wheeling to create metal sculptures of animals for the small park.

In addition to the aforementioned elephant, the sculpted figures will include blue herons, a family of field mice, a groundhog (“a great symbol of the river,” according to Hogan) and a four-foot snapping turtle. All of the animals are indigenous to Wheeling, except the pachyderm, of course, but it is included because it represents an iconic image of the circus elephants being paraded through the city, she explained.

The new sculpture garden will be located at the southwest corner of Main and 11th streets, beside the wall collage of photographs and paintings that picture Wheeling musicians. Organizers of the project have created a new Facebook page for the Heritage Port Park and Sculpture Garden so that area residents can follow the project’s progress.

An actress with Ohio Valley roots, Taylor McEnery, 19, of Lewis Center, Ohio, has been cast in the new NBC spring replacement series, “Crisis.” She and the other cast members are filming in Chicago.

McEnery’s mother is Renee McCutcheon Gibson, who also lives in Lewis Center, but grew up in the Ohio Valley. The young actress is the granddaughter of Joe and Sharon McCutcheon of St. Clairsville and the niece of Sherrie McCutcheon Dunlevy of Bethlehem.

The drama will be aired on NBC stations at 10 p.m. on Sundays, beginning March 16. The cast includes well-known stars Gillian Anderson and Dermot Mulroney.

The NBC website offers this description of the premise for the series: “To bring the most powerful people in the world to their knees … threaten what they hold most dear. It’s field trip day for the students of Ballard High, a school that educates the children of Washington, D.C.’s elite, top-of-their-industry CEOs, international diplomats, political power players, even the President’s son. But when their bus is ambushed on a secluded rural road, the teenagers and their chaperones are taken, igniting a national crisis.”

McEnery has been cast as a Muslim kidnapping victim in “Crisis.” She will appear in the last six episodes of the show this season, we’re told.

Composer Avner Dorman plans to attends the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra concert at the Capitol Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, March 14, for the world premiere of the new version of his work, “Prayer for the Innocents.” (See additional story, Page D5.) Besides his ties to the WSO performance, the world-famous composer has another Wheeling connection.

Dorman’s music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer Inc. of New York. Katy Tucker, who is originally from Wheeling, handles Dorman’s catalog for Music Sales at G. Schirmer. She is the daughter of Wheeling attorney and longtime Wheeling Symphony supporter Paul T. Tucker.

Another old movie house in the Ohio Valley has been restored and returned to its role as a functioning theater for the performing arts.

The Gaslight Theater, located at 719 Wells St. in downtown Sistersville, has been reopened by owner Terry Wiley, who bought the building about three years ago. Wiley said the large theater was built in 1898 and was known originally as the Paramount.

In addition to the Gaslight, Wiley operates an antique shop and country store, Farmers Harvest, in the building.

Wiley and Jim Bowen, a community developer from Paden City, are launching the Gaslight Theater Entertainment Series. The series will open at 8 p.m. Friday, March 21, with a performance by singer Nick Fiasco, who performs selections from stars of the big band era. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Sistersville General Hospital Foundation and the Paden City Foundation.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer. net.