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March Program: Gateway to the West; Made from the East.

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

By: Dylan Bowman, HAHS Board Member

March 29, 2023

A Returning Guest of Honor

The guest of honor for March's general program was returning presenter, Bruce Henry, who this month brought a presentation on the St. Louis Gateway Archway in Mississippi, which sits on the bank of the Mississippi River itself. Having been there recently with his wife, he was able to share his first-hand viewing of the monument with the Halifax community.


Did you know that the Gateway Arch was made from Pennsylvania steel? Neither did I, and yet it is one of the core pieces of the foundation that holds this monument together, still standing strong and high after nearly a century since its inception in 1933. This year in December, it will have been 90 years exactly.


Construction of the Gateway Arch began in 1962, nearly thirty years after its initial inception, due to many setbacks and delays including World War II and lawsuits from citizens about historical buildings being potentially ripped down where the monument would stand. Once construction was pushed forward, hundreds of tons of steel were brought from the Pittsburg Demoyne Steel Company in Warren, PA, to start the job. This steel from the northwest area of the Keystone State would create the skeleton of the entire arch.


When the arch would be finished on October 28, 1965, it would have cost $13 million to build. Today, this cost would equal about $100 million.

Bruce Henry during his presentation. Photo by Dylan Bowman.


Turnout

The program drew in 26 visitors from the community. Though the topic didn't directly target the history of Halifax and the immediate surrounding areas, it was an incredible story that does, at least in part, come from Pennsylvania and the famous steel factories to the west of our town. Without the steel industry, Pennsylvania as a whole wouldn't be as prosperous or remembered for its production and national support in major historical events like it is today.


As the St. Louis Gateway Arch symbolizes the opening to the West that Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark saw, the Arch now opens to the monument's rich history and those that built it years ago.


It is my hope that those stories live on, forming new memories and spawning a love of history in hearts across America.


Bruce Henry's presentation. Photos by Dylan Bowman.


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