Check Out the Wheeling Alphabet Project!

Early in 2023, Wheeling Heritage embarked on a project to create a Wheeling Alphabet. The project started by asking you – our dedicated readers – what pieces of Wheeling history and culture should be included in the Wheeling Alphabet. From there, Wheeling Heritage narrowed down the list and then partnered with 26 local artists to bring the Wheeling Alphabet to life! The end result was a remarkable collection of artwork of different styles made by artists of all ages and backgrounds. All artwork was also used to create a unique poster that was revealed at an art exhibition held on West Virginia Day at the Wheeling Artisan Center.

If you weren’t able to attend the exhibit in person, take a look through the Wheeling Alphabet below, learn a little bit about each letter’s significance, and find out where you can snag a poster to proudly display your Wheeling pride!

A is for Aviator

Rachel Edinger

Artwork by Rachel Edinger

The Aviator Statue has been a fixture at Linsly since the early 1900s. It was originally commissioned by Sallie Maxwell Bennett as a tribute to her son, Lt. Louis Bennett Jr., who lost his life during World War I on August 24th, 1918, while serving in the Royal Air Force’s 40th Squadron in France. In the days leading up to his untimely death, he had successfully destroyed three enemy planes and nine spy balloons. The inscription on The Aviator Statue reads: “And thus this man died, leaving his spirit as an example of courage, not only unto young men, but unto all the nation.” 

READ MORE: A Story Behind a Linsly Statue – West Virginia’s First Flying Ace

B is for Beer

Logan Schmitt

Artwork by Logan Schmitt

Wheeling has a long legacy in brewing beer. From large-scale producers like Schmulbach and Reymann in the late 1800s, to more modern-day breweries like Brew Keepers, Wheeling has always been proud of its local libations.

LISTEN: Henry – The Life and Legacy of Wheeling’s Most Notorious Brewer

C is for Coleman’s Fish Market

Madison Tingler

Artwork by Madison Tingler

It’s no surprise that Coleman’s Fish Market made the Wheeling Alphabet, as this local favorite has received national recognition for its simple, yet tasty, fried fish sandwich. 

READ MORE: Seafood Traditions – Coleman’s Fish Market and the Feast of the Seven Fishes

D is for DiCarlo’s Pizza

Jessica Taylor

Artwork by Jessica Taylor

While we’re on the topic of iconic Wheeling eats, DiCarlo’s Pizza was another essential addition to the Wheeling Alphabet. While the debate over which DiCarlo’s is “the best” may never truly end, we can all agree that this square pizza is a part of Wheeling’s DNA.

READ MORE: DiCarlo’s Pizza – A Cultural Icon

E is for Charles Ellet Jr. 

Mindi Yarbrough

It’s hard to imagine Wheeling without the Suspension Bridge, and Charles Ellet Jr. was the civil engineer responsible for bringing it to fruition. At the time it was built, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world. The bridge spans a total of 1,010 feet and continues to be an important part of Wheeling’s history and legacy.

F is for Flatiron Building

Lily Wood

This unique building, located at 1509 Main Street, was completed in 1896 and home to Riverside Iron Works. It was later acquired by National Tube Company before being sold to Wheeling Steel and Iron Company. Through the years, the Flatiron Building has been occupied by many businesses and organizations. It currently is home to apartment buildings and Table 304 – a family-owned and operated coffee and charcuterie shop.

G is for Good Zoo

Katie Nan

Artwork by Katie Nan

Oglebay’s Good Zoo celebrated an official groundbreaking in 1972 and officially opened to the public on Memorial Day Weekend in 1977. The Good Zoo was created in the spirit of seven-year-old Philip Mayer Good who passed away in 1971. Philip’s family pledged a substantial gift in this memory to jumpstart the creation of a zoo at the park. Today, the Oglebay Good Zoo is the only institution in West Virginia that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is home to 68 species of animals, 20 of which are rare or endangered. 

READ MORE: How Do Animals Find Love? Oglebay Good Zoo Experts Explain

H is for Heritage Port

Elizabeth Patterson

Artwork by Elizabeth Patterson

Since 2002, Wheeling Heritage Port has connected Wheeling to the Ohio River through waterside public spaces that include park spaces, trails, an amphitheater, and river access. At several sites throughout the port, you can find interpretive signs and monuments that celebrate Wheeling’s natural, cultural and historical legacy. 

I is for Independence Hall

Brian Fencl

Artwork by Brian Fencl

This sandstone building located at 1528 Market Street opened in 1859 as the Wheeling Custom House, and later would become the birthplace of West Virginia. Today, you can visit the museum for free Tuesday through Saturday to check out its exhibits and programs.

J is for Wheeling Jamboree

Luke Novel

The Wheeling Jamboree made music history when it went on-air for the first time on January 7, 1933 on WWVA – the first radio station in West Virginia. Throughout the years, The Wheeling Jamboree has showcased country music stars including Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Doc and Chickie Williams, and Brad Paisley. The Wheeling Jamboree remains the second oldest country music radio broadcast stage show in history, just behind the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. 2023 marks the 90-year anniversary of The Wheeling Jamboree.

READ MORE: Doc and Chickie Williams – Wheeling’s Pioners on the Country Music Trail

K is for Knights

Allison Burne

Artwork by Allison Byrne

Wheeling Central Catholic High School has been educating students since 1865, so it was only natural that we include their school’s mascot – the Maroon Knight – in the Wheeling Alphabet.

L is for LaBelle Iron Works

Betsy Cox

Artwork by Betsy Cox

Nail production was a booming industry in Wheeling during the 19th century, which is evidenced by the La Belle Iron Works Company who employed more than 900 workers and had a total of 197 cut nail machines in operation. The company’s name, La Belle, comes from the French name for the Ohio River, La Belle Riviere, which means “beautiful river.”

M is for Marsh Wheeling Stogies

Giovanna Loccisano

Artwork by Giovanna Loccisano

With a rich history spanning 161 years in Wheeling, Marsh Wheeling Stogies was the United States’ longest-running cigar manufacturing operation. Rather than entering the realm of upscale cigar makers, Mifflin Marsh, the company’s founder, took immense pride in crafting a cigar that resonated with the hardworking individuals—a true “workingman’s stogie.” These stogies and their packaging continue to be cherished symbols of blue-collar pride.

N is for Wheeling Nailers

Mat Robinson

Artwork by Mat Robinson

Wheeling is lucky to be home to its own professional ECHL ice hockey team – The Wheeling Nailers. Previously known as the Thunderbirds, this team had its early beginnings in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The team relocated to Wheeling in 1992 and was renamed the Wheeling Nailers during the 1996-97 season. The name was chosen to honor Wheeling’s rich history in nail manufacturing. 

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O is for Oglebay Park

Harriet Parsons

Artwork by Harriet Parsons

This park’s namesake – Earl W. Oglebay – purchased 25 acres of land in 1900 from his father-in-law’s estate and thoughtfully developed the county estate into what we now know as Oglebay Park. When Mr. Oglebay passed away in 1926, he willed his property to the people of Wheeling as a place for public recreation. Today, the 2,000-acre park is the only self-supporting public municipal park in operation in the United States, with countless amenities for the public to enjoy. You can learn more about the incredible history of Oglebay by visiting their website.

P is for Patriots

Sherrie Mestrovic

Artwork by Sherrie Mestrovic

Wheeling Park High School is the only public high school in Ohio County. It opened in 1975 when Wheeling, Warwood, and Triadelphia High Schools were consolidated. Today, WPHS serves more than 1,500 students and offers a combination of academic and technical programs to prepare students for their next steps in life. 

Q is for Queen Ann Victorian Homes

Jody Wharton

Artwork by Jody Wharton

Queen Anne Victorian homes were built in Wheeling in the late 19th century when residents expanded outside of the Downtown hub and into residential neighborhoods like Woodsdale, Edgwood, and Wheeling Island. This style of home was most common for Wheeling’s wealthier residents of the time. Queen Anne Victorian homes can be easily spotted by looking for homes with large, wraparound porches, detailed trim, and towers topped with a round, pointed roof.

R is for Ohio River

Jes Davis

Artwork by Jes Reger

The natural setting of Wheeling along the Ohio River has played a fundamental role in our city’s development and growth. The narrows of the river at Wheeling Island made the location an ideal river crossing for Native Americans, French and English explorers and, eventually, for the thousands traversing the Ohio River in the westward settlement of the nation.

READ MORE – Explore The Many Islands of the Ohio River

S is for Sweeny Punch Bowl

Janet Hart

Artwork by Janet Hart

The Sweeney Punch Bowl is a world-renowned piece of Victorian artistry that can be found inside the Glass Museum at Oglebay. The Sweeney Punch Bowl is five feet tall, weighs 225 pounds, and has quite an interesting history, which you can read all about in this Atlas Obscura article. 

T is for Theaters

Patricia Jeffers

Artwork by Patricia Jeffers

With so many historic theaters in Wheeling, we couldn’t pick just one! While many current Wheeling residents are familiar with Wheeling’s existing theaters (Capitol, Towngate, and the Victoria), there are several defunct theaters that still hold a special place in Wheeling’s story, like the Court and Rex Theaters. You can learn more about Wheeling’s historic theaters by visiting the Ohio County Public Library’s website.

READ MORE: The Victoria – Wheeling’s Last Remaining Vaudeville Theater

U is for Unions

Luke Dzmura

Artwork by Luke Dzmura

As a transportation and manufacturing hub, Wheeling has always been home to a hardworking and spirited workforce. At many points in our city’s history, workers have organized to receive better pay, hours and working conditions.

READ MORE: Celebrating Wheeling’s Labor Heritage

V is for Victorian Old Town

Mel Jeffcoat

Artwork by Mel Jeffcoat

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Wheeling, North Wheeling is often referred to as the “Victorian Old Town.” The neighborhood draws visitors for its distinct Victorian-era architectural details and is a national historic district. Many of these elaborately-detailed houses are still used as residences and apartments, while some have been repurposed into shops or other businesses.

W is for Weelunk

Amanda Carney

Artwork by Amanda Carney

But what is a “Weelunk” you ask? If you are a longtime reader of Weelunk, then you might already be familiar with our website’s namesake.

Both “Wheeling” and “Weelunk” are words believed to be derived from the Native American phrase “place of the skull” or “place of the head.” The folklore surrounding this phrase suggests that a skull was used as a geographic marker, claiming the territory that today we recognize as downtown Wheeling. While the folklore surrounding the skull is problematic and undocumented, the root of both “wee” and “whee” remain as evidence of the language and culture of the original inhabitants of our area.

X is for Xylophone (and other instruments used by the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra)

Andrea Dubiel

Artwork by Andrea Dubiel

X… what a tough letter to match! We chose Xylophone for the letter X to represent the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and the many other instruments these talented musicians play for audiences each season. The WSO was created in 1929 by Eleanor D. Caldwell and has been entertaining crowds ever since. Wheeling is the smallest city in the United States to boast a symphony of its size and caliber. 

READ MORE: Celebrating WSO Founder Eleanor Caldwell

Y is for Boat Yards

Janet Sheehan

Artwork by Janet Sheehan

Given our proximity to the Ohio River, it’s no surprise that Wheeling has a rich history of boating. From steamboat building to boat racing on the Ohio River, Wheelingites have been utilizing this abundant natural resource since the 1800s.

READ MORE: A Brief Look at Wheeling’s Boating History

Z is for Betty Zane

Anne H. Foreman

Artwork by Anne Foreman

Anyone who grew up in the Ohio Valley has likely learned all about Betty Zane’s heroic role during the American Revolutionary War as she braved enemy fire to retrieve gunpowder, contributing to the defense of Fort Henry and inspiring future generations. Betty and the rest of the Zane family are influential to Wheeling due to their pioneering spirit, the establishment of key infrastructure, and their contributions to the growth and development of the area. 

The Wheeling Alphabet Poster

The Wheeling Alphabet Project culminated with a gallery exhibit opening on June 20 to celebrate West Virginia Day. Dozens of community members came out to see and purchase the artists’ original artwork in person. It was also the grand reveal of the Wheeling Alphabet poster, which is now available to purchase at the Wheeling Artisan Center. In addition to 11×17 posters, Wheeling Heritage is preparing to offer additional Wheeling Alphabet merchandise later this summer, including a t-shirt and tote bag.

Follow Wheeling Heritage, Weelunk, and the Wheeling Artisan Center Shop for updates on new Wheeling Alphabet merchandise!

• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.