National Track and Field Hall of Fame

Charleston Gazette
November 28, 1976

Ground Broken For Track 'Hall'

"We're sending a message to the world that the National Track and Field Hall of Fame is located in West Virginia."

That was the comment of Charleston optometrist Don Cohen Saturday morning as ground was broken for the Hall of Fame complex on a 100-acre tract of land in Putnam County.

On a warm, sunny morning, several hundred people looked on as Cohen, Gov. Moore and Jesse Owens turned the first shovelsful of earth for the Hall of Fame, which will be located about a mile east of Hurricane along Interstate 64.

Also taking their turns and turned the earth were a host of track and field greats including 1976 decathlon champion Bruce Jenner and world high jump champion, Dwight Stones.

Other state officials and representatives of seven national sports organizations that have supported the Hall of Fame as well as Jack Rose, executive director of the shrine, also did a bit of digging with the silver plated shovels.

The ceremonies included the raising of three flags on the site which can be seen day and night from the interstate with the help of lights. There is a United States flag, a West Virginia flag and U. S. Olympic flag.

["]Seeing those flags actually sends chills through my body," said Cohen, who originated the idea for the Hall of Fame and worked tirelessly to have his dream fulfilled.

"This is the culmination of our efforts for the past three years," said Cohen. "The public can now see the hall of fame. Our credibility has been established."

Gov. Moore, who backed the project from the outset, said "these fine athletes have long been overlooked. To have this shrine in our state, we humbly say to you that we take the challenege [sic] to carry from this point forward the realization and completion of this great dream."

The nearly $2 million complex will include a building with exhibits, a library and auditorium, an indoor track, a cross country course, a dormitory for visiting athletes and a picnic area.

Also taking a turn at a shovel were 28 medal winners from the 1976 Olympic Games as well as a dozen former medalists representing Olympic teams from 1928 to 1972.

The Hall of Fame complex is expected to be completed by mid-1978.