The Ohio River was America’s first frontier, our original wild, wild west. The Greater Parkersburg, West Virginia, area abounds with amazing stories of the pioneers who braved this western wilderness and staked their claim to a prominent place in the history of our country.
Discover Blennerhassett Island, the idyllic “Eden on the River” created by wealthy Irish aristocrats Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. In 1798 they built an extravagant mansion on the island, which became known as the most beautiful home in the West. A grove of towering black walnut trees, twittering songbirds, and an air of opulent serenity greet visitors as they step onto Blennerhassett Island—a patch of about 500 acres in the middle of the Ohio River with a history all its own.
In 1806, the couple’s ill-fated entanglement with former Vice President Aaron Burr led to the destruction of their peaceful paradise when both Burr and Blennerhassett were accused of treason. The incident drove Harman and Margaret from their beloved home, and the mansion burned to the ground in 1811. Today, you can hear the epic tale of the rise and fall of a frontier dream as you tour the beautifully reconstructed mansion, stroll the grounds, or enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn covered wagon. Only a 20-minute sternwheel boat ride away from Parkersburg, West Virginia, the island is the perfect way to travel back in time, transporting history buffs and weekend-getaway lovers alike to the early 19th century.
Start your Blennerhassett experience at the Blennerhassett Museum in downtown Parkersburg. The museum features intriguing archaeological and historical exhibits from the area, a video explaining the Blennerhassetts’ fascinating story, and a gift shop full of unique and memorable items.
The Greater Parkersburg area is also home to Henderson Hall Plantation. Overlooking the Ohio River, this 29-room Italianate-style mansion is one of America’s finest and most complete historic homes. It preserves the memories and mementos of the family who occupied it for five generations. Henderson Hall contains priceless artifacts, antiques, and furnishings including handmade linens, books dating back to the 1600s, and documents signed by such historic figures as Patrick Henry and Robert E. Lee. Henderson Hall is truly a national treasure.
The nationally recognized Oil and Gas Museum presents the intriguing history of the oil and gas industry, including how the accumulation of wealth from the oil boom of the 19th century impacted West Virginia’s statehood.
Fort Boreman Historical Park was constructed by the men of Co. A, 11th West Virginia Infantry (US) in 1863 to protect the vital Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Parkersburg. The B&O was the most important east-west rail line during the Civil War, linking the east coast with America’s interior states. The park features a reconstructed Civil War fortification with trenches and interpretive signs, spectacular views of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers, and a nature trail.
While you are visiting Parkersburg, step into the past with a self-guided walking tour of the Julia-Ann Square Historic District. The historic district features beautifully restored and preserved 19th century homes built for many of West Virginia’s leading politicians and prominent oil and gas barons. With more than 126 separate properties, Julia-Ann Square is the largest historic residential district in West Virginia.
A visit to Parkersburg is a trip back in time. With so much to do and see, set your itinerary and make your reservations today at GreaterParkersburg.com.
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