Set along the flowing waters of the Ohio River, Parkersburg, West Virginia, has proudly held its place in both Civil War and oil and gas history.
Blennerhasset Island Historic State Park includes a museum that tells the story of Harman Blennerhasset who, in 1806, became entangled in a mysterious military enterprise with Aaron Burr. As a result, President Thomas Jefferson accused both men of plotting treason. While Burr was on trial, Blennerhasset was imprisoned, and he was released after Burr was acquitted. His life, however, was ruined. A 20-minute stern-wheeler ride takes visitors to the island itself for a tour of the renovated Blennerhasset Mansion, nature walks along the shaded grounds or a picnic by the river.
A thriving commercial oil industry was in process as early as 1819 in the Parkersburg area, with the first major wells drilled at Petroleum in 1859. Parkersburg's Oil and Gas Museum reveals the rich history of oil and gas drilling in West Virginia and Ohio. Exhibits include an operating pump jack and a steam engine built in Parkersburg around 1905, and work is under way to reopen the historic 17-room Henderson Mansion, built in 1859, which contains Civil War memorabilia.
Parkersburg is an outlet for the arts in the area, and visitors should check the schedule for the Smoot Theater, established in 1906 and refurbished for performances in 1989. Take time to visit the exhibits at The Cultural Center for Fine Arts around the corner as well.
We highly recommend the Trans Allegheny Book Store, built by Andrew Carnegie and listed on the historic register. The largest used-book store in West Virginia, Trans Allegheny offers more than 500,000 used books and more than 1,000 new titles. Even the most serious bookhound will be distracted by the glass floor, steep spiral staircases and marble counters. Also popular is Mulberry Lane Country Store, the largest country store in West Virginia.
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