Originally named Newport in the late 18th century following the American Revolutionary War, Parkersburg’s fascinating history is filled with intrigue. Located at the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers, the City is rich in historical significance. The town area was laid out on land granted to Alexander Parker for his Revolutionary War service, and the area was renamed for him as Parkersburg in 1810. It was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1820, and rechartered as a city in 1860. The City served as a transportation and medical center for Union forces during the American Civil War and developed further into a transportation hub during the gas and oil boom. Today, one of the main attractions Parkersburg is known for is Blennerhassett Island – a national historical site located just off the city’s shoreline in the heart of the Ohio River.
Home to Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett, the island was where plans were developed by Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett to undertake a military expedition to the Southwest that many, including President Thomas Jefferson, considered treasonous. During the Civil War, Union General George McClellan’s first invasion into the Confederacy was through Parkersburg. The city was also pivotal in the birth of the nation’s oil and gas industry and the creation of the State of West Virginia.
As one of West Virginia’s most historic cities, Parkersburg and the surrounding area features a colorful and intriguing heritage that has been magnificently preserved and presented by multiple museums and historic sites. For more information on Parkersburg’s history and culture, click here. To learn more about Blennerhassett Island and Blennerhassett Mansion, click here.
Photographs courtesy of Roger Mackey.