History of Parkersburg, WV

Parkersburg is home to Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett and rich in American history. Whether you are visiting the area or have lived here without exploring the history of the city, there is plenty to learn.

Parkersburg sits on the edge of Ohio and Little Kanawha rivers. It is the third largest city in the state and home to over 45,000 people.

In 1857, Parkersburg had access to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and received a crossing over the Ohio River when the American Civil War started. The railroad that ventured through the city was the longest in the world at the time.

Once a City Called Newport

Parkersburg was not always the name of this historic town. In fact, settlers originally called it Newport in the 18th Century just after the American Revolutionary War. The town sanction was created and granted to Alexander Parker for his service in the war. Virginia then made grants of land to veterans in the area for their service in the Revolutionary War.

It was not until 1810 when the name was changed to Parkersburg.

Rich in Oil and Gas Sectors

The birth of the country’s oil and gas industry occurred right here in the city. In fact, the world’s oldest producing oil well is in the area. The story behind the creation of the town and the oil and gas sectors that established it are exciting.

The area of Greater Parkersburg is colorful and features fascinating heritage that has been preserved thanks to a community dedicated to ensuring the world never forgets how this glorious city came about. The city is filled with businesses including banks, restaurants, legal services, accountants, and more.

Those visiting the area can take a ride on an authentic, restored sternwheeler down the Ohio River to see the Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park and look at the recreation Blennerhassett Mansion. Also, the Oil and Gas Museum reside here, where people can learn about the birth of this industry and the creation and drama that ensued just around the American Civil War.

Those who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm are all honored at the historic Veterans Museum too.

The Julia-Ann Square Historic District

One visiting the area or residing in Parkersburg cannot get an accurate feel for the area unless they walk through the Julia-Ann Square Historic District. Here you will find a breathtaking, well-preserved 19th Century set of homes that were once the sanctuary for local politicians of West Virginia and the prominent oil and gas barons of the time.

Walking tours, tea parties, and home tours are all open to guests and residents alike.

Here you can also visit Henderson Hall, which was created in 1859 as a centerpiece of the Henderson Plantation — which consisted of 2600 acres at the time. The astounding 17-room pre-Civil War mansion survived history with all furnishings till intact. Tours are offered year-round to explore the magnificent mansion.

Burning Springs is another historic site that helps you understand how the nation’s oldest oil fields got their start, and here is where you find the oldest producing oil well in the world.