Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park near Parkersburg is located on the largest of several islands on the Ohio River. It is home to the reconstructed mansion of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett – island residents in the 19th century and the park’s main focus. But island history dates further back to 18th century of Native American tribes that lived on the island and as far as 9,000 years ago to Ice Age hunters and wildlife.
Associated with Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park is the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History, which is located on the corner of Second and Juliana streets in downtown Parkersburg. Opened in 1988, this structure houses a showcase of regional history, as well as the state park’s administrative offices and the Friends of Blennerhassett Gift Shop.
The museum is three floors of historical relics and objects of art from the Ohio Valley's past. According to Dr. Ray Swick, Park Historian, “Exhibits range from prehistoric Indian tools, jewelry, weapons and household items, ca. 9000 B.C., to oil paintings, clothing, guns and military paraphernalia, and furniture belonging to West Virginia's first governor. There are automobiles, farm implements, 19th-century jewelry and glassware. In the 18th/early 19th century exhibit, visitors can find a ‘burning glass,’ a ‘bubby pot,’ some Ohio Valley's oldest manuscripts, maps, and a mourning fan – objects of yesteryear that now strike us with their quaintness.” Swick is also proud that items from the Blennerhassett estate are among the museum's most noted acquisitions. The Stahl Collection is also housed in the museum.
For additional information about the museum, the island, the Blennerhassett Mansion, activities, and operating hours, contact Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park at (304) 420-4800 or go online to www.wvstateparks.com and click on Blennerhassett Island or Evening Cruises on the state park main page. A calendar of events at all West Virginia State Parks and Forests is available by mail or on the Web site. Special events at state parks and forests are also posted to the individual Web pages such as www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com.
Dr. Ray Swick