Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, Parkersburg

4.5
#1 of 8 in Things to do in Parkersburg
The exciting history behind Blennerhassett Island State Park began in 1798 when Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett, exiled Irish aristocrats, arrived to make their home on the upper end of the Island. In an area where most people lived in crude one- or two-room log cabins, the Blennerhassetts, by 1800, had erected a mansion which was considered the most beautiful home west of the Alleghenies. People called their estate a paradise in the wilderness; but it was a tragically short-lived one. Harman and Margaret became entangled in the ill-fated Aaron Burr Expedition to the Southwest (1805-1807), which some, but not all, historians have labeled as treasonous. In December 1806, the local Virginia militia invaded the Island, causing the Blennerhassetts to flee. During the 1807 Burr treason trial in Richmond, Virginia (during which Blennerhassett was confined in the penitentiary), Blennerhassett Island became a nationally known spot and was to retain this fame for over a century. After the trial, the Blennerhassetts moved to a Mississippi cotton plantation name “La Cache,” where they eventually lost what was left of their once large fortune. After living in Canada and then returning to England, they finally died in poverty. Their splendid island mansion had accidentally burned to the ground on March 3, 1811.

The most exciting chapter of its history having passed, Blennerhassett Island led a sleepy existence through the remainder of the 19th century. During the 1920s, the suggestion was first broached to convert the Island into a West Virginia state park. Although the various plans to do this always failed, the idea itself survived until it finally achieved success in the 1970s. Much of the upper portion of the Island was cleared of its jungle of weeds in the fall of 1979 in preparation for its being opened as a public park. This park admitted its first visitors on July 27, 1980. Due to public demand, the state of West Virginia decided to rebuild the legendary Blennerhassett mansion. The exterior of the house was reconstructed in 1984 and 1985 on top of the original foundation. Work on finishing the mansion interior went along slowly. The kitchen wing was opened to the public in April 1987 and is considered one of the most completely furnished 18th-century kitchens in the United States. The north wing interior was furnished in 1990 and was opened to visitors on October 6th of that year. The final completion of the mansion’s reconstruction was achieved the spring of 1991. The house was then opened to the public on July 4, 1991.
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Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
306 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • First, you board, in Parkersburg WV and ride a hydrolically driven stern wheeler up the Ohio river. It was a pleasant little ride of about 15 minute. We disembarked on the island to find the Blennerha...  more »
  • I highly recommend this excursion- We rented bikes and rode around the island. To your right as you’re coming off the top is a cute little store with wine and ice cream and a place to sit down and eat...  more »
Google
  • Great place my daughter went here on her school trip and she loved it wants to go back
  • The manor house tour is very interesting

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