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West Virginia

Mid-Ohio Valley, West Virginia

This region features an intriguing blend between the western frontier of 1800 and the Victorian legacies of the nation’s oil and gas boom.
Here country roads wind through the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and past charming villages nestled along the mighty Ohio River.

This area that George Washington once called Augusta is also rich in fine handicrafts, galleries, festivals, parks and historic sites, all tempting to the traveler.

Add the natural opportunities to fish the rivers and streams, hike and bike the miles of trails and back roads, hunt the thousands of acres of wildlife areas and enjoy the serenity of the unspoiled mountains, and you’ve found a spot filled with natural and man-made pleasures.

The mighty river that defines West Virginia’s western border carves an entrancing and beautiful island here. The area’s beauty so intrigued a wealthy Irish aristocrat and his wife that in 1798 they built here the most magnificent home west of the Allegheny Mountains.

That beauty remains and the story of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett is retold by costumed re-enactors in Parkersburg’s treasure, Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park (www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com) and museum.

The reconstructed mansion isn’t the only palatial residence in the region, though.

Parkersburg also boasts an impressive collection of oil-baron-built Victorian homes at the Julia-Ann Square Historic District. The homes are open to tours at select times each year, but always worth a walk past any time of year.

History lovers take note – Burning Springs Park near Elizabeth is the site of the country’s oldest producing oil and gas well and is an important Civil War site, too.

The Oil and Gas Museum in downtown Parkersburg is a good place to start your historical tour of the region.

Head to Cairo for a step back in time at the R.C. Marshall Hardware store.

Get some hand-dipped ice cream in this picturesque town just before you rent a bike and take in a few of the tunnels on the 72-mile North Bend Rail Trail.

North Bend State Park (www.northbendrailtrailstatepark.com) is the perfect place to stay overnight, whether it be at a campsite, in a cabin or the cozy lodge.

For upscale and pampering, yet still affordable, lodging, don’t miss the historic Blennerhassett Hotel (www.theblennerhassett.com) in downtown Parkersburg. The hotel restaurant and Spats lounge feature a great selection of fine and local wines, in addition to live entertainment and a great songwriter music series.

A trip to the region wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the factory at Fenton Art Glass (www.fentonartglass.com) in Williamstown. It’s one of the top factory tours in the country.

On the way back, pick up at least three boxes of the freshly made gourmet chocolates at Holl’s Swiss Chocolatier (www.holls.com) showroom in Vienna.

Plan a trip around a show at the historic Smoot Theatre.

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Document Information
Source: West Virginia Division of Tourism; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20071121
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