West Virginia Must-See: Blennerhassett Island State Park | Reader's Digest

West Virginia Must-See: Blennerhassett Island State Park

from Off the Beaten Path | 318
Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, West Virginia© 2009 WVDNR West Virginia State Wildlife Center/Jack MillsAn air of luxury surrounds the mansion of Harman and Margaret Blennerhasset, reconstructed after it burned to the ground.

In the Ohio River, 2 miles west of Parkersburg, Weest Virginia

A scenic 20-minute ride on a vintage 19th-century riverboat is the perfect way to begin a day at this quaint, tranquil island—and about the only way to get there. Stern-wheelers depart from the docks of downtown Parkersburg, just outside a museum devoted to the island’s colorful, turbulent history.

On the island, visitors can tour the Blennerhassett mansion, catch a narrated horse-drawn carriage ride, stroll along tree-shaded paths, or enjoy a picnic. Originally built in 1800, the mansion was the proud homestead of Harman Blennerhassett, a wealthy Irish aristocrat. Six years later he was forced to flee the island due to charges of complicity in a treason plot with the famous U.S. politician Aaron Burr. In 1811 the magnificent mansion burned to the ground. More than 160 years later archaeologists unearthed its foundations and inspired its glorious rebuilding. Today docents in period costumes conduct tours. Harman Blennerhassett was not the island’s only notable resident. It was once claimed by Native American tribes. Then during the 1760s the celebrated Delaware Native American chief Nemacolin made his home here, before the white settlers came in the 1780s. In its pioneer heyday Blennerhassett was visited by such legendary figures as Walt Whitman, Henry Clay, and Johnny Appleseed.

Museum open year-round; island reachable only when stern-wheelers run, from early May – late Oct. Separate admission fees for each.

www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com

(304) 420-4800