West Virginia Department of Commerce Mid-Ohio Valley

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Mid-Ohio Valley

Calhoun County
Created in 1856 from Gilmer County, this county was named for John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina statesmen. The area is known for petroleum, natural gas, lumber, hay, grain, poultry and dairy farming. Grantsville, the county seat, was named for President Ulysses S. Grant in 1896.

Jackson County
Created in 1831 from Kanawha, Mason and Wood Counties and was named in honor of President Andrew Jackson. Leading industrial and agricultural products are pulpwood, oil, gas, poultry, livestock and tobacco. The county seat of Ripley was originally chartered in 1832 and named for Harry Ripley, who drowned in Big Mill Creek in 1830. Ripley is home to the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair, the granddaddy of all the West Virginia arts and crafts fairs.

The town was the site of the last public hanging in West Virginia in 1897 when John F. Morgan was hung for the murder of three members of the Pfost‑Greene family on December 16.

Pleasants County
Named for James Pleasants, Jr., governor of Virginia from 1822‑1825, this county was created in 1851 from Ritchie, Tyler and Wood Counties. Petroleum, poultry and dairy farming are predominant in this area.

The county seat of St. Marys rests on the banks of the Ohio River. Alexander H. Creel named the town in 1849 in honor of the Virgin Mary, who Creel claimed appeared to him in a vision while he was aboard a steamer passing the area. St. Marys is home of the West Virginia Bass Festival.

Ritchie County
Formed from parts of Wood, Harrison and Lewis Counties in 1843 and named for the Virginia journalist, Thomas Ritchie. This county is known for petroleum, natural gas, clothing manufacturing, glass making, hay and grain.

Several garment factories are located in Harrisville, the county seat, which was chartered in 1869 and named for pioneer Thomas Harris. 

Cairo, the home of North Bend State Park, was incorporated in 1895. The name was derived from the city in Egypt due to the water and fertile grounds the first settlers (Scotch Presbyterians) found for their crops.

Roane County
Named for Judge Spencer Roane, son‑in-law of Patrick Henry, this area was created from parts of Kanawha, Jackson and Gilmer Counties in 1856. Leading industrial and agricultural products are petroleum, natural gas, lumber, hay, grain and poultry.

The county seat of Spencer was originally chartered in 1858 and known as New California. It was incorporated in 1867 and renamed in honor of Judge Spencer Roane. It has been home to the West Virginia Black Walnut Festival since 1956.

Wirt County
Formed from Wood and Jackson Counties in 1848 and named for noted author, orator and lawyer William Wirt. Lumber, petroleum, poultry and dairy farming are the leading industrial and agricultural products. The county is home to the Palestine State Fish Hatchery where four million bass are raised each year. Elizabeth, chartered in 1822, is the county seat and was named in honor of Elizabeth Beauchamp, wife of a prominent early settler.

Wood County
Named for Virginia Governor James Wood, 1796‑1799, in 1798. The main industrial and agricultural products of the county are nylon, tools, plastic, glass, pharmaceuticals, porcelain, electrical equipment, steel and metal products, petroleum, poultry, fruit, hay, grain and dairy farming.

Parkersburg, known as Newport until 1810, is the county seat. Also known as the "The Savings Bond Capital of America", every savings bond bought or redeemed has passed through Parkersburg since August, 1957. Early in 1862 the first public school for black children in the south, opened in Parkersburg. In 1798, exiled Irish aristocrats Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett built an estate on an island in the Ohio River located at Parkersburg and became entangled in Aaron Burr's ill‑fated expedition to the southwest. The Virginia militia invaded the island causing Burr and the Blennerhassetts to flee. After Burr's treason trial, the Blennerhassetts lost their fortune and died in poverty. Their mansion burned to the ground in 1811. The mansion has been rebuilt and is open to the public on the grounds of Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park.

The Ohio River, between Blennerhassett Island and Parkersburg, has long been regarded by rivermen as one of the most dangerous sections through which to maneuver a craft. It gained the dubious title "Graveyard of the Ohio,” since numerous boats sank there. 

Williamstown, located north of Parkersburg, was incorporated in 1921 and named for its founder Isaac Williams. It is home to Fenton Art Glass Company, one of the world's major producers of decorator art glass. Fenton includes a glass museum which illustrates the history of glass blowing in the area.