Parkersburg, located at the confluence of the Ohio and Little Kanawha Rivers, is the third largest city in the State of West Virginia. It is the county seat of Wood County and the largest city in the Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 31,492 at the 2010 census. It is about 14 miles south of Marietta, Ohio.
Parkersburg was connected to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1857, but lacked a crossing over the Ohio River until after the American Civil War. When constructed 1868-1870, the Parkersburg Bridge (CSX) by the B&O to Belpre was the longest railroad bridge in the world.
Parkersburg was originally named Newport when it was laid out in the late 18th century following the American Revolutionary War. A town section was laid out over land granted to Alexander Parker for his Revolutionary War service, as Virginia, which then controlled the territory, was using land grants in lieu of cash payments to veterans. The title conflicts between Parker and the city planners of Newport were settled in 1809 in favor of his heirs. The town was renamed Parkersburg in 1810. It was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1820. It was rechartered as a city in 1860.
The town was the terminus of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike and the Northwestern Turnpike. In 1857 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad built a branch line south to the town from Wheeling. Travelers wanting to connect with the Ohio Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad, one of the east-west lines along the Ohio River, had to take a steamboat 14 miles north to Marietta, Ohio.
A planned railroad bridge was designed by Jacob Linville and finally constructed by the B&O in 1868-1870 between Parkersburg and Belpre, Ohio, as part of its main line from Baltimore to St. Louis, Missouri. This pulled away traffic and trade from Marietta. Today the structure is known as the Parkersburg Bridge (CSX).
The town was important as a transportation and medical center during the American Civil War. It became a transportation hub in the gas and oil boom following that war.
Blennerhassett Island is a historical site located in Parkersburg.