George Washington Trail In West Virginia
GEORGE WASHINGTON & HENDERSON HALL
George Washington surveyed land above the Ohio River at Parkersburg for the Henderson Hall land grant signed by Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia. While in this area, which he called "the Ohio River Crowded with Islands," he surveyed and hunted on those notable islands.
Today, Henderson Hall is still occupied by descendants of the original family and retains all of its contents. The rare clocks, rosewood piano, silver and china, twelve-foot gilt mirror and other unique pieces are not antiques; they are the daily furnishings of successive residents. The three-story Italianate mansion with an intriguing silhouette was a center of social and political life for nearly two centuries. An original Federal portion was built overlooking the Ohio River in 1836; the mansion was added just before the Civil War for a total of twenty-nine rooms. Fortunately for modern visitors, the Hendersons kept everything from dresses and portraits to correspondence from everyone they knew -- and they knew everyone important at the time. There is a cherry stair railing that runs continuously from the first to the third floor and the floors are original wood. The major change was the addition of electricity early in this century.
Today, in less than one hundred miles, more than forty islands litter the Ohio River ranging from less than an acre to more than four hundred acres. Many have sandy beaches. There is only one bridge, from St. Mary's to Middle Island, connecting the Ohio River islands to the mainland -- and none connecting them to each other. Their prized wildlife ecosystems include bald eagles, peregrine falcons, beaver, mink, muskrat and over thirty species of freshwater mussels including the endangered pink mucket and fanshell. Fifteen of the West Virginia islands are currently part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
- Henderson Hall. SR14 Parkersburg to Williamstown. 4.5 mi past Vienna line -- River Rd & sign. Sundays May-Oct 1-4pm. Fee. (304) 375-2129.
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