Look Back: Infrastructure complaints nothing new

Historical newspaper excerpts from the Wood County Historical Society

Photo provided by Nadine Hoffmann Though the streets of Parkersburg were often in terrible condition, they probably weren’t quite as bad as the one this school bus is attempting to traverse in rural Wood County.


We understand that two fire engines are to be purchased for this city, and when not otherwise in use, to be employed in pumping water from the lake at the corner of Neal (Second Street) and Juliana streets to the Dutch Gap canal. The green scum is to be left out, until the whole canal has been furnished with chloride of lime.


On the lake at the corner of Juliana and Neal (Second) streets, we find a rapid increase of young ducks, but they draw their legs up worse than ever to avoid being caught by the vermin that are accumulating there in the shape of a sword fish, turtle and a few other animals that snap as closely as an oil man with a tract in a great break. In the fear that our city will delay a little in securing the engine to pump the water into the Dutch Gap canal, we propose to relieve the ducks by sending down a rooster that a tenant of our next door neighbor neglected to take away when he vamoosed the ranch, that his crow may keep the varmints from disturbing the ducks. We are well satisfied by observation that the rooster can stand on the green scum of that lake and not wet a foot, and he would be of great service to the ducks. We propose the council take him down and keep him until they can get the fire engines to pump the water out.

Both reports from The Parkersburg Weekly Times

June 30, 1865


Wharf paved

The paving of the wharf has been completed on the Kanawha front. We have now a fine landing and will not be annoyed with as much mud as we were wont in former years. Gradually the work of improvement goes forward.


Street man traps

Water melon rinds, Peach parings and apple skins are certainly dangerous to the pedestrian when thrown on the sidewalk (boardwalk). We noticed a few days ago a person fall violently on the pavement, having stepped on a peach paring, injuring himself and damaging his clothes considerably. The practice is reprehensible, and the authorities should punish any one offending, by a penalty which would learn them to be careful.

Both reports from The Parkersburg Daily Times

Sept. 2, 1865


Composition pavement

Messrs Cole & Co. are putting down a composition pavement of gravel and gas tar with a hardening substance in front of Mr. Gambrill’s lot on Ann Street which appears to us as one of the best that can be made. It is highly recommended by the most prominent men in Frederick, Md., where it is now generally used.

The Parkersburg Daily Times

Oct. 27, 1865


City improvements

More board-walks is the order of the day. They are on Harriet (Fourth) street at present. Pretty soon strangers coming to our city will discover that we have very primitive notions in regard to improvements. But our dads (city council) are wise, they know what the children under their care are needing. So lay the boards along; it is pleasant to listen to the tramping at all hours of the night.

The Parkersburg Daily Times

March 12, 1868


Bob Enoch is the president of the Wood County Historical Society. The group meets at 7p.m. on the last Monday of each month in the Summers Auditorium at the Wood County Public Library on Emerson Avenue. They do not meet in December. For more information, contact P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102