Look Back: Progress in Parkersburg

Historical newspaper excerpts from the Wood County Historical Society

Photo Provided The old and the new. A modern CSX engine emerges from one of the 23 tunnels that were required to connect Parkersburg to Grafton by rail. The railroad, completed in 1857, soon thereafter became part of the B&O system. Several of the tunnels are now part of the North Bend Rails to Trails system.

Railroad meeting

We learn that it is contemplated to hold a Railroad Meeting on Monday, provided our country friends can forego attendance upon those everlasting Constable’s Sales, long enough to attend to matters of really great concern to this section. Let the meeting be a thumper!


Railroad petition

We again must request those having railroad petitions in their charge to forward them to this office forthwith. Our Delegate will soon start for Richmond and it is desirable that those documents be placed in his hands prior to his departure. Friends, please attend to this matter now and don’t render another call necessary!

The Parkersburg Gazette/Courier

Nov. 16, 1850


The Parkersburg railroad [from the Baltimore Patriot]

We stated on Wednesday that a committee of the City Council had gone to Annapolis [Maryland] with reference to the Parkersburg Rail Road. The object of the committee in visiting Annapolis is to get the Legislature to act promptly on the bill authorizing the city of Baltimore to make a subscription or loan to secure the early commencement and completion of the vitally important work to the prosperity of the city, of making the rail road to Parkersburg.

We had yesterday the pleasure of an interview with Mr. Cook, the President, and Mr. Van Winkle, the Secretary of the Northwestern (Parkersburg) Rail Road, who are now in the city [Annapolis] on the business of the Company. The information we received from them of the progress already made in the location of the line of the road, and the facts which they brought to our attention, more than justify all that we have said of the importance of prompt action on the part of our citizens and City Council [of Annapolis], and of the advantages which the road must bring to the prosperity of the city.

Mr. Cook and Mr. Van Winkle will return home shortly, but we hope that they will not do so, without carrying with them the certain assurance that the means of making the road will be ready at the earliest moment wanted.

Reprinted in the Parkersburg Gazette

March 27, 1852


Parkersburg in 1852

In the last dozen years this city has been the scene of every imaginable procession, celebration, and illumination to celebrate certain events, but there was no event of the kind in this city that had so much importance attached to it as the celebration and the illumination of Parkersburg, in 1852, when it was a village of about eight hundred inhabitants, in honor of a hard fought battle and victory for the right of way to build a railroad from Grafton to Parkersburg. The illumination was a peculiar one, there was not a pane of glass in any window in the village larger than 8×10 and was lighted up by tallow-dipped candles. It was a night of rejoicing, speeches were made and, as there was no music, songs were sung appropriate to the occasion and as remarked by an old citizen who was an active participant on that occasion: “The scene on that occasion will never be effaced from my memory.”

The Parkersburg Daily State Journal

July 22, 1886


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical Society. Would you like to help preserve our past for future generations? The society offers informative monthly meetings and an interesting, 20-page quarterly newsletter. Dues are just $15./year. Send to: WCHPS, P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.