PARKERSBURG - The city of Parkersburg and its leaders played important roles in the creation of the state of West Virginia during the Civil War.
That information and other historical information about the Parkersburg and Wood County region are the focus of a new video developed by the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau as part of the country's ongoing Civil War Sesquicentennial.
Titled "This Issue Is Upon Us: Civil War in the Mid-Ohio Valley," the video was premiered Tuesday at the Judge Black Annex for about 60 people, including invited representatives and members of the public. The video includes interviews with area historians, video of re-enactors, historical images and maps.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
A portrait of Harman Blennerhassett and his island, describing the history of the family and island during the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau presentation of the valley and its involvement in the Civil War.
Jim Miracle, a member and coordinator of Carlin's Battery D, a group of Civil War re-enactors, was involved in the video's production, including appearing among the re-enactors on screen.
"I think it's a great piece of historical significance. It does show our role and I was glad to have a bunch of our local people in it," Miracle said.
Steve Nicely, who retired this summer as president of the CVB, said work began on the video in 2008 with the goal of commemorating West Virginia's sesquicentennial in 2013 as part of the overall Civil War commemoration. The CVB worked with Stonewall Marketing in Marietta and The Walkabout Co. in Wheeling on the project.
While the Mid-Ohio Valley experienced no major battles during the Civil War, it was not left totally unscathed. Guerrilla warfare and skirmishes were common throughout the region.
Parkersburg served as a strategic transportation and supply center during the war. In addition, many of West Virginia's early leaders and politicians in the statehood movement were from Parkersburg.
Tom Crooks, president and CEO of Stonewall Marketing, said the development process was long and involved a lot of changes. Initially planned as a 15-minute short, those involved soon learned there was enough material to make a 60-minute or longer piece.
Along with funding issues which factored into the decision, it was decided to edit into the current 28-minute format favored by the Public Broadcasting System.
"To tell the complete story in a set period of time is very challenging," Crooks said.
"The piece is magnificent, it's comprehensive and we're very proud of it," he said.
The 28-minute video was designed with PBS in mind. Nicely said the CVB has received indications that West Virginia Public Broadcasting is interested in using it this fall.
The CVB will be donating copies to area libraries, and Nicely hopes the local school systems will be interested in using it as part of their history instruction.
Rick Wolfe, a commissioner on the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Civil War Commission, was present Tuesday for the video's premier and thought it was an "outstanding project."
"I hope that a lot of communities will do something similar to this- not necessarily film- but things like this to keep the Civil War local and to advertise it throughout the state," he said.
Mark Lewis, who succeeded Nicely this summer as CVB president, said he was proud of the work done by Nicely, the CVB and others on the production.
"I really think it will be valuable in teaching the important history of Wood County in that period of time to our school kids," he said.
Beginning in early October, Nicely said, the CVB will be selling copies of the video for $5 to the public, for those interested in the subject matter or the video itself. The cost is not a revenue producer for the CVB and is to cover material costs, Nicely said.