A strong case could be made that it was the rivers that first brought people to what is now Parkersburg and contributed greatly in its growth. The rivers were a good thing. But crossing them created problems.
The Virginia General Assembly took steps to alleviate the situation even before Wood County was officially formed. In January of 1798 legislation was enacted that established a ferry "from the lands of John Stokely, in the county of Harrison, across the Little Kanawha River, to his lands on the opposite shore, the price for a man, four cents and for a horse the same."
Two years later, after the formation of Wood County, it was enacted that more ferries be established. This act read: "That public ferries shall be constantly kept at the following places, and the rates for passing the same as followeth, that is to say: from the land of Hugh Phelps, in the county of Wood, across the Little Kanawha River, to the land claimed by the heirs of Alexander Parker, deceased, the price for a man six cents and one-fourth of a cent, and for a horse the same."
Photo from the WCHPS collection
Ferries such as the one pictured were used to cross the Little Kanawha River even into the 1950s.
Old Bradford Ferry
By Minnie E. Smith
Many questions have been asked about the old Bradford Ferry across the Little Kanawha at Parkersburg. I have interviewed a member of the family who allows me to quote from her:
"The old ferry boat, from 1831, when my father left Belpre, opposite Blennerhassett Island, to about 1851 when the Kanawha Bridge was built, was simply a flat boat with a gunwale on each side, and one about ten inches wide through the center. ...
"A great impression was made about fifteen years later after, when a rope was extended across (the river), fastened to each side of the boat, by means of pulleys. ...
Taken from The Pioneer Daughter, c. 1902
Inspect ferry: Which is being constructed at Nicolette approaches being built
The members of the County Court went out to Nicolette yesterday afternoon to inspect the ferry, which is being constructed across the Little Kanawha by the Nicolette Improvement Company, and which will soon be ready for operation, the ferry being located at the point of the old ferry, which had not been operated in years.
The ferry will be a great convenience to a number of persons on either side of the river.
From The Parkersburg Semi-Weekly Sentinel
Aug. 8, 1913
The Wood County Historical Society works to preserve yesterday for tomorrow. For more information, contact P.O. Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102