Greater Parkersburg

Burning Springs

Four-County Historic Driving Tour

Directions from Parkersburg to Elizabeth
Take I-77 South to the Mineral Wells exit (#170)

Turn left onto WV 14 South to Elizabeth (14 miles)
At 3-way stop in Elizabeth turn left on Court Street
Courthouse and parking are on the right

Wirt County
Wirt County was formed in 1848 from Wood and Jackson Counties.  It was named after William Wirt, a lawyer from Maryland, who was prominent in the prosecution of Aaron Burr.  The county seat is Elizabeth, named in honor of Elizabeth Woodyard Beauchamp, wife of David Beauchamp, early Wirt County pioneers.  Development of the Burning Springs oil fields started in 1859, year of the Titusville, Pennsylvania oil boom.

WV Historic Highway Marker - Elizabeth
Location: Corner of Washington and Court Streets, in front of courthouse
Inscription: Settled by William Beauchamp, 1796.  Named for wife of David Beauchamp.  Near here in 1752, Christopher Gist placed a marker for the Ohio Company, whose plan to colonize the western lands was halted by the French and Indian War.

1.  Wirt County Courthouse, Washington Street, Elizabeth
Phone: (304) 275-4271
Included in the list of County Courthouses of West Virginia.  Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Museum and the Kanawha Hotel are located two blocks behind the Wirt County Courthouse on Court Street. 

2.  Beauchamp-Newman Museum, Corner of Court and Mulberry Streets, Elizabeth
Phone: (304) 275-6534
Open by appointment only.  This building was built from local handmade bricks in the 1830's by Alfred Beauchamp. Later this building served as Wirt County's first Courthouse. The museum displays an array of documents, heirlooms, and relics of pioneers donated by many citizens. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

3.  Kanawha Hotel, Corner of Court Street and Riverview Road (Across from Beauchamp-Newman Museum), Elizabeth
Constructed by architect Manlove Beauchamp in the 1800's, this building was previously a hotel but is now a private home.  Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Directions from Elizabeth to Burning Springs
Continue on WV 14 South to WV 5 East (0.5 miles)

Turn Left onto WV 5 East then turn left onto Chestnut Road (Ruble Church) (5.5 miles)
Ruble Church is 3 miles from WV 5 (2 miles of paved road then 1 mile of dirt road)

WV Historic Highway Marker – Ruble Church
Location: Junction of WV 5 and County Route 35/6 (Chestnut Road) southeast of Elizabeth
Inscription: One of the oldest "still attended" churches in the state, it was built in 1835 of hand-hewed logs. Much effort has been expended on the preservation of church's original appearance. It is heated by a potbellied stove and lighted by kerosene lights. Deed book states that all denominations, except those of "Northern Principles," were welcome. Many graves in the church cemetery predate the Civil War.

4.  Ruble Log Church, Junction of CR 34/1 and 34/2, Burning Springs
This building was built in 1835 by Aaron Ruble using hand-hewn logs.  The church remains in its original appearance and is one of the state's oldest attended churches and one of the oldest structures in the Little Kanawha River Valley.  The building once served as a schoolhouse. Next to the Church is a small graveyard with some grave markers dating back to before the Civil War.  Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Continue on WV 5 East to Rathbone Well and Museum (2.2 miles)

Rathbone Well and Museum parking on left 

WV Historic Highway Marker – Rathbone Well
Location: WV 5 at Burning Springs
Inscription: The first well in West Virginia drilled solely for petroleum was located near the mouth of Burning Springs Run.  The well was drilled with a "spring pole" by the Rathbones and others from Parkersburg, begun in 1859, completed May, 1860.  Produced at the rate of 100 barrels per day.  In 1863, General Jones commanding Confederate forces set fire to the oil stored in tanks, barrels and boats, destroying in a day an estimated 300,000 barrels of oil.

5.  Rathbone Oil Field Park & Museum, on WV 5 South of Elizabeth near Burning Springs
Phone: (304) 485-5446
The Rathbone Well, an 1880's era drilling facility, has been completely cleaned and refitted and now serves as a "living history park" to the public.  The Rathbone Well is West Virginia's oldest producing oil well.  When the well was first drilled in 1860, it produced a natural flow of more than one barrel every minute at the original depth of 139 feet.  The Rathbone gusher prompted an oil boom in Burning Springs that peaked after the Civil War with an average of 50 oil companies incorporating each year from 1865 to 1867.  The town of Burning Springs changed its name in 1861 to Rathbone (after the first well), although by 1868 the boom slowed down and the town went back to its former name.  Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.  Open dawn to dusk for self guided tours.  Museum is open Saturday and Sunday.

Directions from Burning Springs to Grantsville
Continue on WV 5 East towards Grantsville (19.2 miles)

Calhoun County
Formed in 1856 from Gilmer County.  Named for John C. Calhoun, eminent statesman from South Carolina.  Is an important oil and gas-producing county.  It is largely devoted to farming and has been prominent in livestock raising.

WV Historic Highway Marker - Grantsville
Location: Grantsville, courthouse square, Main (WV 5) & Court Streets
Inscription: Town was laid out in 1866 on farm of Simon P. Stump and named for Gen. Grant.  Became permanent county seat of Calhoun in 1869, after 13 years of moving county seat from place to place.  Incorporated 1896.

6.  Calhoun County Courthouse, On Court Street and Main Street, Grantsville
Phone: (304) 354-5690

Directions from Grantsville to Harrisville
Turn left onto Market Street

Turn left onto WV 16 North towards Harrisville (27.5 miles)

Ritchie County
Formed in 1843 from Lewis, Harrison and Wood Counties.  Ritchie County was named in honor of Thomas Ritchie, a distinguished journalist of Richmond, VA, whose uncle was Judge Spencer Roane, for whom Roane County was named.  In 1772, Elias and Jess Hughes and Colonel William Lowther explored this region to the Ohio River.  Hughes River was named by them.

WV Historic Highway Marker - Harrisville
Location: WV 16, at junction with WV 31, Harrisville
Inscription: Named for Thomas Harris. His nephew, General Thomas Harris, distinguished himself in the Union Army at Petersburg and Cedar Creek. He was one of the commissioners who tried those charged with plotting assassination of Lincoln.

7.  Ritchie County Courthouse, 115 E. Main Street, Harrisville
Phone: (304) 643-2164
Included in the list of County Courthouses of West Virginia.  Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

8.  Berdines 5 & Dime, 106 North Court Street. off Main Street, Harrisville
Phone: (304) 643-2217
One of America's oldest 5 & Dime stores.  Since 1908 Berdines has sold tin toys, bulk candies, and practical and unusual items from yesteryear.  Open daily except Sunday.

9.  General Thomas M. Harris School Museum, 217 West Main Street, Harrisville
This historic 125-year-old building served Harrisville as a grade school, high school and board of education office.  The building is now the office of the Ritchie County Economic Development Authority and a Museum.  Museum displays include historic school items, veterans' exhibits, and the history of the region's industries.  The restoration of the building is an ongoing project.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.  Open Friday and Saturday, May through August.

Follow signs to North Bend State Park (3.4 miles)

North Bend Outfitters, 100 E. Main Street, Harrisville
Phone: (304) 299-1768
Rent bikes for your family to ride on the North Bend Rail Trail or on the many bike trails in the North Bend State Park.  Rent canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, or a john boat to use on the 305 acre lake located in the North Bend State Park.

10.  North Bend State Park
Phone: 1-800-CALLWVA or 304-643-2931
At the heart of Ritchie County is North Bend State Park, which contains more than 2,600 acres of beautiful countryside in the rolling West Virginia hills.  The park features a new 305-acre lake, the North Fork of the Hughes River, a modern year-around lodge and restaurant, 29 guest rooms, eight deluxe cedar cabins tucked into a pine forest, several picnic areas, a swimming pool, playgrounds, 78 campsites with more expected soon, endless hiking, biking and fishing, and lots of programmed activities.  Conference facilities are available. 

Directions from Harrisville to Pennsboro
Continue on WV 16 North to US 50 (4.9 miles)

Take US 50 East to Pennsboro Road (3.5 miles)
Turn left off of US 50 East to Pennsboro (1.6 miles)

Old Turnpikes
US 50 was originally called the Northwestern Turnpike.  George Washington, who had favored the Braddock Road, proposed the Northwestern Turnpike to the Ohio through Virginia in 1784.  The Northwestern Turnpike was completed to Parkersburg in 1838.  The road from Staunton to Parkersburg (roughly following present-day WV 47) was opened in 1847.

WV Historic Highway Marker - Pennsboro
Location: WV 74, Pennsboro
Inscription: Settled by John Bunnell, a veteran of the Revolution, near the salt lick which attracted great game herds.  The "Stone House", built about 1807 by John Webster, was one of the famous inns on the Northwestern Turnpike.

To get to the B&O Depot follow WV 74 North

Turn left onto Main Street
Turn right onto Masonic Avenue
Depot and parking on left

11.  Pennsboro B&O Railroad Depot, On Park Drive along the North Bend Rail Trail, Pennsboro
Phone: Suzanne Hadley (304) 643-4880
Tour the old B&O Depot and view the collection of railroad artifacts.

12.  North Bend Rail Trail
Phone: 1-800-CALLWVA or 304-643-2931
The North Bend Rail Trail is one of the nation’s premier rail trails.  Currently more than 72 miles long and stretching through four counties, the rail trail features 13 tunnels (at least one of which is reportedly haunted!) and more than three dozen bridges.  It begins outside Parkersburg and runs east to Wilsonburg, with an additional 4.9 miles soon to be added, extending the trail into Clarksburg.  The trail is also a leg of the American Discovery Trail, the nation’s only coast-to-coast trail.  The former B&O railroad corridor is loaded with history and scenery, and wanders through small towns and pastoral farms, and provides hikers, bikers and equestrians with comfortable access to some rugged and remote West Virginia wilderness.  Trailheads are established in numerous locations along its length.

13.  Davis Studio Glass, On Park Drive behind the B&O Depot, Pennsboro
Phone: (304) 659-2537
See the second generation of the Davis family's creations of beautiful and unique marbles.  Open daily, closed Sundays.

The Old Stone House Museum is located on Myles Avenue on the right as you head back to US 50

WV Historic Highway Marker – The Stone House
Location: WV 74, Pennsboro
Inscription: The Webster House, now known as The Stone House, was built shortly after 1800. The walls of the house are two feet thick, constructed of flagstones of various shapes and sizes held together by cement and mortar.  John Webster, the builder, sold it to James Martin in 1815. It remained in the Martin family until 1908 when it was sold to A. J. Ireland.  In 1820, the first post office in Ritchie County was located in The Stone House and James Martin became the county's first postmaster.  For many years the only house between Clarksburg and Parkersburg, it served as a stagecoach inn.  Horses were kept there for exchange on the trip.

14.  The Old Stone House Museum, 310 Myles Avenue, Pennsboro
The Old Stone House was constructed in 1810-1815.  The Ritchie County Historical Society was formed in 1973 and bought the Old Stone House in 1977 where they have since transformed the Old Stone House into a 20+ room museum and a genealogy library.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.  To schedule a tour of the Old Stone House Museum or use the genealogy library contact any of the following:
Charles Dotson, 304-659-3962
Diane Cox, 304-659-3555
David Scott, 304-643-2738
Suzanne Hadley, 304-643-4880

Directions from Pennsboro to Cairo
Take US 50 West to Cairo Road (12.6 miles)

Turn left onto Cairo Road towards Cairo (4.3 miles)

15.  R.C. Marshall Hardware Company Store, Main Street and McGregor Street, Cairo
Phone: (304) 628-3324
The R.C. Marshall Hardware Company will take you back to the olden days as soon as you step through the door.  The store boasts original tin ceilings, rolling ladders and an array of vintage showcases filled with 1890's supplies.  A great place to search for the uncommon.  Open daily. 

Country Trails Bikes, Inc., Main Street, Cairo
Phone: (304) 628-3100
Bike rentals available daily.  Rent bikes to ride on the North Bend Rail Trial.

16.  Bank of Cairo, Junction of Main Street and former Baltimore & Ohio Line, Cairo
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

Directions from Cairo to Volcano
Take Cairo Road towards US 50 (4.3 miles)

Turn left onto US 50 West towards Parkersburg and I-77 (6.3 miles)
Turn left towards Mountwood Park and Volcano
The Mountwood Park Administrative Building is located on the right (1.1 miles)

Wood County
Formed in 1798 from Kanawha and Harrison Counties, and named for James Wood, governor of Virginia.  Blennerhassett Island, scene of alleged Burr-Blennerhassett plot to establish a colony in the southwestern territory, is important historic landmark.

17.  Mountwood Park, US 50 East of Parkersburg, Volcano
Phone: (304) 679-3611 or 1-877-1688
A recreational park that caters to almost any outdoor activity.  Attractions include: hiking, mountain biking trails, fishing, paddleboat, kayak, canoe, and johnboat rentals, miniature golf, game courts, ball fields, disc-golf course, shooting range, and camping.

Directions from Mountwood Park to Parkersburg
Turn left onto US 50 West towards Parkersburg and I-77 (11.9 miles)