PARKERSBURG -Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park will open for the 2010 season Saturday when visitors can begin taking sternwheeler rides to visit the restored mansion and tour the historic island.
Due to work at Point Park in Parkersburg, people will board and leave the Island Belle sternwheeler going to and from Blennerhassett Island at Civitan Park in Belpre. For information or directions, call (304) 420-4800 or visit www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com.
Park superintendent Donna Smith said the ticket booth near the floodwall on Second Street in downtown Parkersburg will not be open this year. Boat tickets will be sold at the Blennerhassett Museum at Second and Juliana streets and at the visitors center on Blennerhassett Island. Smith said visitors will not have to show a ticket to get on the boat for the trip to the island, but must be able to show a ticket before being permitted to board the boat for the return trip from the island.
Smith said the Island Belle is also available for charters.
The main feature of Blennerhassett Island is the reconstructed Blennerhassett Mansion, which is furnished with many artifacts owned by Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett or coming from that period.
Other artifacts and items can be seen on display at the Blennerhassett Museum. The museum features three stories of exhibits, a video display telling the story of the Blennerhassetts and a gift shop.
Visits to the island provide visitors with the opportunity to take mansion tours guided by docents in period clothing and take narrated wagon rides. There are also bicycle rentals, a gift shop and a concession stand.
The Hardly Able Carriage Co., owned by John Smith of Ellenboro, W.Va., will return for another year of offering the wagon rides on the island.
The island's hours will change at various times throughout the season. The island is usually closed on Mondays, but will be open on Memorial Day and Labor Day. The museum will be open on Mondays by appointment only.
The first special event of the season will be Rendezvous on the River from May 5 to 8, Smith said. Pioneer re-enactors will set up camp on the island and show how early settlers and pioneers lived with authentic camps, demonstrations and period dress.
Beginning in June, Smith said Blennerhassett Island will also bring back some popular programs, including the Island Frolics, the Sundae Sunday and "Brunch with Margaret."
Over the past several years, park employees have been restoring the historic Putnam-Houser House, which was transported to the island from Belpre. The Putnam-Houser House was completed in 2009 and is open Saturdays and Sundays this summer. Tours are free and will be guided by docents, Smith said.
More volunteers are always needed on the island and in the museum. Volunteers can work in the gift shops in both places or learn to be docents and give tours of the mansion. For mansion docents, training and period clothing is provided.
For more information about Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park or the Blennerhassett Museum, call (304) 420-4800.
Museum admission $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 3 to 12.
Boat ride to the island, $8 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 12.
Mansion tour, $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 3 to 12.
Wagon ride, $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 to 12.
Beginning Saturday and running through early June, the island will be open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
The museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.