A park with a view
Get in your exercise for the day by walking to the little park at the top of Quincy Hill. The steps to the top of the hill will give you an excellent cardio workout...and the view will steal what is left of your breath! There is a sweeping view of the river and the downtown historic district. The site of the park has several claims to historic interest. It is both the site of a civil war tent-city hospital as well as having once been the site of the Parkersburg's ill-fated reserve water tanks which were responsible for one of the worse disasters to befall the town.
On March 19, 1909 both city water tanks burst, sending two million gallons of water in a high speed gush down the steep hill. Three people died, a number were badly injured, and several homes and a church were destroyed. The park exists to mark the site of the water tanks which caused the disaster.
The location of the park was also the site of one of the five war hospitals which were located in Parkersburg during the Civil War. The tent encampment hospital on top of Quincy Hill held from 500-1000 wounded and ill soldiers who could not be accommodated in one of the other hospitals in town.
The steps up to the park are located on Avery Street across from the intersection with 10th Street. A wooden gazebo (nice place to rest before starting up) is located near the bottom of the stairs. I haven't counted the stairs, but if you do, leave a comment and tell us how many there are! If you lack the time or energy to climb the steps to the top, it is possible to drive to the park. Heading north on Avery Street, turn left at 13th St. go one block and turn right on Quincy Street. The park is at the top of the hill.
The walk is free, good for the heart, and good for the soul. What more could you ask for? By the way, if you have small children, there is a playground across the street from the Quincy Hill overlook, as well as a public bathroom.
Don't forget your camera! One of the photos accompanying this article was taken by my stepson, JJ Dasher, of the Quincy Hill steps after a snowfall several years ago. He was generous enough to give me a copy of the photo to attach to this article.
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Watch the River roll by....
Heaven help me, I've discovered yet another park with lovely views. This one is very obscure--I've never heard about it but just discovered it by accident this week. It was a wonderful place to watch dawn breaking over the city and the river. The park is equipped with a few swings, benches, a covered picnic pavilion and a small dock. Ducks hang out around the dock, looking for handouts.
If you are looking for real peace and quiet, and gorgeous serene views, this might be a really good bet. It would be a great place to take a date on a romantic picnic. Perhaps, in other seasons and at other times, the park is not so deserted and quiet...but on a cold and snowy January morning near dawn, you could not ask for a better place for private contemplation.
To find this hidden gem of a park, you must find your way to Kokomo's first. Kokomos is a bar and restaurant located at the confluence of the Little Kanawha River and the Ohio River across from downtown Parkersburg. Getting there is complicated.... From downtown Parkersburg, take East Street (one way so you can't go the wrong direction) across the East Bridge to Camden Avenue. Turn right on Camden Avenue. Turn right on Johnson Street. Turn right on 4th Avenue. Follow 4th Avenue around the curve and take the right hand fork down the hill onto Milton Street. Stay on Milton Street, which turns into 1st Avenue. 1st Avenue dead ends at Kokomos. The park is right next to Kokomos rear parking lot.
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Visit Rinky Dink's & do some wheelin'& dealin'
This is one place where you are unlikely to run into other tourists. There are no flyers or brochures at the West Virginia Welcome Center about this place. It's mostly known only to locals--and locals of a particular persuasion...the avid bargain hunters and collectors of things.
Rinkys Dink's is a large (90,000 sq. ft) indoor flea market (with heating and air conditioning), open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 or 6 pm. It's located in an old supermarket or department store, just south of Marietta on Ohio Route 7. The store that formerly occupied the building was named Rink's...the current flea market is referred to by everyone as Rinky Dink's. I dunno if that's their official name--but it's the only one I've ever heard anyone call it. Inside the building are hundreds of vendors with an incredible array of stuff to sell.
If you are hunting for cheap souvenirs to take home, this might be a good place to find something inexpensive and unique. If you collect Fenton glass...well, you can find it all over this area in the antique shops and secondhand stores but the dealers in Rinky Dink's have the most under a single roof. Williamstown, the home of Fenton Glass, is just across the river from the Rinky Dink's flea market. Lots of the glass collected by the former employers and area collectors eventually ends up here. If you aren't interested in Fenton glass, it don't make no never mind. Whatever your interests, I'll bet you can find something here you'll like. There's plenty here to appeal to collectors of all sorts...china, coins, dolls, trains, tools, glass other than Fenton, books, etc.
There is food on the premises--a simple breakfast/lunch counter menu, no table service. I've not eaten here (always more interested in shopping than eating when I'm here) but lots of folks do. The building housing Rinky Dink's could charitably be described as "rundown" but it is kept clean.
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Tour haunted Parkersburg
Every fall a local group offers walking tours of haunted Parkersburg. Whether you are a true believer or a scoffing skeptic, the tour is enjoyable and informative. In fact, it is one of the most popular and acclaimed ghost tours in the nation, although it didn't quite make the top ten list. After going on it two different years, I can personally attest to its popularity and entertainment value! The tour schedule varies slightly from year to year, but generally is available from the end of September through the beginning of November on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30. The tour takes 1.5 to 2 hours and covers one and a half to two miles of the downtown Parkersburg area. If you are going on the tour, no reservation is necessary. Simply show up at the Blennerhassett Hotel lobby shortly 15 minutes or so before the tour starting time and pay for your ticket. The folks in the long black cloaks are the tour guides--so just find one of them and get your tickets from them. Last year, the tour cost $8 per adult, half price for children.
They also offer private haunted tours during the Halloween season or anytime of the year as long as weather permits and you have a party of least eight adults. The charge for private tours is $10.00 per adult and $5.00 per child under the age of 14. The regular tours cost less than the private tours.
ANOTHER Park with a view....
Fort Boreman park has recently opened. Located on a bluff above the confluence of the Little Kanawha and Ohio Rivers, the scenic overlook offers a superb panoramic view of Parkersburg, Belpre, and Blennerhassett Island. Above the overlook, at the summit of Fort Boreman hill, is the foundation of the Civil War fort/outpost which was located here.
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Go off the chain in Edison Arboretum
Looking for a pleasant place to go for a walk and leave the city behind? A visit to the 12 acre Edison arboretum can make you feel as if you have escaped into the country. Furthermore, the arboretum is fenced (with chain link fencing) and you can, with care, let your dog off the leash once on the trail.
Edison arboretum has been restored (thanks to Wood County Master Gardeners and a host of other local contributors and community organizations) and reopened to the public. This arboretum, located next to the Edison Middle School (formerly known as Edison Junior High School) is the property of the Wood County Board of Education but is open to the public year round. There are four maintained foot trails...and a total of one and one-third miles of trails in all. There are trail map signs at the entrance of the arboretum, showing the different trail routes. There are also brochures available near the entrance, which include a trail map as well as information about the plants and trees to be found in the arboretum. Specimens of the various trees to be found within the arboretum are marked with appropriate signs.
There are benches placed here and there throughout the arboretum, as well as an outdoor classroom intended for the use of the local schools. Wood County Master Gardeners maintain the arboretum and offer programs from time to time. The annual spring wildflower walk usually draws a good crowd, even though the date changes from year to year, depending on the weather and bloom time for the wildflowers. Check the local paper or Craigslist for announcements on the dates for arboretum events.
It is usually quiet inside the arboretum, especially when school is not in session. However, the school's cross country team uses the arboretum trails for running practice. During school hours you may also encounter a class using the outdoor classroom...or teachers may have their class out on the trails for other reasons. If you do walk your dog here, and want to let him or her off the leash, I would recommend using some caution about when you do this. The arboretum is surrounded by chain link fence, so if you are careful about when you do it, you are probably safe in letting your dog loose for a walk as long as your pet is reasonably well behaved. But you should also be aware that trees come down from time to time (like after the recent ice storm) and sometimes take out sections of the fence when they fall. So use your judgment and be careful about when you let your pet off the leash.
If you are not familiar with the location of Edison Middle School, the address is 1201 Hillcrest Street, Parkersburg, WV but the physical location of the school is actually on 12th Avenue. Directions to the arboretum: From Camden Avenue, turn west onto Rayon Drive. Turn left onto 12th Avenue and follow the street to the end where it loops around the entrance of the school and becomes 14th Avenue. Park in the small parking lot across from the entrance of Edison school. The arboretum entrance is across from the entrance of the school bordering on the small parking lot. Brochures and trail maps are available near the arboretum entrance. The arboretum is open during daylight hours.
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