By WAYNE TOWNER
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park will open for the 2017 season next Tuesday as visitors begin taking sternwheeler rides to visit the restored mansion and tour the historic island.
With the opening of the island on May 2, visitors can board the Island Belle Sternwheeler at Point Park in downtown Parkersburg for the trips to and from Blennerhassett Island.
Boat ride tickets will be sold at the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History at Second and Juliana streets in downtown Parkersburg, two blocks from the docking area at the city floodwall.
The rates are: museum admission $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 3-12; boat ride, $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 3-12; mansion tour, $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 3-12; and wagon ride, $6 for adults and $5 for children.
A couple of discounts will be available to visitors. Sundays are Senior Sundays, with seniors age 60 and above getting $1 off boat tickets and $2 off museum admission. A military discount will give $1 off boat tickets every day for active military members, as well as $2 off museum admission.
Beginning May 2 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. Sunday.
The 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.
For information or directions, call 304-420-4800 or online at www.blennerhassettislandstatepark.com.
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, which 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. A volunteer-operated golf cart is also available for those with mobility issues.
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 company also provides wagon rides at North Bend State Park using wooden wagons hand-built by Smith and his family.
The Island Belle is also available for charters when not involved in transporting visitors between Parkersburg and the island.
Blennerhassett Island is also bringing back some popular programs, including the Blennerhassett Breakfast Cruise, the Island Frolic, the Sundae Sunday cruise and Brunch with Margaret.
The first special event of the 2017 season will be the annual Rendezvous on the River from May 10-13. 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.
Like the mansion, the historic Putnam-Houser House, which was transported to the island from Belpre, is open for tours Fridays through Sundays this summer. Tours are free and will be guided by docents. A donation box is available with proceeds going to help maintain the historic home.
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