1935 History & Advantage of Parkersburg West Virginia
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1249 Gihon Road
Parkersburg WV 26101
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Many business executives and industrialists have found a distinct advantage in locating their firms or factories in a city of medium size. In recent years there has been an exodus of manufacturing plants, from the metropolitan cities and large industrial centers, to smaller communities. High taxes, excessive overhead, unfavorable labor conditions and congested housing, are some of the factors which prompted this movement. One of the important communities that has benefited by this change is Parkersburg, and she has been exceedingly fortunate in the character, type and diversity of firms that have established plants within her territory.
Progressive, ambitious and having the unusual advantages of a larger city, Parkersburg is anxious that as many enterprises as possible should relocate or embark upon their careers in her district. She has chartered her region for industrial projects, marked where there is safe sailing, and plotted the direction and probability of hopeful breezes. This data and information the Board of Commerce has collected for the guidance and benefit of those interested in locating in Parkersburg. The Board of Commerce is vitally interested in the type of expansion that will be of mutual benefit to city and industry. Therefore, the purpose of this booklet is to present a visualization of the industrial, commercial and economic advantages of Parkersburg, which will create an interest, conducive to her progress. A city may well be judged by its industries, and so in the perusal of the following pages, particular attention is directed to the character and diversity of the productive activities of Parkersburg.
THE CITY OF PARKERSBURG
LOCATED in a beautiful valley surrounded by rolling hills, on the western border of West Virginia, at the junction of two navigable rivers, the Ohio and the Little Kanawha, is the City of Parkersburg - the county seat of Wood. It is one hundred and fifty miles southwest of Pittsburgh and two hundred miles east of Cincinnati. This section is rich and replete in historical background - here at "The Point" in 1770 Washington met the unnamed Indian Chief, who prophesied Washington would become the ruler of a nation yet unborn. One mile below "The Point" lies lovely Blennerhassett Island romantic, mysterious, intriguing - where in 1805 Aaron Burr and Harmon Blennerhassett plotted a conquest of the Southwest Territory. This adventure with its tragic ending was an important episode in America's early history.
The "Town of Parkersburg," Virginia, was established in 1811, though it was not chartered by the General Assembly until 1820, at which time the population was 400. In 1863, after the Wheeling Convention had created the State of West Virginia, the West Virginia Legislature granted a charter to the "City of Parkersburg," which then had a population of 3,000. From this small beginning there has grown "Greater Parkersburg", with a population, including its outlying sections, of more than 50,000 - 98% American born. The city Government is commission in form, nonpartisan, and its officers are a Mayor and four Councilmen.
Parkersburg has about 45 miles of well paved clean streets. The business district is illuminated by boulevard lights, and traffic is controlled by a modern overhead signal system. The Police Department has reached a standard of excellence comparable
with that of any city. With its recently installed Police broadcasting station WPHQ, radio equipped cruiser cars, electric signal system, and a fine personnel of twenty-four men, the city is remarkably free from crime.
The city has an efficient and well trained Fire Department of twenty-nine men. Coupled with this man power is the latest motorized fire fighting equipment, housed in four modern fire stations, and a training tower. The efficiency of the fire department earns for the city a fourth class insurance rate, the lowest of any city in West Virginia. For the last two years Parkersburg has attained the position of second honor city in its class in the Inter-Chamber Fire Waste Contest. A municipally owned water system supplies the city with filtered water from eighteen wells, having a daily capacity of 9,OOO,OOO gallons, though only four or five of the wells are needed to meet the normal demand. A modern distribution system furnishes water to all parts of the city, conveying it from a reservoir of 6,000,000 gallons capacity. This city has never suffered in any drought from a water shortage.
The City-County Health Department functions in Parkersburg and Wood County. The department is in charge of a doctor-executive, who devotes full time to this work of safeguarding health. Taxes are lower than in most cities of Parkersburg's population and the city's finances are in a sound condition. The active civic organizations of the city are: Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Quota, Woman's, Business & Professional Women's Clubs, and the Junior League. The Community Chest, with an annual budget of $75,000 serves the charitable, welfare and character building organizations of the city.
Postal receipts of the Parkersburg Post Office for 1934 were $179,981.62. The United States Revenue Office for West Virginia is located in Parkersburg, having quarters in the New Post Office building. In the recently remodeled Federal Building, which adjoins the Post Office, Federal Court for the Northern District of West Virginia is held, presided over by Judge William E. Baker. Also located in the Federal Court building is West Virginia's only U. S. Weather Bureau. The Government of the U. S. saw fit to establish in this city the State Office of the Federal Housing Administration, occupying the fourth floor of the Union Trust Building.
There are two National and three State Banks having total deposits over $12,600,000.00, combined capital and surplus of more than $2,775,000.00 and resources of $15,950,000.00. There are three Building & Loan Associations, of which two are Federal, and a Community Savings & Loan Co. Parkersburg retail stores have a long established reputation for the extent and quality of their merchandise. They are modern, well equipped, and meet the needs of this progressive city. The retail trading area of Parkersburg contains a population of over 175,000. The city has five theatres with a total seating capacity of 3,500 and the largest convention hall in the State. There are two daily newspapers - the Parkersburg Sentinel, an evening paper; and the Parkersburg News, published every morning. Combined circulation is in excess of 20,000. The wholesale and jobbing houses distribute to an area having a population of more than 300,000.
This "City of Diversified Industries", has manufacturing establishments giving employment to more than 11,000 men and women, with an annual payroll of over $10,000,000.00. 'Dhe principal manufactured products are: vitro lite, rayon, shovels, oil-well supplies and derricks; gasoline, lubricating oils, porcelain, silk thread, floor and wall tile; castings, corrugated boxes, milk bottles, electric wiring devices, metal lath, and sheet steel products. The Ohio and Little Kanawha valleys are an important agriculture .section and the products of the farms find a ready market in Parkersburg.
Live stock, dairy products, poultry, poultry products, fruits and vegetables are produced abundantly in this territory. A live stock
market has been established here making Parkersburg an important live stock center. The Ohio Valley Cooperative Association, a clearing house for the various farm product organizations, is also located in the city. Practically all the farmers of this section are members of the Wood County Farm Bureau. Parkersburg was originally the center of the oil fields, and one of the first wells drilled in the United States was located but a short distance from this city. The old Camden Refinery, one of the first refineries in the country, was located here on the site of the present refinery of the Standard Oil Company, and men whose names are great in the oil industry, received their early training at this pioneer refinery in Parkersburg.
Just across the Ohio River from Parkersburg is the town of Belpre, Ohio, a pleasantly situated residential and truck gardening community, joined to Parkersburg by the Parkersburg-Belpre Community Bridge, over which U. S. Highway No. 50 leads to the west.
THE Little Kanawha Valley is rich in coal, oil, gas, hardwoods and . clay, and there are thousands of acres of land containing these natural resources but a short distance from Parkersburg. The hillsides are studded with timber camps, derricks and pumps, the valleys dotted with gas compressing stations, and saw-mills, while within a hundred miles of the city are located West Virginia's greatest producing coal fields. Sandstone is also plentiful. The thickly wooded hills are evidence of the abundance of lumber, and the hardwoods of this district are of exceptionally good grades. The United States Government has gone on record, with the contention that the hardwoods, and especially White Oak, of the Little Kanawha Valley, are far superior to any other domestic hardwoods. White Oak, Red Oak, Hard Maple, Yellow Poplar and Hickory, are the hardwoods found in this region.
The clay found in the hills is a hard tough shale, and used for such unglazed heavy grades of clay products as: brick, hollow tile and quarry tile. It is not suitable for fine pottery. Coal, oil and gas are the natural resources that make possible cheap power. The cost of power and fuel has been a deciding factor in the locating of many an industrial plant. Here in Parkersburg the low rates for these two giant helpers of industry are of special interest to industrialists. The Monongahela West Penn Public Service Company furnishes electric light and power for Parkersburg and its manufacturing plants. The company has a central power station and five substations serving Parkersburg with an available capacity of 35,000 kw per hour. Supplementing this there is a transmission line from the great power station at Reevesville, ready for any emergency. In addition to industrial use, its electricity is finding daily development in domestic and municipal fields. The West Penn company has a corps of trained engineers available for the solving of any power problem.
During the past ten years the application of electrical energy has increased about 200 per cent, and as the volume has gone up, rates have gone down. To power customers having a billing demand of 40 kilowatts or greater, the rates are as low as $0.01 per kilowatt hour. The natural gas of West Virginia is the best grade of gas found anywhere, and in comparison with artificial gas, which has about 600 B. T. U., it has a B. T. U. rating of 1060-nearly twice the heating capacity. Favorably located with respect to the large gas fields, Parkersburg industries are furnished this "finest of all fuels", by the Hope Natural Gas Company, at low prevailing rates. This company controls large fields, both developed and undeveloped, assuring Parkersburg consumers an adequate supply of natural gas for unlimited years to come. Just as electricity has its place as the chief energy for power, so has gas its undisputed position as the finest fuel.
Parkersburg is neither dominated nor wholly influenced by anyone industry. It is a "City of diversified industries", and it is this diversity which produces a much healthier condition than would otherwise obtain. Of its impressive list of industrial plants, there are but a few directly competitive as to product or market. This makes for an ideal situation, and one that is of mutual benefit to manufacturers and community. Firms have selected Parkersburg for the location of their plants, factories, warehouses or commercial enterprises for reasons as varied as the industries themselves. For example; the largest industrial plant in the city chose Parkersburg out of thirty cities, chiefly because of the abundance of pure mountain water in the Little Kanawha River. As the plant required from 4,000,000 to 6,000,000 gallons daily, the quantity and quality of the water was important. Another factory located here because of more intelligent labor, another because of abundant fuel, and others were attracted by low power rates, shipping facilities and good sites. All that have come have stayed.
Both male and female labor is plentiful, and it is doubtful if there is a city in the country that has a larger percentage of American born than Parkersburg - certainly none with as good American labor as this city. These men and women, many of them from the rural sections around Parkersburg, have developed that trained mechanical touch which gives to Parkersburg products the enviable reputation they enjoy in the markets of the world. Plant sites are selected because of many varying qualifications. A location valuable to one industry might be worthless for the use of another. For those industries requiring an abundance of water and those shippers desiring to take advantage of water transportation, river land locations are plentiful. For those requiring high ground or those wanting a location adjacent to a railroad, these too, may be had. In the Parkersburg area reasonably priced tracts are abundantly available in a diversity of sizes to satisfactorily fulfill the requirements of practically every type of manufacturing plant. It becomes clear at once that this area meets the needs which are more and more insisted upon by modern industrialists-namely; raw material, water, fuel, transportation, labor and land.
try might be worthless for the use of another. For those industries requiring an abundance of water and those shippers desiring to take advantage of water transportation, river land locations are plentiful. For those requiring high ground or those wanting a location adjacent to a railroad, these too, may be had. In the Parkersburg area reasonably priced tracts are abundantly available in a diversity of sizes to satisfactorily fulfill the requirements of practically every type of manufacturing plant. It becomes clear at once that this area meets the needs which are more and more insisted upon by modern industrialists-namely; raw material, water, fuel, transportation, labor and land.
Transportation and accessibility to markets, are of the greatest importance to the manufacturer. Whatever the means, railroad, truck, boat or plane, Parkersburg is so well served, as to meet the transport requirements of any business. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad maintains an excellent freight service for the industrial traffic of this area, being an important division center, with extensive railroad shops and yards. Fast freight trains, No. 96 and No. 97, give this city 72 hour delivery service to New York or St. Louis. In addition to this main line, the Ohio River Division of the B. & O. connects Parkersburg with Pittsburgh, and the Zanesville Division contacts the New York-Chicago lines.
Freight rates and routes are of course varying according to the product and destination. Suffice to say that industrial Traffic Managers have found many surprising advantages, both as to routings and rates, in shipping from Parkersburg. The passenger service of the B. & O. is of the finest. If one is going to New Orleans, Florida or any point in the South, direct connections are made at Cincinnati. For the West via St. Louis, and for the East via Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, travel is direct by such de luxe trains as the National Limited, the first long-distance completely air-conditioned train in the world. This famous train has an on-time performance record of 96 per cent for a ten year period, and has traveled in that time approximately 6,500,000 miles-nearly 260 times around the world.
Long before the railroad became a factor in transportation, both passengers and freight were carried up and down the Ohio River by boat. From Pittsburgh to New Orleans ran lines of packets and barges, and while to a certain extent the railroad crowded out the river boats, shipment by river is not only active but again steadily on the increase. Many Parkersburg plants find a distinct advantage in shipping by river and there is a continual stream of barges plying on the Ohio. The economy and speed of transportation by truck is being recognized as of great importance by all types of shippers. A number of local trucking companies operate a regular service, in addition to contacting the larger terminal lines in the East and West. Two arterial highways, U. S. 50, the shortest route East and West, and U. S. 21, Cleveland to the Gulf, offer to the shippers of this city excellent transportation facilities.
Many people travel by bus, and from Parkersburg, the Greyhound Lines take you anywhere in the United States, and the West Virginia Transportation Company, renders a service within this state. For those who are air-minded there are commercial planes at the Parkersburg Airport to take them either on special business trips or to other airports where transcontinental planes are available. Just recently completed, the Parkersburg Airport is one of the finest in the state. It has two runways upon which the largest of planes can land. Whatever the requirements for shipping, or the preference for means of travel, Parkersburg offers transportation facilities to meet every need.
Parkersburg is proud of the varied industrial opportunities provided in the community. However, better evidence of community interest is found in the opportunities for real living and for the rearing of the youth. Parkersburg is convinced that good homes, churches, schools and all those other agencies that promote character are of first value and offer the most conclusive evidence of the desirability and worth of a city. As a result of this conviction, Parkersburg has had a traditional interest in the development of a public school system that would offer every opportunity to be found in school systems that are ranked as the best. For more than fifty years the schools of the community have grown under the influence of community favor. As a result, Parkersburg schools are housed in school buildings of unusual excellence and offer broad curriculum opportunities generally found only in schools of much larger cities.
Parkersburg's public schools operate under the County-Unit System, with State supervision. There are "thirteen Grade Schools, two Junior High Schools, one Senior High School, and a school for colored children. In addition to these there are two Parochial Schools, and De Sales Heights, a Catholic Junior College for girls. There are 7,000 pupils attending the Grade and High Schools. The Parochial Schools
Parkersburg is a delightful place in which to live. Bordering on the Mason-Dixon Line, it is neither Southern nor Northern in
customs or climate. It has a few of the traditional customs of old Virginia, but in the main the habits of this community are more Northern. The winters are mild and in the summer the days are rarely as hot as those experienced by many cities located farther north. Surrounded by protecting hills, Parkersburg has never been visited by a disastrous storm. A forty-seven year climatologically record of Parkersburg, recently compiled by the U. S. Weather Bureau, shows the following : Average Spring temperature 53.2, average Summer temperature 73.5, average Fall temperature 56.1 and average Winter temperature 34.3. Average annual precipitation 38.77, and average annual snowfall is 24.3. Prevailing wind direction is S.E., and the average length of growing season is 184 days. From these records it will be seen that climatically Parkersburg. is a desirable place of abode, and Wood County an excellent section for the cultivation of different fruits and farm products. The climate in this part of West Virginia is particularly healthful, and Parkersburg has never known any pestilence, typhoid, or other epidemics to jeopardize the lives of its citizens.
Parkersburg has 44.64 miles of well paved streets, which in many sections are lined with beautiful overhanging trees. In the city proper are 8,721 homes and dwellings. Property values are in keeping with a city the size of Parkersburg, while rents for houses and apartments are most reasonable. There are many excellent level sites available in the city and its suburbs, for additional home developments. There is an abundant supply of clear, sweet well water, and this city has the lowest water rate of any of the larger cities of West Virginia. Most of the residences of the city are heated by natural gas, the most economical and cleanest known fuel. The domestic gas rate is 38c per thousand cubic feet. Electricity is secured at rates as low as $.03 per K. W. H. Food prices are low, particularly produce, green goods and fruits which are raised here - for Parkersburg has a truck farming district more extensive than any other West Virginia city.
There are many poultry farms in Wood County, and prices for poultry and poultry products are quite low. The traction company maintains an excellent street car service to all parts of the city, and an interurban service to Marietta, Ohio. There are 8,000 telephones in the city, and the service is on a par with any city, the central exchange handling over some 50,000 calls a day. In the outlying districts are a number of beautiful estates, one of which contains a private race track, bridle paths, swimming pool, and game preserve, in which there are deer, elk and buffalo. In the Country Club section and up the Ohio River Roads are many fine and attractive
No city is successful except through the concurrent development of the spiritual, social, mental and physical life of its people.
Parkersburg fosters to a marked degree a fine spiritual . growth. The church forms a foundation for the living standards of every citizen and the religious interest manifested is an excellent criterion as to the character of citizenship in this city. Parkersburg is justly proud of her churches and their leaders. In the city and its immediate environs there are some forty-nine churches representing the following denominations; Adventist, Baptist, Christian, Church of God; Congregational, Disciples, Evangelical Lutheran, S Holiness, Jewish; Latter Day Saints, Methodist, Episcopal, Methodist Protestant, Presbyterian; Protestant Episcopal, Roman Catholic, United Brethren and Christian Science. A strongly supported Salvation Army and Rescue Mission, each institution housed in its own building, are well established organizations for the promotion of welfare and religious activities.
THE City has two fine and modern hospitals, the Camden- Clark, and St. Joseph's. Both of these institutions are situated in the
residential districts. The St. Joseph's, the more recently built, is a 150-bed hospital, with private, semi-private and 4-bed, rooms. It has four operating rooms finished in vitro lite, a Plaster Room, Cystoscopy Room and a modern X-Ray room. There are thirty-five student and five graduate nurses, five members of the executive staff, an Interne and a Dietician.
The Camden-Clark, municipally owned and operated, is a 65-bed hospital, with private, semi-private rooms, and wards. It has two operating rooms, an X-Ray room and a Pathological Laboratory. There are twenty-three student and five graduate nurses, and a House Physician. Both hospitals have an "Open Staff" of physicians.
With in a five minute drive from the downtown section is City Park comprising some 60 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, with an abundance of shade trees. It is the chief recreational center for the people of the city and surrounding territory, here many come for a family outing. There are two lakes in the park, the larger known as "The Lily Pond," is said to be the second largest of its kind in the world. The recreational field in the park has a fine baseball diamond with concrete stands accommodating some 5,000 people. Here during the I season the "Twilight League," composed of industrial baseball teams, play to crowded stands.
The buildings in the park are a large pavilion, refreshment building, band-stand and an historic cabin. The pavilion is the scene of dances, athletic events, meetings and exhibits. During the summer months, Sunday Band Concerts are rendered by the Parkersburg Municipal Band, being attended, not only by the residents of the city but by the surrounding rural population. There is a playground for the children, ideal spots for picnics, and it is a delightful place to spend a day. The Parkersburg Country Club, located within a ten minute drive from the Court House, has a beautiful eighteen hole golf course, with fine well kept greens. At intervals the West Virginia Open Golf Tournament is held here.
The Country Club has a fine club house that includes a large ball room, where the Junior League's Annual Cabaret is held. The Nicely-Villa Golf Club, located across the Little Kanawha River has an eighteen hole course, having been opened to the public for about two years, and is in excellent shape and very popular. The Y. M. C. A. and the Y. W. C. A. are both housed in their own buildings offering inviting places for the young men and young women to spend their recreational hours. Both institutions exert a fine influence over the city's youth. The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts are very active and have large memberships. Both of these organizations have summer camps.
On both the Ohio and the Little Kanawha Rivers within but a few miles of the city, many Parkersburgers have summer cottages where they enjoy swimming, canoeing, and motor boating. From "The Point" excursion steamers make evening and Sunday trips through out the summer season. The familiar sound of the steamboats' calliope is a welcome one to the kiddies of the city. Over six thousand hunting licenses were issued in Wood County last fall, and this spring more than three thousand fishing permits have been taken out, giving some idea of the interest in hunting and fishing in Parkersburg and Wood County. Rabbits, Squirrels and Quail are plentiful in Wood County and in the more mountainous counties Deer and other game may be found. The fishing in Wood County is good. Bass, Pike, Catfish, Jack Salmon, Perch, and Brook Trout abound in the Little Kanawha and Hughes Rivers and their feeders.
Parkersburg has two U. S. Routes: Route No. 21, the Lakes to Gulf Highway, leads from Cleveland to Florida and Route No. 50, the Northwestern Turnpike recently designated as the George Washington Highway, is the most direct route from the East to the West, one of America's oldest highways rich in historical background and beautiful mountain scenery. There are many delightful one or two hour motor trips around Parkersburg. Out the Northwestern Pike, the Staunton Pike, the River Road, the St. Marys road or the Charleston road, besides those off the beaten path, such as Blennerhassett Heights. For a week-end trip you may choose from dozens of beautiful scenic routes throughout West Virginia. From the Ohio River to the crest of the Appalachian Range, the highways of the Mountaineer State wind through beautiful hills and valleys, to Gauley Bridge, Seneca Rocks, Monongahela National Park, Jackson's Mill, (the finest 4-H Camp in the world,) Blackwater Falls, Hawk's Nest, Philippi, (scene of the first land battle of the Civil War,) General Stonewall Jackson's birthplace at Clarksburg, Lewisburg (an historic town), and White Sulphur Springs, internationally known recreation center. Whether it's the main highways or off the beaten path, whatever your preference, the Parkersburg Automobile Club will map your route, through "The Switzerland of America.
It has been said that people living in West Virginia can reach Parkersburg more easily than any other city in the state. This fact, plus the ample accommodations and the city's hospitality, makes Parkersburg the "Convention City" of West Virginia. The hotels, five in number, are the Blennerhassett, Camden, Chancellor, Monroe and Stratford, the largest being the Chancellor with 220 rooms. The Chancellor has in addition to its main dining room, a private dining room, cafeteria, Civic Club room and Banquet Hall for large dinners. It also has a beautiful Tap Room with murals painted by a talented local artist. The many restaurants in the city are noted for their fine food, and pleasant surroundings.
The Elks Club and Masonic Temple are available for dinners, dances and meetings. Both have fine halls and banquet facilities.
The Coliseum, the largest Ball Room in the siate, has eighteen thousand square feet of floor space. When used for convention purposes, it may be converted into a mammoth hall having a seating capacity of over three thousand. Parkersburg's ability to satisfactorily handle conventions of every size, makes for this city an ever increasing popularity, as evidenced by the fact that convention after convention is eager to return.
The gates of the City are always open. The glad hand of welcome, the sincerity of Southern hospitality, are yours; whether you come by rail, highway, river or air, our beacon lights will be burning, and we will be ready to greet you. You will find that the visitor within our gates is not a stranger, but a guest; and the best we have is his.
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