The 5-Story Oil And Gas Museum In Parkersburg, West Virginia Is A Unique Stop Open 7 Days A Week
Among many historic attractions in Parkersburg, one unique place that preserves an important era of West Virginia history is the Oil and Gas Museum.
This fascinating museum, housed in a historic hardware store building that dates back over 120 years, presents a trove of artifacts, exhibits, and vintage equipment centering on a time when the oil industry boomed in this area of West Virginia.
In the mid-1800s, Parkersburg locals Rathbone brothers dug a well for salt in nearby Burning Springs but instead struck oil. The following years saw an oil boom that led to the formation of an entire community at Burning Springs. It was short-lived, but the industry brought growth, prosperity, and political power to Parkersburg, which became one of the nation’s leading oil refining centers.
This oil boom era coincided with the Civil War, and had a large impact on West Virginia’s formation as an independent state. It also led to some remarkable wartime activity such as the Confederates’ destruction of the entire town of Burning Springs along with the burning of thousands of barrels of oil along the Little Kanawha River.
However, the area recovered from the war and continued to produce oil for several more decades. By the beginning of the 20th century, oil production had been replaced with natural gas, which became a mainstay of the West Virginia economy for many more years.
Information about all this and more can be found at the museum.
The museum itself resides in the old W.H. Smith hardware store at 119 Third Street, which is well-preserved with many original features including its sign, hardwood floors, and light fixtures. Besides its collection inside the building, which fills all five stories, there is a fascinating display of antique oil equipment on the grounds outside.
There is also a short informational video highlighting the oil rush era of the region.
If you love old machinery, antiques, or just amazing regional history, the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg is a place you won’t want to miss!
The museum is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adult tickets are $7. Students ages 7-16 are $5. Children 6 and under are free.
You can learn more and plan your visit at the Oil and Gas Museum website. The museum also owns the original Rathbone well at Burning Springs, about 30 miles southeast of Parkersburg. The well has been restored to operation, making it the oldest producing oil well in the world. The site is open to visitors at Burning Springs Park, which showcases another remarkable collection of original oil machinery.
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Oil & Gas Museum, 119 3rd St, Parkersburg, WV 26101, USA