Point Pleasant is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. Pierre-Joseph Celoron de Blainville marked the first recorded visit in 1749, when he left a lead tablet claiming the area for the French. Another significant visit was the 1770 survey party led by George Washington. Plans for a proposed 14th colony to be called Vandalia, with Point Pleasant as the capital, were thwarted by the Revolutionary War. Point Pleasant is the county seat of Mason County.
The Battle of Point Pleasant was fought on October 10, 1774, a victory for Virginia militia over Indians led by Cornstalk. Forts Blair and Randolph occupied the site from 1774; by 1781 settlers were established, and in 1794 the General Assembly of Virginia chartered the town as Point Pleasant. In 1796, Walter Newman erected a hewn-log house, which still stands. Jonas Smith recorded the first plat of the town in 1819, and Point Pleasant was incorporated in 1833.
River transportation and boat building dominated the economy of the town throughout the 19th century. The establishment of the Marietta Manufacturing Company, a boat construction company, in 1916 continued the tradition until it closed in 1967. In the same year, the Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15, killing 46 persons.
The community is served by four branch banks, Pleasant Valley Hospital, a hotel, a high school, middle school and three elementary schools, a daily newspaper, a mayor-council form of government, two city parks, and a public library. Two local chemical and plastics plants contribute to the economy of Point Pleasant, which had a population of 4,350 in 2010.
Notable residents include Daniel Polsley (1803–77), lieutenant governor of the Reorganized Government of Virginia, 1861–63, and member of Congress, 1867–69; George Poffenbarger (1861–1951), justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court, 1901–22; Bernard Bell (1911–71), recipient of the Medal of Honor; and Brereton Jones (b. 1939), governor of Kentucky, 1991–95.
Significant landmarks include the Point Pleasant Battlefield Monument State Park; the newly restored Lowe Hotel, dating from 1903; the Pioneer Cemetery, which includes the graves of several Revolutionary War soldiers; the battlefield monument at Point Pleasant; West Virginia State Farm Museum; and Langston School (1848), one of the oldest black schools in West Virginia still standing, which now houses the offices of the county board of education. The Point Pleasant Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
Read the National Register nomination.
This Article was written by Cora P. Teel
Last Revised on February 01, 2013
Point Pleasant Register. Bicentennial Souvenir Edition, 10/6-13/1974.
Simmons, Ethel C. Historic Point Pleasant. John B. Rogers Producing Company Presents and Directs the Historical Pageant and Homecoming. Point Pleasant Kiwanis Club, 1925.
West Virginia Blue Book. Senate Clerk, State of West Virginia. Charleston, 1997.