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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 Shawnee 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 people.

Point Pleasant’s population grew from the late 1800s to 1970, when it peaked at 6,122 people. Since then, it has experienced a steady population decline, reaching 4,101 in 2020, its lowest total since the 1940s.

The community is served by four branch banks, Rivers Health (formerly Pleasant Valley Hospital), a hotel, a junior/senior high school, an intermediate school, and two 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.

Notable residents have included Daniel Boone; Dr. Jesse Bennet, who performed the first cesarean section in the United States; 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 Tu-Endie-Wei State Park, featuring an 84-foot-tall battlefield monument, the graves of Cornstalk and ‘’Mad Anne’’ Bailey, and Walter’s Newman’s 1796 Mansion House Museum; the restored Lowe Hotel, dating from 1903; the Pioneer Cemetery, which includes the graves of several Revolutionary War soldiers; nearby 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. In recent years, tourism has increased due to the growing popularity of Mothman, a legendary monster that has been reportedly seen in the area since 1966. Point Pleasant is home to a Mothman statue, museum, and annual festival. The Point Pleasant Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Read the National Register nomination.

This Article was written by Cora P. Teel

Last Revised on June 21, 2023

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Sources

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.

Cite This Article

Teel, Cora P. "Point Pleasant." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 June 2023. Web. 20 July 2024.

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