5 things you didn’t know about Mason County

5 things you didn’t know about Mason County

By Beth Sergent

 

Photos by Beth Sergeant

No. 1

Mason County has ties to literary giant Mark Twain with Clements State Tree Nursery located in West Columbia, north of Point Pleasant.

The nursery, owned by the West Virginia Division of Forestry, sits on property once owned by Twain’s grandparents. According to the division, bare-root seedlings have been produced on the property for almost half a century, with one to two million seedlings produced annually.

The nursery sells these seedlings to landowners in West Virginia and its surrounding states for the purposes of reforestation, coal mine reclamation, wildlife cover, and Christmas tree production.

Samuel and Pamela Clemens, Twain’s grandparents, settled on the property in 1803. Samuel Clemens was accidentally killed in 1805 at a “house-raising” and their eldest son, John Marshall, the father of “Mark Twain,” lived on the property until he moved west, according to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

So why is there a “t” in the nursery’s name? One explanation is that Twain’s father dropped the “t” when he moved to Missouri. The other is that the name was misspelled in historical records, with a “t” added when there actually was none, according to the West Virginia Department of Commerce.

No. 2

Point Pleasant’s Pioneer Cemetery is the burial site for Dr. Jesse Bennett, whose Cesarean operation on his wife in 1794 was the first in America, according to the WVDCH.

Bennett was also a colonel in the Virginia militia. The graves at Pioneer Cemetery also include that of John Roush and John Roseberry, Revolutionary War soldiers, Major Andrew Waggener, hero of Craney Island in the War of 1812, and others who were prominent in early history.

The cemetery, which rests along West Virginia state Route 62 through the heart of Point Pleasant, is easily accessible and is cared for by the city of Point Pleasant. The city’s council has recently formed a committee to restore the cemetery and add an informational, interactive kiosk at the site similar to that at Fort Randolph just outside the city.

No. 3

Point Pleasant’s Historic Lowe Hotel has existed for more than 100 years on Main Street.

Right now, “The Lowe,” which was built roughly around the turn of the 20th century, according to its current owner, Ruth Finley, is embarking on a new project: creating artist-inspired boutique rooms.

These rooms are decorated by designer Jim Hobbs around special pieces of vintage furniture and original works of art by Jamie Sloane.

Both men are from Gallipolis, Ohio, and friends with Finley.

The first boutique room reflects items from the late 1950s to early 1960s, with Hobbs saying one of the ultimate goals was to design a space people wanted to stay in, including plush, modern bedding and amenities.

Finley said there are also plans to host artist retreats at the hotel in 2016, giving visitors an opportunity to unplug while experiencing both the old and new in one eclectic space.

No. 4

Most people know Point Pleasant is home to the World’s Only Mothman Museum, but it’s also home to the world’s only U.S. Navy Poster Museum, located at 411 Main St.

Kelly Fields, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, took her passion for collecting rare and unique naval posters and opened a museum dedicated to the art form.

Visitors can browse the museum’s archives of framed military art, postcards and other naval memorabilia that span decades and even centuries. A unique gift shop is also housed at the museum for that one-of-a-kind gift for the maritime lover in everyone.

The museum can be found on Facebook under “U.S. Navy Poster Museum at Point Pleasant, WV” where hours of operation are listed.

No. 5

The Point Pleasant River Museum and Learning Center, located on Second Street, doesn’t just tell you about boats, it lets you “virtually” drive one.

The museum has a riverboat pilothouse simulator which allows visitors to step into the wheelhouse and steer a barge through computer-generated scenarios from Pittsburgh to the port of New Orleans.

In 2015, the museum invested in a second simulator which is used specifically for training those in the maritime industry, allowing local captains and pilots to receive expert training close to home.

Salt Magazine