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Blennerhassett Island opens for 2013

The tourist season at Blennerhassett Island State Park is underway in Wood County.  Located in the middle of the Ohio River, off Parkersburg’s shore, the state park re-opened Wednesday and began accepting guests.

Last year was a tough one for the park, after June’s derecho uprooted trees and caused widespread damage on the grounds and forced the park to close for a week of cleanup around the mansion grounds on the island’s north end.

“We lost a lot of our black walnuts,” said Superintendent Matthew Baker. “There was a beautiful walnut grove planted around the early part of the century and we lost quite a few. Some we may end up losing in the future because we’re not certain they are going to survive.”

The park staff salvaged what it could of the valuable timber. Logs longer than 10 feet have been saved and stored on the island. Baker said the staff is looking into having the logs sawed and used in future projects on the park property.

Park staff feared the worst as Hurricane Sandy rolled into the east coast in October, but the anticipated flooding never arrived.  Sandy in West Virginia arrived in the form of a freak blizzard. It caused damage to almost every other state park, but Blennerhassett Island was spared.

During the offseason, park officials worked to restore less visited parts of the property.

“The cleanup as far as flood waters has been minimal,” Baker said. “We have what we call ‘nuisance floods’ which flood the lower parts around the landing where people get off. We had some mud to scrape up and sticks and other debris to remove,but we’re ready to go.”

The park is open Tuesday through Sunday. Guests board a ferry at Parkersburg and ride to the island, where they can choose a walking tour of the mansion grounds or a horse-drawn carriage tour of the entire island.

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