Mason County Courthouse
(view facing east)

The Mason County Courthouse, a tri-level stone structure originally costing about $750,000 (completed in 1957) stands on Sixth Street in Point Pleasant. It replaced the 100-year-old former courthouse.

In 1963, the former American Legion Building was purchased as an annex to the Courthouse and remodeled for office use. Another addition to the complex was the acquisition in 1968 of the former Central School lot located at Sixth and Viand Street. Complete with landscaping, this park is dedicated to Mason County veterans who made the supreme sacrifice and in memory of those who lost their lives in the Silver Bridge Disaster.

The Silver Bridge Disaster

The Silver Bridge (1927-1967), once billed as "a shining example of man's engineering ingenuity"

One of the most memorable and tragic events to occur in Mason County’s recent history was the collapse of the Silver Bridge. The afternoon of December 15, 1967 was coming to a close in the city of Point Pleasant. Christmas shopping was at its peak, and the bridges and streets were packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic. It was during this festive and busy time of year that shock and disbelief swept through the entire area. The Silver Bridge connecting West Virginia and Ohio had collapsed, dropping commuters into the deep, frigid waters of the Ohio River. The bridge, one of only three such structures in the world, had simply disintegrated. Observers described the bridge as "folding like a deck of cards," "collapsing like a child's erector set," and "wriggling like a snake."

The disaster soon turned into a national media event, with newsmen in helicopters circling the scene. Reporters scrambled to report the death toll and to explain how the disaster had occurred. By all accounts, the bridge, constructed with an unusual eyebar-chain suspension, simply gave way. According to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, its eyebar-chain design was the key to its collapse.

After four months of superb cooperation among townspeople, volunteers and officials, who worked together in almost unbearably cold temperatures (it was nearly zero degrees Fahrenheit most of the time), it was determined that forty-six people had lost their lives in this horrible accident. Forty-four bodies were recovered, but two were never found.

Mason County Development

In the recent past, Mason Countians have acquired a permanent fairground site plus a paved and lighted (4000’x75’) runway at the airport. Attempting to promote employment, the County Court issued Industrial Development Bonds to construct a new plant and to abate pollution from an existing one. Federal Revenue Sharing Funds have been used to acquire acreage in Clendenin and Waggener districts for recreational purposes and to improve recreational facilities in New Haven and Point Pleasant.

The property of Virgil A. Lewis, West Virginia's first state historian and author of the book The Life and Times of Ann Bailey, was purchased in order to preserve his home and to provide an excellent site for a library building for the town of Mason.

Two of the largest electric utility plants in West Virginia are located in Mason County. They are the Mountaineer Power Plant and the Philip Sporn Power Plant. Mason County's growth has continued over the years. Many different industries have begun to develop in the area. Products manufactured in the Point Pleasant area include coal, lumber products, dairy products, chemicals, fabricated metal products, plastics and plastic components. Some of the major industries are: AEP River Division, which is a towing company, AKZO Chemicals, Inc., which produces phosphate and lubricants, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, which manufactures polyester and resins, American Alloy Inc., which is a steel company, and B & K Archery, which supplies a worldwide business of foam targets. A few of the smaller industries in this area include WV Country Sausage Inc., Clements State Tree Nursery, and Fruth Pharmacy, the first of a chain of pharmacy stores that originated in Mason County.

Minerals are to be found in abundance in the northern and eastern sections of the county. In 1936 estimated coal reserves in Mason County were set at 339,976,480 tons, with 6,009,109 tons having been removed from the ground during the period from 1883 to 1937. Much of this coal was used in the county by industry, chiefly in the manufacture and refining of salt. Although coal production is no longer significant, its place in Mason County’s economy has been taken over by the growth of light industries. Oil and gas are known to exist in the county, and drilling has resulted in one well, gas from which flows in marketable quantity. There is perhaps no section of the country that lends itself so completely to manufacturing and industry than does Point Pleasant and Mason County. There are enough manufacturing sites available, along with residential developments, to support a large population.

Located at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, Point Pleasant is the midway point between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Just sixty-two miles up the Kanawha River is Charleston, the state capital, and within an eighty-mile radius, the Kanawha Valley is a virtual beehive of industrial activity.

Two of the prominent people of today’s Mason County are Gus Douglas, who was our agricultural commissioner, and Brereton Jones, the former Governor of Kentucky.

Another famous person that Mason County gave us was Michael J. Owens, inventor and manufacturer of the Bottle Machine. Michael was the son of immigrant parents who put him to work in a glass factory at the age of ten. Here he learned the glassblower’s trade. By the year of 1916, Michael owned the patent to a complete automatic bottle-making machine worth several million dollars. The Libby Owens Sheet Glass Company of Charleston, which became the world's largest manufacturer of window glass, purchased it.

Mason County History

Mason County has the distinction of having been part of three counties at various times. It was first a part of Augusta County, Virginia. Greenbrier County was formed from Augusta, then later Kanawha was formed from Greenbrier. On January 2, 1804, the General Assembly of Virginia passed an act establishing what is now Mason County. It received its name from the Hon. George Mason, a friend of George Washington, who wrote the Constitution of Virginia and was a member of the convention that framed the Constitution of the United States.

In the year 1770, George Washington made a journey to the Ohio River to look after military grants awarded in the Ohio and Kanawha Valleys by Governor Dinwiddie’s proclamation of 1754. The rich soil, the fine timber, and the beautiful scenery greatly impressed the man who later was to do so much for his country. He spent seven days in this vicinity, his company going up the Kanawha as far as Buffalo, exploring and marking courses and distances with a pocket compass. This survey resulted in the granting of 51,302 acres of land, of which Washington himself received 10, 990 acres on the south side of the Kanawha. Several of these tracts of land are still owned in part, and are still occupied by, descendants of the original grantees.

Mason County began to flourish after the Revolutionary War ended but at a very slow pace. In 1860 the county population was slightly over nine thousand. This beautiful area of extensive and fertile bottomland attracted many early farmers. It was a land rich in natural resources, a few of which are salt brine, clay, gravel, coal, timber, oil, pulpwood and natural gas. But it was not until a modest coal industry began to develop that Mason County started on its way economically. There was an annual production of around 500,000 ton level. Even though the City of Point Pleasant rests on a solid bed of coal, the coal industry declined rapidly in Mason County.

Mason County is one of the Ohio Valley counties on West Virginia’s western boundary. It is bounded on the north by Ohio, on the east and northeast by Jackson and Putnam Counties, on the south by Putnam and Cabell Counties, and on the west by Ohio. When Mason County was formed, it contained 904 square miles. The area was made smaller when Jackson County was formed in 1831 and again in 1848 when Putnam County was formed. Today, Mason County’s total area is 432½ square miles. The major highways in this county are Route 2, which runs the full length of Mason County along the Ohio River, Route 35, which runs down one side of the Kanawha River, Route 62, which runs along the other side, and Route 33, which connects Interstate 77 to Route 2. The important rivers belonging to Mason County are the Ohio River, which flows along its northern and western boundaries for fifty-six miles, and the Kanawha River, which flows through the central part of the county for eighteen miles.

The Kanawha River was the first river ever to be improved at government expense in the United States. The Ohio River contains two dams in the Mason County area. They are the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dams and the Racine Locks and Dams.

Point Pleasant is Mason County’s county seat. This community was incorporated as a town in 1833. It is located where the Kanawha River flows into the Ohio River.

"The Magazine," Battle Monument State Park

The park is located in the area that the Native Americans called "Tu-Endie-Wei," which means "a point between two rivers." The Mansion House resides in this park, which is home to many reminders of the great battle that took place in Mason County on October 10, 1774.

The Battle of Point Pleasant

The Battle of Point Pleasant was a conflict between the Native American Confederation under the Shawnee chieftain Keightughqua, or Cornstalk, and the colonial forces under General Andrew Lewis. This was one of the bloodiest, hardest-fought battles ever waged between the early settlers and the Indians. The Virginians suffered a loss of eighty-one men and one hundred forty were wounded. Chief Cornstalk's fatalities were enormous. He lost two hundred men and had twice as many wounded. The result was a victory for the Virginia colonists and the opening of the area for permanent settlers. This opened the way to rapid western expansion. Some historians consider the Battle of Point Pleasant the first battle of the American Revolution in spite of the fact that this battle actually took place six months before the documented beginning of the war. However, no one questions the importance of this battle, which thwarted an alliance between Native American forces and British collaborators and established a peace with the Indians for the first three years of the Revolutionary War. In the year of 1778, the great Chief Cornstalk, and his eldest son, Illinipsico, were brutally murdered while in the garrison of Point Pleasant. Their assailants surrounded the blockhouse where they sat; and in a moment, a shower of rifle bullets pierced both bodies. This incident incited hostilities between the Indians and the whites for many years to come. Numerous massacres of whole settlements occurred until May of 1791, when the last incursion took place in Mason County.

One of the most famous women in Mason County history was "Mad Ann Bailey." Not all Indian fighters were men, and Ann Bailey is renowned for her daring as a frontier scout. After hearing of her husband’s death in the Battle of Point Pleasant, Ann Bailey dressed in frontiersman's clothing and set out for revenge. The Indians knew her as "White Squaw of the Kanawha." Ann became one of the best scouts in the valley. She eluded the Indian parties time and again and was able to deliver supplies and ammunition to the fort. Most of the men would not even attempt the daring missions that this woman undertook through hostile Indian territories. After the war ended, Ann Bailey moved to Ohio with her son. Here she continued to hunt and fish for another twenty years. At her death at the (estimated) age of 120, her body was brought back to Mason County and buried in Battle Monument State Park in Point Pleasant.

Mason County Attractions

The Mason County of today is a lovely rural area with rolling hills and plains. Picturesque cattle farms and cornfields dot the land. The county has a lot to offer. It has three high schools, two junior high schools and one vocational school. It is home to the Lakin State hospital and the Pleasant Valley Hospital.

Mason County is also home to the West Virginia State Farm Museum, a "window to the past" which sits on fifty acres just four miles outside of Point Pleasant. Here you will find the state's farm-life heritage preserved as a memorial to our farmer and pioneer ancestors. This is a rapidly disappearing way of life due to urban growth and economic expansion. At the Farm Museum, you can visit a one-room schoolhouse that was built in 1870, a log house constructed in the early 1800’s, and a replica of an old Lutheran Church said to be the earliest ever built. There is also a country store, where local crafts, cornmeal and molasses are made on the spot. A print shop, a blacksmith shop, a petting zoo, and three large buildings with collections of large and small farm equipment can also be seen.

Although Mason County is not a populous area, it can offer some nice attractions during the summer. Krodel Park, a forty-four acre tract located on Route 2, shows its beauty not only to the residents of Point Pleasant, but also to neighbors from far and near. A twenty-two acre lake offers fishing, paddle-boating and swimming. An 18-hole mini-golf course is located on the west end of the park, and sixty campsites are available. Mason County also has a Sternwheel Regatta River Festival and a large county fair each summer, as well as the Battle Days historical celebration every fall. The Battle Days celebration often includes historical reenactments, a parade with townspeople dressed in authentic pioneer garb, craft demonstrations, and a lantern tour.

Mason County is quite unique. There are many things to see and do in Mason County. Here are just a few of the things a person might want to see during a visit to Mason County:

  • Battle Monument State Park (Tu—Endie—Wei Park): site of the first battle of the American Revolution and final resting place of the legendary Ann Bailey

  • Reconstructed Fort Randolph: an authentic Revolutionary War replica fort (Rt. 2 Point Pleasant)

  • Krodel Park: provides swimming, fishing, and boating (Rt. 2 Point Pleasant)

  • Point Pleasant Sternwheel Regatta: a summer river festival with food, fireworks and music

  • Battle Days: an autumn celebration of the area's colorful historical past

  • TNT Area: area where explosives (trinitrotoluene) were produced for WWII, also the spot from which the infamous Mothman legend arose

  • McClintic Wildlife Station

  • Kanawha Valley Dragway Park (Rt. 35 Southside)

  • The Mason County Fair: largest county fair in West Virginia
  • Shawnee Indian Trading Post (Rt. 62)

  • The West Virginia State Farm Museum: a window to the past for current and future generations

  • Chief Cornstalk Wildlife Management Area

  • Old Town Campground

  • State Theater


Mason County has several other small parks, campgrounds, golf courses etc. Mason County also has prime hunting grounds and fishing waters. The Kanawha and Ohio Rivers make some of the best fishing and scenery in the area.

Point Pleasant - Mason County, WV

Gunn Park, Point Pleasant

In December 1794, the General Assembly of Virginia enacted legislation that set aside 200 acres of land from the property of Thomas Lewis and declared that a town be established under the name of Point Pleasant. By this act, Point Pleasant became the oldest town on the Ohio River.

Point Pleasant is one of the best situated towns in the Ohio Valley. It is located at the mouth of the Great Kanawha River: the gateway to one of the chemical and industrial centers of the country. The town of Point Pleasant’s flood stage is forty-five feet, so a floodwall completely encircles the city. The land is level, and with cheap transportation facilities, access to raw materials, cheap power, and plenty of land out of reach of the highest floods, it offers every advantage to industrial and business activity. Two railroads serve the city, the New York Central and the Baltimore and Ohio. U.S. Route 35 and State Route 62 cross the city and offer the shortest routes east to west or north to south.

Point Pleasant has always been a center of river activities. Harbor and landing facilities abound on the banks of the two rivers, and with the high stage maintained in both rivers, the largest boats and tows can safely and swiftly navigate their waters.

Point Pleasant has a fine school system, as well as many churches and entertainment facilities. Tu-Endie-Wei Park and its Mansion House are famous all over the nation. Persons from all walks of life and from all sections of the country have stopped in to inspect the historic relics on display and to sign the register kept at the house.

Point Pleasant offers nearly anything you might look for in any town or small city. Its people are sober, intelligent and industrious; power and transportation facilities are inexpensive; building and development sites are far above flood levels. The area also boasts one of richest stores of historical lore in the entire United States.

Hartford - Mason County, WV

The town of Hartford was originally incorporated in 1868. The founders of the town, Morgan Buckley and William Healy, were eastern capitalists who named it for their home city of Hartford, Connecticut. These men came to Mason County to develop the salt industry which has been Hartford’ s mainstay ever since. Along with the first salt furnace, which was put into operation here in 1856, a coal mine was opened. The Liverpool Salt Company, which operated around 300 days a year, was one of the larger salt plants along the Ohio River. Hartford is located on U. S. Route 33 in what is known as the "Big Bend" of the Ohio River.

New Haven - Mason County, WV

The town of New Haven was officially incorporated under that name in 1935. In the early days, it was known as New London. Then residents of New Haven, Connecticut came to the county to locate early salt furnaces along the Ohio River. They changed the name to that of their home city. Coal mines were opened in connection with the salt furnaces, and for many years, these mines operated.

New Haven is the highest town in elevation along the Ohio River south of Pittsburgh, Pa. It is located in the "bend" section along the Ohio River, on U. S. Route 33.

Henderson - Mason County

The town of Henderson has been incorporated since 1893. It was named in honor of Samuel Bruce Henderson, who, at the time, owned all of the land upon which the town is now located. The town is located on the south side of the Kanawha River just above its junction with the Ohio.

Henderson is the home of a large number of river men who man the many boats operating on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. Henderson is located at the junction of State Routes 2 and 17.

Leon - Mason County

The town of Leon was first laid out in 1840 by Benjamin Byram but was not incorporated until 1872. How it came to be named is not known. Leon, in the early part of the nineteenth century, was one of the shipbuilding centers on the two rivers. A plentiful supply of virgin timber, especially white oak, led to the construction of many ocean-going wooden vessels. These ships, when completed, were floated down to New Orleans, where the masts and sails were fitted. With the coming of steel vessels and barges, the industry died away, and at present, the town is more or less a residential community. The Leon Milling Company is the town’ s main industry. Leon is located on U. S. Route 35, thirteen miles up the Kanawha River from its junction with the Ohio.

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