The major city and county seat of government in Wood County is Parkersburg with a population of 33,862 residents.
Captain James Neal, a Revolutionary War officer, came to the area in 1785 and constructed the earliest permanent settlement in Parkersburg, a blockhouse and log cabins called "Neals Station." His community was on the south side of the Little Kanawha River approximately a mile from the Ohio River.
The first legal claimant of what is now downtown Parkersburg was a Pennsylvanian named Captain Alexander Parker. In 1792, a blockhouse was built at the confluence of the Little Kanawha and Ohio Rivers by the State of Virginia for protection against the Indians. This area became known as The Point, a term that has continued until today.
By the early 1800s the village had grown to a dozen log cabins, a store and a tavern and was called Newport. In 1811, the town was incorporated under the name of Parkersburg to honor the man who originally owned the site.
Parkersburg could be called "The Savings Bond Capital of America." Since August 1957, when the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Public Debt was moved here, every savings bond bought or redeemed has passed through Parkersburg for processing.
The Greater Parkersburg area's history is rich and colorful. The British gained control of the area in 1763 after the French and Indian War, and in 1770, a party under the direction of George Washington journeyed down the Ohio River to survey this and other territories. It was not until the 1780s however, that the settlement of the area began in earnest.
The area's first real economic boom came simultaneously with the drilling of West Virginia's first oil wells along the Hughes and Little Kanawha Rivers in 1860 and the beginning of the Civil War the following year. The region continued to develop as an industrial center after the 1880s when the gas fields to the east were tapped and industrial plants began using natural gas instead of coal as a manufacturing fuel.
Today, the area's manufacturing is diverse. Conventional industries such as glass and ferrous metals are balanced by high tech producers, including chemical, plastics and laboratory equipment.