Point Pleasant, WV

Where Rivers Meet

History of Point Pleasant, WV

The Céloron Expedition (1749)
In 1749 French explorer Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville asserts sovereignty of France over the Ohio valley by burying a lead plaque at the meeting point of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers.
(In the year 1749, in the reign of King Louis XV, we, Celeron, commander of a detachment sent by Commander de La Galissonière, Commander General ofNew France, for the restoration of peace in various untamed villages in the region, have buried this plaque at the confluence of the Ohio and Tchadakoin [Rivers] this 29th day of July near the fine river bank, to commemorate the retaking into possession of the afore-mentioned river bank and all the surrounding lands on both river shores back to the river sources, as secured by previous kings of France, and maintained by force of arms and by treaties, specifically the Treaties of Rijswick, of Utrecht and of Aix la Chapelle)
The Battle of Point Pleasant (1774)
In the second half of 1749, the French explorer Pierre Joseph Céloron de Blainville (1693-1759) claimed French sovereignty over the Ohio Valley, burying a lead plaque at the meeting point of the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers.

The text on the plaque is as follows:

Céloron's expedition was a diplomatic failure since the local tribes remained pro-English, and English representatives in the region refused to go away. This was, therefore, a prelude to a series of incidents that would lead to the loss of New France and the domination of eastern North America by the British Empirefollowing the defeat of France in the French and Indian War (1754-1763).

The expedition can nevertheless be seen in more positive terms as a geographical project, since the Céloron expedition was the starting point for the first map of the Ohio Valley. The map was the work of the Jesuit Joseph Pierre de Bonnecamps.

In 1770, Colonel George Washington visited the confluence that would become Point Pleasant, then proceeded 14 miles up the "Great Kanawha" and later reported that “This Country abounds in Buffalo and Wild game of all kinds as also in all kinds of wild fowl, there being in the Bottoms a great many small grassy Ponds or Lakes which are full of Swans, Geese, and Ducks of different kinds.”[11]

In the Battle of Point Pleasant (October 10, 1774), fought on the future site of the town, over one thousand Virginia militiamen, led by Colonel Andrew Lewis(1720–1781), defeated a roughly equal force of an Algonquin confederation of Shawnee and Mingo warriors led by Shawnee Chief Cornstalk (ca. 1720-1777). The event is celebrated locally as the "First Battle of the American Revolutionary War" and in 1908 the U.S. Senate authorized erection of a local monument to commemorate it as such. Most historians, however, regard it not as a battle of the Revolution (1775–1783), but as a part of Lord Dunmore's War (1774).


"Camp Point Pleasant" was established by Col. Lewis at the time of the Battle and the settlement that followed also took that name. Although not certain, Point Pleasant may have been permanently settled by whites as early as 1774. A permanent stockade known as Fort Blair was erected there at about that time. Prior to that, hostilities between whites and Indians all along the Ohio River Valley probably precluded the possibility of settlement in the absence of a substantial stockade.[12] In 1776, a new fort was built on the site of the earlier fort and named for the recently deceased Virginia official Peyton Randolph (1721–1775). Fort Randolph is best remembered as the place where Chief Cornstalk was murdered in 1777. It withstood attack by Indians the following year, but was abandoned in 1779.

George Washington's 1770 journey to the Ohio River Valley had been occasioned by military grants that had been awarded by proclamation in 1754 by Governor Dinwiddie to officers and soldiers who had served in the French and Indian War. The resulting survey encompassed 52,302 acres (or 80 square miles) and was subdivided in the 1780s as follows: 9,876 acres — including the present side of Point Pleasant — to Andrew Lewis, 5,000 acres for George Muse, 5,000 acres for Peter Hogg, 8,000 acres for Andrew Stephens, another 3,000 acres for Peter Hogg, another 5,026 acres for George Muse, 3,400 acres for Andrew Waggener, 6,000 acres for John Poulson, 6,000 acres for John West. On the lower side of the Kanawha River, 13,532 acres for Hugh Mercer (see Mercers Bottom) and, finally, 10,990 acres for Washington himself.

Fort Randolph was rebuilt nearby in 1785 after the renewal of hostilities between the United States government and the Indians, but saw little action and was eventually abandoned once again. [13] The settlement at Point Pleasant did not receive an official charter until 1794.

19th Century

Mason County was carved out of Kanawha County in 1804 and Point Pleasant was designated the county seat at that time. According to historian Virgil A. Lewis, "Point Pleasant did not flourish for many years [after the turn of the century]. There was no church for more than fifty years and society was at a low ebb. There was a popular superstition that because of the fiendish murder of Cornstalk there in 1777, the place was laid under a curse for a hundred years".[14] Lewis also relates that a visitor to Point Pleasant in 1810 observed that...

Point Pleasant is pleasantly situated immediately above the mouth of the Great Kanawha, on an extensive and fertile bottom of the Ohio, of which it has a fine prospect up and down that river. It is the seat of justice of Mason county Virginia, and contains about 15 or 20 families, a log courthouse, a log jail and as usual (but unfortunately) in the Virginia towns, a pillory and whipping post. Point Pleasant seems rather on the stand in point of improvement, arising, it is said, from the difficulty in establishing the land titles. It is, however, a considerable place of embarkation for those descending the Ohio from the back and western parts of Virginia. There is one merchant. Mr. William Langtry.[15]

Point Pleasant was incorporated in 1833.

20th Century

Point Pleasant was widely noted for the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge, which killed 46 people.

On 10 October 1974, Point Pleasant celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Point Pleasant. A replica of Fort Randolph was built in 1973-74 and dedicated as part of the festivities. The town of Point Pleasant was situated over the site of the fort and so the replica is located at Krodel Park, about one mile away.

The Mothman

Paranormal enthusiasts flock to Point Pleasant in search of Mothman, a creature said to be a harbinger of imminent disaster that inhabits an abandoned TNT factory from World War II. John Keel published a book in 1975 entitled The Mothman Prophecies, and a film inspired by the novel was released in January 2002. Later, another film, loosely based on the legend, was also released. The town is host to a Mothman Museum, and every year it holds a Mothman Festival that features tours, pageants, balls, films, music, and other events to celebrate what they consider "one of Point Pleasant’s largest tourist attractions."