Parkersburg [and Fenton] named 'Best of the Road'
By BRETT DUNLAP
Parkersburg News, Parkersburg, WV
PARKERSBURG - Attractions around the Mid-Ohio Valley are going to
be featured in the newest edition of the Rand McNally Road Atlas.
Rand McNally has selected the Greater Parkersburg Area as one of
five featured "Best of the Road" driving tours for its newest
atlas, which will be released in the next week or so, said Kari
Thompson, communication manager for the Parkersburg Convention and
"We have always known that Greater Parkersburg holds some of the
'best of the road' attractions, shops, parks and restaurants,"
Thompson said. "This puts a national spotlight on them."
The "Climbing The Hills" driving tour, which features the Mid-Ohio
Valley, begins in Columbus, Ohio, and stretches as far south as
Featured in each new atlas are Rand McNally's "Editor's Pick."
Representatives of the publication poured over numerous locations
and selected 29 must-see stops.
Thompson said two local businesses were selected for that list,
Fenton Art Glass in Williamstown and The Country Trails Bike Shop
Also featured in the driving tour as "best known" sites are
Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park and the Julia-Ann
Square Historic District.
The atlas describes the tour as "some of the prettiest farmland
and rolling hills anywhere" and is "loaded with outdoor
recreational opportunities, natural attractions, museums and
The online version features the routes for the scenic driving
tours. Local attractions and businesses featured on the local
driving tour include the Julia-Ann Square Historic District, the
Oil & Gas Museum, Blennerhassett Island Historic State Park &
Regional Museum, Fenton Art Glass, DaVinci's Italian Restaurant,
Holl's Swiss Chocolatier, North Bend State Park & Rail Trail and
Country Trails Bike Shop.
One mistake in Rand McNally's online writeup lists Holl's Swiss
Chocolatier as being in Williamstown.
Thompson said they have contacted Rand McNally and that mistake is
expected to be corrected within a few days with Holl's Vienna
The printed atlases are distributed in the 10s of millions to more
than 50,000 retail outlets and are distributed to 98 percent of
the schools across the United States, Rand McNally Editorial
Director Laurie Borman said.
Promotion for the new atlases began last week with Borman doing
television interviews on the major networks. Affiliates in
Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cincinnati are all within a few hours
drive of the Greater Parkersburg Area.
During her time on air, Borman talked about the featured "Best of
the Road" driving tour and displayed pieces of Fenton Art Glass
and boxes of Holl's Swiss Chocolates as examples of what travelers
can enjoy along the route.
"That is a tremendous benefit to promotion of our region,"
Rand McNally is well respected by many people and has a good
reputation, said Steve Nicely, CVB president.
"When they say something, people listen," he said. "With this
national exposure, we are hoping this will drive more leisure
travel for us."
Around 95 percent of visitors to this area come by car, said Matt
Turner, national media manager with the West Virginia Division of
"There could be many people just flipping through looking for a
weekend trip they can take," he said. "With a general search, this
area could come up from time to time."
With exposure in the atlas, Turner hopes more travel publications
will become interested in doing stories on local attractions.
Tourism's impact on an area includes additional jobs and tax
revenues, said Caryn Gresham, public information director for the
West Virginia Division of Tourism.
Tourism is responsible for more new jobs in the state than
industry, she said.
Visitors have spent an estimated $89 million in Wood County, the
CVB reported, adding there is $361,000 generated in local taxes
and more than $6 million in state taxes. There are 1,170 jobs
connected to tourism in the area with more than $20 million paid
in wages, salaries and owners' earnings, officials said.
Since many visitors to this area come from the Columbus, Nicely
hopes being featured in the atlas will inspire more people to take
one-day and long-weekend trips to the area.
"With this, we are expecting thousands of people to be coming
through this area," he said, adding they are expecting to be able
to measure the effectiveness of the Rand McNally exposure within a
Gresham said there are many people looking for weekend trips to
take this fall and the Mid-Ohio Valley has some great attractions
for the holiday season.
"We should be seeing the results rather quickly," Nicely said,
adding many people will keep a single copy of the road atlas for
"We still get inquiries from people who read an article that ran
four or five years ago," he said.
As gas prices remain high, many people will be looking at shorter
trips, one-three hours from home, Nicely said.
"People won't have to pay an arm and a leg here to stay at a nice
hotel and eat at a good restaurant," he said. "It is a good