PARKERSBURG - A visit to Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park is like stepping back to another century, and another dimension will be added with the gathering of mountain men and other pioneers for the first event of the island's summer season.
The annual "Rendezvous on the River" starts today and continues through Saturday on the island. The event, put on by the West Virginia Muzzleloaders, recreates the frontier life of the 18th and 19th centuries through authentic camps, demonstrations and period costumes.
There is no charge for visits to the Rendezvous camp and demonstrations. Blennerhassett Island can only be reached by sternwheeler from Civitan Park in Belpre. Tickets are available at the Blennerhassett Museum at Second and Juliana streets in downtown Parkersburg or can be purchased on the island prior to the return trip to Belpre.
The boat ride is $8 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 12. Admission to the Blennerhassett Mansion is $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 3 to 12. Wagon rides are $5 for adults and $3 for children.
During the Rendezvous, there are individuals and families on the island in period camps building fires with flint and steel, cooking outdoors, playing games and making crafts. There will also be gun builders and tomahawk and knife-throwing demonstrations.
, said organizers.
The Rendezvous encampment will include a "couple's game," which will show the status of women in pioneer days - much lower than today's world. Women had to do much of the work and had to do what they were told by the men.
On Saturday, a special event will be held around 11 a.m. on the island. The re-enactors will participate in a "Seneca Run," in which competitors throw knives and tomahawks, shoot muzzleloaders, set traps and start a fire.
Such events were a traditional type of competition held at trading posts and rendezvous camps when large groups of pioneers and settlers would gather, organizers said.
This is the 21st year the Rendezvous on the River has been held on Blennerhassett Island. There are usually about 50 adults and children staying in canvas lodges and lean-tos they have set up on the island.
The clothing and many of the furnishings used in the camp are handmade. Other items, such as cookware, are either authentic or reproductions made to function as pieces did in that time period.
Many of the re-enactors, who come primarily from Ohio and West Virginia, are history buffs interested in the period. The re-enactors cover the period before 1840 and go back to the Revolutionary War period.