Unwind, drop anchor, and explore the many islands of the Ohio River.
The Ohio River Guidebook counts 77 named islands in the Ohio River – many suitable for public landing. One notable exception would be Brown’s Island, which begins at mile 61 of the river. The two-mile long industrial site is owned by National Steel Corp. Wheeling Island at mile 90.5, is the most populated island in the Ohio River. The island is home to 3,142 people, the Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center and the Wheeling Island Stadium – home of the West Virginia State Football Championships.
The Captina Island at mile 109.7 near Powhatan Point is a nice place for a break. A little further downstream, Fish Creek Island is the home of West Virginia’s largest great blue heron rookery.
Near Sardis, the 81-acre Peden’s Island or the 126-acre Williamson Island are great landing places. The wooded islands are part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge – a collection of 22 islands and three mainland tracks – scattered along 400 miles of the beautiful river. As the river cuts through the Wayne National Forest, the small retreats of Wells Island and Mill Creek Island are good places to access by boat.
Continuing south along the wildlife refuge, Grape Island at mile 152 and Middle Island at mile 155 are ideal landing spots. Eureka Island is at mile 162 near the Willow Island Locks and Dam. Near Marietta, Buckley Island at mile 168, is three miles long and has an unusual past being privately held agricultural land until recently – and the 1800’s home of a floating mill. Muskingum Island and Vienna Island are also suitable for mooring. The four mile long Blennerhassett Island is a state park – and the site of a treasonous plot in early American history. A reconstructed Blennerhassett mansion and grounds are open for visitors seasonally.
East of Racine, Buffington Island is the site of the only Civil War battle that took place in Ohio. A four-acre park features a monument and signs that tell of the clash. Near Letart Falls, Letart Island is a part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Nearby, Eightmile Island is a forested island located across from Cheshire, Ohio and owned by American Electric Power. In Gallia County, Gallipolis Island belonged to the City of Gallipolis until 2004 when it was sold to the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service for inclusion into the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge.