WHEELING - A new group of visitors is frequenting points of interest already familiar to Ohio Valley residents, as oil and gas industry workers flood the area from out of town, bringing with them interest, activity and money.
Business at Oglebay Park's Wilson Lodge is doing well thanks in part to non-local visitors, according to Marketing Director Caren Knoyer. Aside from providing an overnight sojourn for brief visits, the lodge also offers a venue for conferences and meetings.
"In 2012 we had 10 meetings at Wilson Lodge that were related to the energy industry," Knoyer said in early January. "In 2013 we more than doubled that to 23 meetings for energy workers."
Heading north along the Ohio River, the annual Wells Township Haunted House, operated by local talent with help from the township's police force, also sees its share of guests from other parts of the world.
"We don't really track who comes from where, but every year we break our attendance records," haunted house Director Sean Norman said. "People from out of town often come by early looking for tickets."
Visitors also are taking an interest in Ohio Valley heritage. The museum and visitor's center at Steubenville's historic Fort Steuben serves not only as an attraction but also as a base for newcomers looking for information about the community, according to site Manager Judy Bratton.
"We have a lot of out-of-town people stop by, especially when their families come to visit," Bratton said. "When their families come to visit, they are always looking for something to do."
In addition to providing information about the fort, Bratton said employees often give recommendations for entertainment, festivals, restaurants and other available activities.
Meanwhile, at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling, site manager Travis Henline said he often converses with guests who come from out of town.
"I have had people who come in and they identify themselves on being in the area for the oil and gas industry," Henline said.
While he did not notice a significant rise in visitors due specifically to the energy industry, Henline said events surrounding West Virginia's 150th anniversary brought an influx of new visitors last summer.