As of the census of 2010, there were 1,485 people, 628 households, and 419 families living in the city. The population density was 1,337.8 inhabitants per square mile (516.5/km). There were 730 housing units at an average density of 657.7 per square mile (253.9/km). The racial makeup of the city was 98.8% White, 0.1% African American, 0.1% Native American, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.8% of the population.
Parsons is located at 39°5′45″N 79°40′46″W / 39.09583°N 79.67944°W (39.095721, -79.679465). The Cheat River is formed at Parsons by the confluence of the Shavers Fork and the Black Fork.
The city has a total area of 1.20 square miles (3.11 km), of which, 1.11 square miles (2.87 km) is land and 0.09 square miles (0.23 km) is water.
Parsons is located at the head of the Cheat River at the intersection of US 219 and Route 72. It became an incorporated town June 12, 1893 and an incorporated city February 18, 1907. Parsons was built on the route of the WV Central & Pittsburg Railway, which was constructed through Tucker County in the 1880s. Parsons became the county seat on August 7, 1893, although the county records had actually (and unlawfully) been moved the night of August 1. Parsons was named after Ward Parsons, not the first settler, but the most prominent and largest landowner.
The Battle of Corricks Ford, a Confederate defeat, took place in Parsons on July 13, 1861; one of the first land battles of the Civil War. General Robert S. Garnett, of the Confederate forces, was killed during the battle, the first officer to meet death during the Civil War.
Parsons boomed early in the 20th century and peaked during the period of 1920 to 1940, growing from a population of 84 in the 1890 census to 2,077 in 1940. Changes in the natural resources economy caused the population to fall in the 1950s and 1960s. The 1985 flood was hard on Parsons. On November 5, the Cheat River crested 24.3 feet, more than 8 feet above flood stage. More than 90 percent of businesses in the area as well as hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed. About 40 houses located in the floodplain were later acquired and demolished by the federal government. Those who did not rebuild brought the population to 1,485 in 2010.
Parsons has much to offer! First, our friendly community has recreational activities second to none. Parsons, located in the Monongahela National Forest where the Black Fork and the Shavers Fork join together to form the Cheat River, is an outdoor recreationist’s dream. The rivers provide opportunities for water fun. Find your favorite swimming hole, fish, kayak, float on a tube, or hike to your favorite waterfall. The Monongahela National Forest features an extensive hiking trail system including the pristine Otter Creek Wilderness Area less than 15 minutes away. Parsons is also the mid-point hub for the 26-mile Allegheny Highland Trail—one of the most scenic hike and bike trails in the area.
For those who enjoy entertainment, Parsons has events throughout the year. We are home to the award-winning International Pickin’ in Parsons Bluegrass Festival—the second largest bluegrass festival in the state. Lazy summer evenings inspire folks to gather in front of the downtown courthouse to partake in old-fashioned cake walks. Getting into the Christmas spirit is easy to do in Parsons as we host one of the largest Christmas parades in the area and welcome guests to our Annual Christmas House Tours that highlight homes decked out for the holidays. The Festival of Trees encourages local organizations to decorate trees while promoting their causes.
Parsons includes two well-maintained city parks. Mill Race Park with its winding walking trails that connect to the Allegheny Highlands Trail and features a community stage, several pavilions, public grills, outdoor exercise stations, playground amenities, and our popular splash park, a fun place for kids! Other events include Summer Concerts in the Park, Taste of Tucker Farmers’ Market, and Art in the Park. Our River City Park also connects to the Allegheny Highlands Trail and has basketball courts, a baseball field, a skate park, playground amenities, and is home to numerous area sporting teams.
Developed and implemented by FHLBank Pittsburgh in 2005, the Blueprint Communities initiative creates momentum for revitalizing older communities and neighborhoods by:
- Building strong local leadership, collaboration and development capacity
- Developing sound local and regional planning skills
- Encouraging coordinated investments in targeted communities by public and private funders
Blueprint Communities teams, which contain a diverse mix of local leaders, receive:
- Leadership training
- Help in using their skills to create and implement revitalization plans for their communities
- Access to a variety of funding opportunities, including priority access to some FHLBank Pittsburgh community products.