The City of Wood River lies on the Mississippi River near the confluence of the Wood and Missouri rivers. It was from this site that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on their trip to the Pacific Northwest (May 14, 1804); a monument commemorates the event.
Wood River was founded in 1907 with the establishment in the vicinity of a Standard Oil Company refinery. Other refineries were soon located nearby. The industry was attracted by the availability of rail and river transportation. After joining two other communities (East Wood River in 1910 and Benbow City in 1917), Wood River was chartered as a city in 1923. Petroleum products remain central to the economy; other manufacturers in the area include ammunition and steel. The city features a local museum that details the development of the area. In Roxana, southeast of Wood River, is the Wood River Refinery History Museum, on the former site of a petroleum research laboratory. Wood River is at the beginning of the 3,700-mile (6,000-km) Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Inc.