Last week I showed you the gothic structure of the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia. (Here) I thought we would continue our tour there with the Grave Creek Indian Mound which sits directly across from the middle section of the prison. It is one of the largest conical Indian mounds in the USA.
The first native settlers along the Ohio River in the area of present-day Marshall County were the Mound Builders, also known as the Adena people. The Grave Creek Indian Mound, located in the center of Moundsville, is one of West Virginia's most famous historic landmarks. More than 2,000 years old, it stands 69 feet high and 295 feet in diameter.
The mound contains approximately 57,000 tons of dirt and originally stood nearly 70 feet high. The digging of so much earth left a sizeable moat or ditch surrounding the mound but it is no longer in existence. By testing the soil, archaeologists estimate the mound was built between 250 and 150 BCE by the Adena culture, which occupied the area from about 1000 BCE to 200 CE. The mound and two forts were the essential features of an Adena village in the shape of a triangle.
The mound was discovered by James Tomlinson and was opened in 1838. He discovered a vault 111 feet from the northern side containing the skeletal remains of two Indians, one of them surrounded with 650 ivory beads and wearing an ivory ornament about six inches long. The mound also contained ashes and bits of bones that are believed to be the remnants of Indians burned prior to their internment in the mound. Another vault was discovered near the top of the mound, containing a skeleton wearing beads, seashells and copper bracelets. An inscribed stone was removed from the vault and is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
The mound was listed on the Natural History of Historic Places in 1966.