That sign was the first thing that caught my eye as I entered the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia. Those words put the mind in a state of exploration – the goal of this facility. While the focal point of this entire complex is the large earthen Grave Creek Mound beside the parking lot, today the visit will be inside the complex.
Close to the entrance into the building is a large glass wall so visitors can view recent finds being researched and recorded by curators in West Virginia Archeological Research Facility, which is a recently added wing in 2008. This is where artifacts, from various archeological digs all over the state, are processed, studied and recorded.
One portion of the complex, Delf Norona Museum, displays information regarding the lives of prehistoric people and the structure of The Mound inself. This complex is indeed complex, as it holds not only information regarding the Grave Creek Mound, but also touches on rotating displays of many local cultural and historic exhibits entitled: West Virginia’s Gift to The World. They have given themselves space to grow as exhibits are not in the least bit crowded, making viewing a pleasure. Throughout the year, lectures and films in their 135 seat theater are held to inform the public on Native Americans and Ancient Americans.
Ron Hinkle’s Blown Glass immediately caught my eye since my father was also a glassblower. Ron’s wall-size blown glass display sparkles with a bit of magic as every piece is unique. Since opening his own company in 1994, Ron hopes to keep the spirit and art of glassblowing alive and well in the area.
Ladies Fashion Dolls of the Nineteenth Century by Pete Ballard catches the eye of most ladies as they enter the front door. This collection shows the changes in ladies’ fashions from 1770 to 1930 in a large display where each of the fifty-six dolls has a brass plate with its name, year, and number for easy cross reference to a booklet which can be picked up just inside the room. The oldest doll, Elizabeth, was from the style of 1800, being dressed in a green and red wool pattern.
The Marble King actually received its name from a gentleman named Berry Pink. While working for Peltier Glass, Berry traveled across the country hosting marble tournaments and giving away marbles at each stop. Reminds me of Johnny Appleseed ! When Peltier Glass could no longer keep up with the demand, Berry and a partner formed a company and named it after Berry’s nickname, The Marble King. Not only do children still enjoy playing marbles either in the traditional way or with games, but many artistic designs have also been created using their beautiful colors. Marbles are thought to be the first competitive sport as far back as the Greek and Roman Empires.
Homer Laughlin China Company has provided many families with quality chinaware for nearly 150 years. Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin started their company way back in 1871 in East Liverpool, Ohio. In 1902, Homer moved the kilns to Newell, WV just across the Ohio River using the new suspension bridge and trolleyline as a means to bring his trained potters across to West Virginia. Here they constructed the largest pottery plant ever built in the world. This fine pottery is a highly collectible item in the area, but many families still use it for special occassions. This large display will bring back memories for many of the viewers.
The remainder of this museum deals with the history of the basic reason for this entire complex – Grave Creek Mound – just outside the building. This large mound measuring 62′ high with a 240′ base diameter, is the largest conical earthen mound in the New World. The secrets of this mound will require another tale. So stay tuned…for the rest of the story.
Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex in Moundsville, West Virginia is located on the east bank of the Ohio River. Traveling on the West Virginia side of the river, follow Route 2 into Moundsville. Turn left on 8th Street and after two blocks turn right onto Jefferson Ave. You can’t miss The Mound! Admission is free and the complex is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9am – 5pm.