West Virginia is believed to have been primarily a hunting ground for most of the Native American or Indian people. However, even with a relatively low incident of permanent Indian settlements, there are a number of interesting Native American sites in WV. Here are a few of the highlights for those visiting the area.
Perhaps the best known Indian site in West Virginia is located in the northern panhandle city of Moundsville. Moundsville is home to the Grave Creek Mound. The Grave Creek Mound is the largest Native American mound in North America. According to information from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the mound stands about 60 feet high and is about 240 feet in diameter. The Division of Culture and History states that the mound is estimated to have been built about 150 to 250 BC. The Grave Creek Mound Archaeology Complex encompasses the mound and a museum which is open daily. Adjacent is the former West Virginia State Prison which is open for yours and reputed to be haunted. Interestingly, when the state first acquired the mound property the prison’s warden was put in charge of caring for the mound. The mound and prison are well signed from Rt. 2 in Moundsville.
Down the road from Moundsville in St. Mary’s, West Virginia, is another mound located on Rt. 2. Just south of St. Mary’s, in Marietta, OH, is another mound. The Charleston, WV, area is also home to Native American mounds. The largest mound in the Charleston area is the Criel Mound, located in South Charleston. To get to the mound take the Montrose Exit off of Interstate 64, follow Montrose / US 60 to 7th Avenue to Staunton Park.
Point Pleasant, WV, is home not only to The Mothman, but of a significant battle between frontiersmen and Indians led by Chief Cornstalk. Legend has it that Cornstalk, after being shot by colonial soldiers while being held prisoner, cursed the area with his dying words. The site of the battle is now a state park that contains the burial of the remains of Cornstalk (who is now buried in his third location) along with a marker. Other historical sites are on the grounds as well. Tu-Endie-Wei State Park is well marked when arriving in Point Pleasant, don’t miss The Mothman statue just down the street.
These are just a few of the many sites of interest to those interested in Native Americans / Indians in West Virginia. Arrowheads, legends, and other remnants of the past way of life dot the West Virginia countryside filled with places and rivers called by Indian names.