In this case, the “Mound” in Moundsville refers to Grave Creek Mound, the largest Native American burial mound in the entire United States, which apparently has way more burial mounds than I thought. In fact, looking around online, it seems as if parts of the country are completely goitery with them, like the land was frozen mid-boil or something.
However, even if Grave Creek Mound were the only hump of dead people in the country, it would still be impressive. At 69 feet tall, 295 feet wide at its base, and with a circumference of...hold on...doing the math...times pi...926 feet, Grave Creek Mound is a pile of dirt like an iceberg is a chunk of ice. Meaning that it is exactly that, but to state such just makes us jerks.
Remington Steele, we don’t even know their real name.
They were dubbed after the estate of the Ohio governor upon whose property the first Adena mound was excavated, a naming practice that could have gone horribly awry had it been on the property of somebody like, say, Michael Jackson. History is full of “This close to silly.” Just kidding. The Neverland peoples would be an awesome name. For anything.
The state of West Virginia, which hadn’t been embarrassed enough by Virginia to become its own state at the time of either the discovery or the plundering of the mound, eventually got their wild, wonderful hands on this 60,000-ton pile of earth in 1909. Now it’s a park. Because that’s what states do when they’re not naming state vegetables, animals, minerals, and television shows. They make parks.
Grave Creek Mound is located in the center of the town that was named for it, on Jefferson Avenue, right across from the now defunct and always spooky West Virginia State Penitentiary. It’s free to visit and features a long set of stone steps that wraps around the grass- and tree-covered mound and leads to a flattened top surrounded by a one-foot-tall stone fence. In the center of the hilltop is a short, four-sided obelisk with the cardinal points engraved into its flanks. While we were bear-went-over-the-mountain-ing there, a couple was perched on the low wall eating lunch. I’m just imagining their text message conversation prior:
“Let’s grab Subway & eat on burial mound.”
“Awesome idea. ;)”
“I hate emoticons.”
Actually that last line was me. It does make me wonder if Grave Creek Mound is the town make-out spot, though.
Adjacent to the mound is the Delf Norona Museum and Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex, which is also free and showcases various Adena artifacts, a large pre-Columbian model of the area, and archaeological facilities that you can view through an observation window.