The Mound

Volunteering at the Grave Creek Mound

I am Jane Klug, a volunteer at the Grave Creek Archaeological Complex located in Moundsville, West Virginia.  I am a native to this area, and find its culture and history fascinating.  I was fortunate enough to teach West Virginia History to middle school students for many years, and when I retired, I wanted to continue exploring the history of this Upper Ohio Valley area, and the Adena Culture.

 At the Mound Museum, the majority of my time is spent giving tours, both inside the Museum and outside on the Mound.  My favorite exhibits include the diorama that depicts the actual building of the approximately sixty-nine foot high mound, and the displays that provide internal details of the mounds construction.  I often ask school groups questions about how and why the Mound was constructed.  Another point I focus on is the number of recorded tombs that were found in this 2263 year- old earthen structure.  After going through the displays, looking at the numerous artifacts, and discussing the geographic wall map, the groups go outside,

 While on the Mound, I share geographic facts about the area, discuss other mounds in the area (there’s a reason our city is called “Moundsville”), and talk about local legends and stories.  I present a “Mound through the Ages” timeline, which includes the construction of a dance hall atop the Mound, and a Union Army artillery site.  I tell the visitors about the efforts to save the Mound (as it was once targeted to be leveled).   Together we view the Ohio River, and imagine the Adena people fishing, gathering shells, and preparing their canoes for a trading expedition up or down the River.  We observe the hills, and imagine hunters coming home with their game.  And as we think about the hunters and their weapons, the time has come for traveling down the Mound to experience throwing spears with the atlatls.

 I am always amazed that the staff of this facility trusts me enough with spears.  (These are “safety Spears”. If they weren’t, I fear I would send many a wounded student/visitor home to be cared for.)  Our targets are cardboard groundhogs (attached to milk cartons) or a commercial grade deer target.  Usually our targets are free from harm.  Aiming a spear at a non-moving target is a challenge.  Imagine trying to hit a moving target with enough force to bring it down.  I am always amused by the fact that our targets have smiling faces.  But, on rare occasion, a would-be hunter hits the mark.  A cheer goes up, and the “hunter” is applauded.  Of course, the “hunter” wants to take another turn, inspiring the others in the group to do likewise.  Needless to say, this is a very popular activity.  I remind the group that “no hit means no eat” for an Adena hunting party.  This seems to spur lively discussions about which local restaurant to select.

I hope to continue to give tours and instruct spear throwing as long as the staff will allow me to.  I urge everyone with an interest in history to volunteer.  You’ll never regret it.