Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville will present a month of family-oriented programs in September, including its featured artist of the month exhibit, Fossil Day, Smithsonian Museum Day, monthly lecture and discovery table craft projects. All activities are free and open to the public.
On Saturday, Sept. 3, visitors are invited to view the ongoing featured artist of the month exhibit, Drew Gonchoff: Studio Artist and Graphic Designer. Gonchoff, who lives in Moundsville, blends surreal imagery with psychedelic patterns of nature to create his paintings. His exhibit will remain on display through Sept. 30.
Fossil enthusiasts can gather from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, for the Mound’s second Fossil Day program of the year and bring their treasured finds for expert identification by Ronald McDowell, senior research geologist and head of the geoscience section of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey (WVGES) in Morgantown.
Hands-on activities include an indoor fossil dig in which real fossils can be found by cracking open and examining rocks. Visitors can make fossil impressions in clay and excavate the fossil bed that was made during the March Fossil Day. They also can make a model of a crinoid, a sea creature that resembles a flower with its arms and stem. In addition, the film “Rocks and Rivers: West Virginia’s Geologic Heritage” will be screened in the auditorium throughout the day, courtesy of the WVGES. The exhibit Prehistoric West Virginia can also be seen with tours led by E. Ray and Mary Ellen Garton of Prehistoric Planet.
The Elizabethtown Festival, which is held across the street at the Old West Virginia Penitentiary also takes place on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 11, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Grave Creek Mound has an exhibit at the festival and other history displays and craft and food vendors will be on site.
The Smithsonian Museum Day Live! will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Patrons can make a “Festive Fall Foliage” craft and tour the Interpretive Garden using a garden checklist.
On Thursday, Sept. 29, the monthly lecture and film series will continue at 7 p.m. with W. Hunter Lesser presenting “Rosser’s Raid on Beverly: One Last Frolic for the Confederacy.” Lesser will relate the tale of Confederate Gen. Tom Rosser’s raid on the Union depot at Beverly in Randolph County during the winter of 1865. Taking the Yankees by surprise after a late-night dance, Rosser’s men plundered the town and carried off twice their number in prisoners. Lesser is an author, archaeologist and interpreter. He wrote “Rebels at the Gate: Lee and McClellan on the Front Line of a Nation Divided.” There will be a book signing after the lecture.
The Discovery Table will be available for visitors to make a mammoth puppet from paper bags and other items through Sept. 12. After that, families can create a Museum Memory Book which they can take home as a souvenir of their visit.
The exhibit, Prehistoric West Virginia, features casts of some of the large Ice Age animals that once roamed in West Virginia, including skulls of the saber-tooth cat and dire wolf, perhaps two of the most famous prehistoric carnivores in North America. There are casts of the short-faced bear, giant ground sloth and an eight-foot tall fossilized mammoth leg. The exhibit also showcases a Dimetrodon, a mammal-like reptile that predated the first dinosaurs by several million years. Fans of the television series “Game of Thrones” will recognize the dire wolf, which serves as a pet and protector to many of the characters on the show.
The Buried Past: Artifacts from West Virginia’s Wild, Wonderful History is the newest exhibit at the Archaeological Complex. It showcases West Virginia archaeological sites and represents a wide range of people, places, and time. Prehistoric Native Americans are represented in the Saint Albans, Fairchance, Saddle, Mount Carbon, and Buffalo exhibit cases. Early settlers are represented by two frontier fort sites (Warwick’s Fort and Arbuckle’s Fort), and a frontier cabin excavated at the Hevener Site, while excavations on Blennerhassett Island focus on the time when the Blennerhassett family lived there in their mansion. The Civil War is represented by Camp Allegheny, and a look at the Victorian Era is provided through excavations at the United States Federal Building and Courthouse in Wheeling.
For more information about activities and programs at Grave Creek Mound, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator, at (304) 843-4128 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.facebook.com/gravecreekmound and www.twitter.com/gravecreekmound.