West Virginia Hillbilly
Was There Actually An Ancient Wall In Fayette?
December 7, 1989
Was There Actually An Ancient Wall In Fayette?
Among the papers and documents left by the late Deff [sic] Norona, and now reposing in the Davis & Elkins library, is this letter, presumably sent to Mr. Narona (dated July 24, 1951), and signed “Inghram.” This letter is a footnote to last week’s front page reprint of Forrest Hull’s story on the mysterious wall in Fayette County. There are no clues as to Mr. Inghram’s identity or qualifications as a historian or an archaeologist, nor have we found the name in any encyclopedia.
This tracing was sent to me when I asked for definite information as to exact location of the places mentioned in the Page article, by Mr. Norona. It consisted of topo map tracing of the area on the Montgomery Quadrangle map of the area between Armstrong and Loop (formerly Loup, or Wolf) creek. Between these two small creeks there was drawn a 3-inch pickle shaped oblong marked, Fa-I. It agrees with Page’s description perfectly in all respects.
July 22, 1951 – Proceeded to foot of ridge where I judged the central part of the wall should be found, by traveling two miles up Loop creek. Attacked side of hill and arrived near top about 12 minutes later, estimate that hill is about 2,000’ high. Found nothing unusual until near top where I encountered a sandstone outcrop, which when first seen did appear like a man-made wall, or rather the large number of rocks lying in a rough line could be so interpreted. Followed this line of loose rocks about 500 fee before finding enough of them piled up to judge whether or not they were natural. At this point the loose rocks appeared to be piled one on the other, but careful study showed that practically all of them had top and bottom curves as well as end junctions which fitted together in such manner that there was no evading the decision that they were natural and that it would be impossible for men to have found and fitted natural stones so cleverly interlocking. As Page half-said, this “wall” could not have confined a cow.
Proceeded farther in other direction (south) searching for mixed stone varieties in the wall, found none. Soon did find large blocks of so-called black flint, but not at any place either atop or beneath rocks of the general area type (sandstone). Returned to place flint was found and traced it to the very top of ridge. Here were signs that the small ledge had been worked. These signs indicated that almost perfectly square pieces of six-inch flint had been removed from the ledge, evidenced by lines of fracture. None of blocks were found. There is a large boulder beside and atop parts of the ledge. This unattached rock is as big as a two-story house. No evidence of rock carvings or human use.
Followed ridge about a mile north, after exploring it half a mile east of this rock. Saw several cross walls, obviously natural, and here and there observed that the sandstone outcrop exists a short distance down either side of the hill. Suddenly encountered a huge pile of loose sandstone squarely atop ridge and at a high place. All indications are that it is not natural, and only use I can assign is that it was at one time a tower. Stones were native to the spot and about the size a man could handle without difficulty – about 50 lb. average. If tower was solidly built it would probably have been about ten feet high and 15 across, although if the pile of rubble lost farther down the slope (west) in the undergrowth was large than estimated the tower, if that is what it was, could well have been considerably larger. About two railroad cars of loose stone are in plain sight and that the stone is of considerable depth is evidenced by the fact it is entirely bare of any kind of plant growth, if the stones are more than two feet deep, the structure they came from must be considered as have been much larger than the estimate above, which is conservative for the visible amount of loose rock around the center, a natural outcrop.
At site of tower above (it could be a rock mound, the real thing, if any such exist) I made compass readings, and took my brand of magnetic survey of the spot, it was negative, indicating that there is no local variation in natural magnetic lines there. Studied the adjoining ridges and marked them for future exploration to see if my theory that these towers were built in a line or circle is right. Too many snakes and leaves to permit much to be done in summer.
This pile of rocks could not have been Page’s tower as the spot is too high and narrow. Nor would it be possible for a spring to be within half a mile of the spot. Casual investigation revealed nothing worth mentioning in the artifact line.
Came off hill approximately where I started up it. Decision arrived at after getting back to car. No man-made wall exists on that ridge. The pile of stones must be further investigated as well as high points on ridges which flank it and other prominent spots that may be detected after the leaves fall. Opinion is that there was some sort of “works” here. Time spent on this hill, three and one-half hours.
Studied map and the ridge from car, and decided that this ridge was too short to contain any such sized enclosure. Traveled all the side roads and the main road almost to Powellton, all the way from river. Found at least six ridges that might have a wall on them, but all were too short to accommodate any enclosure the supposed size of Fa.-I. Conclusion, something wrong somewhere.
Stopped seven times at widely separated places and made inquiries as to where the Indian ruins were. Was directed to four or five different places. No one had every actually saw the wall or anything that was connected with ancient aborigines in the area. Investigated none of tips as I could plainly detect a note of uncertainty in the givers’ vagueness. One man told me that the wall was atop a ridge that I have already very thoroughly explored and know no such wall is there, or anything else than sandstone outcrops any sensible person would recognize as entirely natural.
Conclusion: Tracing of site, if it exists, is too vague and takes in too much territory. Suspicion arises that the tracing is entirely based upon Page’s article and that Page let his enthusiasm blind him when he observed the natural sandstone outcrops common in the area.
However, there is a long, high ridge much to the east of where the site is supposed to be which I haven’t explored, and which may actually have a man-made wall atop it. It is too massive and heavily wooded to tackle lightly, accordingly I have written to Meirs, asking when I could see him at his convenience, or when he can get an opportunity to pay me a visit, so that I can learn what he really knows from first-hand observations up there. After which I shall personally investigate and report.
I have spent many days up there searching for this site that everybody but me knows all about, it seems, and found nothing. Considering its tremendous size and specific locations, I have been suffering from an inferiority complex over it! The more I investigate, the more certain I am it either doesn’t exist at all, or is somewhere else, since that is a pretty rough place with “walls” all over it that I refuse to believe aren’t natural. It may be a case of anything – like me being over-skeptical, or looking in the wrong area.