March 26, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have installed a new exhibit, Uncovering the Past: Archeology from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Marmet Locks Project, in the first floor rotunda of the State Capitol Building. An opening reception to celebrate the show will be held Monday, March 29, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston beginning at 6 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free and the public is invited to attend.
The Marmet Locks and Dam is located 68 miles above the mouth of the Kanawha River. The original twin locks were built in 1934. By the 1990s, the aging locks were no longer able to accommodate modern barge traffic and the USACE was authorized by Congress to build a larger lock. Construction began in 2002 and it became operational in 2008, reducing the average transit time from four hours to less than one.
Before construction could begin, the Huntington District of the USACE was required by the National Historic Preservation Act to consider the effects this project might have on historic properties, including significant archeological sites. The archeological work conducted for the project resulted in the most extensive professional excavation in the history of the Kanawha Valley and recovered evidence for more than 10,000 years of human history. Highlights include the recovering of two points dating from the earliest known occupation in the Kanawha Valley (8,550-8,000 B.C.); a rare excavation of a buried Early Archaic site in West Virginia (8,000-6,000 B.C.); the excavation of a 15th-century fortified Late Prehistoric village with 24 houses; and the ruins of the John Reynolds antebellum salt plantation, including a slave cabin site, several salt furnace ruins and evidence of the mansion site.
The opening ceremony will take place in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater and include remarks by Colonel Robert D. Peterson, Commander of the Huntington District of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers; Cabinet Secretary Kay H. Goodwin of the Department of Education and the Arts; and Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the Division of Culture and History, who will be the keynote speaker. Representatives of West Virginia Congress and Senate members including Anne Barth from the office of Sen. Robert C. Byrd; Wes Holden from the office of Sen. John D. Rockefeller; and Mary Elisabeth Eckerson from the office of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito also will make remarks. In addition, C. Michael Anslinger of Cultural Resource Analysts will present a slide show and talk about the artifacts and excavation done at the Marmet Locks project site.
A reception will follow the ceremony in the Great Hall. Guests will then be invited to tour the exhibit in the Capitol Building.
The Division’s State Historic Preservation Office helped the Huntington District follow through on its National Historic Preservation Act obligations and ensured archeology conducted for the project was a success. The staff of the West Virginia State Museum also worked closely with the USACE to exhibit and interpret the wealth of knowledge gained from the Marmet project. It is anticipated that the Division’s Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville will be the final location for the archeological material recovered during work on the project.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers was established June 16, 1775 and is divided into 45 Districts. The Huntington District includes southern and central West Virginia within its 45,000-square-mile boundary. The Huntington District has developed the navigation infrastructure along the middle Ohio River and the Kanawha River in West Virginia and has designed or constructed more flood risk reduction projects than any other district.
For more information about the Uncovering the Past exhibit, contact Charles Morris, director of Museums for the Division, at (304) 558-0220. For more information about the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers project visit its Web site at www.lrh.usace.army.mil.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.