Early white settlers observed extensive rock walls on the high ridge between Armstrong and Loop creeks, 1,500 feet above the Kanawha River in Fayette County. These were documented by Col. P. W. Norris for the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology in 1891, and by Dr. John P. Hale, reporting to the West Virginia Historical and Antiquarian Society in 1898. Dr. James H. Kellar, professor of anthropology and an expert on Georgia’s rock walls, spent a week there in June 1958.
The origin of the walls remains a mystery. No pottery, which often accompanies a social organization, has been found. The numerous projectile points are too diverse to suggest a chronology. The best guess seems to be that they were constructed during the Archaic Period. The ‘‘walls’’ were like windrows, long piles of large, usually flat, undressed rocks, reported in about 1820 to be six or seven feet high. More recent visitors estimated heights up to about three feet and saw much scattered rock. An early observer, George W. Atkinson, estimated a continuous wall, three and a half miles long, with numerous openings. Later observations suggest up to four widely separated horseshoe-shaped walls with the base of the ‘‘shoes’’ going across the ridge and the arms extending along the precipitous slopes. The walls do not appear to have been for defensive purposes or for use as animal pens.
There was an outcropping of Kanawha black flint below the ridge with evidence of a flint industry. Numerous granite hammer stones have been found (and there is no granite in this area). Such stones were used by historic as well as prehistoric peoples.
Surface mining has now destroyed these evidences of an early culture.
Written by Joseph Crosby Jefferds Jr.
Atkinson, George Wesley. A History of Kanawha County. Charleston: West Virginia Journal, 1876.
Hale, John P. Some Local Archaeology. Charleston: 1898.
Smithsonian Institution. 12th Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. July 1981.