Pricketts Fort was built at the confluence of Pricketts Creek and the Monongahela River in 1774 by Capt. Jacob Prickett. It was not a military fort, but a civilian refuge fort designed to shelter local settlers from Indian attack. When the threat of Indian uprisings occurred, up to 80 families from the surrounding countryside would hurry to the fort. They would stay as long as the threat existed, from days to weeks. Life in the cramped quarters rapidly became unpleasant, and ‘‘forting up’’ was long remembered by those who endured it.
In 1974, a replica frontier fort was built as near as could be determined to the original site of Pricketts Fort. The fort officially opened as Pricketts Fort State Park during the 1976 Bicentennial. The rebuilt fort covers a 110-by-110-foot square, with 12-foot-high log walls and blockhouses at each corner. Lining the stockade walls are tiny sleeping cabins, with earthen floors. A meetinghouse and a storehouse occupy the common.
The Job Prickett house, a 19th-century brick residence, is located near the fort, as is the Prickett family cemetery. The historic graveyard is the burial place of fort builder Jacob Prickett and of Col. Zackquill Morgan, the founder of Morgantown. The fort site and its environs, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, are open for public tours from mid-April through October. Visitors enjoy seeing costumed artisans at work. These historical interpreters also serve as guides for tours, telling visitors about daily life on the frontier of Western Virginia. A visitor center includes a museum shop and an orientation exhibit.
The Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation, under long-term contract with the State of West Virginia, manages the visitor center, the historical interpretation program, and special events.
Written by Melissa May