Saturday, April 03, 2010

New trails feature mysterious stacked stones

From the Saturday Gazette-Mail of West Virginia - about the Stonewall Jackson State Park cairns. [Click here] I think the Gage's may have surveyed that site.

It is frustrating to read the "officials" floundering around with no context and awkward attempts to explain things. They are all like "We may never know who built these....". My hope is that this confusion would pass given adequate mapping and better archeo-astronomy and/or more serious dating efforts.


James Gage said...

The article described the SRSP sites in accurate manner. I am encouraged to learn the park service plans on including them as part of the interpretative program for the new trail system. It is a small but important step forward. I am also impressed with the honesty of state officials in acknowledging they are not sure who built the structures. In the past, as many of us have encounter, state officials tended to stick strictly to agricultural explanations. The willingness to consider alternative explanations is a small but significant shift in policy.

James Gage

pwax said...

James, you are a lot more patient than I am. Information about the nature of rock piles is out there and easy to find. In the south, the rock pile research has been non-trivial; and should be well known to students of archeology or related professions. So, how these officials got as far as having jobs in the field without keeping up with such things, or at a minimum being vaguely aware of the topic, is a puzzle.

James Gage said...

Sam England, the Park Superintendent for Stonewall Resort State Park in West Virginia, originally only had funding to create a trail system for the park. Charles Dundas, trail mapping consultant from Tri-State Company, raised the issue of possible Native American stone structures. In response Mr. England sought additional grant funding to have all the stone structure sites GPS mapped, photographed, and documented. In addition, he contacted people like ourselves to offer insights into the structures. He also managed to get permission to include interpretative signage, something which a year ago looked like would not happen. Mr. England should be commended for his efforts and willingness to go beyond original limited scope of work for the original trail project. The restrictions on the interpretation of the SRSP sites is largely coming from state archaeologists who have (to the best of my knowledge) taken a neutral position on the structures - neither pushing agricultural explanation nor accepting a Native American interpretation. The Native American community in West Virginia has not stepped forward to acknowledge these sites (or any stone structure sites in West Virginia) as the work of their ancestors. Hopefully this will change in the future.

Changing existing paradigms is a slow process. But we are making progress.

James Gage

Hallie B. said...


I came across this particular blog entry when researching the mysterious cairns. I have just recently visited Stonewall Jackson Resort and was very interested in the history of the structures but, as mentioned earlier, the park officials are satisfied to call them mysterious and leave it at that. To the best of my knowledge, there are not any indigenous communities left in West Virginia. I believe most Native Americans left West Virginia when Andrew Jackson expelled them to the territories.

I would be much obliged if someone would send me a link if they find something related or new information on the subject.