Grave Creek Mound – Moundsville, West Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Grave Creek Mound

The largest burial mound in the United States holds the remains of prehistoric West Virginians. 


What appears to be a simple grass hill in the appropriately named town of Moundsville, West Virginia is actually a prehistoric burial pile known as the Grave Creek Mound. 

Slowly built over 100 years from around 250 to 150 BCE, the ancient graveyard holds the remains of prehistoric West Virginians and is the largest mound of its kind in the United States. Researchers speculate that the ancient builders of the mound must have moved over 60,000 tons of earth to create the 69 foot tall hill. No small feat for stone age architects. 

The mound was first discovered in the late 1700’s by English immigrant Joseph Tomlinson who built a house just in front of the mound. Over sixty years after the home was built, Tomlinson’s descendant Jesse began digging tunnels into the mound and in almost no time at all the amateur paleontologist discovered two burial chambers near the center of the hill. Inside the chambers, Tomlinson found skeletons, seashells, and a decent amount of metal jewelry. The enterprising frontiersman did the American thing and opened a museum in the tunnels for which he charged admission.

Today the archeological treasure trove has an adjoining museum and research center dedicated to learning all that they can about the prehistoric West Virginians interred in the hill. The Grave Creek Mound is now surrounded by a protective fence that prevents any further destruction due to untrained archeologists, but visitors can still come and take a look at one of the country’s largest piles of ancient remains.

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