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American Indian artifacts found at Putnam Business Park

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Gary Walton, director of the Putnam County Development Authority, knew when he sold the area of land next to the river at the Putnam Business Park there would be some Native American artifacts on it.

But he didn't realize the spot Ludowici LLC purchased last year contained thousands of some of the oldest relics in the area.

What slowed construction by about three months for Ludowici ended up being a pretty historically significant find for Cultural Resource Analysts of Hurricane.

"This [site] was different because we don't have many sites from that time period in this area," said Stevan Pullins, director of operations at CRA.

Artifacts pulled from the land in the Fraziers Bottom park are from the late woodland period, around 1000 A.D., according to Pullins. 

Shallow fire pits, used to cook food, tools, arrowheads, and pottery, among other artifacts were found.

Studies done in the late 1990s by the development authority showed that information would need to be collected before any construction began on the site.

"In order to proceed with construction [the development authority] was required to do what we call mitigate the impacts of construction," Pullins said. "They chose data recovery and that's when we were brought in."

Around 15 to 20 archaeologists worked on the site last year from August through October.

"What was cool is that everybody worked together -- the historic preservation [with the state Division of Culture and History] and the construction company -- so we didn't slow up construction too much," he said.

Walton joked he was glad nothing was discovered that would have delayed construction even more.

"This is an area right on the river and we knew it had been a camp site. You just hope to God you don't find a burial site," he said. "But they did find a lot of stuff."

Ludowici LLC has locations in Chapmanville and Wytheville, Va., among others, and specializes in mining, quarry, infrastructure, and industrial and water equipment, according to the company's website.

The location in Fraziers Bottom is expected to provide at least 70 jobs when it opens in July.

Cultural Resource Analysts, is based in Lexington, Ky., and has offices in, among others, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Colorado. The Hurricane location, which has been in operation since 1995, employs 12 archaeologists.

Pullins said the company gets a lot of work from Marcellus shale and pipelines projects.

Many of what the archaeologists collect is eventually sent to the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville, but the artifacts collected in Fraziers Bottom will be returned to the site.

"We've asked to have the artifacts turned back over to us when they're finished to present them to Ludowici to store them and display them in their office building on the site," Walton said.

"They'll go right back home."

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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