Wood Co. asked to set aside $2,000 for estate dig

PARKERSBURG – Friends of Mountwood Park asked Wood County commissioners for $2,000 to help fund an archaeological dig this summer at the Stiles estate.

Peggy Squires and Mike Naylor, representing the volunteer Friends of Mountwood group, told commissioners this will be the third field school at the former Stiles estate at the park. Annette Ericksen and the archaeology program at Hocking College, along with Christopher Nelson, a professional archaeologist from Charleston, W.Va., will be assisting with the excavation June 3-20. The event is open to the public. Squires said most of the participants have been youth.

“We have a lot of Scouts trying to earn merit badges and Boy Scouts working on Eagle projects,” Naylor said. “There is not a lot going on in terms of archaeology right now. We are currently the only active dig site in the state.”

An introductory archaeology class was added in 2012 to kick off the dig with 35 attending. There were 46 participants in the actual dig last year, up from 20 in 2011. There were 109 visitors compared to 90 the year before and 13 merit badges earned compared to three the year before.

Naylor noted last fall the Stiles Mansion, in the abandoned town of Volcano in Wood County, was the subject of a program in an archaeology month observance.

“Volcano can claim three firsts: The first oil field in the country to employ the endless cable pumping system; the first regular gauge railroad to be built within the state and the first pipeline built within the state,” Naylor said. “It was also the first home in Wood County to have a bathtub.”