After storytelling yesterday, I came home by way of US Route 60, the same trail we followed two weeks ago to Clifftop. On that trip we stopped and took photos of Cathedral Falls. This time, I wanted to visit two of the other falls along the road. I do not know the names of them. But the one I want to show you today is breathtaking.
This falls is almost hidden on the side of the road because the growth around it is so lush. I actually passed it and had to turn around. Located near a small community called Charlton Heights, the falls have created a natural canyon of rock cliffs. But mingled with the natural stone were the most amazing stone walls. Who built them, and why?
There is no sign to explain the presence or purpose of the stone walls which were obviously laid with great skill. Dry-laid, is what Larry would call it, meaning the stones were laid without mortar or concrete.
Here you can see the intricacy of the wall, the careful placement of the stones to fit neatly together and hold strong over the years.
I wondered at the purpose of the holes near the top of the wall. Were they made to channel the water, or were they created when some of the stonework fell out of the wall during freezing and thawing or strong rains and floods? They look to me as if they were part of the construction of the wall, and had a definite purpose. But what was it?
Far below, the water mists on stones that may once have been part of the wall.
The wall curves around the natural stone canyon, following its shape. I could not see the beginning or end of the wall. Does it extend beyond the waterfall grotto? Maybe I will return in winter to find out.
I wonder if it was built during the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps? That seems likely, since those men did a lot of stonework along our highways. Was this once a little roadside park, with tables and picnic shelter? That might explain the decision to build a wall here.
Another possibility is that the stonework around the waterfall might have been built by the Italian immigrants to the area who worked in the steel mills along the river. In other locations in West Virginia, beautiful stonework was done by immigrants during the booming industrial period in our state. If anyone knows anything about this lovely waterfall and its stone wall, I'd sure like to hear the story.
This sign, not far from the waterfall and its wall, discusses ancient stone walls on the other side of the Great Kanawha River from where the sign is located. It does not mention any walls on this side of the river.
The ancient works in themselves are a story, surrounded as they are in mystery. There was a local legend that the walls were built by a race of tall white people who once inhabited the Kanawha Valley. There are some early reports, like this one by Captain William N. Page, about the ancient walls. His photos are fascinating. A report written in 1884 describes the burial mounds within the walls, stating that,"A skeleton 7 feet 6 inches long, and 19 inches across the chest,' was removed from a massive stone structure that was likened to a temple chamber within a mound." (American Antiquarian, v. 6, 1884, from the website http://www.suzar.com/BOTW/found-in-mounds.html ).
In the 1960's, a study of the area revealed that "Excavations of the bottomlands in 1961-62, established that there were likely three main occupations in this area: Hopewellian, from about A.D. 500; Woodland Era, of about A.D. 1000; and Fort Ancient Era, a town of about A.D. 1500." (from the West Virginia Cyclopedia).