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Home North Carolina Richmond County City of Mount Gilead Historical Markers Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site

Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site

NC 73 at Indian Mound Road, Mount Gilead, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 9' 15.2568", -79° 56' 5.8272"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Pee Dee Indians migrated here during the 11th century A.D. and built their main village around 1300 A.D. Their reconstructed civic-ceremonial center, a site worked by archaeologists since 1937, is two miles north."
     After dealing with trespassers and artifact hunters for years, in 1936 Lloyd Frutchey decided to flatten the odd, purportedly Indian, embankment on his property in Montgomery County. He planned to use the soil to bolster eroded plots on his farm. Members of North Carolina’s budding archaeological community learned of Frutchey’s plans and enlisted Christopher Crittenden’s help in trying to protect the area. In January 1937 a small delegation, including state officials and an archaeologist, evaluated the promontory and approached Frutchey with ideas for preserving it. After negotiations, it was agreed that Frutchey would deed the mound and a small amount of surrounding land to the state, specifically the Department of Conservation and Development, which would administer the site and care for the artifacts found there. The area was known as Frutchey State Park, or the Frutchey mound, until the 1940s, when its name was changed to Town Creek, after a nearby rivulet.

     Funds were hard to come by during the early years of excavation at the site. Ironically, it is probably quite fortunate that money was not available to develop the site according to early State Parks plans. If money had been at hand, much of what is now excavated at Town Creek might have been destroyed in the construction of a large parking lot. In November 1939 excavations at Town Creek were approved as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. Some of the best archaeological work performed at the site was completed during the WPA years. The United States’s involvement in World War II effectively put an end to all WPA projects; Town Creek excavations were discontinued until 1949.

     Upon his return from military service in April 1946, Joffre Coe visited Town Creek to inspect for pillaging or damage and then went directly to Chapel Hill to set up the University of North Carolina’s archaeological lab, which for years thereafter served as the repository for the state’s archaeological relics. Coe, the archaeological supervisor of Town Creek beginning in 1937, continued in that capacity for more than fifty years. Between 1950 and 1951, the state acquired fifty-two additional acres of land around the original site. At the time, plans were advanced for restoring the mound and palisade, reconstructing the town house on the mound, and interpreting the site through permanent museum exhibits.

     Town Creek Indian Mound became a part of the Department of Archives and History’s Division of Historic Sites in 1955. By that time the mound had been restored and the stockade around the original site had been reconstructed. The site got electrical power in 1960, at which time a manager’s house was begun; an access road was paved in 1962. Town Creek was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The other pre-Columbian facilities reconstructed at the site include major and minor temples, a burial hut, and a mortuary hut. The Learning Center built in 1991 to increase educational and interpretive opportunities, offers space for demonstrations of Indian skills and crafts.

Joffre Lanning Coe, Town Creek Indian Mound: A Native American Legacy (1995) and Formative Cultures of the Carolina Piedmont (2006)
H. Trawick Ward and R. P. Stephen Davis Jr., Time before History: The Archaeology of North Carolina (1999)
North Carolina Historic Sites website: http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/town/town.htm
Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site Historical Marker Location Map, Mount Gilead, North Carolina