The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

October 10, 2012

Celebrate Archaeology Month with Thornhill Estate site presentation

CHARLESTON — Annette Ericksen, archaeology program coordinator for Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, will present a talk on W.C. Stiles Jr.’s Thornhill Estate site, near the abandoned town of Volcano, on Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The 6 p.m. program is timed to coincide with Archaeology Month and is free and open to the public.

Stiles is credited for introducing the endless cable pumping system to the oil production industry. He founded the town of Volcano in southeastern Wood County primarily to serve his oil business in the area. It existed from about 1863 until destroyed by fire in 1879, when many people moved away rather than rebuild.

The Thornhill Estate was built in 1874 and was one of the finest in the region, with well-manicured grounds, an expansive wine cellar and a tennis court. The mansion was so grand that important visitors to the town would stay at Thornhill rather than the fine hotel in town. Stiles died at Thornhill in 1896 and the town slowly faded away. The home was torn down in the 1940s, having been stripped of furniture and accoutrement during the Great Depression.

The estate and town site are in Mountwood Park, part of the Wood County park system. The West Virginia Oil & Gas Museum in Parkersburg is developing the town site as part of the West Virginia Oil & Gas Heritage District.

Ericksen received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from The Ohio State University. She has worked in the field for 30 years and specializes in historic Appalachian archaeology, with a focus on industrialization and ethnicity. Ericksen teaches at Hocking College. During the last two years she has led a team in excavating the Thornhill site.

For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the program, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail at or at 304-558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session.

For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at 304-558-0230. The Archives and History Library is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday. The library is closed on Sunday.

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