May 11, 2015

Martinsburg's Prehistoric Heritage

Good, Random, and  Fun in Martinsburg, West Virginia 

The Good: Martinsburg Heritage Days included representatives of the original inhabitants of the region, the Native Americans. This woman is drumming.
woman with handheld drum

The Random: This carving is exhibited in a museum in the Triple Brick Building. It was most likely used to advertise that tobacco products were for sale in a store, a tradition that came about because European settlers first got tobacco from native tribes. Today these figures are valued as antiques although they are considered stereotypical representations of Native Americans.

The Fun: I went on the "Tunnel Tour" to learn about the mysterious tunnels that connect at least four old buildings in Martinsburg with limestone caverns. So far historians have not found a written record indicating why the tunnels were dug. The could have been used as hiding places during the French and Indian War or during the American Revolution, or perhaps they were used by escaping slaves.

The stairs shown here connect an old cellar with a deeper cellar that has carefully-built arched ceilings. From there another set of steps goes down to a deeper level where a tunnel was dug that a person could crawl through to reach the natural caverns. Members of a regional speleological group have been digging out the passageway, which was filled in some years ago probably for safety reasons.

The tour was fascinating but a little scary. The steps are steep and can be slippery. The rock walls are cold and damp, and the area below is very dark.

Looking downward from the second cellar

Exhibit from Tri-State Grotto


  1. Yes, it is good to remember the origins, pretty pictures!

  2. I love the carving.. And the tunnel tour looks neat.. Great photos from your day. Have a happy Tuesday!

  3. That is so cool! I want to go on a tunnel tour.

  4. The tunnel tour would fascinate me!

  5. History is such a wonderful thing. Tom The Backroads Traveller


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