The Origins of Archaeology at Town Creek

Archaeologists working at Town Creek in 1957

Archaeologists working at Town Creek in 1957

On April 1, 1937, Lloyd Frutchey, a Montgomery County farmer, conveyed one acre of land containing a Mississippian-era Indian mound to the state of North Carolina for excavation, interpretation and protection.  The area was known as Frutchey State Park until the 1940s, when its name was changed to Town Creek.

Significant work did not get underway to excavate the mound area until November 1939 when the project was approved as a Works Progress Administration program. Some of the best archaeological work performed at the site came during the WPA years, but World War II effectively shut down operations there. Joffre Coe, the original archaeological supervisor of Town Creek and chief archaeologist at UNC, resumed his great interest in the area after the war. Coe worked on the Town Creek project for more than 50 years.

In 1955, Town Creek Indian Mound became North Carolina’s first State Historic Site under the Department of Archives and History. It remains the only site dedicated to interpreting the lives of American Indians. Town Creek includes the preserved mound as well as two reconstructed temples, a burial hut and a mortuary hut.

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