The Giants of Appalachia

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Skeleton

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Ancient writings are filled with references to giants who once lived upon the earth. These references span the globe and encompass nearly all of the world’s cultures, ranging from Homer, a Greek poet who lived 400 B.C., to Moses, who wrote of a time before the Great Flood in which “There were giants in the earth in those days…”

Despite the repeated references of a prehistoric time in which the world was inhabited by colossal men, many archeologists and anthropologists have been quick to dismiss these claims, believing instead that the notion of a world once ruled by towering giants was nothing more than an ancient fairytale.

Little publicized discoveries, however, are causing some scientists to take a second look at the idea of a fabled world roamed by giants.

Though knowledge of coal’s existence in the Appalachian Mountains had long been held by white settlers, it was not until the late-1800s, during the Industrial Revolution, that the concept of mining and transporting the black ore was deemed feasible.

As the nation entered a new age of manufacturing and growth, the value of coal was quickly realized and the era of widespread Appalachian coal mining commenced.

With armies of men now blasting and digging immeasurably old rock formations, workers began to uncover dozens of strange artifacts – most notably, what appeared to be mega-sized human bones.

On October 13, 1916, The Seattle Star reported that residents in northern Pennsylvania uncovered an Indian burial mound containing the bones of 68 men. According to the article, “The average height of the assembled skeletons was 7 feet, while many were taller. Further evidence of their gigantic size was found in their large stone axes placed in the grave.”

The Pennsylvania skeletons are anything but an anomaly. A half-century earlier, workers constructing a bridge in upstate West Virginia were dumbfounded when they dug up three giant skeletons containing strands of reddish hair. A local doctor was called to examine the colossal remains, to which he concluded had to be no shorter than 8’ tall and definitely human.

In the fall of 1882, F.M. Fetty and his wife, both amateur archaeologists, were exploring a nearby cliff and found an unusual rock formation along the walls of the shelter. A closer look revealed that a false wall had been erected.

Fetty and his wife remove several of the large stones and made the startling discovery of a giant human mummy a sitting in a chair.

The following summer, James A. Faulkner unearthed an unusually large human skeleton in the same area. A local doctor was called in to measure the skeleton and found it to be at least 7’ 4” long.

As similar discoveries were unearthed throughout the Mountain State in the decades to come, public interest picked up, leading the Charleston Daily Mail to publish the following report on October 22, 1922:

“One of the most interesting of the five state parks is Mound Park, at Moundsville from which that city derived its name. Probably no other relic of pre-historic origin has attracted as wide study among archaeologists as the Grave Creeks mound which has given up skeletons of the ancients who constructed it… Archaeologists investigating the mound some years ago dug out a skeleton said to be that of a female because of the formation of the bones. The skeleton was seven feet four inches tall and the jawbone would easily fit over the face of a man weighing 160 pounds.”

Tales of colossal giants permeate the American Appalachians and have for centuries haunted the dreams of explorers; however, knowledge of their existence and discoveries has become lost to recent generations — either by design or shear overload of information.  Regardless of why, however, scientists are taking a renewed interest in the giants of Appalachia and local residents will probably be hearing a lot more about them in the days to come.

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This article was featured in the 2017 print edition of Appalachian Magazine.  Click here to purchase the print publication!

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