For many years an historical marker(red dot), on West Virginia Highway 2 just north of the community of Ben's Run, referred to "Ancient Ruins", two semi-circular parallel earthen walls, encompassing an area of some 400 acres. This site, registered as 46TY2, has eluded researchers to this date and is only known through the writings and recollections of local inhabitants. One such source is a news article written by George E. Riggs of St Marys West Virginia, the son of one early investigator. A second report, "The Martin Farm Site", describes the archeological findings on the property that was the location of this now missing historical marker (It is not known whether this sign was removed or relocated).

The Ancient Earthworks at Bens Run

by George E. Riggs 1964

My first visit to the vast ruins was in the year of 1910 when I was a small boy very much interested in archeology and already embarked on a fascinating hobby of exploring old village and camp sites of the Ohio Valley Indians, under the guidance of my father, George P. Riggs, a renowned student of Indian and Mound Builder culture.

He and I had previously unearthed a large campsite on the northern edge of the town of Bens Run, which event I described at length in another article. Our next field expedition was northward to the old ruins which my father had visited a few times and had told me about. He stated that the large earthworks were one of the most interesting places he had ever visited, and I was naturally anxious to view them and eagerly awaited to visit them

I will never forget my first impression as my father pointed toward those huge structures as we walked toward them and remarked to me, "There are those earthen walls and mounds I was telling you about, George."

I could hardly believe my eyes as I stopped in my tracks and gazed at that marvelous product of ancient man's handiwork. Two long walls sprawled like huge serpents curved in the shape of bows and pointing toward the north.

As we passed between the south ends, we saw a large stone and earth mound which had been skillfully erected about evenly between them. Actually, it was shaped more like a square than a mound, and my father explained that he believed it had been used as a sacrificial or ceremonial platform by the ancient inhabitants. It was, as I remember so vividly, located about 100 feet above the ends of the walls and was about six feet high. Both walls were curved toward the west, and, as I looked at them for the first time, they seemed to extend for many miles ahead and loomed enormous and frightening to me, as my young eyes took in this fascinating scene.

My father busied himself stepping off the distance between the walls, after which he remarked they were about 90 to 100 feet apart, which distance amazingly continued to the northern end of the ruins with very little change. We tried to get an accurate height of the walls which varied somewhat, but my father believed the lower ends were in a few places about seven feet high, where for some reason extra portions arose higher at the entrance and were apparently build up with slaps of rough stones. He stated those extra protrusions must have played an important part in the original erection, but he was at a loss as to their use.

Moving onward, we noticed that the twin walls took a downward dip from the six-foot level and were partially covered with grass and weeks as was the vast valley between them. We climbed on top of the eastern wall where we traveled toward the upper end which my father already knew terminated about two miles ahead of us. We did considerable digging as we trudged ahead, and I was surprised at the amount of flint spalls, or chips, that seemed so abundant on the top and both sides of that mysterious walk-way, which I believe was about three feet wide and almost flat during most of its course.

About midway, or in the center of the bow of the huge wall, we began to have better luck in our digging operations as we started to retrieve mussel shells, broken pieces of clay pottery and a few whole arrow heads plus many broken ones and numerous stone implements such as hammers and other camp tools. The height of the wall at this point was about four feet but varied constantly because of several dips along its length.

As we neared the end of our trip, my father pointed at two mounds in the center of the enclosure which had been erected parallel to the two walls and were roughly 75 feet apart, which he believed had been constructed for burial purposes. Both mounds seemed to arise about seven feet above the ground and were probably 30 feet in diameter at their bases.

As far as we could determine by the physical evidence of the terrain, there had been no attempts by the mound builders to erect any additional walls or mounds inside the enclosure, but there could have been others which in some manner had completely disappeared.

We discovered as we approached the terminus of the long wall that the upper end must have been the main part of the ancient village as we unearthed several pieces of perfect specimens of artifacts along the east wall and well inside the enclosure. The same was true of the western or Ohio River side of the ruins. We noticed that both walls had steadily dwindled down to about three feet in height.

After additional digging operations, we were ready to mount the west wall and start our return journey southward, and we again began to use our digging tools in locating many more fine artifacts of the long departed inhabitants of the village, who seemingly had been so well protected by those enormous walls.

I could not keep from wondering about how those people would appear to a person living in this generation glimpsing them for the first time.

My father explained to me on that never-to-be-forgotten trip that he believed other walls may have been erected in this general crossing some of them running parallel to the river and others no doubt crossing east to west past the ends of the walls to seal them off against attack by their enemies, but the ravages of time had flattened them to the ground.

I have read a few interesting articles in the past years about the Bens Run ruins, but I feel I was indeed a very fortunate youngster to have had the opportunity to actually visit the old homesite of those ancient inhabitants of the famous earthworks.

We visited the scene again on two or three occasions over a two-year period and did extensive digging within the large enclosure which consisted of 300 to 400 acres, where we were rewarded by finding several perfect artifacts, some of which I still have in my collection of relics.

Strangely, so it seemed to me, those amazing structures began to vanish all too soon, no doubt having fallen victim to the plows of farmers who tilled the rich bottom land and housing the entire village site including those famous walls. Within the next 20 years one could hardly find any evidence that they ever existed.

The entire earthworks were located between the hill and what is now West Virginia State Rt. 2. To this day as I pass the area between Bens Run and Long Reach on frequent trips I am reminded of the tremendous thrill I received when I first gazed at those magnificent surroundings and I am firmly convinced the residents of this vicinity lost a golden opportunity when they failed to preserve one of the most interesting historical exhibits of the Mound Builders that was ever constructed in North America.

Left right here for us in the great Ohio Valley, the exhibit would have been unsurpassed.

Martin Farm Site

The Martin farm was located at the northern half of the community of Ben"s Run, 10 miles north of St. Marys on Rt. 2, at the southern extreme of 46 Ty 2, NW of 46 Ty 5,6,7. The property abutted Lock and Dam 16 and extended SE, on a line perpendicular to the river, to the base of the mountains, and encompassed some 70 acres of land on two terraces. The lower terrace extends from the river SE across Rt. 2, where it rises quickly to the upper terrace. The ridge of the upper terrace overlooks and parallels Rt 2 for some 21/2 miles.(see yellow and green areas of map

On this ridge, the northern boundary of the Martin farm was marked by a small church and cemetery, on a line drawn SE from the river to the base of the mountains. The southern border was similarly marked and aligned by the home site and out buildings.

Leslie A. Martin searched these fields off and on from 1935 to 1964, accumulating a large collection of stone tools, pottery sherds, hematite, bone, shell and slate ornaments. One feature (blue dot) was noted and excavated. Plowing of the upper terrace repeatedly uncovered a high concentration of mussel shell in an area some 30 feet in diameter. This concentration lay on a line parallel to the ridge, 100 feet south of the church and perhaps 70 feet east of the ridge. A test pit and screening recovered 2 Madison points, a bone needle, three bone awls, and miscellaneous bone, shell and shell tempered pottery sherds. A second possible feature (see purple dot) was indicated by surface finds of 2 hemispheres, a hematite sphere and 7 fragments of an Ohio Pipestone pipe, in 1/4 acre region laying on a line 100 to 200 feet SSW of the Martin dwelling.

The focus of this report is on a sample of flint blades collected from the 40 or so acres of tilled land of the upper and lower terraces, during the summers of 1960, 1961, 1962.

The points were classified by type or cluster and enumerated on a graph according to their temporal range. References:

Stone Age Spear and Arrow Points, Noel D. Justice Ohio Flint Types, Robert Converse
83 Hopewellian bird points, a possible Agate Basin knife, and the following unclassified blades and non blades were omitted from the analysis. Included in the analysis are: