CHARLESTON - The Stiles Mansion in the abandoned town of Volcano in Wood County will be the subject of a program in the Archaeology Month observance by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex.
Annette Ericksen, archaeology program coordinator for Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, will discuss W. C. Stiles Jr.'s Thornhill estate near Volcano. The program is free and open to the public.
Stiles is credited for introducing the endless cable pumping system to the oil production industry. He founded Volcano primarily to serve his oil business in the area and it existed from about 1863 until destroyed by fire in 1879 when many people moved away rather than rebuild.
The 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 razed in the 1940s, having been stripped of furniture and accoutrements during the Great Depression.
The estate and town site are in Mountwood Park, part of the Wood County park system. The West Virginia Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg is developing the site as part of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Heritage District.
Ericksen received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology from 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.