Part of our trip to the Marx Toy Convention about ten days ago involved going to The Mound Museum in Moundsville for a book signing. You can see some video of that HERE, and you’ll be getting a review of that book sometime in the next week or so.

Mel and I had never been inside the Mound Museum before, and I was focused on shooting video and getting set to up to record a talk by the authors and some former employees of the Marx Toy Factory (sadly that video was not usable), and I was in the big room where the book signing took place for close to half an hour before I realized that, on the way to the book signing, I had walked right past a 30-foot long, 13-foot-high cast of a skeleton of a Stegadon, a large prehistoric elephantine beast related to the Mastodon and Wooly Mammoth.

You see, it turns out that what everybody calls “The Mound Museum” is actually The Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex and it’s usually unjustly overlooked, being next to the world’s largest burial mound, and across the street from the gigantic Medievel-looking former Federal Penetentiary.  We’d gone right past this place for years and I had no idea that the bones of prehistoric critters of massive propertions were on display within.

When I finally saw it, it was a “Wait, What?” moment.  I grabbed a few photos and Mel found a FiestaWare display, and we decided that we’re going to have to make another visit just to see this cool museum (which also has large displays for Marx Toys and Marble King and other stuff) and explore it further, because this is really just a small part of what they have.

Aside from the Stegadon that snuck up on me, it was a revelation to see how small the Dimetradon was by comparison. Every toy Dimetradon I had as a kid was woefully out of scale with my other toy dinosaurs. I feel disillusioned. Next thing you know they’ll tell us that Dimetradons weren’t really even dinosaurs at all.

Anyway, today’s mini-photo essay is just a taste of The Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex. Enjoy…

Sometimes when you’re laser-focused on shooting video, you miss the little things like this fella.

The Dimetradon is not quite as fearsome when you realize it’s about the size of a monitor lizard. My toys made it seem like they were 20 feet long.

Informative signs explain that The Stegadon is not a Wooly Mammoth. Also, it’s on loan from a couple in Fairmont, who evidently had one to spare.

Heavy Metal fans gathered around this exhibit of prehistoric skulls.

More elephantine ancestor artifacts on display, including a tusk, which may have come from Alabama.

Of course Mel wandered off and found the FiestaWare display. So I swiped this and the next two photos from her.

Man, that suff’s colorful.

Think of Mel’s photos as a harbinger of a mini-photo-essay to come.

We leave you with one more look at the Stegadon skeleton cast. Notice how the Dimetradon looks like a frightened housecat in the presence of this mighty beast. He’s lucky that he doesn’t get stomped on as the Stegadon yells, “Damn You! Your toys are all lies!”

Tuesday our next Mini-photo-essay will look at Francis Turner’s Marx Toy Museum, which opens once a year for a special sale.