The Dunbar Mound, also known as the Poorhouse Mound, rises from a levels at Shawnee Park, in Dunbar, West Virginia, in Kanawha County. It was likely excavated in 1884 by the Smithsonian Institution. The results of the archaeologists’ work suggests the mound was built between 1 and 500 A.D. by the Hopewellian mound builders. At the base of the mound, excavators found a crematory basin and, higher up in the mound, at least four skeletons.
One of the largest groups of mounds in the U.S. existed in the valley of the Kanawha River at present-day communities of Dunbar, Institute, and South Charleston. In 1883-84, Smithsonian workers recorded 50 mounds and at least 10 earthworks (low earthen embankments in geometric form). Great Smith Mound — 35 ft. high and 175 in diameter — also stood in Dunbar. The Dunbar Mound in Shawnee Park and the Criel Mound in South Charleston are all that remain today of these prehistoric works.