Toy Ray Gun Discovered in Archaeological Site!

The following article appeared recently on the website of the magazine Archaeology. Chronicling the discovery of a Wyandotte pop pistol in an archaeological dig, it tells a fascinating story of how this artifact helped to dispel stereotypes about the people of the region. This article was sent in by Patrick Bishop. Thanks Patrick!




Beginning in the 1920s, the Commonwealth of Virginia set about acquiring what would eventually total 196,000 acres in northwestern Virginia for the new Shenandoah National Park, which would feature ridge-top Skyline Drive and address the recreational needs of millions of Depression-weary Americans living within a day's drive. Although the land marked for the new park was covered with homes and farms, there was little public outcry when inhabitants of the nearly 5,000 individual land tracts were expelled,their lands presentedto the federal government. After all, the Blue Ridge dwellers were not only different from the mainstream of American society, but, according to one contemporary journalist, their existence in the dark hollows represented "about the limit of destitution at which human life could be sustained." Park promoters and government officials publicized the fact that "these people will be moved to more civilized regions of agriculture and industry." The creation of the national park propelled these backward mountaineers into a world they had previously eschewed.

Yet when archaeologists /conducting an archaeological survey/ found a toy ray gun in the rubble of Corbin Hollow, they knew these were not people "cut off from the current of American life." From the first day of the survey in Nicholson, Corbin, andWeakley hollows on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge, formerly home to three communities with eighteenth-century roots, it was obvious that observations about the region had been flawed. Automobiles, Coke bottles, Bakelite toys, cologne, hair tonic, and hot-saucebottles, even a half-torn 1931 cellulose card calendar featuring the artwork of Maxfield Parrish, all /appeared in the remains of these communities along with the ray gun, and together they/ shattered the accepted image of backward hillbillies eking out an existence that was"completely cut off from the current of American life."

(looks like lots of the guns on ebay!)